We took friends who were visiting from the States on the Hairy Coo tour as part of their holiday in Scotland. Not having visited the Highlands yet ourselves, it was also a great chance for us to see some of the countryside. My husband found The Hairy Coo online and it was a terrific find. We had a great day seeing castles, lochs and hairy coos. We even got to see the Falkirk Wheel move - which sounds a bit dull but was really cool to witness. Donald (co-owner) was a fount of information and we learned all kinds of tidbits about Scotland, the coos he loves so much and even the inaccuracies of the movie Braveheart. All very enlightening! It was really a great day and with the tips only payment method allowed us to value what we thought the day out was worth. We have recommended it to lots of other expats living in Scotland for something to do with their friends and family who are visiting.
When you don't know what to do in Edinburgh by night, go to the Royal Mile and take a trip from there to the city's vaults. meet the Cobbler ghost, listen to the stories about Burke and Hare, the serial killers who sold their victims' bodies to doctor Knox, visit the Edinburgh cemetery by night, learn the terrifying facts of witch hunting and plague in Edinburgh.
The experience is funny at times and sometimes scary, but highly recommended, because you will not just hear stories, you'll feel the atmosphere of the medieval Edinburgh.
However, I wouldn't recommend it to small kids and pregnant women.
The tour is offered by several agencies. I recommend the guide in the picture, although I don't remember the name of the agency he's working for, but if you see him in the Royal Mile - go for it!!!
The Haggis Bus tour was one of the best choices I made on my entire 4-week long trip. The Highlands are some of the most pristine and untouched lands. The guides are very opinionated and know a LOT about Scottish history.
Let me give you some idea of what we did: (1) Walked across the last battlefied between the English and the Highlanders (Scottish) - an eerie feeling to know that thousands of people died there.
(2) Visited Loch Ness - learned that it was one of the deepest lakes in the world.
(3) Visited the town of 'Skye' - the Sun did not set here until around 11:30-12:00. What a long night! Met up with other travelers from another Haggis tour (7-day tour) and had some drinks.
(4) Visited an ancient tomb invaded by the Vikings. Kind of interesting, I went just after the whole foot-n-mouth incident, but the equipment was still there! (I was fine...)
(5) Visited a 'castle' on an island that is now privately owned, but allows for visits during certain days of the week. What an amazing place to live. Very isolated, but absolutely stunning views.
(6) Walked atop a moutain (actually drove nearly to the top and then walked the rest). We took amazing pictures here. Not only that, it suddenly started to hail (pea-size) for about 10-15 minutes. All throughout the mountain and neighboring mountains were sheep grazing. Kinda neat.
(7) Ate at a very old castle that is now turned into a restaurant. Very nice.
(8) Tried on (not me.. but two others!) traditional Highlander garb.
(9) Tasted for free and toured a Scottish Whiskey plant (don't believe the guy when he says you can ONLY get this whiskey at his plant!!! I saw it for sale in Edinburgh!!!)
(10) The really great thing as well is that you really get to know a diverse group of people. On my bus were the following people; Kiwi (New Zealander), South African (sat next to him), two americans (Texan and from some other place), two Americans just married in Colombia, one English guy, two Koreans. A whole mix of people that all have similar agendas! Travel and have fun.
go find the cool cemetery you had been tromping through the previous night...this is the Greyfriars Kirkyard, through which we wandered on the City of the Dead tour...in daylight hours, it's not so threatening, is it??? In the grey winter morning light, it's a photographer's haven...
City of the Dead -haunted graveyard tour. Leaves from the Royal Mile nightly at 8.30pm and costs £5. Linda and I didn't actually do this, we did consider it though. It sounded so unusual I thought I'd have to tell you about it! It's a tour around a haunted graveyard at night. The poltergeist has been investigated by national and international tv, radio, newspapers and scientific journals. It has become one of the best documented and conclusive cases of poltergeist activity in history. There have even been attempts to exorcise it. The site where it exists is now permanently locked. Ever been locked in a graveyard at night with an active poltergeist?
One night I had the greatest fun when I joined the Auld Reekie Tour, a ghost tour of the Old Town in the dark of night, which ended with a visit to a magician's or witch's cavern. So I want to recommend one of these tours (there are several options and also several organizations). Info available from the Tourist Info Centre at Waverly mall. This might especially be a good idea if you only have limited time to spend in Edinburgh and you want to do some more sightseeing at nighttime. It could get pretty spooky though...
But it's very interesting to learn about all the ghosts and stories of old Edinburgh, the city as it was in the Medieval period and such. Almost as good as a visit to Mary King's Close, but for this you have to book way beforehand...