Edinburgh Bus Tours is Scotland’s third most popular paid-for visitor attraction, and offers a five star visitor experience.

Open-top tour buses have been popular in Edinburgh since the 1920s, but Edinburgh Bus Tours’ history began in May 1989 when Guide Friday launched the Edinburgh Tour. It proved an immediate success with 1000 visitors on day one.

In summer 1989 Lothian Region Transport (as Lothian Buses was then known) launched the Edinburgh Classic Tour - a direct competitor to the Edinburgh Tour. Both companies continued to develop their tours, offering new products and taking their bus tours all over the UK.

In summer 1998 a third tour operator, MacTours came to Edinburgh. MacTours was consolidated with Lothian Buses in April 2002. These tours finished on 29 October 2016 at the end of the summer season ahead of changes in rules around accessibility and environmental requirements. 

City Sightseeing came to Edinburgh in 2000 when Lothian Buses obtained the franchise to operate the branded tour. City Sightseeing replaced the Classic Tour. In May 2002, all city tours came into Lothian Buses ownership. Edinburgh Bus Tours as we know it today was born.

Our newer tours

Since the merge in 2002, Lothian Buses has been committed to developing Edinburgh Bus Tours’ portfolio. The Majestic Tour was launched in 2004 after a staff competition to name our service linking Royal Yacht Britannia with the city centre, and Forth Bridges Bus & Boat Tour was introduced in 2007. In 2012 the Edinburgh World Heritage Tour was launched to highlight the landmarks in Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tour finished in August, 2014 due to operational reasons. In 2013 we were pleased to introduce the Grand 48 ticket offering visitors 48 hours unlimited access to all city tours. Edinburgh Bus Tours is committed to developing its tour portfolio.

State-of-the-art tour buses

In August 2016 the business launched 30 new state-of-the-art tour vehicles following a £6.5m investment. New tour buses are a UK first and operate on Edinburgh Tour, Majestic Tour and City Sightseeing routes. Benefits to visitors include:

  • Panoramic views thanks to more glass in the vehicles' bespoke design
  • Cleaner and greener buses - carbon emissions have been reduced by 40% and other harmful emissions by 95-99%
  • Next level accessibility with two wheelchair spaces with display screens showing live footage from the top deck 

Awards and environment

As part of Lothian Buses we take our environmental responsibilities seriously and adhere to its Environmental Policy. We are proud holders of a Gold badge in the Green Tourism Business Scheme. This year we have also been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and a Regional Thistle Award from VisitScotland for our partnership work with the charity Edinburgh World Heritage. We are proud to be Scotland’s third most popular paid for visitor attraction.

Read our Visitors Charter to see our recommended tips on how you can help Edinburgh during your visit. We are always keen to hear your feedback to help us grow, and improve our business. We take our five star status very seriously - if you’ve already visited we would love to hear how you got on either via TripAdvisor or via our contact form.


     Scottish Tourist Board Exceptional AwardGreen Tourism Gold AwardScottish Thistle Awards Regional Winner

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