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Best Whisky Tours in Edinburgh: Distilleries, Experiences & Tastings

Scotch Whisky Experience tour dram whisky

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Immerse yourself in educational yet entertaining whisky tours in Edinbugrh that teach visitors about the scotch production process, from malting and fermentation to distillation and ageing. Use all five senses, taking in flavours, aromas, and textures that bring Scotland’s water of life alive during the following distilleries, fun experiences, and whisky-tasting sessions!

Note: In Scotland, whisky is without the “e”. Whiskey is the Ireland and US spelling.

You may also enjoy our guide to gin tours in Edinburgh and whisky excursions in Scotland .

Whisky Distillery Tours in Edinburgh

Holyrood distillery for a local single malt.

Holyrood Distillery (19 St Leonard’s Ln) first opened the doors to its century-old Engine Shed in 2017, making it the first distillery in Edinburgh to produce single malt since 1925!

Learn about the vision of the founders, Rob and Kelly Carpenter and former Macallan master distiller David Robertson, and the process of making whisky during this 1-hour tour .

Visitors can also try four different drams, from new age to mature, the latter being launched in October 2023!

Holyrood Whisky Distillery is located close to the Royal Mile in the Old Town , perfect for those who don’t want to travel too far from the City Centre.

Reserve your spot  here .

Note: Most of the tours in our Edinburgh whisky experience guide require proof of age, as drinking participants are required by law to be over the age of 18.

  • Duration 1 hour
  • Drinks included: Yes

Pory of Leith Distillery For a Unique Take

Port of Leith Distillery (11 Whisky Quay) is the UK’s first vertical distillery located in the lively neighbourhood of Leith , which can be reached by foot, bus, and tram.

Leith is steeped in whisky heritage, dating back to 1822 when it received one of only six licences to store whisky.

Today, visitors can join this 1.5-hour tour , which includes visiting the copper stills on the ground floor, a tasting session, and the opportunity to fill your own 10ml bottle of the Port of Leith Distillery spirit.

Be sure to make time for a drink and snacks at the rooftop bar on floors eight and nine, which has floor-to-ceiling windows to the Firth of Forth and Leith skyline – an Ev Ed favourite!

This Edinburgh whisky distillery tour stipulates no high-heeled shoes.

  • Duration: 1 hour

Port of Leith Distillery Whisky Flight with views of Forth of Firth in backgroun

Whisky Experiences in Edinburgh

The scotch whisky experience – the city’s first whisky attraction.

The original whisky museum operating since 1988, The Scotch Whisky Experience (354 Castlehill), knows how to educate while entertaining visitors on the Royal Mile.

There are two tour options.

The 50-minute tour is ideal for those looking for a quick introduction to the nation’s drink and features a guided tour with one dram.

The 75-minute tour provides the same tour but with four single-malt whiskies.

The tour includes a ride in a barrel, beautifully shot movies with footage from the five whisky-producing regions, a lesson in the Blenders’ Sample Room, and the cherry on top is a walk through one of the world’s largest collections of Scotch whisky, which has nearly 3,500 individual bottles.

Tour guests also receive a crystal glass to take home; we still use ours!

Reserve your spot h e r e .

  • Duration: 50 mins or 75 mins

Scotch Whisky Experience tour dram in hand

Johnnie Walker Princes Street For a Multi-Sensory Tour

Even as a non-whisky drinker, I thoroughly enjoyed this 1.5-hour tour in Edinburgh’s West End .

Johnnie Walker Princes Street (145 Princes St) offers a super modern experience starting with a taste test and a narrated story featuring Walker.

A professional and passionate guide then introduces the different stages of the Johnnie Walker whisky process, which is spread out over several diverse rooms, two of which give plenty of scope for trying neat whisky or highball cocktails; the latter was my preference.

If you have time, reserve a table at the rooftop bar, which also has an outside patio with views over Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle.

After doing this tour ourselves, we have purchased gift vouchers for multiple family members, again not all of whom are huge whisky fans.

  • Duration: 1.5 hours

Johnnie Walker Experience tour West End info room

Whisky Tasting in Edinburgh

Royal mile whisky tasting in a pub.

If the sound of a distillery tour sounds too daunting and an experience is a little bit too much effort, consider this 2-hour session that marries Scottish storytelling with single malt tasting in one location.

The event takes place in the upper level of a coffee/whisky specialist cafe, so the group has a private space to try their hand at sampling four whiskies and taking notes about each dram.

This is one of the best whisky-tasting tours in Edinburgh for couples and groups where some members don’t enjoy whisky, as they can request alternatives or non-alcoholic beverages.

  • Duration: 2 hours

Small Group Whisky Walking Tour

Do you prefer to be on your feet while learning about the history of Uisge Beatha and its significance in Edinburgh?

This 2-hour tour follows in the footsteps of royalty, King James IV, who is said to have put whisky on the map, allowing Scotland’s capital to have a monopoly in its production.

The tour takes guests around the Old Town before concluding in the cosy Megget’s Cellar for a four-dram tasting session, which customers love.

Underground Tasting Session

Did you know that Edinburgh has a city that lies beneath the cobbled streets of the Old Town ?

This 1.5-hour tasting tour invites guests to join them in an underground vault to try whiskies from four of the producing regions of the country.

Eager whisky aficionados can upgrade to the five-tasting session, which features more rare options.

Private Whisky Tour

This 3-hour tour is completely personalised to your taste and is delivered by a professional tour guide who knows Edinburgh as much as they understand malt!

The price includes a walking tour, a visit to a whisky cellar, and four whisky samples.

Reserve your spot  here .

If you are serious about scotch, check out these 1-4 whisky day tours too.

  • Duration: 3 hours

Whisky, plate with Scottish cheeses and variety of Scotch in glasses in Edinburgh food

Final Words

In wrapping up our guide to the top scotch tours in Edinburgh, we’ve uncovered the city’s rich whisky heritage through its new distilleries, sampling sessions, and unique storytelling.

Don’t forget to say Slàinte Mhath with every cheers !

Which of the tours will you choose? Tell us in the comments.

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Travelling King

9 of the Best Whisky Tours from Edinburgh 2024

Have you been wondering about the best whisky tours from edinburgh i’ve got you covered.

I’ve been living in Europe for a few years now and I can’t help but be drawn to Scotland’s whisky culture. From touring the distilleries to learning about the fascinating history that makes Scotch whisky so unique, nothing beats spending time in Edinburgh. After talking with so many fellow travelers looking to take a whisky tour from Edinburgh, I started to realize that there is simply too much choice out there. With all of these different operators offering tours, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. That’s why I’m here to help! Having spent a lot of time researching and taking Whisky Tours from Edinburgh, I’m confident that I can offer valuable advice on which tours are worth your time and money. So if you’re looking for an amazing whisky experience – look no further! Through this article you’ll find everything you need to choose the perfect whisky tour from Edinburgh, whether it’s a single malt tasting or a distillery tour with friends. Enjoy!

Table of Contents

My Top 3 Picks: Best Whisky Tours from Edinburgh

Tasting of scotch single malt whisky from Islay island, most intensely flavoured of all whiskies in Scotland on old garden table in sunny day

Introduction To Whisky

  • Old Town Edinburgh
  • Four drams of whisky Included

Scottish Whisky collection in Edinburgh.  As the capital city of Scotland, it is the largest financial centre after London in the UK.

Discover Malt Whisky Day Tour

  • Tour two distilleries
  • Small group tour

Rows of alcoholic drums in stock. Distillery. Cognac, whiskey, wine, brandy. Alcohol in barrels

Speyside Whisky Tour From Edinburgh

  • Entry – 5 Distilleries
  • Accomodation included

9 of the Best Whisky Tours from Edinburgh

1. 90-minute introduction to whisky in the old town of edinburgh.

⭐️ RATING: 5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 1 hour 30 minutes| ✅ Book it!

Scotland is known for its long history of whisky, and if you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh, going on a Whisky tasting tour is a must-try. In this 90-minute introduction to Whisky tour, you will be visiting an underground space in the Old Town of Edinburgh where you will be tasting four drams of Whisky. 

The whiskeys included in this tour come from different regional distilleries. During the tour, you will also walk through Edinburgh streets to learn how these drinks are made. 

“Really enjoyed the chance to sample whiskies I’ve never tried before. Our tasting guide was very knowledgeable about all the whiskies and what differentiated each from the rest. I’ve been a Scotch lover for over 50 years, and still learned a few new things about scotch and found a couple of new labels to add to my collection.” -Dennis_M

This is just one among the many whisky-tasting Edinburgh offers. But what makes this an ideal tour is that it gives a quick introduction to the world of whisky, including its creation process and how Scotch whisky is one of the finest in the world. 

When you arrive at the underground space where the tasting tour will take place, you will be welcomed by your guide and a whisky expert who will let you taste four different whiskies. These 4 drams of Whisky run on different levels, each offering a different experience. 

Important details 

  • Start Time (and location): Time Varies at the Code Pod – The Court (Parliament Square Edinburgh)
  • Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Includes: Alcoholic Beverages, Experienced Local Guide

🤩 Check Prices and Availability!

Scottish Whisky collection in Edinburgh. As the capital city of Scotland, it is the largest financial centre after London in the UK.

2. Discover Malt Whisky Day Tour From Edinburgh Including Admissions

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5   | ⏳ LENGTH: 9 hours  | ✅ Book it!

Enjoy a day in Scottland as you treat yourself to a full-day Whisky tasting tour from Edinburgh. This 9-hour Malt Whisky Day tour will take you to the Scottish lowlands, where the whisky-producing region is. You will visit known distilleries such as the Glengoyne Distillery and Deanston Distillery. 

At these distilleries, you will enjoy informative tasting sessions and tours. This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about Scottish whisky production while admiring Loch Lomond’s beauty. 

This small group tour lets you have a more personalised experience and be away from the crowd. 

“We wanted to get out of the city a little and this was perfect! We got some tidbits of the area history, 2 Distilleries and a great stop at Oak Tree Inn for a beautiful lunch. Andrew was an amazing host, answering all our questions. Thank you!” -Kayte_E

Among the many Malt Whisky Day Tours from Edinburgh, this tour focuses on two famous distilleries in the Scottish lowlands. After meeting your guide in Edinburgh city centre, you will travel west. During the ride, your guide will also share information about Scotland’s most famous drink. 

The first stop of this tour will be at Glengoyne Distillery in Dumgoyne. This distillery is known for its distillation process, as it is one of the slowest in the world. They believe that this makes the art of whisky-making better. Here, you’ll tour their grounds and learn about their complex production process from the expert.

The next stop will be at the Trossachs National Park, where you’ll see scenic forest-covered terrain and dramatic mountains. This is near Loch Lomond, where a hearty pub is located (you can get lunch here at your own expense). 

Afterwards, you will head to Deanston Distillery, a converted cotton mill in River Teith. This is the most environmentally friendly distillery in Scotland. Here, you can enjoy two types of single malt whiskies and have fun discovering the hints of different flavours. 

