A Unique View of Edinburgh with Rabbie’s City Tours

Updated July 4, 2016
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Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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.

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!

Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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.

Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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.

Rabbies City Tours travelfeels

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.

Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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.

Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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.

Rabbies City Tours Edinburgh travelfeels

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?

Sonja x

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6 Comments

  • Reply Yvonne July 5, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Excellent written review, I found it to be very helpful and I would most certainly look at doing it when visiting Edinburgh. I enjoy the fact that it’s an overview of the city and not too time consuming, still having plenty of time to explore the rest of the day and night, if time was limited. Thank you.

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 6, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Thanks Yvonne! It’s great you get to see everything in a short time and then can go back to see what you like.

  • Reply Deirdre July 9, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been living in Edinburgh for 3 years and a half and I’ve done 2 different kind of tours of the city: a walking tour when I first arrived and a bus tour just yesterday. The walking tour was hosted by Sandeman and it was really nice, but tiring (2 and a half hours on your feet. Not suitable for everybody). Yesterday I decided to give the hop on – hop off buses a chance and tried the Edinburgh Tour (green buses) with a live guide. Her name was Brenda and she was lovely and very knowledgeable. As you say, getting of the bus in one of these tours is actually a bit of a pain, so I just stayed on for the whole thing and I would recommend it. The front of the upper deck is covered, so you can sit there even if it rains. It takes about an hour and the 24 hours ticket is £15.
    I don’t have any business with them, I just thought I would share my views. 🙂

    • Reply Migrating Miss July 11, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks Deirdre! I definitely think Edinburgh is better suited to tours where you can sit on the bus the whole time and then explore your own further on foot. I haven’t tried a purely walking tour but I can imagine it does get very tiring! I think it’s great to hear about other options so thank you for the information, it helps people to figure out what will work for them. I liked the Rabbies tour because it was a small bus and it travelled to some areas outside the main routes, plus it had the great option of the roof being open or shut. Like you say there are similar options with the covered deck, although in the winter you definitely need to wrap up, or in Edinburgh, sometimes the summer too haha.

      Thanks again!

  • Reply Douglas Strachan September 13, 2016 at 11:41 am

    I like the look of Rabbie’s tours and will definitely recommend to any friends and family that come to visit. When I first stayed in Edinburgh I did a walking tour, like Deirdre above, it was quite a lot on the legs after an hour or 2. Could easily sit in a cafe and eat cake all day afterwards. Sometimes just a quick, easy and relaxing tour around about will do the trick. Thanks for the post.

    • Reply Migrating Miss September 13, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Thanks for your comment Douglas! I really enjoyed the tour myself and I’ve recommended it to others too. Although Edinburgh is compact walking to see everything could take a lot of time, and you don’t have someone there to tell you the interesting stuff! I’m not opposed to cafes and cake, but you’re right in that a quicker tour would then mean you can do some exploring on your own too :).

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