One of our Visit Edinburgh partners is Wee Scottish Tours - here's a sample of the services and itineraries they can offer!
Here at Wee Scottish Tours we love creating bespoke private driving tours for our customers, it’s one of our specialities.
From arranging scallop diving in the morning, to eating the scallops at the side of the beach, being prepared by an award winning chef while you take in the local scenery, then in the afternoon a private tour of one of Scotland’s many castles.
This is just one example of a bespoke luxury tour we organised recently to the client's requests.
We do of course have set tours as well, they offer the luxury private driving experience of Scotland we have became famous for. The difference is we have done all the planning and itinerary for you in advance.
Our famous Lowlands tour is a real delight for the senses, it takes in Scottish castles, whisky distilleries, Highland cattle and the birthplace of a queen, all within a day!
If you want to really experience the Scottish Highlands we offer a couple of different tours that take in a number of whisky distilleries, and offer views of the Scottish landscape that you have always imagined or read about.
These are our ultimate whisky tour and our central Highlands tour.
One of our other private and personal driving tours at Wee Scottish Tours that is very popular with visitors was one of the first - if not the first - private Outlander Tour in Scotland, where we will take you to all of the filming locations of the series and locations featured in the books.
For more information about the tours available from Wee Scottish Tours, visit their website at www.weescottishtours.co.uk!
During the bleak midwinter, Edinburgh bursts into spectacular life - especially in the last week of December, when thousands of people arrive in the city for the annual Hogmanay festival, to mark the turning of the old year into the new.
This winter may be a little different for the Scottish capital, but if you plan to visit Edinburgh this Christmas, two of our local tour guide partners have some top tips for things to see and do in the city...
Check out these recommendations from Wee Walking Tours and Edinburgh Expert - and be sure to wrap up warm!
Wee Walking Tours says...
Edinburgh is beautiful in all seasons and that includes winter! All that is required are a comfortable pair of shoes and appropriate outwear (we recommend layers as the temperatures can be cooler in the mornings/evenings but often moderate during the day).
With all this in mind, we want to share a few fun spots to check out when visiting Edinburgh in the winter.
Winter may be dark, but the city of Edinburgh comes alive with lights each holiday season. For example, for the past few years, the Royal Botanic Garden has offered the spectacular event, ‘Christmas at the Botanics’.
Various creative light displays are set up along an illuminated trail, including spectacular light projections set to holiday music. It is a magical occasion that must be experienced in person.
Keeping with the festive theme, our next recommendation is ‘Christmas Nights’ at Edinburgh Zoo. Combining animals and exquisite light displays is a definite recipe for fun!
Whether you are exploring the famous Penguin Rocks at night or enjoying a cup of hot cocoa while strolling through the twinkling fairy lights of the Christmas tree trail, this is an event we highly recommend.
One of our favourite locations that we visit on our afternoon tours is Calton Hill. This picturesque hilltop location offers stunning 360-degree views of the city with amazing wintertime sunsets. Once the sun sets, the city comes alive with lights and is an incredible way to experience Edinburgh.
Of course, we may be biased, but one of the best ways we recommend that you experience Calton Hill is alongside our Golden Retriever tour guide, Sawyer. He is accompanied by our human tour guide, Sami, who loves to share stories, fun facts, and touring recommendations while taking in views of Edinburgh- the ‘Athens of the North’.
Edinburgh Expert says...
Edinburgh's Old Town can be especially beautiful in the winter months, when the sun sets around 3.30pm. With the lights coming on across the city, and the Christmas decorations in many of the streets lighting up the darkness, there can be a really special atmosphere in the air!
But even during the days, when we can be lucky enough to get crisp blue skies, the winter can be a great time for exploring the city. Take a wander down the Royal Mile, checking out the lanes and alleys - 'closes' and 'wynds' as they're known - to discover the Canongate area.
In keeping with the seasonal spirit you'll find a Christmas shop selling festive decorations all year round, and the Canongate Kirk even has a connection to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol...