  • Start Time (and location): 9:30 AM at Edinburgh Bus Station 
  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Includes:  Admission fees – Tour and Whisky tastings at Glengoyne and Deanston Distilleries included, Small Group Tour (maximum 16 passengers), Top range 16-seat Mercedes mini-coach, The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide

3. 3-Day Speyside Whisky Tour From Edinburgh Including Admissions

⭐️ RATING: 5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 3 days | ✅ Book it!

Get to be part of the ultimate whisky experience from Edinburgh when you join this 3-day Speyside Whisky Tour. This whisky tour, in particular, lets you experience the best of Scotland’s central whisky-producing region while you visit four renowned distilleries. 

As you wind through the scenic Cairngorm National Park, your small group tour will visit Londores Abbey, Dalwhinne and Cardhu Distillery. You will learn about their unique process of creating Scotch whine at each distillery and taste their own version of malt whisky. 

Since you will be travelling and going on distillery tours from Edinburgh for three days, accommodation in the quaint village of Grantown-on-Spey is already included in the tour. 

“The tour was everything I hoped it would be! Dan Young, our guide, was excellent – knowledgeable alike on the history of Scotland as on the history of Scotch. Well-spoken, and great stories. Wonderful driving scenery; and excellently-chosen distilleries for the stops – each unique in its offerings of tours, whisky-making philosophy and lore. Highly recommended!”-Ramuh_H

This 3-day adventure begins in Edinburgh, where you will meet your guide and a small group of whiskey lovers. After setting off in the morning, you will head to Speyside, Scotland, home to more than 40 distilleries. 

Along the way, you can enjoy learning about single malt whisky and Scotland from your tour guide. There will also be scenic roads before you reach your first stop of the day – Lindores Abbey Distillery.

The tour and tasting in this distillery are already included in the tour, so all you have to do here is enjoy tasting a sample of a dram while learning about the drink’s history.

The next stop of the day is at the Royal Lochnagar Distillery, where you can sample the delights of the Royal Lochnagar Distillery. On your second day, you will explore Speyside, including a visit to Glen Moray Distillery, Speyside Cooperage Visitor Centre and Cardhu Distillery. 

The last day of this 3-day  distillery tour from Edinburgh features a visit to Dalwhinnie Distillery and Cairngorms National Park, the tour’s previous stop. Here, you can have your lunch and get up close to nature while you walk in a fantastic woodland amidst the tallest trees in Britain. 

  • Start Time (and location): 8:45 AM at Edinburgh Bus Station 
  • Duration: 3 days 
  • Includes:  Admission Fees: Includes entry to 5 Distilleries, two nights overnight accommodation, breakfast, and private facilities. Small Group Tour (maximum 16 passengers), Top range 16-seat Mercedes mini-coach, The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide

Pouring in tulip-shaped tasting glass Scotch single malt or blended whisky and whiskey bar on background

4. Holyrood Distillery Tour

⭐️ RATING: 5/5   | ⏳ LENGTH: 1 hour | ✅ Book it!

If you’re short on time and still want to experience Scotland’s distillery tours, this Holyrood Distillery tour is something you can consider. Holyrood Distillery is well-known in Scotland and is even an award-winning distillery and Scottish Attraction.

You can enjoy a guided flavour-forward experience here as you learn how gin and whiskey are made. Whether it may be through the traditional or innovative method, Holyrood Distillery will show you how their craft has made them one of the best distilleries in Scotland. 

“Marcos gave a thoughtful and engaging presentation on the young distillery’s approach. Along the way we got multiple tasty samples. Only wish we could get their Funky gin in the US!”-Neil_B

This Holyrood Distillery Tour only lasts for an hour, so it’s great for those who are short in time but want to go on a whiskey-tasting trip from Edinburgh. This tour already includes a guided experiential tour in a three-floored gin and whisky distillery and a tasting bar experience at the end of the tour. 

You will also have the chance to look around the distillery’s shop and have the option to get your bottle of gin or whiskey to enjoy back home. 

  • Start Time (and location): Time varies at Holyrood Distillery 
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Includes:  Alcoholic Beverages

Flight of single malt and blended scotch whisky served on old wooden window sill in Scottisch house in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, dram of whiskey

5. Whisky And Folklore In Edinburgh Including Four Single Malt Scotch Whiskies

⭐️ RATING: 5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 2 hours | ✅ Book it!

Discover a bespoke whiskey lounge built by Scottish locals just for tourists to experience what it’s like to be part of an intimate whisky-tasting event in Edinburgh.

During this Single scotch whisky experience, you will be sampling four single malt whiskies from four different whisky-producing regions of Scotland while seated in the comfort of a lounge. 

Aside from the whisky tasting, your hosts will also make the experience more engaging by sharing the stories and secrets of Scotch whisky-making.

Plus, this whisky and folklore tour highlights the chance to taste the difference between Scottish highland and lowland whisky with your taste buds and the help of an expert guide. 

“We had a wonderful time during this whisky tasting and folklore. Our guide, Ben, was fabulous. He was funny, knowledgeable about whisky and truly brought the folklore to life through his talented story telling. Definitely recommend this tour if you are in Edinburgh!!!” – Batsheva_K 

Before heading to the bespoke whiskey lounge, you will first have a short walk through the city before entering the bar reserved just for your group. Once you enter the bespoke lounge, you will have the place all to your own, which lets you experience an intimate whiskey tasting trip. 

During the duration of the tour, you will be learning from an expert all about Scottland’s whiskey while also trying four outstanding Single Malt Scotch from the major whisky-producing regions of the country. 

The whiskies you try will range from the relatively delicate and subtle flavours from the lowlands to Islay’s robust and bold tastes. The highlight of this tour includes the storytelling tradition that centres around the idea of people coming together while enjoying good whisky in a cosy place. 

  • Start Time (and location): Time varies at Hot Toddy 
  • Duration: 2 hours
  • Includes: Expert guide, whisky enthusiast and storyteller, Drink alternatives are available upon request for those who do not drink whisky, Alcoholic Beverages  

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND -  The Scotch Whisky Experience along the Royal Mile on July 28, 2017 in Edinburgh, Scotland. They provide an amazing experience for tourists interested in scotch whisky.

6. The Scotch Whisky Experience Guided Whisky Tour – An Introduction To Whisky

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 50 minutes | ✅ Book it!

For a comprehensive introduction to Whisky in Scotland, this guided whisky walking tour in Edinburgh is an ideal choice if you first want to get an overview of Scotland’s national drink. Compared to the other whisky tours from Edinburgh, this tour highlights lessons and sharing whisky information. 

Learn about how Scotland’s regions come to create the Scottish drink and how the weather affects the flavour of your glasses.

During a guided tasting session, you will also view one of the world’s largest Scotch whisky collections inside the Scotch Whisky Experience. This is a family-friendly experience, as 18-year-olds and under are still welcome to join.

“I enjoy this tour. It covered a lot of information about whiskey that I didn’t know. I loved the interactive experience with the scratch and sniff cards to find which type of whiskey I would prefer. They did a very good job putting together a informative experience tour.”-Kathleen_E

This tour will take place at the Scotch Whisky Experience beside Edinburgh Castle. Inside the area, you will be guided through and introduced to the world of whiskey. 

A guide will share information and stories about the process of making and the history of Whiskey while you tour around to view an extensive collection of Whiskey in the area. Throughout the tour, you can also learn about the five whisky-producing regions and secrets of single-malt Scotch production. 

This tour also includes a tasting of Scotch whisky (or non-alcoholic beverages for non-drinkers) at the end of the tour. No worries because audio guides of at least 20 languages are available, and at the end, you will be given a gift of a crystal whisky-tasting glass as your souvenir. 

  • Start Time (and location): Time varies at The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Duration: 50 minutes 
  • Includes: Dram of Scotch whisky, audio guides in 20 languages, Expert whisky guide, Crystal Whisky Glass souvenir

Drinking single malt Scotch whisky at sunset with sea, ocean or river view, private whisky distillery tours in Scotland, UK

7. Highland Lochs, Glens & Whisky Day Tour Including Admission

⭐️ RATING: 5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 10 hours | ✅ Book it!

Get away from Edinburgh and travel to Scotland’s rugged countryside to enjoy a whisky tour with a small group. You will be visiting the hilly lowlands and forested highlands of Scotland, where you’ll find the best distilleries in the country.

This tour also lets you see and admire the beauty of nature as you pass by and make time to visit waterfalls, rivers and lochs. You will then proceed with the whisky tour in quaint towns where you can enjoy tastings and discover distilleries while soaking up the stunning Scottish landscape.  

“A lovely full day. Really kind and informative guide (such a treat to be driven everywhere and learn and laugh along the way). The Scottish scenery was beyond beautiful. We really enjoyed our lunch in the small town of Pitlochry and the distillery, Aberfeldy, was also an awesome experience.” – Teva_H 

The full-day excursion starts at Edinburgh, where you will meet your guide and fellow tour joiners. You will then travel through the countryside and cross the Forth Road Bridge, one of the longest cantilever bridges. 

As you make your way through the lowlands and highlands, you can enjoy the scenic landscapes of Scotland while your guide shares exciting stories. You’ll mainly be traversing through mountains, thick forests, and farmland before you reach your first destination. 

The first stop is at the Hermitage Woodland Walk, where you will walk through the dense woodland to see the waterfalls. After your nature walks, you will head to the Queen’s View, the favourite queen’s view. 

Afterwards, you will visit Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery or Glenturret Distillery, where you will learn more about whisky. Your guide will share the process of making whisky and how this distillery has a different method. 

  • Start Time (and location):  9:00 AM at Edinburgh Bus Station
  • Duration: 10 hours 
  • Includes:  Admission Fee: Tour & Tasting at Dewar’s Aberfeldy, Distillery Small Group Tour (maximum 16 passengers), Top range 16-seat Mercedes mini-coach, The stories and services of an English-speaking driver-guide

Rows of alcoholic barrels are kept in stock. Distillery. Cognac, whiskey, wine, brandy. Alcohol in barrels, alcohol storage

8. The Ultimate Whisky Experience From Edinburgh

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5  | ⏳ LENGTH: 10 hours| ✅ Book it !

Another ultimate whisky experience from Edinburgh you can join is this 10-hour whisky distillery Edinburgh tour. You will travel to the Scottish Highlands from the city centre to get a taste of Scotch whiskies and have the whole day learning about the famous drink. 

This tour proudly offers a visit to unique destinations often missed by tourists. Between each distillery visit, you will also be making a side trip to see and explore the nature and landscape of Scotland. 

“This was a great day trip – gorgeous countryside, excellent distillery tour’s and tastings and all very informative. Our guide prepped us with background on Scottish whiskey and also Scottish history. Definitely recommend.”-Victor_P

This tour is ideal if you want to spend your day in Edinburgh and explore the countryside while tasting good whisky. As you make your way to the highlands, you will enjoy a commentary from your guide in the minibus and see the scenic route you will be taking.

Before reaching the first Distillery you will visit, you will pass by South Queensferry, where you can take great photos of the famous bridge.

Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery will be the first stop of this full-day tour, a renowned crafted whisky producer since 1898. You will have a full time of their warehouse and interactive heritage exhibition, plus a taste of Aberfeldy’s 12-year-old single malt whisky. 

