A social history tour through the underworld of Edinburgh's Royal Mile has reported a record-breaking year after welcoming guests from 162 different countries in 2023.

Known colloquially as "the Close", Real Mary King's Close hosted more than 257,000 visitors last year to break its previous record in 2019 by more than 10,000. Since re-opening in May 2021 with the easing of Covid lockdown restrictions, the attraction has welcomed more than half a million guests.

General manager Paul Nixon said he was "thrilled" to have had such a successful year which also completion of £200,000 renovation project to transform the listed Burgh Courtroom located in Edinburgh's City Chambers into a new retail experience on the Royal Mile.

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“We first opened our doors 20 years ago in 2003 to reveal the true stories of Mary King’s Close and its former residents," Mr Nixon said. "Since then, we have grown from strength to strength, positioning ourselves as a leading attraction in Scotland’s historical tourism sector. 

“Summer is always a particularly popular time for us, however 2023 saw a fantastic level of growth all year, with significant increase in numbers during the low seasons as well. No matter the time of year there’s plenty to discover here at the Close."

The tour is operated by York-based leisure group Continuum Attractions on behalf of City of Edinburgh Council. In January 2023 Continuum was appointed to take over the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition near Inverness, adding to its portfolio of cultural and heritage experiences throughout the UK.

The Close is one of the UK’s most highly rated experiences on TripAdvisor with a five-star rating and ranked as the 4th best thing to do in Edinburgh and 10th best visitor attraction in the UK.

Mr Nixon added: “At the Close we are passionate about storytelling and creating unforgettable experiences that transport our visitors back in time. As we do this, we also look forward to the future and we can’t wait to see what 2024 will bring.”