Visiting friends frequently ask, “Are the bus tours any good?”, “There are loads of different Edinburgh bus tours – which is best?” and often, more directly, “Do you recommend the bus tours?”
I don’t think I’ve ever been asked, “Have you ever been on an Edinburgh bus tour?”
I wonder how many locals go on bus tours in their own city? Until last weekend, a gloriously sunny one in Edinburgh, I never had. I’d been on bus tours in other cities (Bath and Stratford upon Avon being my favourites) and they’ve always been good. Now I’ve done an Edinburgh bus tour I can safely say the local option is good too.
As the weather was great the decision to take an open top tour was an easy. We selected the Horrible Histories Edinburgh tour as it stuck to the heart of the city while stretching the route from the Lothian Road side of the Castle to Arthur’s Seat.
The tour we ended up on was recorded (although live tours are available on some routes) which meant grabbing headphones from the bottom floor of the bus, plugging into the sockets, turning the volume up and listening in. There are a range of languages to pick from, I listened in Japanese for a while but tuned back to English once the novelty wore off and because I didn’t want to miss out.
It’s worth noting that the headphones use a standard 3.5 jack so the gear you use for your Android or iPhone will probably work. The standard headphones might not be as comfortable as your favourites but they’re good enough and even if it gets windy the quality is good enough for you to clearly hear the audio.
I’m not sure just how deep into “Horrible Histories” the adult tour touches on but as the website explains that’s there as a kid’s commentary option.
It’s surprising how well the audio syncs with the tour. I don’t know whether the driver is pushing buttons but despite the unpredictable Edinburgh traffic the buildings you could see outside are the buildings being described in the tour.
The views? The video in this review might help but the centre of Edinburgh is wonderful. You just have to get the weather right. We did.
The ticket lasts a good full for 24 hours and the bus stops at sightseeing opportunities. I think it makes sense to hop off if the weather turns, visit an attraction and get back on the bus once the weather improves.
Now when I’m asked whether I’d recommend an open top bus tour of Edinburgh I can say yes. I’ve been on one and enjoyed it.
Disclaimer: We enjoyed a free ticket for the bus but picked the tour, the day, took the pictures and the review is entirely my own words.