You will also head to Glenturret Distillery in the afternoon, just outside Crieff. This is the oldest working distillery in Scotland and is still hand-crafting whisky using the last remaining hand-operated mash tun. 

  • Start Time (and location): 8:45 AM at Lawnmarket
  • Duration: 10 hours
  • Includes:  Driver/guide, Live commentary on board, Local guide, Air-conditioned vehicle

Tasting glasses with aged Scotch whisky or american bourbon on old dark wooden vintage table with barley grains

9. Whisky And Highland Waterfalls Day Trip From Edinburgh

⭐️ RATING: 4.5/5   | ⏳ LENGTH: 9 hours | ✅ Book it!

This tour combines two must-try experiences in Edinburgh, Scotland – a whisky tour experience and a highland waterfall day trip. During the journey, you will traverse the Scottish Highlands to enjoy a day at a distillery and marvel at the majesty of Loch Lomong and Trossachs National Park. 

Meanwhile, at the Glenturret Distillery, you will tour their warehouse, learn about their whisky-making process, and sample some of their malt whiskies. The tour ends with a visit to the Hermitage forest and the village of Dunkeld. 

“Dusty was a great guide. We had a wonderful time. He was very informative and gave us recommendations on places to eat. Our trip to the distillery was just the right amount of time. The waterfall was less than impressive but the walk in nature was very nice.”-Lenora_S

The trip begins with an early meet-up at Edinburgh with your small group tour and guide. From there, you will head to the National Wallace Monument, passing by spectacular views and landmarks such as the Stirling Castle.  

You will also be heading to admire the natural and cultural sights like Loch Earn and Loch Lomond and then make your way to visit Trossachs National Park.

The next stop of the tour is at the famous Glenturret whisky distillery. Here, you can sample a dram of whisky straight from its cask and learn about its traditional methods to produce single malt. 

The trip continues to the Hermitage, where you will stroll through lined paths and see the Braan River and Black Linn Falls. You’ll end the tour with a walk in nature, heading to the village of Dunkeld, where the famous Dunkeld Cathedral is located.  

  • Start Time (and location): Time varies at Edinburgh Bus Station 
  • Includes: Local Scottish English Speaking Guide, Air-conditioned vehicle

FAQs About whiskey tours from edinburgh

How long is the whisky tour in edinburgh.

A whisky tour in Edinburgh typically lasts around 1-3 hours, but can vary depending on the length of the guided part of the tour.

Visitors can expect to sample a variety of different whiskies, learn about their history and production process, and even find out more about Scotland’s whisky culture.

Of course, guests will also have plenty of opportunity to purchase bottles and other whisky-related merchandise while on the tour.

what is the most famous distillery in edinburgh?

Edinburgh is home to several renowned whisky distilleries, but the most famous of all is undoubtedly the Glenkinchie Distillery.

Located in Pencaitland, just outside of Edinburgh, it is one of only six distilleries in Scotland that make Scotch whisky.

The unique pale malt used in their whisky gives it a distinctive flavour and the distillery offers tours every day so you can learn more about how Scotch whisky is made.

So if you’re looking for the most famous distillery in Edinburgh, look no further than Glenkinchie!

is edinburgh known for whiskey?

Edinburgh is known for its whiskey, in particular Scotch whisky. The city has a long-standing tradition of whisky distilling and there are several whisky distilleries in the area.

Even within the city itself, there are several pubs and bars that serve Scotch whiskies from around Scotland. Edinburgh is a great place to visit for anyone looking to sample some of Scotland’s top tipple!

What is the best whisky distillery tour in Scotland

Whisky distilleries in Scotland offer some of the most interesting, unique, and educational tours in the world.

Some of the best whisky distillery tours in Scotland are offered by Edradour Distillery in Pitlochry, Glenkinchie Distillery near Edinburgh, The Macallan Distillery in Speyside, and The Oban Distillery on the west coast.

Each of these distilleries offers a variety of tour options for whisky enthusiasts to gain an insight into how traditional Scotch whisky is made. From a guided tour of the production facilities to an exclusive tasting with a master distiller, there is something for everyone.

Visitors can also buy bottles from the gift shop or sample their own blend after visiting one of these incredible distilleries.

No matter which distillery you choose to visit, you will be sure to have a memorable experience that will ignite your passion for whisky even further.

So if you’re looking for an unforgettable day out exploring Scotland’s rich whisky heritage then any one of these four fantastic whisky distilleries is sure to provide it!

Flight of Scottish whisky, tasting glasses with variety of single malts or blended whiskey spirits on distillery tour in Scotland, UK

Final Thoughts: whisky tours in edinburgh

Whisky tours from Edinburgh are an exciting and unique way to experience Scotland. From the Highlands to Lowlands, you can visit a variety of distilleries and be immersed in the culture and history behind Scotland’s national drink.

So why not make the most of your time here and book one of these amazing whisky tours? With knowledgeable local guides, you’ll get to sample some of the finest whisky Scotland has to offer!

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Samantha King

Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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best edinburgh whisky tour

The best whisky distilleries to visit in and around Edinburgh

When visiting the capital it can be very tempting to only stay within its walls, even for a whisky fan..

best edinburgh whisky tour

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What with the educational fun of the Scotch Whisky Experience, the inviting atmospheres of the bars and the knowledgeable and friendly shops selling bottles galore.

And now with Holyrood Distillery opened to the public , all of your whisky whims are catered for.

However, should you venture outside of the city, there are a few of the country's top distilleries that are within a couple of hours drive from the capital.

Here is a list of the closest distilleries to Edinburgh that you can visit - so grab your designated driver and go see some whisky making.

The city centre...

Holyrood distillery  .

(15 minute walk from the Royal Mile - 19 St Leonard's Ln, Edinburgh EH8 9SH)

best edinburgh whisky tour

The first single malt whisky distillery in the city centre in almost a century has just opened to the public.

Though this exciting modern distillery doesn't have its own whisky (yet) it does have its own gin and a variety of tours including a masterclass with head distiller Jack Mayo, a gin experience and a walking tour led by Justine Hazlehurst, founder of Kask Whisky and Fife Whisky Festival.

You can browse the Holyrood Distillery range here .

Tours: Basic - £8 per person, gin and whisky experiences £22 per person and whisky masterclass £80 per person. 

• READ MORE: Holyrood Distillery: First look inside Edinburgh's newest whisky distillery

Within 40 minutes..., glenkinchie distillery .

(40 minutes from Edinburgh, Pencaitland, Trenant, EH 34 5ET)

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

Picture: Diageo

Only 15 miles from the capital lies Edinburgh's unofficial distillery, home of the 'Edinburgh malt' and one of the best equipped in the country for tours.

With an incredible scale model to show the process involved in whisky making, a state of the art visitor centre and an intimate tour, it's well worth checking out.

Best of all, they even offer a shuttle service from the centre of Edinburgh to Glenkinchie twice a day, 7 days a week, which you can book by calling the distillery.

You can browse the Glenkinchie range here .

Tours: £10 per person

• read more:  glenkinchie distillery in east lothian opens the doors to its newly extended visitor centre, within an hour or so..., deanston distillery .

(One hour and 10 minutes from Edinburgh, Doune, FK16 6AG)

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

Deanston Distillery and River Teith. Picture: Colin Smith\Geograph

Having played a starring role in the Ken Loach film, The Angels' Share, (well for the interior shots) Deanston distillery isn't too far to get to by car from Edinburgh, and is another exciting example of whisky making in action.

Though it's not the prettiest of the distilleries on this list, be in no doubt that it produces some tasty liquid, while also sporting some excellent visitor facilities - which show how the distillery grew from a cotton mill to a modern day production site.

You can browse the Deanston range here .

Tours: £9 (basic) to £35 per person

Clydeside distillery .

(One hour and 12 mins from Edinburgh, 100 Stobcross Rd, Glasgow G3 8QQ)

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

Picture: Trip Advisor

Let's face it, Glasgow is only an hour from the capital and though the two cities are like chalk and cheese, they both know whisky and in the Clydeside Distillery, the first in Scotland's biggest city with a fully functioning visitor centre (Glasgow Distillery being the first to produce single malt) they have a cracking excuse to make your way there for a day trip.

Learn all about the whisky barons and Glasgow's rich history of shipbuilding and sea trade, before finding all about how this pretty distillery is making its first ever single malt which should be available in a few years or so.

It's within walking distance from the city centre and also has an incredible whisky shop and cafe that are both worth visiting if you make your way there.

You can buy a bottle of Clydeside's first release, Stobcross, by clicking this link .

Tours: £15 (basic) to £150 per person 

• read more:  spirit flows on the clyde as glasgow’s clydeside distillery officially opens, lindores abbey distillery, (abbey rd, newburgh, cupar ky14 6hh).

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

The spiritual home of Scotch whisky is also not far from the capital, it was here, that in 1494 that King James IV sent a commission to a friar living at the Abbey to make for him aqua vitae.

This would be the first recorded (in written form) reference to (whisky) spirit making in the country, nowadays what was once home to Friar John (the original spirit maker) is now home to one of Scotland's new distilleries, and perhaps rather aptly, Aqua Vitae is being made there once again.

Enjoy a tour around the fledgeling distillery and learn all about the history of the Abbey and the production site itself before enjoying an Aqua Vitae .

You can browse and buy the Lindores range here .

Tours: £12.50 per person (basic) to £75

Within an hour and a half..., kingsbarns distillery , (kingsbarns, st andrews ky16 8qe).

Whisky Distilleries Edinburgh

Picture: Kingsbarns

This shiny new distillery is part of the resurgence of whisky making in the kingdom of Fife and is another great production site doing things their own way.

Check out one of their excellent tours before relaxing with a  soup, coffee or a sandwich on the south-east facing cafe and terrace. Don't worry, if you have a larger group and want to stay for dinner, there are no less than two impressive rooms you can rent out for private dining.

Check out the Kingsbarn range here .

And should you want to try something other than whisky, why not check Kingsbarns sister distillery, Darnley's, where the exciting Darnley's gin is made.

Tours: Three different tours ranging from £10 (basic) -£50 per person with gin tours also available

The scotsman, get in touch.

Wandering Crystal

The 6 Best Whisky Tours in Edinburgh

What is a visit to Edinburgh without a tour and a tasting of Scotland’s most iconic drink? Head on one of the best whisky tours in Edinburgh and see which aroma and flavour of Scotch whisky you love.

Whether you are looking for a tour with all the bells and whistles of a distillery tour, drinking underground in Edinburgh’s old town, or feeling like joining an old friend for a whisky tasting, there is a tour for everyone.

Discover which region of Scotland has the whisky that tastes best to you – and sample the rest!  

Have you ever noticed that whisky is spelled differently in Scotland? So, is it Whisky Tours in Edinburgh or Whiskey Tours in Edinburgh?

The spelling is entirely due to the region of the world the grain spirits are distilled in! So, in the United States, whiskey is spelled with an e, whereas in Scotland, it is spelled without an e. So, if you ever see “Scotch Whiskey,” you will know it’s not really from Scotland!