At the other side of the city, another former outlying village is worth exploring - just a short walk from Princes Street (and featuring on my New Town tour) is the Dean Village, an old industrial village which is now a sleepy suburb.
The Water of Leith runs through this valley, and you can follow the adjacent path inland to the hills, or out to the coast, where the river joins the Firth of Forth.
Down here it's hard to remember you're in the middle of the city, and during the winter you'll can get photographs unspoiled by other tourists (which can be tricky in the summer!).
Best of all, in the winter you have the perfect excuse to end your day at a traditional pub or a bar with a roaring open fire, creating the perfect mid-winter atmosphere as you relax from your day exploring.
The Sheep Heid in Duddingston village claims to be the oldest pub in Scotland, with a historic skittles alley where both Mary Queen of Scots and President Jimmy Carter have played skittles (though not at the same time...!).
Edinburgh attracts over 4 million visitors per year and enjoys a reputation for being one of the finest history and culture destinations in Europe.
But 2020 has been a challenge for Edinburgh - the visitor season was decimated by the covid-19 pandemic, and with the cancellation of the city's major festivals for the first time since 1947 the streets were strangely silent at what should have been the busiest, buzziest time of year.
As we look ahead to summer 2021, there remains a lot of uncertainty for Edinburgh, as with the rest of the world. We don't yet know what restrictions will be in place as the visitor industry struggles to get back on its feet, and the many casualties of summer 2020 - businesses who had to close or fundamentally change the services they offer - mean the future isn't so rosy for many whose lives and livelihoods depends on Edinburgh's visitors.
In this challenging and uncertain time, small businesses are more vulnerable than ever, and so it has never been more important to show support for the vast number of hospitality venues, restaurants, bars, shops and visitor services providers who lack the profile of some of the iconic attractions, accommodation providers and chain restaurants of the high street.
That's where visit-edinburgh.org comes in!
This site has been set up to provide a platform to small, independent and local businesses to reach a wider global market, and to showcase the fantastic range of products and visitors services that can only be found by looking beyond the 'top ten' lists and the multinational websites with million dollar marketing budgets.
Every product, service, venue and organisation featured in our listings belongs to a dedicated business owner living and working right here in Edinburgh. Our Partners pay an annual fee to have a listing on visit-edinburgh.org, and to feature in the blogs, social media and special offers pages of the website.
From tour guides to guesthouse owners, and from shops to bars and restaurants, each of the businesses featured operates without the resources of a chain brand or global franchise owner. Many businesses have been built from scratch by passionate locals who want to offer a level of service that bigger companies simply can't manage - a more personalised, bespoke, customised service that gives visitors to Edinburgh a friendlier, more authentic experience of the city.
This site brings these disparate businesses together under an umbrella intended to showcase these independent and locally-owned visions of Edinburgh's world-famous hospitality and tourism. And by connecting you directly to the providers themselves, we guarantee you'll get the best service, quality and price for your money - and you can know that your visitor dollar is going directly to support local people who in turn will be reinvesting in their community.
We don't take a cut or a commission from the sales these businesses make, and each business retains full control over its services and products.
So don't fritter your money away on mass-produced plastic souvenirs which have travelled further than you have to be sold in the shops on the Royal Mile - look for the handcrafted gifts in the smaller shops created by artisan producers who are inspired by Scotland.
Don't eat out at the branded chain diners that you'll find on every high street in the country - look for the independent restaurants which source local, seasonal produce and serve it with a smile.
Why pay for the familiar corporate hospitality of a major hotel brand when you could experience the unique Scottish hospitality of a small hotelier who will greet you by name?
And seek out the local Edinburgh tour guides who know the city like the back of their own hands, whose knowledge and passion for these streets can be heard in every story and anecdote.
We believe that a visit to Edinburgh doesn't mean the same thing to everyone who comes here. Don't settle for a copy-and-paste Edinburgh experience - take the time to create a trip that draws on local knowledge and expertise, to give you an experience of Edinburgh that is as unique as the city itself.
That's a visit to Edinburgh that you'll remember long after you return home. And for us, it's what we do every day!