Tips for Edinburgh mini-bus and coach tourism

Useful tips for Edinburgh bus groups with ‘what to see’ and ‘what to do’ items and  ‘bus- friendly’ or must see tourist sites in Edinburgh. Check our list of attractions before planning your bus tour with a stop or departure in Edinburgh. Let us know if your favourite attraction or ‘bus-stop’ is not there and you think we should add it to our list of Edinburgh highlights.

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City tours in Edinburgh

Edinburgh city in the Lothian county is an enchanting historic city which has its own independent style and culture. You'll find all the famous Scottish things here, and you'll find proud people who are determined to preserve their culture. Brits recently voted it the most desirable place to live in the UK. You can rent a bus in Edinburgh for tours in the city or in Lothian county.

Edinburgh Castle

Looking over the city, Edinburgh Castle has been around for over 1000 years and is iconic attractions that help you orientating yourself wherever you are. It's also home of the Edinburgh Tattoo. No, that's not a place to get covered in permanent ink that you'll regret later. It's a military display where soldiers dress in kilts and silly hats and march up and down the castle to brass band music. Over 200,000 people watch it and it takes place in August each year.

Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival

Edinburgh Military Tattoo Festival credit: Rob Schulze CC BY-SA 2.0

Edinburgh's Old Town

Most of Edinburgh is old, but this old town area has been inhabited for thousands of years. Invaded countless times throughout history it's remarkable intact. The Royal Mile runs through this UNESCO World Heritage Site and when exploring the area remember to eat a good breakfast as the hills are very steep. You could even try haggis, a savoury food consisting of sheep's heart, liver, and lungs, wrapped in an animal's stomach. Sound appealing? Didn't think so, maybe best to explore the Old Town and settle for a traditional cup of British tea and some shortbread biscuits.

It's also where you'll find the old Parliament building, a glorious ancient structure from the 16th century. And then the new Parliament building, a hideous post modern monstrosity that most people in Scotland hate with a passion.

Edinburgh's New Town

Supposedly new, although dating from the 18th century, this Georgian part of Edinburgh is full of fantastic townhouses and imposing architecture. Princes Street is the shopping capital of Scotland and you'll find everything you require and don't need. From souvenir shops to modern brands Princes Street covers just about everything.

Edinburgh Cow Parade

Edinburgh Cow Parade credit: Karen Roe CC BY 2.0
CowParade is an international public art exhibit that has been featured in major world cities, Edinburgh, Scotlanda

Leith

Edinburgh and Scotland is proud of its alternative culture and identity. Nowhere is this more epitomised that Leith, home of many famous artists, writers, musicians, and comedians. For example it's the home of Irvine Welch, author of Trainspotting. That's a famous book and film about heroin addiction, not steam engines. If you want to see Scotland in all its cliches then walk along Leith High Street for an afternoon.

Whisky and Traditional Scotland

No visit to Edinburgh is complete without sampling the hundreds of different whiskies on offer. You'll find many places where you can learn about and taste this iconic drink, and fortunately you can get a private driver to take you back to the hotel. Also try on a kilt. Each clan or tribe in Scotland has their own tartan colour and these skirts are worn on special occasions. They're also famously worn without underwear.

Tours in Lothian County

Lothian is a fascinating county and it isn't just about Edinburgh. Your tour with private group transport in a rented bus with driver around Lothian can start at the city, that will be top of your to see list, Lothian also offers the opportunity to see a traditional and beautiful version of Scotland that feels unchanged for centuries.

From the history and beauty of Edinburgh, to the charm of a seaside village or market town, Lothian is memorable for showing off the best of Scotland. The local accent is famously difficult to understand, and in most cases the best approach is just nod your head and pretends you understand what they're saying.

Tour with a private driver

Lothian can be painfully slow to get around. A number of the attractions are tiny villages that are connected by buses so infrequent that if you miss one you might have to wait until tomorrow. However, they are quite close to each other and if you have a rented bus coach or minibus with driver you can easily see everything the region has to offer in a few days. Plus, you'll have someone to help you into the hotel when you've stopped at too many whisky tasting places.

Edinburgh's Old Town

The historic centre of Edinburgh and Scotland has been around for over 1000 years and was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. At its centrepiece there is Edinburgh Castle, a royal fortress standing at the highest point of the city. It's a steep uphill climb to get there but Scotland is famously always cold so you won't start sweating. Also in the Old Town are the medieval 13th century St Giles Cathedral, the old Scottish Parliament Hall, and the new very modern Scottish Parliament building which is regarded as a national embarrassment amongst Scots. Everywhere in the Old Town is connected by a road named the Royal Mile.

Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh Old Town credit: iris CC BY-ND 2.0

Edinburgh's New Town

Not actually new, the so called New Town is a Georgian neighbourhood dating from the late 18th century. It is in the centre of the city and is full of enchanting townhouse buildings that are easily the most expensive in Scotland. You can climb Folly Hill for views over the city, visit the Scottish National Gallery, walk through Prince Street Gardens, and enjoy the best shopping in Scotland. Hidden in the New Town is the Dean Village, and area of flour mills dating back to the 12th century.

Leith

A port district of Edinburgh, this is where you'll find locals most independent and determined to remain true to their Scottish identity. If you're looking for a Scottish cliché about a drunken ginger bearded man staggering about unable to communicate then this is where you should come. It's the home of many underground and alternative writers, comedians, and artists, and if you want to see an authentic slice of Scotland without tourists it's a great area to visit.

What to see during your tour in Edinburgh with a hired minibus

If you've rented a coach with driver you've got the flexibility to build an itinerary that takes in both Edinburgh and the province of Lothian. From a thousand year old castle to quaint fishing villages, wherever you go in this region you'll get a strong whiff of what it is to be Scottish. Road connections between destinations are good and the region is compact, allowing you to visit many places in one day.

Edinburgh Castle

Most of Edinburgh is old, but at its heart is the old town that has been inhabited for over 1000 years. You could climb the hill to Edinburgh Castle, and we mean climb in an almost literal sense as the roads leading up there are deliberately steep. Except you've got a coach which will drop you outside the entrance gate and wait for you. Much easier huh? Admire the military people in funny tartan kilts – but don't check out if the rumors are true that Scottish men don't wear underwear beneath their famous skirts. They might get a little offended and you might be in for an eye-full.

Old Edinburgh

Along the Royal Mile you'll be able to walk through the heart of Edinburgh's old town. It's all a UNESCO world heritage site, and we recommend getting dropped off at one end and picked up at the other. Drive past the old and new Parliament buildings and discover why the new version is so controversial and hated in Scotland. Then stop and try some of Scotland's famous food. Like deep fried mars bars, haggis (sheep's heart and lungs) or shortbread biscuits.

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Edinburgh, Scotland, UK credit: Patty Ho CC BY 2.0

New Edinburgh

This Georgian part of Edinburgh isn't exactly new. It dates back 3 centuries and is full of imposing townhouses and cute streets that show off the old power of this city. Along Princes Street you'll find the best shopping in Scotland and you'll be able to get all those classic souvenirs, like ginger wigs and tartan hats.

Happy Hogmanay & Best New Year Wishes

Happy Hogmanay & Best New Year Wishes credit: Michel Curi CC BY 2.0
Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2014 Light Blur, Princes Street, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Seaside Villages

But you didn't just come to see Edinburgh; with your coach you can tour many historic places that showcase an old and traditional version of Scotland. The local accents are strong, the food is unhealthy, and it will probably be raining, but seaside villages like Aberlady and Gullane are charming destinations with a relaxed rhythm. Golfers will recognise Muirfield, the venue of the UK Open Championship, but around Gullane you will find many challenging golf courses.

Historic Towns

When Dan Brown wrote the Da Vinci Code he was writing about a 15th century chapel in Roslin. If you don't believe it find out for yourself and see if his adjectives match the real thing. Linlithgow was where Mary Queen of Scots was from and the ruins of her palace are mightily impressive. Make sure you also visit an historic market where nothing much seems to have changed for hundreds of years, and locals sell bad wooly jumpers and lots of salmon (200 years ago this fish was so cheap it was the staple diet for all servants).

Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots credit: Michel Curi CC BY 2.0
Edinburgh Castle

Seaside Villages

Lothian is located along the coast and the quaint seaside villages of Aberlady and Gullane are historic and cute destinations. Don't expect to be sunbathing, the temperature rarely gets above 20 degrees on the best of summer days and a chilling wind means you need your coat year round. Of course locals are immune to this weather and walk around in short sleeves in the middle of winter. Gullane is also a famous golf destination and has several courses, including Muirfield, which is a regular venue for the UK Open Championship.

Historic Towns

Part of the appeal of Lothian is the historic towns around Edinburgh that offer some of the most stunning old buildings in the whole of the UK. Linlithgow is the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots and you can visit the ruins of her palace as well as the Blackness Castle nearby. There's also a market here full of bad electronic goods and second hand wooly jumpers. The 15th century Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin, is one of the settings of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code book and movie. Dunbar officially enjoys the most hours of sunshine of any town in the UK, although locals believe that this is a myth. It's the birthplace of John Muir who set up National Parks in the USA and is therefore popular with Americans.

More about Edinburgh

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Coach hire in Edinburgh
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