Scotch Whisky Bottles on display - some bottles are shaped like Scottish Bagpipers. One of the best whisky tours in Edinburgh.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Please see my  Privacy Policy  for more information.

The Scotch Whisky Experience Guided Whisky Tour

The Scotch Whisky Experience is one of the best whisky tours in Edinburgh. The tour provides extensive information about whisky from all over Scotland. Several regions in Scotland produce whisky with various flavours and aromas. Each area is quite different, and on this tour, you get to smell them all and see which flavour you want to try.

What makes this one of the best whisky tours in Edinburgh? Two things, actually! First, you get to ride ‘inside” a whisky barrel (it’s like a ride that reminds me of the Magic School Bus or Willy Wonka). You learn how whisky is made as you ride around the building. 

What makes the Scotch Whisky Experience the best whisky tour in Edinburgh?

The second is that the Scotch Whisky Experience is home to the world’s largest whisky collection. The room it is kept in looks incredible and is something you may have never experienced before. 

Also, you get gifted a crystal whisky-tasting glass with a shot of whisky for you to take home. Well, drink the whisky on the tour and take the empty glass home.

The Scotch Whisky Experience is located at the top of Castlehill, right next to Edinburgh Castle, so it is easy to find.

If you take one whisky tour in Edinburgh, this is the one to take. It’s unique and fun, and I had a blast on every tour I took. If you are new to whisky and want to learn more, this is the perfect whisky tour for people who have never tried whisky before. By the time the tour ends – you will be an expert.

A trip to the Scotch Whisky Experience was one of the best things to do in Edinburgh. I wrote about my experience and why you should also visit and take a tour!

Book here: The Scotch Whisky Experience Guided Whisky Tour – An Introduction to Whisky

Whisky and Folklore in Edinburgh

If you are a fan of folklore, I recommend taking the Whisky and Folklore in Edinburgh tour . It combines the two best things in Edinburgh – drinking and incredible storytelling! The tour heads to the bespoke whisky lounge, Hot Toddy, where you can sample four fantastic single-malt scotch whiskies.

You will get to taste whisky from four different regions in Scotland. Taste the difference between whisky from the Highlands compared to lowland whisky.

The venue’s atmosphere makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You get the entire downstairs bar for your tour and drink incredible tasting whisky while listening to folklore – like they used to throughout Scottish history.

Book here: Whisky and Folklore in Edinburgh Including Four Single Malt Scotch Whiskies

Gin and Whisky Tour of Holyrood Distillery

Head down to the Holyrood Distillery for one of the best whiskey tours in Edinburgh. The Gin and Whisky Tour will take a guided tour through a gin distillery and whisky distillery with a tasting bar and shop where you can buy your favourite drink.

You will be joined by an experienced guide passionate about Scottish whisky and gin. The facility is only a few years old and is clean and stunning inside. As you tour the distillery, you will learn about their process for making gin and whisky. It’s an interactive experience; you get to try different samples of the spirits they produce right in the distillery!

Book here: Gin and Whisky Tour of Holyrood Distillery

90-minute Introduction to Whisky in the Old Town of Edinburgh

Do you want to drink some of Scotland’s best tasting whisky in Edinburgh? The 90-minute introduction to Whisky in the Old Town of Edinburgh is a great tour for people who want to learn about Scotland’s national drink.

What makes this one of the best whisky tours in Edinburgh? The venue is located underground in The Lost Close in Edinburgh’s Old Town. The space is newly uncovered and sits well below Edinburgh’s streets.

It’s a really unusual venue, and it feels really intimate (max eight guests!) and is the perfect place to take loads of incredible photos of you and your friends.

So, if you want an evening filled with drink and the history of Scottish Whisky in Edinburgh’s underground vaults, I recommend taking this tour.

Book here: 90-minute introduction to Whisky in the Old Town of Edinburgh

Whisky Tasting in a Traditional Edinburgh Bar

If you want to take a very small (or individual group) whisky tour in Edinburgh, check out the Whisky Tasting in a Traditional Edinburgh Bar . Each tour is personally tailored to you and your group, so every tour is different and perfect for what you want in a whisky tasting.

You will be joined by tour guide Neil at the Jolly Judge Bar, where you will talk all things whisky. A tour with Neil is like stepping out for drinks with a friend. You will get an introduction to single malt Scotch Whisky while tasting four different servings paired with confectionary so you can truly experience the flavour of each drink.

The tour is not like any of the other whisky tours in Edinburgh. Rather than a tour of a facility (which is amazing), this tour focuses on the history of whisky and tasting a different dram from all four regions. If you are looking for an intimate tour focusing on whisky tasting, this tour is for you.

Book here: Whisky Tasting in a Traditional Edinburgh Bar

Original Whisky Tasting Experience

Visit Edinburgh’s famous Waverly Bar to enjoy samples of Scottish whisky blends, including light, rough and malt whisky. The pub has a fantastic atmosphere that adds a delightful charm to the whisky drinking experience.

On the Original Whisky Tasting Experience , your tour guide will teach you everything you need to know about each whisky you get to try (which is four different flavours!)

This tour is conducted by the City of Edinburgh Tours, which has some of the best ghost tours in Edinburgh ! So, check them out and have an evening of terror after your day of drinking whisky.

Book here: Original Whisky Tasting Experience

Other Unique Things to Do in Edinburgh

  • 18 Fun Things to Do in Edinburgh for Adults
  • The Best Vaults Tour in Edinburgh
  • 28 Unusual Things to do in Edinburgh
  • The Best Haunted Pubs in Edinburgh
  • 32 Things to Do in Edinburgh
  • The 8 Best Pub Crawls in Edinburgh

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We’re not just here for whisky drinkers, we’re here for those looking to try something new. Come on in to Johnnie Walker Princes Street for five-star tours, immersive tastings, rooftop bars, astonishing views of Edinburgh Castle, expertly crafted cocktails, locally sourced cuisine, an outstanding store, and amazing spaces you can hire, all in one unique building right in the heart of Scotland’s capital.

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Whether you’re a whisky fan or not, this five-star experience will go beyond expectations with interactive projections, live performances and three cocktails specially made to match your flavour profile. Non-alcoholic drinks are also available.

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Join us in our top floor Explorers' Bothy bar for a top tier whisky tasting. Led by our specialist, you’ll enjoy a curated exploration of five extraordinary Scottish whiskies, each matured for a minimum of 12 years.

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Come experience STIR, an exclusive cocktails and cuisine collaboration launched with James & Maria Close of the two Michelin starred restaurant Raby Hunt. Try the new menu accompanied by a live jazz band.

Ghost & Royal Luxury Whisky And Artisanal Chocolate Pairing

Join us for a special tutored tasting of four iconic Johnnie Walker whiskies, each accompanied by a luxury chocolate truffle. Guided by our whisky experts.

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Step into our unique underground cellar and enjoy exceptional whiskies taken straight from the cask, including our exclusive Johnnie Walker Princes Street expression made right here.

JWPS History Of Adventure Johnnie Walker Princes Street Edinburgh

Discover the legends behind the label as our expert Archivist takes you through the inspiring story of John Walker and sons, served with a cocktail and an immersive performance.

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Discover the beautifully balanced flavours of two remarkable Johnnie Walker whiskies in a new 45 minute sensory experience.

Discover the best tours, immersive experiences, and more. Perfect for locals and visitors alike, our selection has something for everyone. Start exploring now and make unforgettable memories in Edinburgh.

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Awarded a 5* visitor attraction by VisitScotland

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Rated 5* on TripAdvisor

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“This experience is like no other whisky tour, it's on a completely different level...Well worth the money. Would highly recommend it.”

Review 2

“The rooftop views over Edinburgh were awesome!”

rooftop bars

The 1820 rooftop bar.

Break tradition and treat your tastebuds with our contemporary menu. Served in our 1820 rooftop bar, enjoy delicious drinks and dishes with views of Edinburgh Castle. Explore the menu and book your table today.

The Explorers' Bothy

Come experience STIR, where Michelin star cuisine meets world-class mixology. Exclusive to our Explorers' Bothy bar, this must-try tasting experience serves exceptional whisky cocktails alongside small pairing plates created by two Michelin Star chefs. Book your experience now and have your senses stirred.

Join us in the Explorers' Bothy bar from 7pm-10pm on Fridays & Saturdays to sip world-class cocktails while you listen to the sultry tones from guest artists and a live band.

Discover this limited edition, experimental blend, exclusive to Johnnie Walker Princes Street during this guided whisky tasting experience. This whisky has been distilled using craft and heritage, finished in American oak casks in the cellar of Johnnie Walker Princes Street.

We’d like to invite you to a unique edition of this experience. Join us for a 90-minute tutored tasting led by a whisky specialist, with assistance from British Sign Language interpreters from Deaf Action.

Browse our range of special events, tastings and experiences at Johnnie Walker Princes Street to find the perfect one for you.

Shop at Johnnie Walker Princes Street

Visit our retail area on the ground floor at Johnnie Walker Princes Street to discover limited edition whiskies, clothing and merchandise that you won't find anywhere else. You can even bottle your own whisky from our seasonal blends and engrave your own message. Perfect for a gift or memento of your visit.

Plan Your Visit

Check out our opening hours, location, accessibility information and FAQs to start planning your visit.

Stride into our world

Join our community of whisky explorers and stride into the world of Johnnie Walker Princes Street.

Thank You For Choosing To Make Every Sip a Story.

This is just the first step to a whole new whisky experience. We're glad to have you on board. Keep walking.

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Whisky Wheels



 Our Edinburgh whisky tour is a fantastic day tour experience!

Secure your space and book our edinburgh whisky tour below..

Edinburgh has a long and rich history, but the city has recently come back into the fore as a top class whisky tourism destination. Join us on a full day or half day tour of Scotland’s capital where you’ll sample the best whisky around.

best edinburgh whisky tour

Edinburgh is a modern and contemporary city, however it has fascinating history and many spirit drinks are a big part in Edinburgh’s growth to one of the most iconic cities in Europe. There are records of whisky being produced in Edinburgh as far back as 1505 with the Guild of Barbers and Surgeons being provided the only licence for distilling whisky in Edinburgh by James IV of Scotland.

Fast forward to 1777 and there were eight licensed stills in Edinburgh, however, as illegal distilling was common practice at the time, there were estimated to be around four hundred illicit stills.

Currently, there are three single malt distilleries in Edinburgh and we have selected Glenkinchie and Holyrood distillery as two stops on your Edinburgh whisky tour. Our selections for your tutored tastings include, but are not limited to the Scotch malt whisky society and Usquabe bar and larder.

Edinburgh Whisky Tour from Whisky Wheels


Rain or shine, weekday or weekend, no group too small or large, the one way to guarantee a great time during your stay in Scotland’s capital is to book your Edinburgh whisky tour. 

This is an example itinerary that we use as a guide, but there may be slight adjustments due to availability.


