Set against the beautifully rugged Scottish landscape, the city of Edinburgh is a delightful blend of history, culture and dramatic scenery. Travel back in time to Old Town, admire Holyrood Palace - the Queen’s Scottish abode - and even brave the rapids of the River Tay in an exhilarating whitewater rafting trip. It’s almost impossible to fully experience the wonders of the city in a day. Nevertheless, these day tours, operated by experienced guides, will bring you around Edinburgh’s various attractions, and offer you a peek into its varied history. Here is a list of the top day tours in Edinburgh, Scotland, for you to have a wholesome Scottish experience.
From the wild, unabashed beauty of the rolling hills in the Scottish Highlands, to the pompous and impressive Military Tattoo, this tour has it all. Spanning a full day (nine hours), it brings you on a wholesome experience of Scottish culture, complete with a trip to a local distillery for some whiskey-tasting. You’ll be able to admire magnificent and dramatic changes in scenery along the way, as the tour brings you through the Trossachs National Park, Loch Earn and River Tay. The night will end off with a viewing of the famed Military Tattoo at the Edinburgh Castle.
Full-Day Edinburgh Military Tattoo & Scottish Highlands Tour
Duration: 9 hour
This scenic, 60-minute long bus ride brings you around 14 of the most famous landmarks in Edinburgh, including the Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile and Holyrood Palace. Hop off to explore the attraction if you find one that catches your eye, and simply hop back on when you’re ready to head off to the next one. Or, if you’re feeling lazy, you can always stay on the bus for the full 60-minute ride for a beautiful overview of the city. What’s more, tickets are valid for 24 hours - you can board the bus as many times as you like within that period.
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Duration: 1 hour
If you prefer a more intimate tour, and you have some cash to blow, here’s a great option. This private tour, which accommodates up to a party of four, includes most of Edinburgh’s best attractions, including some hidden historical gems. Furthermore, you can enjoy all these attractions at your own pace, with your own personal guide and top notch service. There are even transport and traditional Scottish snacks provided during the tour.
Edinburgh Private Tour
Duration: 8 hour
Enjoy Edinburgh from a different vantage point - the sleek decks of Timberbush Tour’s comfortable cruises. The tour will bring you along the city center, drop by the renowned Edinburgh Castle and even make a pit stop for you to explore the Royal Yacht Brittania, where you’ll be able to experience how life on board was like for the Royal Family. The tour spans a full day, and even includes luxury transportation to the port. Take note, however, that young children under five are not allowed on this trip.
Edinburgh: Full-Day City Center Shore Excursion
Duration: 8 hour
Tired of visiting touristy, overcrowded landmarks? This tour allows you to uncover the hidden sides of the city through the eyes of a local. Your guide will meet you in your neighborhood, and take you around the city following your interests. Find out about the hidden gems, like the best bars and try traditional Scottish delicacies. Make local friends, learn about its best-kept secrets and pick up some Scottish slang along the way. After all, there’s no better way to learn about a city’s true culture than interacting with its locals.
Edinburgh Welcome Tour: Private Tour with a Local
Duration: 2 hour
Pull up to the Edinburgh Castle with swag. Riding in the iconic black cab is an experience in itself, although the tour experience makes it that much better. Your guide will be happy to customize the itinerary to fit your interests, from the Royal Mile to Calton Hill; Potterheads can request to visit the cafes where the famous series was written, and literature buffs will have a field day at the Stevenson House, once the abode of famous Scottish author R L Stevenson. Nevertheless, since the maximum occupancy of the cab is four (or five, if you don’t mind getting squeezy), this tour is limited to smaller groups.
The Ultimate Private Black Taxi Edinburgh Tour
Duration: 8 hours
If you have a bigger group, or if a black cab is too flashy for you, you can always opt for a minibus. This private tour, likewise, brings you around Edinburgh’s many attractions, complete with your very own experienced and friendly tour guide. You’ll even have time to explore the historic Old Town and enjoy a snippet of life in medieval times. The tour even brings you by the New Town, as well as other iconic Edinburgh attractions like the Greyfriars Kirkyard, a graveyard and a statue in commemoration of Scotland’s best boy.
Private Edinburgh City Tour in a Minibus
Duration: 8 hours
This shore excursion is another full-day affair, and it brings you past Edinburgh’s historical highlights - from the Holyrood Palace to the Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile in the comfort of a luxury coach. Be awed by panoramic views of the city as the coach brings you up to the Holyrood Road. Guides are also very friendly and passionate about the city’s long history.
Edinburgh Shore Excursion: City Highlights Tour
Duration: 8 hours
When you’ve had your fill of the city, head down to the longest river in Scotland for some white-water rafting along the Scottish countryside. This exciting half-day excursion starts in Aberfeldy, and it brings you down various rapids that are bound to keep you on your toes. First-timers, don’t fret - there are experienced guides on every raft, and all equipment (except swimsuits) will be provided. At the end of the trip, there’s even a free photograph for you to post on Instagram.
Edinburgh River Tay Half-Day Rafting Adventure
Duration: 6 hour
Here’s another one for the adventurous. Tired of walking through the city? Book this five-hour-long biking tour that brings you along the coast of Edinburgh. It’s not all coastal views - they’ll take you through a variety of biking trails, including a detour through the grounds of the stately Dalmeny house. Ride through various quaint villages and historic homes along the way. You might have a sore butt at the end of the trip, but this is definitely one unique and memorable way to explore the city.
Edinburgh 5-Hour Bike Tour: Coast & Forth Road Bridges
Enjoy the wonders of Scotland at your own pace
With a variety of day tours that you can engage in depending on your interests, you’re bound to have a memorable time exploring the hidden facets of the city. Regardless of which attractions you visit, you’re bound to be blown away by Edinburgh’s history and culture.
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