Bus tours from Edinburgh are one way to see more of Scotland than just the city. The company Timbererbush Tours offers a variety of bus tours for travel outside of Edinburgh. The particular tour I went on was called "Loch Ness, Glencoe & The Highlands". It meets at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle at 8:00 am and returns at 8:30 pm. The tour highlights include: Stirling Castle, Kilmahog, Rob Roy Country, Rannoch Moor, Glencoe, Fort William, Ben Nevis, The Great Glen, Fort Augustus, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Inverness, Pitlochry. It doesn't actually stop at all these places and some are just drive by "there it is, there it goes" variety. For a detailed itinerary and map of the route I include some screenshots from the brochure in my photos, but you can look at their website for more information.
The tour price was 40 pounds and an extra 12 pounds for the boat ride on Loch Ness. Lunch is at your own expense too. This is pretty standard in what other companies charge too. It's recommended to book ahead as they do fill up before the day of the tour. There were six stops altogether on the all day tour (1.Kilmahog, 2.Rannoch Moor, 3.Glencoe, 4.Fort William, 5.Loch Ness, and 6.Pitlochry) which lasted 12 hours. The 1st & 6th were really just pit stops for restroom facilities, and a bit of tourist shopping for a 1/2 hour each. The 4th stop was for lunch and an hour or so. The 2nd and 3rd at Rannoch Moor and Glencoe were 10 or 15 minutes at most and photo frenzies. The 5th stop at Loch Ness was 1.5 to 2 hours and there was a cruise on the Loch lasting an hour. Add it all up and it was 7-8 hours on the bus and 4-5 hours outside here and there.
Yes, it was fun to see the Highlands and splendid country it is, but for a 50+ pound day ($75 USD) I'm not sure I can say it was all that $75 and 12 hour fantastic. Still, it is a unique experience to see this part of Scotland and the driver/guide did make it interesting and entertaining too. Price is often a personal choice regarding what you are willing to pay for what you get. For me, I was willing to pay the price for the experience because who knows when I'll be back to Scotland and the amount I payed seems small compared to the riches I got in the experience. Also the Mercedes Benz Torino tour bus was some kind of comfortable ride!
On this, my second visit to Edinburgh, I really looked forward to finally seeing the famous underground city. For our group of 6 adults, I booked with Mercat Tours and we weren't disappointed!
The company offers different types of tours (historically accurate, purely fictional, legends & ghost stories, etc.) but on this visit we chose "Ghost & Ghouls". At £13.- per ticket (and this includes a complimentary drink in their "private" tavern - Megget's Cellar - afterward) we found this great value for money.
Our guide, Jared, was simply fantastic: theatrical, committed and just pure fun. He really got everyone involved in the tour - my husband was given the task of "security": walking behind the group to make sure nobody was snatched and dragged into any of the dark and gloomy closes of the old town...
I won't give you the full details and entire story of the tour here; after all: I wouldn't want to spoil the suspense for you! But let me just say that we were treated to various stories and legends of murderers, criminals and their unfortunate victims and how their lives (and souls...?) are still tied to the old cobbles and stone walls of the city.
As part of the tour, you are granted access to the underground Vaults of Edinburgh. This used to be the old city, until the "new" city was built on top. The vaults are a series of chambers in the 19 arches of the South Bridge, which was completed in 1788. For around 30 years, the vaults were used to house taverns, tradesmen and as storage space for smugglers. Poor people lived here and due to poor ventilation, no sanitation and no running water it was said that illness spread through the vaults like a wildfire, causing the citizens to move out and move on. Legends has it that many plague victims were simply locked in the vaults, effectively burying them alive. There is no proof for this, but it does make for some great stores of haunted rooms and catacombs!
My favourite part of the tour was actually the 20min or so at the end, when we all gathered in Mercat's private "Tavern" for a complimentary drink, and our guide Jared answered questions and kept us entertained with more spooky and blood-curdling stories.
Mercat offer different types of experiences, ranging from the strictly historical and informative, to the more "scary" type still dotted with actual facts, to the downright outrageously fun with actors jumping out of dark corners to scare you!
We really enjoyed our tour and when I return to Edinburgh I may book another of their tours for a new experience!
Fantastic day out, from leaving at 8.45 am until we returned at about 6.30. Our driver kept everyone entertained with witty banter and tales of Scottish History. We had regular stops to climb to a view point or wander to a loch side to take photos. But nothing more than 10 mins walk away. We were led "off the beaten track" and as the bus only held 25 pax it was nice and exclusive feel. We stopped in a village where we could buy lunch and our driver/guide pointed out the different options from the local pub to the pie deli. The trip is run on an interesting system where it is "free" but you give a "tip" of your choosing. A great idea!!
The Hairy Coo tour to the scottish highlands was an amazing tour. First of all it's free. Second the tour guide of the trip had a wealth of knowledge about scottish culture, politics, and history, making every stop on the tour more meaningful and enjoyable. I would highly recommend this tour!
The highlights on the walking tour are as follows:
- The Royal Mile
- Tron Kirk
- Edinburgh Castle
- St Giles Cathedral
- Mercat Cross
- Old & New Towns
- Greyfriars Kirkyard and Bobby
- Scott Monument
- Princess Street & Gardens
- And other places!
You learn about the history and legends that are associated with these places such as the Scottish Enlightenment including David Hume; William Wallace and the Stone of Destiny and the real Dr Jekyll & Hyde. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour and highly recommend it.