Hotel Pickup & Glenkinchie

Hotel/B&B pickup – 9:00am Glenkinchie – 10:00am – 11:30am

We’ll collect you from your hotel or B&B ready to start your Edinburgh whisky tour at 9:00am sharp. First stop is Glenkinchie Distillery, a Scottish single malt whisky distillery in East Lothian, Scotland. Arguably the best of the six distilleries in the Lowland region. The home of ‘The Edinburgh Malt’ is situated in the picturesque countryside of East Lothian and provides a superb exhibition in the listed red brick buildings. You’ll take part in the Glenkinchie distillery tour and fantastic tasting, guided by a local expert.


Lunch and whisky tasting

12:00pm – 2:00pm.

Our usual stop for lunch and a tutored tasting is the Scottish Malt Whisky Society. The society was formed in 1983 by a group of unconventional ‘water of life’ experts.  Quite different from a distillery tasting, the society exists to present their selected single cask whisky in its purest form, put flavour above all else, while coming up with some very unusual names for each of their bottles. Their motto: “We’re united and constant in our passion – to share the world’s best whiskies, to bring them to life, and to make you proud to belong to the world’s most colourful whisky club.” Due to the connections we have at the society , we can arrange for you or your group to be signed in for a great tasting experience.


Holyrood Distillery

2:30pm – 4:00pm

 Our final stop for your Edinburgh whisky tour is the newly built Holyrood distillery. Holyrood is all about flavour and having a memorable and sensory experience. Not held back by history or traditions, you will learn to read your nose, recognise the power of smell and participate in a practical hands-on distillery tour.

After the excellent distillery tour and tasting with your local distillery guide, we finish the tour around 4:00pm.

Drop off at your accommodation for 4:30pm.

Itinerary same as outlined above that we stick to. However, due to factors out-with our control, it’s very rare that we may have to use other distilleries and places for lunch nearby to Edinburgh. This will be communicated in advance and doesn’t affect the quality of experience.

Full Day Pricing

Our Edinburgh whisky tour is available for individuals or groups of up to 16 people. 

Hotel pick-up & drop off

Comfortable vehicle with driver

Distillery entry

Whisky tasting & guide

At least 3 whiskies per stop

Bottled water on the tour bus

Choose your tour date:

Fully booked on the day you’re visiting Edinburgh? Or have a larger group? Give us a call or email and we’ll see what we can do! 07549839684 or [email protected]


Looking to take a shorter whisky tour in Edinburgh during your visit?  Why not book our half day whisky tour instead? 

Half Day Tour

Hotel pickup – 9:00am Glenkinchie – 10:00am – 11:30am We’ll collect you from your accommodation and head to Glenkinchie Distillery for a distillery tour and tasting, including four whiskies. This is a 1.5 hour sensory and heritage experience.

Depart Glenkinchie – 12.00pm After the tour ends, we’ll head back to Edinburgh for 12:45. We can sign you in to the Exclusive Malt Whisky Society for lunch, Usquabae bar and larder or drop off at your accommodation.

Half Day Pricing

A half-day Edinburgh whisky tour finishing at midday, perfect when you have less time in the capital.

Pick-up & drop off (Malone’s)

Whisky tasting

Bottled water on tour bus

Fully booked on the day you’re visiting Edinburgh? Or have a larger group? Give us a call or email and we’ll see what we can do! 07549839684 or [email protected]

“This experience was amazing! Euan was very professional and guided us to our two first distilleries in our first visit to Scotland also. 100% recommended!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What is your covid-19 policy.

  • Hand sanitizer available to travelers and staff.
  • Social distancing enforced throughout experience.
  • Regularly sanitized high-traffic areas.
  • Gear/equipment sanitized between use.
  • Transportation vehicles regularly sanitized.
  • Guides required to regularly wash hands.
  • Regular temperature checks for staff.

When does the whisky tour run?

The tours run 7 days per week, you’ll see a calendar with date options to choose from. If you’re trying to book a tour within 24 hours of the start date, please call or email to check short notice availability.

Do you offer collection/drop-off at hotels?

The cost of the full day Edinburgh whisky tour includes collection and drop off at your accommodation (within 10 miles of Edinburgh).

If you are further away from Edinburgh, please email us your accommodation address and we can send a personalised quote from there – [email protected]

The half day tour has a pick up and drop off location at Malone’s pub, 242 Morrison Street, Edinburgh.

What's included in the full day tour cost?

Free pickup and drop off from your accommodation or from a location in Edinburgh (within 10 miles). Two stops for whisky distillery tours and tastings – at least 3 whiskies provided per stop. One stop for a tutored tasting – at least 3 whiskies provided. Driver Guide. Bottled water provided in the tour vehicle. Itinerary booked and planned and communicated by text or email. Lunch table booked.

Excluded: Food, extra whisky

What's included in the half day tour cost?

Free pickup and drop off from Malone’s pub, 242 Morrison Street, Edinburgh, One stop for whisky distillery tour and tastings – at least 3 whiskies provided. Driver Guide. Bottled water provided in the tour vehicle. Itinerary booked and planned and communicated by text or email. Lunch table booked at the Exclusive Malt Whisky Society for lunch, Usquabae bar and larder if requested.

What group size is the whisky tour?

This tour is tailored to your unique circumstances. It’s available as a private 1-2-1 your or any group size up to 16 people.

I have another question

If you have any questions not addressed here, please email us at [email protected] or call us on: 07549839684

Sample the best whisky in Edinburgh with WhiskyWheels

Our reviews speak for themselves, our Edinburgh whisky tours are fantastic value for money

We provide bespoke whisky tours in Scotland.

07549 839 684 (UK)


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Tours & Experiences

The perfect journey through the world of Scotch whisky. We are storytellers; passionate about sharing with you our love for Scotch whisky and Scotland. Take one of our tours to widen your knowledge, explore flavours and create whisky memories. *New tour experience now launched!*

What an incredible experience it was!!! Honestly, it was beyond my expectation! You guys made the evening! Whisky Taster

Our Tours & Experiences (book up to 3 months in advance)

A taste of scotland, tasting tales, the gold tour, the platinum tour, the silver tour.

Whisky tasting in one of the world's largest collections of Scotch whisky.

The whisky collection is simply mind blowing and the blender's room is epic! Very interesting venue. The tour guide was very approachable and friendly.

Guide explains the origins of Scotch whisky in an immersive tour area

This is the second time I've done this tour and I have to say its one of my favourite experiences! I learnt a lot about whisky during this tour.

Whisky Bond - whisky tasting with people

As a whisky drinker but in no way an expert - after this tour, I am feeling pretty confident about my whisky knowledge! Fun and entertaining!

One of the World's Largest Collection of Scotch whisky

A tasting in the whisky vaults…a sight to behold with thousands of whiskies to look at!

Customers in the whisky collection, enjoying their tour.

A really informative and great experience.

Forth Rail Bridge in Sense of Scotland

It was a perfect activity to do with friends and family during our visit to Edinburgh.

Tasting Tales experience, whisky staves and cheese tasting.

Five stars for the Whisky Experience and especially to Aiden who was a fantastic, informative host on our experience.

Whisky tasting flight

Gift Vouchers & Gift Tickets

Choose from our selection of open e-gift tickets to book and redeem whenever you wish. Monetary gift vouchers are available on-site for Amber Restaurant or our Whisky Shop.

6 Best Distillery Tours & Whisky Experiences in Edinburgh

Home > Blog > 6 Best Distillery Tours & Whisky Experiences in Edinburgh

“ What whisky will not cure, there is no cure for ” – Irish proverb

Our Irish neighbours have always had a way with words and we Scots couldn’t agree more about the restorative powers of whisky. The faith Scots have in the spirit can even be seen in the word’s etymology – the Gaelic word ‘usquebaugh’ (meaning ‘water of life’) is where ‘whisky’ comes from.

Whisky has been lovingly distilled in Scotland for centuries, with the earliest reference of the drink coming from 1494 – only two years after the Americas were discovered.

So when you visit Scotland, it almost seems sacrilegious not to sample the local fayre, and where better to do this than in the capital city of Edinburgh?

Absolute Escapes have specialised in self-drive holidays in Scotland since 2004, and from a brief scroll through our website, you might have noticed that we offer whisky-themed itineraries . These are perfect for whisky devotees who can think of nothing better than to plan their entire holiday around their favourite drink.

However, we know that circumstances don’t always allow for a full-blown week of whisky, but there’s no need to worry! Located in Edinburgh, each member of our team prides themselves on knowing the city inside out and we thought we’d share some recommendations for experiences that are sure to quench your thirst.

Read on for our recommendations of the best whisky experiences in and around Edinburgh.

Holyrood Distillery

Set in a very convenient location, Holyrood Distillery is worryingly easy to stumble into after braving Arthur’s Seat. The difficult part is stumbling out again!

This distillery takes inspiration from the beautiful city it is rooted in, echoing Edinburgh’s energy and spirit (pun intended!) when making their signature drinks. Their tours focus on the city’s compelling distilling history which they argue is not talked about enough, and they even created a smoky cask offering inspired by Edinburgh’s affectionate nickname, Auld Reekie (Old Smoky).

The distillery opened in 2019 so it isn’t steeped in history or shackled by tradition, allowing its owners the creative freedom to create a unique, interactive experience for their visitors.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the Holyrood Distillery offers an abundance of tours. For example, they run daily Gin and Whisky Tours as well as purely Whisky Tours and Tastings if you don’t want to be distracted by gin.

If you would like something a little different, on certain dates they run a walking tour focusing on Edinburgh’s brewing and distilling past and includes tastings.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Holyrood Distillery (@holyrooddistillery)

Scotch Whisky Experience

Located at the top of the historic Royal Mile, the Scotch Whisky Experience takes pride in its ability to bring the story of whisky to life.

Its renowned barrel ride gently guides you from relaxing Gladiator-style fields of barley to the maturation of the whisky in oak casks. Taking you through every step of the process of making whisky, their barrel ride is relaxing, fun and informative – what more could you want?

After stepping back into the real world, your tour guide will explain the differences between Scotland’s distinct whisky regions and help you choose a dram that is perfect for your tastes.

I think the most captivating part of the experience is the unparalleled collection of over 3,300 whiskies. Visitors should not overlook the opportunity to visit such an influential collection of Scotch whiskies.

They offer different tours to fit exactly what you are looking for in a whisky experience. For example, their three-hour ‘A Taste of Scotland’ tour includes a tutored tasting of five different whiskies and a delicious tasting menu. On the other end of the spectrum, their ‘Silver Tour’ includes one tasting and lasts nearly an hour, so it’s perfect for visitors on a tighter schedule.

We recommend this experience so much that we include tickets for the Scotch Whisky Experience in our Highlands & Islands Malt Whisky Trail – so you won’t even have to book it yourself!

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by The Scotch Whisky Experience (@scotchwhiskyexp)

Johnnie Walker Princes Street

If you would prefer an experience which isn’t just interactive but immersive, the newly-opened Johnnie Walker Princes Street experience is for you!

The unbridled creativity of their tours creates a self-proclaimed ‘flavour-filled celebration’ which is designed to be memorable. However, the Johnnie Walker Experience may not be the best choice for die-hard whisky connoisseurs who might be put off by the ‘flashy’ presentation of their favourite drink.

