I am not against real live person tours whatsoever, but for tourists in Edinburgh suffering from jet lag and waking up at the crack of dawn, or want to go at their own pace, then these tours are a great idea. You could also easily do this tour in the evening in the summer when it’s light until 10pm and beyond or do it in the winter to see all the buildings beautifully lit up in the evening.
No places mentioned on the tour require to be open to enjoy it, all are visible from the street.
I downloaded the tour to my ipod and printed out my map the night before and headed out to the start point on the Castle esplanade at 8am on a cold but sunny day.
Although I know Edinburgh like the back of my hand, I treated this tour like I was a tourist and was only going to follow the instructions given to me through the tours.
I learned a brief history about the Castle and enjoyed the panoramic views (whilst the tour told me what I was seeing).
One of the advantages of this type of tour was obvious right away. All I had to do was press pause and take photos to my hearts content and go at the pace I wanted to.
I’m not going to go into huge detail about everything on this tour, otherwise it will spoil the fun of discovering the fantastic city ! Everything is explained well in a clear Scottish accent (tested out on my Australian friend who didn’t think it was too fast and was clearly understandable). Another bonus of this review is that if English is your second language, you can pause and rewind what was said without the embarrassment of having the ask a tour guide to repeat what they said.
The tour took me down the Lawnmarket a little and gave me the history of Deacon Brodie.
Slight diversion off the Royal Mile at this point to take in another couple of landmarks in Edinburgh, one of which is the famous Greyfriars Bobby. Again, the great thing about this tour is that you visit Bobby’s statue, but you can just pause your tour and go and have a look at his nearby grave as well.
Moving back to the Royal Mile, all the major landmarks are covered and explained well. I was reminded of information and dates I had once learnt at school (and since forgotten !)
Working my way towards the end of the tour, the history of Reid’s Close was explained (10), before the next stop of the Scottish Parliament (11) and ending at Holyrood House (12)
I found the Parliament commentary particularly interesting, far better than how the building looks ! I finished at Holyrood Palace after a very enjoyable tour.
As I mentioned before, this tour can be done at your own pace and allows you to simply pause the commentary, go for a coffee, visit a tourist attraction you come across and if you wander off down a Close to take photographs, you can get back on track with the use of the map. You can also re visit any section of the tour to repeat the information.
Suitable for disabled ? This tour apart from the cobbles and pavements to travel over is suitable for wheelchairs and is all downhill or flat detours. To see all the things mentioned, no steps are involved, making this a very disabled friendly tour.
*Coming up, Edinburgh Tour #2 Old Town and New Town