My day trip to Edinburgh did not include plans for taking a bus tour ( my aim was to spend time in the Royal Botanic Garden). However taking one of these hop on, hop off tours not only proved to be the easiest and best way for me to reach the gardens but it also provided me with a great city tour conducted by friendly and knowledgeable staff. A positive all round experience!.
I arrived in Edinburgh by train to Waverley Station. Arthritis impairs my mobility a little and as I wanted to spend time walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens, it was important not to spend too much time walking before visiting the venue, so I had to work out how I was going to reach the gardens based on the outskirts of Edinburgh's new town.
Using local public transport would have involved around 25 minutes of walking (to the bus stop and after alighting to reach the garden). My other option was a taxi, however what caught my eye as I left the station was the rather appealing line of brightly coloured tour buses standing on Waverley Bridge.
There are a variety of tours available, all offering something different. Tickets can be purchased from the driver, the Bus Guides who stand on the bridge or from the ticket office in Princes Gardens which are just steps away from Waverley Bridge/station.
A basic ticket which is what I purchased costs £14 per adult, £13 seniors, £6 children. My tour would last around one hour twenty minutes and I could get off and on the tour as many times as I wanted over a period of 24 hours
There are many different ticket types, for example if I was to upgrade to £18 I could get on as many of the different tours as I wanted as many times as I wanted over a period of 24 hours, or I could upgrade to 48 hours or include a boat trip.
The tickets also entitle you to various discounts for quite a lot of Edinburgh attractions.
There were two tours which went to the Royal Botanic Garden, one offered a multi lingual pre recorded guide, the other a Live Tour guide. Apart from visiting the Royal Botanic Garden, they each had a different route plan. I selected the tour with a Live Tour Guide, as although I think it is nice to listen, sometimes you may want to ask questions which a pre recorded guide cannot meet!! The tour that I selected was called The Edinburgh World Heritage Official Tour.
The double decker bus included half of the top deck uncovered. I climbed up the stairs (which were wider and less steep than stairs on public transport)to the open top section. Downstairs there is a dedicated area for wheelchairs and disabled seating.
Our guide had lived in Edinburgh all his life and was knowledgeable and friendly, making us all feel at home. The tour took us to Charlotte Square, It travelled along the famous shopping street – Princes Street then on to the magnificent castle at the top of The Royal Mile. After around 25 minutes we arrived at The Royal Botanic Garden where I alighted. Later I re joined the tour – this tour has buses running every twenty minutes, starting at 9.45 am.. The tour continued on to visit Dean Bridge, Canongate then to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, The Scottish Parliament and Arthurs Seat.
I really enjoyed the tour as we were given interesting information not just for the places advertised as part of the tour but for areas in between. However, our Tour Guide was not overpowering with facts but we were given enough information to provide a good interest. Our Guide was happy to answer questions.
For anyone visiting Edinburgh these tours are a good way of finding out where all the attractions are (and every type of attraction is covered in the variety of available tours). They also give sufficient information about the attraction so you can decide whether you wish to visit it.
In view of the fact that you can use the tour service more than once with your ticket I believe these tours also offer excellent value for money in getting around the town, especially as in most cases you are taken to the entrance of each attraction.