Their daily Johnnie Walker Journey of Flavour includes whisky drinks that are personalised to your preferences. This experience is an excellent option for groups with members who don’t enjoy pure whisky, as they can try cocktails instead of drams and the tour itself is quite a spectacle.

As well as tours, they offer events such as ‘Funk, Jazz & Soul Sundays’. Tickets for this event include live music and a two-course lunch paired with drinks. It is always worth checking their website to see what exciting events they have planned next.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Double Take Projections (@doubletakeprojections)

Whisky & Folklore Tour

If you would prefer a more sedentary whisky experience, this Whisky and Folklore Tour provides a fun, aural journey through Scotland’s distilling history.

These tours take place in a cosy, historic pub in Edinburgh city centre. Enjoy and compare four different whiskies from different whisky regions of Scotland whilst listening to the fascinating stories your guide entertains you with.

Some argue that storytelling and whisky form the backbone of Scottish culture so it is only right that they have been combined into one engaging tour.

To allow for complete flexibility, you can book a private tour for a time that suits you perfectly. Otherwise, these tours take place daily at 17.00 and take approximately two hours.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Little Fish Tours (@littlefishtours)

Summerhall Drinks Lab

If sitting back and relaxing isn’t quite your style, and your favourite way to enjoy whisky is with a snack, you may be more interested in Summerhall Drinks Lab’s regular events.

Another conveniently-located venue, Summerhall offers a Whisky and Vegan Cheese experience and prides itself on the unique pairing experience it has created.

The experience begins with shaking your own whisky cocktail, which you can savour whilst your guide introduces you to three different single malt whiskies paired with locally-made vegan cheeses.

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Summerhall Drinks Lab (@shdrinkslab)

Glenkinchie Distillery

On arrival at Glenkinchie Distillery , whisky-lovers are greeted by relaxing music, honey-coloured wood and gentle, enticing scents. This distillery perfectly walks the line between friendly and professional. You can tell that the tour guides take pride in Glenkinchie’s offering and they are prepared to answer any questions you may have.

This distillery is the Lowland home of Johnnie Walker and tours delve into the rich tradition of creating whisky as visitors learn about the distillery’s history.

Most of the tour is centred around the process of making their whisky. Believe me, when your guide explains how to create such a variety of flavours from the same three ingredients you’ll start to believe that Harry Potter isn’t the only magical thing about Scotland!

Before tasting the whisky, immerse yourself in their sensory theatre whilst you listen to the differences between the spirits made in the five whisky regions of Scotland – Campbeltown, Speyside, Islay, Lowland and Highland.

This is a fully operational distillery and they offer a selection of tours and tastings including a Journey of Flavour Tour, a Flavour and Cask Experience, and a Behind the Scenes Tour and Tasting.

This distillery is a 30-minute drive from the centre of Edinburgh, although we would recommend booking a taxi that will take you directly from the city centre to their doorstep so no one needs to suffer as a designated driver – just remember to book it first!

  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by lettyp1 (@lettyp1)

Whisky Pubs

Perhaps even after reading through our suggestions, you’d prefer to experience whisky the way it was originally meant to be enjoyed – in a pub. In that case, these are some recommendations for our favourite whisky bars around Edinburgh.

  • Whiski Rooms : Here you can appreciate a wide range of whiskies whilst looking out over the city. With over 300 whiskies, even those unconvinced by the spirit will be able to find something they like. This bar also has a shop so if you try anything you like you can take a bottle home with you.
  • Teuchters Landing : Enjoy this bar’s beautiful waterside setting in Leith with a drink in hand as you explore their range of whiskies.
  • The Scottish Malt Whisky Society : Although this is primarily a member’s society, the Scottish Malt Whisky Society’s Kaleidoscope Bar on Queen Street is open to non-members six days a week. This prestigious venue has everything you need for an unforgettable whisky experience. It has even been recognised as the Icons of Whisky Global Bar of the Year in Whisky Magazine’s World Whisky Awards 2022.
  • Usquabae : With well-informed, welcoming staff and a cosy atmosphere, the bartenders at Usquabae are well-equipped to recommend whiskies that will suit you perfectly.
  View this post on Instagram   A post shared by Whiski Rooms (@whiskirooms)

Sample Scotland’s Whisky Trails with Absolute Escapes

So there you have it, although I have barely scratched the surface of what Edinburgh has to offer, this guide shows that the city has a whisky experience for everyone.

For an excellent way to experience Scotland, why not take a look at our award-winning self-drive holidays ? However, if one whisky experience isn’t enough for you, perhaps one of our Whisky Trails will satisfy you!

For those people who are still unconvinced by whisky, if there was ever a place to be converted, it’s here!

Tessa Kilpatrick

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The Best Places To Go Whisky Tasting In Edinburgh

Many visitors to Edinburgh have savouring a taste of whisky in one of the Capital’s historic bars as a top bucket list item. In this blog, our travel experts share the top spots to try a wee dram while in Edinburgh.

So choose your favourite dram, pour yourself a wee nip and read on. If we don’t have you saying “Slàinte Mhath” by the end of reading this, we haven’t done our job! 

Scotch Whisky Facts

Bottles of Whisky

Where better to begin than by returning to basics and looking at what whisky actually is? Whisky is a distilled spirit made from three innocuous ingredients – water, cereals and yeast. The name whisky actually comes from the Gaelic Uisge Beatha, which means “water of life”.

Did you know that Scotland has five whisky-producing areas? Campbeltown, Highland, Islay , Lowland, and Speyside. Each region has its own unique flavour, but whiskies from Islay are famous for their peaty and smoky flavours.

At this point, we’d like to mention that we spell whisky without an e in Scotland. You’ll notice the alternative spelling whiskey is more common in Ireland and the USA. 

Whisky Tasting Edinburgh

There is no better place to immerse yourself in the rich world of Scottish whisky. Edinburgh is a city that’s home to many legendary bars, specialist shops and whisky-themed attractions. It’s the perfect destination for whisky enthusiasts.

Johnnie Walker Princes Street at night

Johnnie Walker Princes Street is a newly opened attraction which offers top-class cocktails and fantastic dining opportunities. This stellar whisky destination extends over 8 floors, including the 1820 rooftop bar offering panoramic views over the city skyline. 

The Scotch Whisky Society was founded in 1983 and is a member organisation. SMWS 28 Queen Street is a grand townhouse in the heart of the Georgian New Town and home to the famous Kaleidoscope Bar, which is open to the public.

The bar is stocked with over 200 different whisky bottles offering single malts from over 137 distilleries, which can be paired with delicious Scottish bar food.

Whisky distillery in Edinburgh

Guide at Holyrood Distillery

If you’re looking for a distillery in the heart of Edinburgh, there’s only one place to go – the Holyrood Distillery. Found just a few minutes walk from the Royal Mile, this is a recent (and much welcomed) addition to the Scottish capital. Being so conveniently located within the city, there’s no excuse not to pop into the visitor centre and have a wee dram at the visitor centre. 

Oh, and before we forget, if you take some photos at the distillery, do as the Latin Americans do and shout out “whisky” instead of the traditional “cheese” when the photo is being snapped!  

Whisky distillery near Edinburgh

If you can travel a little bit further afield (yet still within easy access to Edinburgh), the good news is that you’ll be spoilt for choice distillery-wise!  

Glenkinchie Distillery

Glenkinchie Distillery is located in the East Lothian village of Pencaitland, around 15 miles from the city centre. Glenkinchie is a member of the “Four Corners of Scotland Distillery Club” as it provides one of the malts used to blend Johnnie Walker whisky. You’ll also be able to learn more about their Lowland-style whisky on one of the splendid guided tours. 

Head westwards to visit the recently opened Clydeside Distillery in Glasgow. Situated alongside the River Clyde, it offers another Lowland-style malt that we’re sure won’t disappoint. The distillery is a stop on the Glasgow City Tour . 

At the time of writing, there are over 140 operational distilleries (146 to be precise) in Scotland, so wherever you find yourself in Scotland, you won’t be far from some whisky – that’s a guarantee!  

Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh

Scotch Whisky Experience

An article about Scotch whisky wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the award-winning Scotch Whisky Experience , which can be found at the head of the Royal Mile, close to Edinburgh Castle. This popular visitor attraction is an absolute must for any whisky lover. 

Where to begin? Their 3 decades of experience in whisky? The whisky tasting on offer? Perhaps the 3000+ collection of whisky bottles in residence, including The Diageo Claive Vidiz Whisky Collection? 

Whisky tours from Edinburgh

Edinburgh provides an excellent base for seeing more of Scotland. Many tours include the chance of visiting a distillery to get a behind-the-scenes view of the production process in the company of an expert guide, followed by a tutored tasting. 

Visitors at the Clydeside Distillery

The S tirling Castle, Loch Lomond and Whisky day tour offers the chance to experience the Clydeside Distillery Tour in Glasgow.

On The Essential Whisky Experience tour, you can visit Scotland’s oldest distillery, Glenturret, and enjoy a pairing of chocolate and whisky at Dewar’s Aberfeldy Distillery.

Heading southwards, the Rosslyn Chapel, Scottish Borders and Whisky itinerary features the opportunity to explore Glenkinchie Distillery.

Best whisky bars in Edinburgh

You’ve heard about it, you’ve read about it… the only thing left to do now is taste it. We’ve pulled together some of the best whisky bars in Edinburgh you may want to consider visiting – although with so many to choose from, we would always encourage you to do your own research. 

Devils Advocate Bar

The number 1 slot according to Forever Edinburgh is The Canny Man’s , which was given the title of the “the best pub in the world” by none other than Rick Stein. You’ll find this pub in the Morningside area, a mainstay since 1871 and with a whisky selection of 250 to choose from, it’s an excellent choice for any whisky aficionado.  

In the heart of the Old Town, check out The Devil’s Advocate and Whiski Bar, each offers a wide selection of whiskies to choose from.

The Bow Bar , on Victoria Street, is a drinking establishment with a good selection of whisky and The Black Cat bar on Rose Street is an independent pub ideal for a spot of whisky tasting.

The swanky Balmoral Hotel is home to Scotch , a world-class whisky bar with over 500 Scotch malt whiskies.

Get a real taste of Scotland with Scottish Tours

Has all this reading given you a taste to discover more of Scotland? If you’d like to include a whisky-tasting experience to your itinerary, it’s easy with our extensive range of sightseeing tours.

Book your perfect Scotland Tour today.

Picture credits: Holyrood Distillery, Riverside Distillery, Scotch Whisky Experience The Devil's Advocate and VisitScotland

best edinburgh whisky tour

best edinburgh whisky tour

The 21 best things to do in Edinburgh

E dinburgh has become synonymous with the annual Fringe Festival, which sees thousands of attendees flock to the city every August. But there are plenty of other amazing sights and attractions that pull in visitors all year round. From whisky tastings, to exploring Japanese gardens and 300-year-old underground passages, this is how you can get to know the Scottish capital.

Read on for all our expert tips, plus here's what you can do for  free in the Scottish capital . We can also help you plan a  weekend in Edinburgh , alongside our dedicated guides covering the best  hotels ,  restaurants ,  bars & pubs ,  nightlife  and  independent shops . 

