Have you ever visited friends somewhere new and had them drive you around in their car, telling you all you need to know about the place? That’s what going on the new Rabbie’s City Tour in Edinburgh is like. It’s a perfect first time overview of Edinburgh, from a unique perspective. If you’re heading to Edinburgh soon, even if you don’t usually go for organised tours, looking into taking a tour from a local’s perspective is worth your time.
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What makes Rabbie’s City Tour different?
The special Rabbie’s City Tour buses
It’s hard to be a traveller and not be aware of hop-on hop-off buses are not new, but the Rabbie’s City Tour is something different. Rabbie’s have specially made custom mini coaches that seat 16 people, and the coolest thing about them is they’re actually convertible. The buses work even when they’re closed, because they have a glass roof which means unimpeded views of everything you need to see. Then when Edinburgh puts on a good day, the roof slides back so you have an open air view.
Hop-on hop-off buses often have an open upper deck, but when it rains you’re out of luck. Bad weather means being stuck downstairs without the best view of the city.
The awesome thing about the Rabbie’s buses is that the driver can switch between having the roof up and down during the tour to suit the ever changing weather of Scotland!
The unique style of the tour itself
I wouldn’t expect anything less than a good tour from Rabbie’s, but I think the idea of the Rabbie’s City Tour is pretty unique. Aside from the buses, the City Tour is completely different because you don’t actually get off during the trip. Edinburgh is a compact city, and you can see most of the main sights within walking distance. Getting on and off a bus can actually be a bit of a pain! Sometimes you can walk to your next destination within the time it takes you to wait. Instead, the Rabbie’s City Tour gives you a full overview of the city, taking you past all those main sites plus a few added extras a little out of town that you wouldn’t normally see.
During the tour you’re guided by a pre-recorded headset, which explains the sights you’re seeing as you go along. On our tour there were a few lulls in the commentary while we waited for traffic lights or other cars, but I expect this will be ironed out in future since the tour is still new.
Who is the Rabbie’s City Tour for and where does it go?
I’d say the Rabbie’s City Tour is probably best for newcomers to the city, but it’s also a local’s perspective of some areas I didn’t know before. I’ve lived in Edinburgh for over two years, and even I learnt things and went places on this tour that I’ve never been.
The tour starts from Waverley Bridge near the railway station and takes you on a journey through many of the essentials of Edinburgh. It begins with a drive down Princes Street and around to the Grassmarket, before heading over to the New Town. These are places that I’ve traversed countless times on foot but not somewhere I would often drive through, and it’s great to have a different perspective and hear some more information about them as well.
The Rabbie’s City Tour also took me to places I’ve been meaning to go in Edinburgh, and others that I wasn’t really aware of, like the business district of Melville Street.
We travelled more of Princes Street and down to Holyrood Palace, giving excellent views of Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags, before finishing with a drive up the Royal Mile and back to Waverley Bridge.
How do you go on a Rabbie’s City Tour?
The Rabbie’s City Tour departs every hour from Waverley Bridge, at the Cockburn Street end. It lasts for 1 hour and 25 minutes and costs £17 for adults and £12 for children. You can book your tour from the departure point, Rabbie’s Cafe at 6 Waterloo Place (the end of Princes Street) or at No 1 Currency Exchange at 207 High Street.
Would I recommend the Rabbie’s City Tour?
You can probably tell from the tone of this article that I would recommend the tour. I do think it’s best for Edinburgh newbies who want an overview of the city, before exploring more on foot. But it would also work for people who don’t have much time but still want to be able to see everything. I think the commentary is more interesting than a standard city tour, and by staying on the bus and taking everything in at once you can learn a lot more.
The Rabbie’s City Tour would be a great addition to any other Rabbies Tour outside of Edinburgh as well. Check out the website for more information about the Rabbie’s Tours of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, and the Edinburgh City Tour.
Disclosure: I was given complimentary tickets for the Rabbie’s City Tour with no expectation of anything in return. I decided to write a post about my experience and all opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links at no extra cost to you.
Have you explored Edinburgh on a tour before? What did you think?
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