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Edinburgh Bus Tours

from Edinburgh, Scotland


ABOVE: A City Sightseeing Tour bus enters Princes Street from Waverley Bridge. INSET BELOW: A Mac Tours vintage doubledecker and a Lothian public bus.

Open-top sightseeing bus tours have become a staple of the European tourist scene, and Lothian Buses of Edinburgh offers four separate "hop on, hop off" tours on modified double-decker buses--each with a slightly different route and emphasis. Your tour includes a recorded or live commentary, and you'll get a brochure with your ticket that shows all stops along the route.

photoTickets cost 8.50 for adults, 7.50 for seniors and students, or 2.50 for children from ages 5-15, with a family rate of 19.50 for two adults and up to three children. (Kids under 5 are free.) If you're willing to spend a few pounds more, you can buy a "grand tour" ticket that lets you use buses on all four routes.

All open-top bus tickets are valid for 24 hours, with unlimited "hop on, hop off" travel. However, the buses run only from mid-morning until late afternoon or early evening, so you should begin sightseeing early in the day to get full value from your ticket.

As a bonus, you'll get discounts on admission or purchases at many tourist attractions and shops when you present a tour ticket and brochure. (Discounts vary between tours.)

Tours depart from the Waverley Bridge, where you can buy tickets at the information booth near the north end of the bridge or from ticket-sellers near the parked buses. (You can also board a bus at any point along the route and buy your ticket from the driver.) Please note that the tours run only from late March until the end of October. In the off-season, buy a Lothian Buses day ticket and ride the public buses (see below).


  • Edinburgh's city center is quite compact, and you can easily walk around most of the Royal Mile and the New Town in a day. A bus tour can provide a useful overview to jumpstart your sightseeing, but walking may be more efficient unless you're infirm or traveling with small children.

  • photoIf you're on a tight budget, you can skip the tours and buy a day ticket on the city's Lothian Buses for 2.30 (2.00 for children). Tickets and timetables are available at Lothian Travelshops in the city center. (Another public bus company, First Edinburgh, offers point-to-point fares and day tickets for suburban and regional travel.)

  • The Royal Edinburgh Ticket is yet another option worth considering. It includes admission to Edinburgh Castle, the Palaceof Holyroodhouse, the Royal Yacht Britannia, and two days of unlimited travel on all four open-top tour bus routes.

For help in deciding which Edinburgh open-top bus tour is the best match for your sightseeing plans, click the links below.

Next page: City Sightseeing Tour

In this article:
Edinburgh bus tours - introduction
City Sightseeing Tour - best overview, longest day
The Edinburgh Tour - live guide
Majestic Tour - includes Newhaven and Leith
Mac Tour - includes Stockbridge and Surgeons' Hall

Related article:
Edinburgh Walking Tours

More about Edinburgh:
Edinburgh home page at Europe for Visitors

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