Find things to do by area

  • Out of town

Immerse yourself in the world's biggest arts festival

More than 60 years ago the International Festival’s founders set out to bring art, culture, colour and prosperity to a gritty and grey post-war Edinburgh. Now there are seven festivals in August, including the Fringe, Book and Comedy Festivals. Every year Edinburghers fall in love with it all over again as Auld Reekie becomes, quite literally, the city that never sleeps. 

Insider's tip:  It’s worth planning well ahead as hotels and restaurants book up early and headline shows sell out, but if you haven’t, don’t despair; there’s somehow always a room, tent or even a sofa somewhere, and always another free show.

Contact:   eif.co.uk  

Price:  £-£££

Visit the city's goriest museum

You’ll need a strong stomach and a morbid sense of humour to enjoy the fascinating Surgeons' Hall Museums. There are life-sized tableaux, tools of the surgical and dental trade that will make your toes curl (there’s probably a device for that), gruesome photographs, and pickled and preserved body parts. The unnervingly extensive collections include pathology and histories of surgery and dentistry.

Insider's tip: One of the more disturbing objects on display is a notebook bound in the skin of William Burke – one of the well-known Edinburgh bodysnatchers. It's possibly not the most family-friendly destination, unless your last name is Addams.

Contact:   museum.rcsed.ac.uk

Price:  £

Take your taste buds for a stroll around town

An Eat, Walk Edinburgh tour will provide you with an excellent gourmet introduction to the city. You’ll try 'starter-sized' taster dishes and samples of whisky, wine and beer along the way, but don't expect all the food to be Scottish – this is about all the variety Edinburgh has to offer.

Insider's tip: Plan this activity for day one, as you finish the tour with lots of useful information and a discount card for participating bars and restaurants. You'll also benefit from a lovely glow from the exercise (and the nips of malt whisky along the way).

Contact:  eatwalkedinburgh.co.uk

Explore the Queen's Scottish home

A tour of the Palace of Holyroodhouse – Queen Elizabeth II's official gaff in Scotland –  will show you more tapestries, portraits, and plasterwork than you can shake a sceptre at. You'll also be able to see Mary, Queen of Scots' chambers, where her courtier Rizzio was stabbed 56 times and then thrown down the stairs by her jealous husband. There are free audio tours, a gift shop and a smart courtyard café.

Insider's tip: In summer, take a guided tour of the hauntingly beautiful ruins of the nearby abbey, but keep in mind that the star attraction is the Queen’s Gallery with its fabulous exhibitions of the best art from the Royal Collections.

Contact:  royalcollection.org.uk

Price:  ££

See Scotland’s Stone of Destiny

Edinburgh Castle, the city’s most famous landmark, broods over Edinburgh – an elephantine presence on its dramatic volcanic rock. Home to the oldest crown jewels in Britain, Mons Meg and the Stone of Destiny, not to mention the  military tattoo, it’s more than a monument – it’s part of the city’s every day life. In fact, locals have been setting their watches by the one o’clock gun since 1861.

Insider's tip: There are complimentary guided tours to help you make sense of it all, or you can pay for an audio guide. Give the crowds a miss by purchasing tickets and downloading audio guides in advance online and visiting early in the day.

Contact:  edinburghcastle.gov.uk

Book tickets

Take part in a literary-themed pub crawl

As the first Unesco City of Literature, Edinburgh has a long – and sometimes dishonourable – literary history. It's cleverly brought to life on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour by two professional actors who focus on writers from the past. Tours start at 7.30pm in the Grassmarket and tickets can be bought online, at the meeting point, or from the Visit Scotland Information Centre in the Waverley Mall.

Insider's tip: The tour makes stops in several pubs where you can have a drink while you enjoy the guides' performance, or if you’re more of a misanthrope there’s a self-guided tour app on the website (but it’s more fun with the live guides).

Contact:   edinburghliterarypubtour.co.uk

Take a whisky masterclass

You may not be sure about the plastic barrel ride at the start, but there are worse ways to learn how whisky is made. The tour leaders at The Scotch Whisky Experience are brilliant and the Gold Tour upgrade is a revelation. Aficionados should opt for the Morning Masterclass, and gourmands should consider the Taste of Scotland Whisky and Food Tour, which includes a three-course meal in the Amber Restaurant.

Insider's tip: After the tour, visit the bar to find 300 whiskies and great views. It also offers Scotland’s other national drink – Irn-Bru – for teetotallers. If you have a cold, ask for a restorative hot toddy.

Contact:  scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk

Go ghost hunting

You can’t throw a haggis on the Royal Mile without hitting a ghost tour, but if you’re looking for one grounded in history, The Real Mary King's Close is the tour for you. You’ll explore hidden 17th-century streets – long considered to be haunted by plague victims who were walled up alive. The odd murder and a healthy population of other ghosts adds further interest.

Insider's tip: Bear in mind there are 58 steps down and 38 up to be negotiated, so it’s not suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, the claustrophobic, or those with limited mobility. Children under five will not be admitted at all.

Contact:   realmarykingsclose.com

Price:  ££

Step into a world of optical illusions

Even in a high-tech world, a simple pin-hole camera that can project razor sharp moving images from distances that defeat modern cameras feels like magic. Children will love Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, and enjoy learning how to make do-it-yourself spyware using a cardboard box, tin foil and a blanket. There are optical illusions, games and a dizzying holographic exhibit that will delight visitors of all ages, too.

Insider's tip: It’s a great way to spend time on a wet day or revive tired children, and the 360-degree view from the roof is one of the best perspectives on the city – no matter what kind of camera you use.

Contact:   camera-obscura.co.uk

Experience life in 17th-century Edinburgh

Should you find yourself wandering down the Royal Mile, wondering what it was like to live in a towering tenement 300 hundred years ago, you can find out on a visit to Gladstone's Land. The National Trust has meticulously restored this wealthy Edinburgh merchant’s house to provide a fascinating recreation of the cramped conditions – even for the wealthy – in 17th-century Edinburgh. And there’s a good ice cream parlour, too. Try ‘The Butcher’: vanilla ice cream, candied bacon and whisky sauce.

Insider's tip:  You’ll see the kitchen and a pretty panelled parlour, but don’t miss the Painted Chamber. This bedroom contains what is considered the best original wall and ceiling decoration in Scotland.

Contact:  nts.org.uk

Price:  £

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

No one can fail to be stirred by this anachronistic but irresistible spectacle. Perhaps it’s the vibrating beat of hundreds of drums accompanying perfectly drilled marching bands, or the skirl of pipes (or twirl of kilts)? Or the sheer scale of it, under the towering walls of Edinburgh Castle, bursting fireworks overhead making the pulse beat faster. It certainly takes a heart of stone not to feel the pathos of the lone piper’s lament calling from high on the ramparts. Every festival-goer should go at least once (there’s a different theme each year). Just remember to take a handkerchief.

Contact:   edintattoo.co.uk

Tour the city in an open-top bus

You’ll find several sightseeing tours operating under the Edinburgh Bus Tours banner, but The City Sightseeing Tour offers a useful overview of the major attractions, operates all year round and is particularly good for children – the choice of audio commentaries includes a 'Horrible Histories' version for young ones.

Insider's tip:  A Royal Edinburgh ticket will give you 48 hours of access to all three of the available tours plus free entry to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Contact:   edinburghtour.com

Dress up like 18th-century landed gentry

A visit to The Georgian House (a National Trust property) on the enduringly fashionable Charlotte Square is an absorbing way to get a sense of what life was like in a prosperous 18th-century household in the New Town – both for the family and those below stairs. The house was designed by Scottish neoclassical architect Robert Adam, and is a particularly fine example of Georgian architecture that's been beautifully and accurately furnished.

Insider's tip:  Do talk to the guides in each room who like to show off their detailed knowledge and if your children aren’t inspired by antiques, they can dress up in the period costumes available in the activity room.

Learn to cook Scottish fare

Gourmands can get to grip with local ingredients on a full-day cookery course. The well-regarded Edinburgh New Town Cookery School runs small one-day courses that are both professional and fun. Use the best Scottish ingredients in the Fish and Shellfish Workshop, or learn how to cook with game in a masterclass of meat. Those with a sweet tooth will enjoy mastering the indulgent creations in the patisserie workshop and at the end of the experience, you’ll get to try your hard work with a glass or two of wine in an elegant dining room with views all the way to the Firth of Forth.

Insider's tip: Book early as courses fill up quickly.

Contact:   entcs.co.uk

Visit Edinburgh's 'other castle'

Locals like to take visitors to this charming alternative to Edinburgh Castle. Craigmillar Castle is one of best examples of the medieval variety in Scotland and much of the structure is in remarkably good order. Explore from the top of the tower house to the gloomy basement where a skeleton was found walled up in the early 19th century. Mary, Queen of Scots stayed here twice – the area is still called Petit France.

Insider's tip:  Wood from ancient yew trees in the inner courtyard is said to have been used for making bows, which is an interesting fact for inspiring children’s imaginations in a place where they are positively encouraged to run wild.

Contact:   historicenvironment.scot

Tee up for outstanding city vistas

The Gentleman Golfers of Leith established the 'rules of golfing' on Leith Links in 1744, arguably making Edinburgh the home of golf. While you can no longer play in Leith, the 18-holes at the Edinburgh City Council-run Braid Hills Golf Course is a bargain. The layout itself is vertically challenging and is a Par 71 course. You can hire clubs and trolleys if you haven’t brought your own.

Insider's tip: It's worth a round even if you’re not a golfer, if only for the glorious views across the city to the Firth of Forth. Also be sure to look out for the gorse bushes – an unusually painful hazard.

Contact:   edinburghleisure.co.uk

Climb aboard a floating royal residence

The Royal Yacht Britannia was apparently frozen in time long before she was decommissioned. Look out for the various props found inside – there's everything from well-used board games in the sun lounge to toothbrushes in tumblers in the crew quarters. Together, the items bring Britannia, and the Queen’s fascinating frugality, to chintz-upholstered, brass-polished life. The comprehensive tour proceeds at a leisurely pace set by handheld recorded information delivered in suitably plummy tones.

Insider's tip:  Do plan to pause in the Royal Deck Tea Room for remarkably good simple lunches or a slap-up tea. Don’t miss the gift shop either, which is amusingly filled with stuffed corgis. 

Contact:  royalyachtbritannia.co.uk

Take in a unique distillery

There are any number of distilleries in Edinburgh, from micro to maxi, but the Port of Leith distillery is the first vertical distillery in Scotland, already a local landmark and just a hop from the Ocean Terminal tram stop. It’s a striking building and a fascinating tour; the guides lively, well-informed and engaging – although it’s worth going just for the views from the bar at the top. In fact, consider booking a table for a few cocktails and perhaps the steak pie or the Clava brie tartiflette. There’s a shop as well selling Port of Leith white port and Olorosa sherry as well as blended whisky.

Contact: leithdistillery.com

Out of Town

Discover the city on two wheels.

You can take a gentle three-hour guided ride around The Royal Mile, New Town, Holyrood Park and Portobello with Edinburgh Bike Tours, or hire by the day for your own tour on Edinburgh’s extensive system of cycle routes; tagalongs, trailers and bikes for children are available. You’ll need to be fit, but not Tour de France standard.

