TO some, it might be seem like the last thing our congested streets need – Edinburgh is set to get another bus tour.
But the latest offering on the city’s tourist scene is promising to be a money-spinning attraction that might also teach locals a thing or two about their city.
The new Edinburgh World Heritage Official Tour, created in partnership with Edinburgh World Heritage, covers a seven-mile route and takes in a variety of breathtaking vistas and fascinating facts around the Unesco World Heritage Sites of Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns.
Highlights include the Robert Adam-designed Georgian House, the Dean Bridge, the Dean Gallery, the neo-gothic 19th century St Mary’s Cathedral, and the history of Greyfriars Bobby.
There is also the chance to hear about the educational and cultural significance of Fettes College, the Galleries and the St Giles’ Cathedral, as well as enjoying a soldier’s eye view of the Castle as you travel through the Grassmarket.
The new tour has also been largely welcomed by Ian Maxwell, of Lothians cycling group Spokes, despite the prospect of more slow-moving tourist traffic with which to contend.
He said: “I have a lot more faith in Lothian Buses than I do in other operators; they have been very pro-active in training their drivers to be more aware of cyclists. I don’t see why the city really needs another bus tour, though. Maybe a cycling tour would have been a better option – they’ve proven very popular in Belgium and Holland.”
Edinburgh Bus Tours, run by Lothian Buses, is the third most visited paid attraction in Scotland, with more than 550,000 passengers every year. The new tour has been designed to cater for audiences from around the globe, with commentary in a range of languages. Ian Craig, managing director of Lothian Buses, said: “The launch of the Edinburgh World Heritage Official Tour will offer visitors to Scotland’s capital the opportunity to enjoy a five-star quality city tour that succinctly narrates the significance of key cultural landmarks and their role in shaping both Edinburgh and Scotland’s rich cultural heritage.”
The launch follows the news earlier this year that the council and Historic Scotland were to use welcome signs, maps, information points and smartphone apps to improve the management of the World Heritage Site, following criticism by Professor Charles McKean, the recently departed chairman of Edinburgh World Heritage.
Adam Wilkinson the new director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “We hope this tour will encourage visitors to further explore the World Heritage Site, and discover some of its more hidden treasures.”
Spoilt for choice
The open-top bus tour, launched today, will leave from Waverley Bridge every 20 minutes, with tickets costing £12 for adults, £11 atudents/senior and £5 children aged five-15.
It means tourists visiting the city now have a range of open-top tours to choose from. Other services include tours of the Old & New Town, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Royal Yacht, and out to the Forth bridges, including a boat trip. There is also a vintage bus tour and a Horrible Histories version.
For more details visit www.edinburghtour.com.