What to do and see in Edinburgh, Scotland: The Best Tours

September 29, 2021 Dorsey Hagwood

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, renowned for its heritage, culture and festivals. Take a long walk around the centre to explore the World Heritage Sites of the Old Town and New Town, as well as all the area’s museums and galleries. Then stop for a delicious meal made from fresh Scottish produce before heading out to take in one of Edinburgh’s many events — including the famous summer festivals of culture, or the Winter Festivals of music, light and ceilidhs.
Restaurants in Edinburgh

1. Learn how to throw Axes!

1 Summerhall Pl, Newington, Edinburgh EH9 1PL, UK Black Axe Throwing Co.
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5.0 based on 15 reviews

Hi, I'm Gareth, I'm a professional axe thrower and the founder of Black Axe Throwing Co. Along with my co-hosts Lizzie, Barry, Tom and Hal, we'll provide expert advice from your very first throw, giving you all the tools you need to land that magical first axe into the target. We'll cover safety and the basics, some advanced throws that you're probably not expecting and then finally... it's COMPETITION TIME. Test your new skills in our Golden Axe championship. Never held an axe before? Don't worry, we've got you. Just ask the 73-year-old grandma we taught to throw two axes at once! She nailed it.

Inclusions: Axes and Targets!

Exclusions: No one under the age of 16 may take part on be in the venue, No pets

Reviewed By SLRoslin

Didn’t know what to expect! Was great fun and not something ever thought I’d do. Was with a group of 8 work colleagues. We all loved it! Will definitely be back!

2. Private 4 Hour Tour of Edinburgh in a Spacious 6-seater Mercedes

Edinburgh Cab Tours
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5.0 based on 28 reviews

Soak up the amazing sights of both the Old and New Town of Edinburgh in the comfort of a Mercedes 6-seat vehicle during this 4 hour tour. This private tour is perfect for the visitor who has limited time and who wants to see all of the major attractions. You will have time to get out, walk around and take photos and to learn about this beautiful medieval city from your guide. Or perhaps, you are a visitor who simply wants a shorter tour to orientate yourself to the layout of the city with hints and tips from your guide on the best places to visit, eat and shop in your own time. Here are just some of the places that you will be able to stop at on your tour: Edinburgh Castle Grassmarket Greyfriars Bobby Royal Mile St Giles Cathedral Mercat Cross Palace of Holyrood House Arthur's Seat Calton Hill Walter Scott Monument New Town Dean Village

Inclusions: Driver/guide, Live commentary on board, Local guide, All activities

Exclusions: Food and drinks, Gratuities

Reviewed By Anna P

We had a complicated itinerary coming to Scotland when moving our oldest over from the US to attend university here and having to do a mandatory two week quarantine upon arrival. There were many logistics and details that had to work out just right from our arrival with many bags to collecting us after quarantine and then picking up a special order of essentials at the local department store. We simply could not have done it without Andy. Starting with the original email correspondence, he was extremely professional, friendly and helpful and through it all he offered excellent communication and handled our few curveballs with grace and a great attitude. He's very knowledgeable about this great country and it's history and landscape and is such a great guy that we've invited him and his wife to come stay with us sometime in California. That's how much we trust and appreciate Andy and Edinburgh Cab Tours. Highly recommend for an airport transfer or better yet, a tour of the the city and beyond.

3. The Potter Trail Private Tour

Greyfriars Bobby Statue, Edinburgh Old Town, Edinburgh EH1 2QQ, UK The Potter Trail
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5.0 based on 165 reviews

Founded in 2012, we are the original Harry Potter tour in Edinburgh. Our guides have the most experience of any tour company in Edinburgh and we are consistently rated most highly by visitors across all platforms. Booking a private tour with us will ensure the ultimate experience for Harry Potter fans as you'll be able to take the tour at your own pace and ask as many questions as you like! All of guides are trained comic performers so we can guarantee they will captivate and entertain you as well as impress with their extensive knowledge. We are also happy to customise this tour to suit you! We take on lots of bookings for hen parties and school groups and our guides are skilled at catering the tour content for any audience. Edinburgh is as magical to us as it is to JK Rowling and we hope this passion will inspire you too!

Inclusions: Guide

Exclusions: Please bring something that you can use as a wand. This can be anything roughly wand shaped - a pen or umbrella will work well!