If you are in Edinburgh and looking to find out a bit more about whisky I’d recommend a visit to the Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre up near the entrance to the Castle. The guided tour takes you through the different stages of the distilling process and there are various displays and talks that chart the history of whisky in Scotland. I found it very interesting and you end up in the bar being able to taste a few drams, and of course the obligatory shop for souvenirs.
It’s open daily from 10am to 6pm (9.30am to 6.30pm in June, July & August) and the last tour leaves an hour before closing. The cost (July 08) is £9.50 per person with group rates available.
If you are planning on one thing to do in Edinburgh, except of the mandatory visit to the Whisky shop, it is a visit under the old city to see Mary Kings Close.
This is an really exiting and educational short-trip, that shows you how the lived in the old days of Scotland. The "new" old city is basically built upon the the oldest one, and this is what you are going to see. The guide we had, an actor student, was really entertaining and thought us a lot. Well worth the money.
Catch a ride with the City of the Dead tours and visit the old Covenenters Prison grounds in the Greyfriars Cemetary.
The tour company is the only company to have access to the grounds and the sight of the hauntings.
Guides are knowledgeable and friendly.
Since 1998, over 420 people have been attacked and the week before I took the tour 3 people were knocked unconscious.
Tours leave no matter what the weather so come prepaired.
Stay close together now, you don't want to be McKenzie's next victim!
Tours last 1 hour and 15 min. and cost 8 pounds (6.50 concessions (students) and 5 pounds for 16 and under).
Edinburgh has a lot of ghost tours but this one is the scariest, since it offers time in a tomb with a genuine poltergeist.
The poltergeist doesn't make an appearance every night but those who have encountered it swear it is real and it is evil. Read more on the City of the Dead website, and go!
I was more than creeped out and highly entertained, even though there were no attacks the night I went. If you want to learn more about the MacKenzie poltergeist, there is a good spooky book about it--"The Ghost That Haunted Itself."
If you want to know the real city of Edinburgh join this tour.Is a 3 hours walking tour around the Old and New Town with the best guides.The tour is FREE but guides deserve a good tip at the end and you will see why.They are great!
Find them in front of the pub The Royal McGregor, 154 High Street (The Royal Mile) at 11.00am.
Also they do a ghost tour at 21.30 for £5 where you will visit a graveyard and discover the dark side of the city.
I'm a big fan of walking tours, especially ghost tours, and I try ro do at least one in every city I visit. To say that Edinburgh has a large selection to choose from is an understatement. It's undoubtedly Britain's ghost tour capital! On my last visit I took four ghost tours, all enjoyable in their own way. I did the free tour that starts outside The Scotsman pub, and had a lot of fun. It's really a historical tour, not a ghost tour, but it was lots of fun. The guide had a lot of comedy props which he kept throwing at us! At the end, I donated £5.00. It was a good laugh, even though I like my ghost tours more serious. I also went on Auld Reekie's tour of the Edinburgh vaults, which was creepy, although some of the stories sounded a little dubious, dare I say made-up? The best two tours were Mercat Tour's Ghostly Underground Vaults tour and the City of the Dead tour of Greyfriars Kirkyard. Both of these were genuinely creepy and highly entertaining. The Greyfriars tour was interesting because a number of people on the tour got freaked out, and ran off screaming outside the tomb of Sir George MacKenzie. The Mercat tour was fun, with a very theatrical guide, great stories and a nice gift shop at the end! All in all, a great trip to a great city!
Even though much smaller, the Scottish National Gallery could well compete with the big boys like the Louvre or the Hermitage. We took a tour the other day with a company called Golden Feet - they're apparently the only people that do tours of the Gallery specifically, which was nice, as we didn't feel like taking a tour of the whole city. The guide knew his stuff - definately worth the money (L4), espescially worth paying as entrance to the gallery is free. The contact details below are from the leaflet he gave us at the end - check it out or look for guys in red t-shirts outside the Gallery.
If you fancy a bus tour of the city then go to Waverley Bridge, next to the train station, lots of buses there -- costs about £9 and tickets are valid for a day -- you can hop on/off at the many stops around the city or the full tour takes about an hour.
The jury is still out on this one. Starting from Waverley Bridge the bus travels out to South Queensferry. The recorded commentary was largely irrelevant, uninteresting and sometimes annoying. Things picked up a bit during the boat cruise which started directly under the Forth Rail Bridge. From there we sailed along the Firth and around Inchcolm Island. We saw seals!
We were a little disappointed that we were still charged the regular price despite the scheduled landing on the island being cancelled 'due to technichal reasons' or 'they never land at this time of year' depending who you spoke to.
I took a one day Highland tour was greatly disappointed. I took the tour with Scottish Tours which picked us up from St Andrews bus station at 8am and dropped us off at 8pm - cost of 31 pounds.
It was basically 12 hours on the coach, stopping a small town for a meal break. Constantly threatened that we would left behind if we were not on the coach on time, it got annoying after a while, we're not children (and no one was ever late).
Did not make any stops for pictures in the most beautiful scenic spots, mainly between Callander and Glencoe. Instead we stopped 30mins in Callander to get something to eat, even though we had only been on the bus for less than an 1 hour. Next stop was Glencoe Visitor Centre for 30mins which had a pretty bad view compared to what we saw before. Next stop was Fort Augustus for 45mins for lunch and no stop during the beautiful drive along Loch Ness. Next Inverness for 45mins which was a waste of time, nothing really to do, just another city. Last stop was Pitlochry for 45mins, cute town that was the best stop.
There were so concerned about making time that it was completely unenjoyable. We literally had a 1min stop at Uqhart Castle, barely enough time to get any pictures let alone go down and explore it.
So disappointed...the guide was very informative and very good bus driver.