Just arrived in Edinburgh and feeling daunted by how much there is to see and do? Not got much time to explore but want to make the most of your trip? Looking for an Edinburgh tour to help you find your feet? Why not try one of the Sandemans New Europe Tours in Edinburgh?
Sandemans Tours include a free walking tour in every city you find them, along with extra tours that have a small fee. The Sandemans Free Walking Tour is a great way to get your bearings in this city which is crammed full of history and sightseeing opportunities. In my mind, the free tour is one of the best walking tours in Edinburgh and I’ve been on it a few times. Here’s a little overview of the Sandeman New Europe tours in the capital of Scotland.
Sandemans Edinburgh Tours
The Sandemans Edinburgh Tours (also known as New Edinburgh Tours) are run by self-employed local guides, so they really know the city. The guides use a mixture of history and storytelling to create an “informal, entertaining and unforgettable tour”. Each guide has their own personal and unique style, so every tour is different.
These self-employed guides work for tips, so although it is a free tour, if you feel they have done a good job remember to tip what you can – but the guides will never pressure you for a tip. And if your free tour leaves you wanting more, there are five additional Sandemans Tours in Edinburgh. There is a charge for these extra tours, but they’re a great way to expand on what you were told on the Free Walking Tour.
Here are the different tours that they offer (all information correct at time of writing):
Sandemans Free Walking Tour of Edinburgh
This Edinburgh Free Tour gives you a great base of knowledge of Edinburgh’s’ history and stories, as well as helping to find your bearings in this city filled with windy alleys and shortcuts. Depending on your guide (as each guide will have their own route and stories to tell) you will be told about and see main tourist sites like Greyfriars Bobby, Mercat Cross and the Writers Museum.
You’ll also hear tales of Bodysnatchers and the real Jekyll and Hyde. And for the Harry Potter fans… the ‘original’ Hogwarts and Voldemorts grave. You’ll meander through the old town of Edinburgh, see the Royal Mile, Grass Market and hear stories of William Wallace and the Stone of Destiny. There’s also a great photo opportunity of Edinburgh Castle.
What’s more, the guides will help you after the tour (if you need it). They’ll happily give you tips on where’s good to eat, accommodation and how to get back to areas that you want to explore further or point out other sights that might interest you.
How Much Do You Tip For A Free Walking Tour?
Although this is a free walking tour of Edinburgh, the guides work for tips. They will not pressure you into this, but if you have enjoyed the tour, out of politeness, you should tip. I usually give £10 for a tour, which seems to be the average. Though if I have really loved the guide and thought they have done an amazing job I will double this if I can.
However, it is completely up to you what you tip on a free walking tour. If you can’t afford a £10 tip, give what you can. Just as long as you give something your guide will know you enjoyed the tour.
Most of the guides won’t look what you give, they will simply pocket what you put in their hand whilst talking to you, or some hold out something for you to drop your tip into without looking. So if you can’t afford as much as you would like to tip, you do not need to be embarrassed. Not only will the guides understand, but they do not look so you don’t have to feel uncomfortable.
Edinburgh Castle Tour
The Edinburgh Castle Tour includes admission to the castle itself and you don’t have to queue. You’ll get loads of history on this tour, learn about kings and queens, the dog graveyard and jewels.
After the tour finishes, you’ll have another 1 ½ hours until the castle shuts, so you can explore more on your own. Which you’ll need if you want to explore some of the museums within the castle walls.
NOTE: There is a Charge for the Edinburgh Castle Tour, which includes the Castle Entry Fee
Dark Side Tour
The Dark Side Tour with Sandemans covers Edinburgh’s many murderers and monsters. You’ll hear tales of cannibals and vampires, grave robbers and witches, kelpies and selkies to name but a few.
Listen to the tale of the murder of Mary Queen of Scots’ lover and all about Burke and Hare. The Dark Side includes tales of Arthur’s Seat and you will learn about the 17 dolls found there. You can see these dolls in the Museum of Edinburgh, I saw them on my Honeymoon.
For Dickens fans, you may even hear of Scrooge’s grave on this tour.