Reviewed By rebeccajT8303LU

Our family did a virtual tour and just loved it! Our guide, Gemma, was so engaging and knowledgeable. We enjoyed our time so very much. It was like a little escape while still at home.

4. The Chocolatarium Chocolate Tour Experience

3 Cranston St, Edinburgh EH8 8BE, UK The Chocolatarium
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5.0 based on 388 reviews

A chocolate experience to remember! See and touch the fruit of the chocolate tree, and learn all about how the beans are transformed into delicious chocolate. Have fun making your own Scottish-themed chocolate to take home! You can even make a chocolate Greyfriar's Bobby, a chocolate Nessie or a chocolate Edinburgh Castle! Next, come to the tasting room with a wide selection of chocolates from both Scottish and international chocolate makers. There are over 30 varieties to choose from including Haggis chocolate, Japanese chocolate, chilli chocolate, gin chocolate and many, many more. Finally, wrap your delicious chocolates to take home to enjoy or give as a gift. Chocolate samples are provided throughout the tour. Vegan or milk-free options are available. Suitable for adults and children aged 8+.

Inclusions: Chocolate samples, In-Person Guide, Your own chocolate bar to take away

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Reviewed By Showstopper101

I really enjoyed this attraction as a solo tourist. This is a quaint little tour but you learn and do so much and it is suitable for all ages. Katie was a star leading the tour and made everyone feel welcome. Great for chocolate lovers !!

5. Loch Ness and the Highlands Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Waterloo Place, Waterloo Pl, Edinburgh, UK Heart of Scotland Tours
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4.8 based on 474 reviews

Join this small group tour (13 passengers or less) for a classic one day tour to Loch Ness. Traveling through spectacular Highland scenery, this tour is the perfect way to see lots of Scotland and search for the famous Loch Ness monster. Highlights include stunning Glen Coe and an optional boat cruise on Loch Ness, the world’s most mysterious stretch of water. This twelve hour adventure represents great value for money.

Inclusions: Small group tour - 13 passengers or less, Live commentary on board, Local guide, Transport by air-conditioned Mercedes mini-coach, Driver/guide

Exclusions: Food and drinks, Gratuities, Attraction Entrance Fees

Reviewed By basiao977

We went on the Loch Ness and Highlands tour and it was really good. Even though you spend a long time in the bus, you can’t really feel it because of the amazing views. 10/10 would recommend ???? (not if you have motion sickness though)

6. Rosslyn Chapel and Hadrian's Wall Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Waterloo Place, Waterloo Pl, Edinburgh, UK Heart of Scotland Tours
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4.8 based on 411 reviews

Join this small group tour (13 passengers or less) and travel to the amazing and mysterious 15th century Rosslyn Chapel, across the historic Scotland/England border and south to Hadrian’s Wall, a World Heritage Site celebrating the power – and northern limit – of the Roman Empire. Other highlights on this tour include the mighty Abbeys of Melrose and Jedburgh as you journey at a relaxed pace through the beautiful Borderlands.

Inclusions: Small group tour - 13 passengers or less, Live commentary on board, Local guide, Driver/guide, Transport by air-conditioned Mercedes mini-coach

Exclusions: Food and drinks, Gratuities, Attraction Entrance Fees

Reviewed By EmJo

23 October 2020. Almost everything is so good, but Glencoe stood out due to its natural beauty. We were on the foot of the mountains. I highly recommend this tour to everyone!! Keith was our tourguide and driver. Very professional. :)

7. Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends

Frankie & Benny's, 130 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1QS, UK SANDEMANs NEW Europe - Edinburgh
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4.8 based on 1,627 reviews

See Edinburgh’s shady side. The gruesome and the glorious. The ghostly and the ghastly. This 2-hour tour is a wickedly entertaining walk on the wild and dark side of the Scottish capital. Explore the spots where murders, monsters and mayhem have become things of legend, and visit Old Calton Burial Ground or Canongate Kirkyard, two of Edinburgh’s most chilling cemeteries. Throughout the tour, hear real-life tales of witches, body-snatchers, vampires, cannibals and more from your entertaining guide.

Inclusions: Professional guide

Exclusions: Hotel pickup and drop-off

Reviewed By Manit S

Nobody showed up. Tried calling and texting tour guide but no response. Was told to meet and jerrys but that shop does not exist.

8. Historical Walking Tour with Optional Skip the Line Entry to Edinburgh Castle

Mercat Cross, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1RF, UK Mercat Tours
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4.7 based on 540 reviews

Small, personal 5 star group tour with a maximum of 12 people. Pack in history, mystery and local flavor on this 2-hour walking tour of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle. Follow an informative guide into Old Town’s labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways and tenements, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, and find secret places you’d never discover on your own. As you pass St Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square and John Knox House, hear about Edinburgh’s colorful and turbulent past. Follow this great introduction to the Royal Mile with a tour of Edinburgh Castle(if castle option is selected) and learn how this iconic fortress shaped the country’s history.

Inclusions: Fast track, skip the line entry into Edinburgh Castle (if this option is selected), Award-winning local storytellers, Small group experience, TourTalk radio receiver to enjoy live storytelling at safe distance

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Reviewed By Escape64116899696

The tour guide’s performance was impresive, he was well prepared. His stories and narration was perfect. I gave two stars for his performance, instead of one. However, the vault was not as expected. I was expecting to see long underground tunnels, not four small wine cellars.

9. Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Highlands Small-Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Rabbie's Cafe Bar, 6 Waterloo Pl, Edinburgh EH1 3EG, UK Rabbie's
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4.7 based on 3,275 reviews

Explore Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Scottish Highlands on this 12-hour tour from Edinburgh. Depart from Edinburgh on a luxury mini-coach and travel out into the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe with your guide. Stop at Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness at marvel at the spectacular scenery, then continue on to explore the Cairngorms National Park. Admire the majestic mountain of Craig Meagaidh and continue through the Drummochter mountain pass to visit the Victorian town of Pitlochry. Group size limited to 16 to ensure a personalised experience.

Inclusions: Driver/guide, The chance to see "Nessie", the Loch Ness monster, Modern Mercedes minivan with air conditioning (maximum 16 people)

Exclusions: Loch Ness Cruise, Gratuities, Hotel pickup and drop off, Food and drinks

Reviewed By 464kathyi

Just returned from a lovely trip to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, can't wait to go back ???? During my stay I booked two 1 day tours with Rabbis. Firstly a huge thank you for running the tours with just the 2 of us, our stay had been planned around these days out so very grateful they went ahead. The Outlander tour with Lizzie was amazing as was Lizzie, she went out of her way to ensure we had a great day even though the weather was a bit liquidy! She was extremely knowledgeable about the Outlander series/locations and Scottish history in general, many thanks Lizzie. Our second tour was to St Andrews and the fishing villages of Fife with David who was fab, he was extremely helpful, flexible, knowledgeable and had a great sense of humour. The villages were beautiful and St Andrews was stunning, we were also fortunate enough to have lovely sunny weather. I would highly recommend both tours and guides! Kathy ☀️☔????

10. Edinburgh Three Bridges & Inchcolm Island Cruise

2 Hawes Brae, Queensferry, South Queensferry EH30 9TB, UK Forth Boat Tours
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4.7 based on 88 reviews

The Firth of Forth is simply overflowing with myths, turbulent history and fascinating marine wildlife. Join Forth Boat Tours on a 90 minute cruise to discover more about the Three Bridges, including the UNESCO World Heritage Forth Bridge. View the stunning Inchcolm Island and the medieval abbey, known as the Iona of the east. During your cruise, you will find plenty of opportunities to see a wide variety of marine wildlife including seals and puffins.

Inclusions: Views of the seals and puffins.

Exclusions: Inchcolm Island landing pass

Reviewed By CharlotteK403

I had originally booked this trip for Mother's day, but it was postponed due to covid. It was meant to have classical music and sparkling wine, but as we ended up going on a normal day, there wasn't any (can't remember if I'd paid extra for the mothers day booking). The cream tea is a stale scone and a polystyrene cup of mediocre coffee... But that's not what you go on the trip for. We saw no wildlife. Instead of classical music it was the voice over, which was crazy loud, but did have some interesting facts. The views were obviously very nice, and my mum ended up enjoying it as she is a fan of Outlander and the trip goes past Blackness Castle.

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