Note: There is a Charge for the Dark Side Tour you can book this tour here.
Read about my time on the Free and Dark Side Tours in my Day Full Of Tours.
New Town Tour
The New Town Tour takes you back to the time between 1750 and 1850, the Golden era of Enlightenment.
Find out what happened in these 100 years that changed the face of Scotland and the world. During this time Edinburgh was home to many literacy greats and was the birthplace of great inventors. Hear tales of Sir Walter Scott, John Knoxx and the educational revolution.
Note: There is a Charge for the New Town Tour
Harry Potter Tour
It wouldn’t be a trip to Edinburgh without a little Harry Potter Magic. This tour shows you places that inspired J.K. Rowling, from Diagon Alley to Voldemort’s grave. Hear about the origins of Harry Potter and where characters came from.
You’ll also see where the famous author wrote her books. Learn how Edinburgh’s dark history also gave inspiration for the books.
Note: There is a Charge for the Harry Potter Tour
Edinburgh Pub Crawl
The Edinburgh Pub Crawl is a cheap way to get a feel for Edinburgh’s nightlife and meet some fun people. You’ll explore watering holes ranging from hidden alley pubs to big clubs. Whatsmore, you get cheap drink deals like ½ price pints as well as a wee dram and 3 shooters being included in the price.
If you love to party, this is the tour for you as if you buy it once you can join again as many times as you like for the whole year. But please remember to drink responsibly, because if the guide feels you have reached your limit you can be cut off from the rest of the tour. The tour aims to show you Edinburgh’s nightlife, not get you legless.
Note: There is a Charge for the Edinburgh Pub Crawl and is for over 18s ONLY
Useful Information For Sandemans Edinburgh Tours
All the Sandemans Edinburgh Tours meet around the same crossroads on the Royal Mile and (very importantly for Scotland) will run whatever the weather. Make sure you’re prepared for the changing weather on the tour as Scottish weather is famous for being unpredictable.
You can either book online (which group bookings of 10 or more must do) or simply turn up about 10-15 minutes before the start of the tour to register/purchase tickets. For tours that have a charge, groups of 10 or more receive a 10% discount.
The Sandemans Edinburgh Tours are a great way to see the city and learn a lot in a short time. With really helpful and passionate guides, you’ll soon be in love with the city, whichever tour(s) you choose.
Remember the Free Walking Tour is run by self-employed guides, who will not pressure you for tips. But if they’ve done a good job, they deserve a tip.
Want to visit? Take a look at accommodation on HostelWorld, personally, my favourite hostel in Edinburgh is Castle Rock.
You can also check out more tours in Edinburgh on Get Your Guide.
Edinburgh is my favourite UK city 🙂 I always love a walking tour in a new city, a good way to get to grips with the layout of the place before exploring further on your own.
Edinburgh is my favourite UK city too! So much history there.
This is so interesting, especially the Dark Side Tour! It’s cool how you can see the same city through different lenses/tours. Thanks for sharing!
I’ve done the Dark Side Tour and it is so interesting! Most tour companies in Edinburgh do ghost tours, but I love this one as it tells you about real stuff that happened in Edinburgh. Scary thing one of the stories is quite recent too
This looks like a great tour. I went to Edinburgh university so it was lovely to have a trip down memory lane!
I always wish I’d looked at Edinburgh University after I first went. It’s a beautiful city! Glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane!
I’ve been to Edinburgh so many times but haven’t gone on a tour of it yet – this one sounds great!
You should definitely take one of the tours, I always find they give a great overview of a city
Oh I can’t wait to get to Edinburgh! Should have been there for Fringe 2020, lets hope we can travel soon!
Oh wow! The Fringe is on my to-do list, it looks amazing. Such a shame you couldn’t go, the pandemic ruined a lot of plans 🙁
Hopefully, we’ll be back to travelling soon! I am hopeful with the jab now out.
I’ve been to Edinburgh, but only shortly. These tours all sound great.
I hope you get to go back and explore Edinburgh fully. Taking the free walking tour gives a great overview of the history of the city 🙂