Insider's tip: Catch the sea breeze on a full-day tour along the coast, which takes in historic Cramond, Queensferry and the Forth Bridges. You’ll escape the city traffic and see fascinating areas other tours don’t touch.

Contact:   edinburghbiketours.co.uk

Explore underground coves

Many locals don’t know about Gilmerton Cove, and it is certainly one of the city's more obscure attractions. Even archaeologists can’t explain the 300-year-old underground passages and rock-furnished rooms, hand carved from sandstone and hidden underneath the streets of this quiet suburb; but there are plenty of theories, as the enthusiastic guides will tell you. Maybe it was a meeting place for the Hellfire Club, a hiding place for Covenanters, or a drinkers’ den? Make up your own mind when you visit.

Insider's tip: Tours must be pre-booked and are unsuitable for wheelchair users and children under five. Steep steps and rough (sometimes wet) floors require sturdy shoes. Remember to take a torch for solo exploring.

Contact:   gilmertoncove.org.uk

Amble through a Japanese garden

Lauriston Castle is a 16th-century tower house with Victorian extensions. The building overlooks the Firth and is surrounded by woodlands and a Japanese garden. Inside, it's home to an impressive collection of fine furniture and ceramics, as well as the personal belongings of its wealthy owners. Look for the newspaper in the sitting room reporting the sinking of the Titanic. 

Insider's tip: Take a pleasing 15-minute stroll to the Boardwalk Beach Club café. It sits right on shores of the Firth and has a huge outdoor seating area with blankets, great views and yummy soups, sandwiches and scones. Children and dogs are looked after, too.

Contact: edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Price: £; the grounds are free

How we choose

Every attraction and activity in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, to provide you with their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from world-class museums to family-friendly theme parks – to best suit every type of traveller. We update this list regularly to keep up with the latest openings and provide up to date recommendations.

Play The Telegraph’s brilliant range of Puzzles - and feel brighter every day. Train your brain and boost your mood with PlusWord, the Mini Crossword, the fearsome Killer Sudoku and even the classic Cryptic Crossword.

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The Royal Mile during the Edinburgh Fringe festival, Edinburgh

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Edinburgh offers a fantastic range of tours, including walking, ghost and history tours around the city centre.

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The Forth Bridge seen from North Queensferry

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Edinburgh is linked to by an extensive network of roads, rail services and flights which makes travel to the city possible from every corner of the world, while the city's compact size makes exploring easy.

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There are many frequent and affordable bus services that travel from various main cities to Edinburgh daily. Most buses to Edinburgh arrive at the Edinburgh Bus Station that is located on St Andrew Square in the city centre.

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  • Flixbus to Edinburgh

Edinburgh Airport is directly linked through the west of the city, into the city centre and north and east down to Leith and Newhaven via a quick and convenient tram network.

Pre-book your tram ticket online via the Edinburgh Tram Ticket website so you’re ready to go as soon as you arrive. You can access lots of offers and money saving discounts by showing your Edinburgh Ticket at a range of attractions too.

Find out more on travel from the airport by tram

There are fast and frequent services to Edinburgh from major UK cities. LNER trains run along the east coast from London, York and Newcastle, while Avanti West Coast run along the west coast from London, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and Carlisle. Transpennine Express run from Manchester to Edinburgh.

There are two stations - Edinburgh Haymarket to the west of the city centre, and Edinburgh Waverley sits at the east end of Princes Street.

Book with LNER

Book with Avanti West Coast

Book with Transpennine Express

Travel overnight on the Caledonian Sleeper

ScotRail provides an express rail service direct to Edinburgh from many major Scottish cities.

Check ScotRail timetables

Edinburgh Airport is situated only 5 miles (8 km) to the west of Edinburgh. You can travel from the airport to the city centre in around 30 minutes by bus, tram, taxi or car.

  • Find out more on airport buses to Edinburgh
  • Book a taxi to and from the airport
  • Hire a car from Edinburgh airport
  • Cycle back to Edinburgh from the airport

Edinburgh is well linked to the rest of Scotland and UK through an extensive road network, making access to the capital easy by car.

  • From Newcastle - 2.5 hours
  • From Manchester - 4 hours
  • From Birmingham - 6 hours

Plan your trip with Traveline

Getting around

Edinburgh is easily explored on foot with most key attractions within walking distance of each other. Attractions beyond the city centre can be reached cost effectively by public transport and again explored further by foot.

Find walks in and around Edinburgh

Lothian Buses run a service across the city 24 hours a day, while First Buses connect Edinburgh with towns and villages in the Lothians.

Plan your journey within Edinburgh with Lothian Buses  

Plan your journey further afield with First Group

New self-driving bus route to Fife

Sit back and take in the views across the Firth of Forth on a self-driving bus! Having launched in 2023, you can travel between two transport exchanges across the Forth Road Bridge.

It’s the most ambitious and complex autonomous bus pilot in the world!

Find out more and book your journey

Trams run from Newhaven through Leith to York Place in the city centre and onto Edinburgh Airport which takes just under an hour.

Find ticket prices and plan your journey with Edinburgh Trams

Want to relax and let someone else drive?

Book a tour and hear from a knowledgeable local tour guide as they highlight points of interest, stop off at the best hidden gems and visit the iconic landmarks you’ve heard all about.

Search for tours in Edinburgh

There are over 1,000 cabs circulating around the city. You can hail one in the street or pick it up from one of the taxi ranks within the city centre. 

Find out more on getting around Edinburgh

What's on in Edinburgh

best edinburgh whisky tour

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2022

Discover Edinburgh's packed programme of events from music to art, theatre to science, literature to dance.

Places to Eat in Edinburgh

From Michelin-star meals to incredible independent eateries, Edinburgh offers an amazing selection of places to eat.

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10 Quirky Places to Eat in Edinburgh

Check out Edinburgh's most unique and quirky dining experiences and discover your new favourite places to eat in the city.

best edinburgh whisky tour

12 of the best vegan restaurants in Edinburgh

Discover some of the best vegan restaurants in Edinburgh to book.

best edinburgh whisky tour

6 of the Best Pizza Places in Edinburgh, recommended by an Italian

What better way to visit a city than to combine food and sightseeing?

best edinburgh whisky tour

9 best coffee shops to try in Edinburgh

Discover the best coffee shops to try in Edinburgh. Including Machina Espresso, William & Johnson, Brew Lab, Lowdown, Fortitude and more.

best edinburgh whisky tour

Top 9 Whisky Tasting Bars in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has an amazing history which is soaked in the whisky industry.

best edinburgh whisky tour

Guide to Restaurants in Edinburgh

Read this practical guide to restaurants in Edinburgh.

best edinburgh whisky tour

The Willow Tea Rooms

Inspired by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, book a table at The Willow Tea Rooms for breakfast, lunch or afternoon tea.

best edinburgh whisky tour

Gin Cocktails to Try in Edinburgh

Discover the gin cocktail and cheese experience at Pickerings Gin in Edinburgh, including a distillery tour and making your own seasonal cocktails.

Explore further

best edinburgh whisky tour

Dunbar Cliff Top Trail

Edinburgh & The Lothians

It's really simple to take time out of Edinburgh and explore the nearby Lothians. Head to the beach or forest parks, discover more about the heritage of the area, or enjoy some incredible outdoor activities.

best edinburgh whisky tour

Anstruther Harbour, Fife

Nearby regions

Edinburgh & The Lothians is surrouned by other interesting regions. Head to the coastal towns of Fife, explore the colourful history of the Scottish Borders, or enjoy the scenery around Loch Lomond & The Trossachs. You can easily pop over to Glasgow, Scotland's largest city too.

A tip from your local expert

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The Georgian House

Fancy a spot of time travel? Visit The Georgian House and join an expert guide through the sumptuous 18th century interiors reminiscent of Jane Austen novels. Use the dressing up box to get into Regency character, too! A fascinating gem.

Assistant iCentre Manager, Edinburgh

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The 7 Best Hostels in Edinburgh

A view overlooking the Old Town of beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is a historic city full of centuries-old architecture, cozy pubs, and world-class whisky. I’ve been there a bunch and always have a blast. It’s one of my favorite destinations in Europe . I’ve been going since I turned 30 (which was a very, very long time ago).

While Edinburgh is gorgeous, accommodation can be fairly expensive. As the second-most visited city in the UK, it can easily break the bank (those pints add up!). An,d while there are a lot of hostels that can help keep your costs low, I’ve learned the hard way that not all of them are good.

To help you pick a hostel from among all the overwhelming options, here is my list of the best hostels in Edinburgh!

If you don’t want to read the longer list, the following are the best in each category:

Want the specifics? Here’s my breakdown of the best hostels in Edinburgh and why I love them:

Price legend:

  • $ – Under 20 GBP per night
  • $$ – 20-30 GBP per night
  • $$$ – Over 30 GBP per night

1. Castle Rock

The cool, royal interior of the Castle Rock hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

While the mattresses aren’t super thick and there are no curtains on the beds, there are plenty of outlets to charge your devices and bedside lockers too. It’s also one of the cheapest hostels in town and perfect for budget travelers. Just note that there’s a 10 GBP cash deposit (or ID) required for your room key.

Castle Rock at a glance:

  • Amazing location
  • Huge kitchen
  • Lots of common areas make it easy to meet people

Beds from 18 GBP, private rooms from 60 GBP.

Book here!  

2. St Christopher’s Edinburgh Old Town

The bright and welcoming lobby of the St Christopher's hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

The dorms are airy and bright, and while the mattresses aren’t super thick, the beds have curtains, USB outlets, and small lockers. (Just note that most dorms have three-tier bunk beds.) Although there’s no guest kitchen, there’s a filling breakfast each morning for just 5 GBP. While there aren’t a ton of restrooms (so sometimes you’ll have to wait), the location really can’t be beat.

St Christopher’s at a glance:

  • Cool bar with cheap happy hour drinks
  • Lively, social atmosphere makes it easy to meet people
  • Free walking tours

Beds from 25 GBP, private rooms from 299 GBP.

3. Haystack Hostel

A simple empty dorm room in the Haystack Hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

What makes this place unique though is that both of its dorms are female only (there are also private rooms, open to all genders). It’s a quiet, calm, and clean choice, perfect for travelers not looking to party. The staff are also very welcoming and always eager to help you find things to do in town and beyond. If you want a quiet stay as a solo female traveler, stay here.

Haystack Hostel at a glance:

  • Female-only dorms
  • Quiet atmosphere
  • Cozy common rooms

Beds from 30 GBP, private rooms from 103 GBP.

4. Royal Mile Backpackers

A calm and cozy dorm room at the Edinburgh Backpackers hostel in Edinburgh Scotland

While I don’t love that the beds are simple wooden bunks, they do have individual reading lights, outlets, and lockers (but no curtains). The bathrooms are a bit cramped, but the showers have good water pressure and everything is kept clean (which is what’s most important). Overall, it’s another comfortable and homey place that makes you feel like you’re staying at a friend’s house.

Royal Mile Backpackers at a glance:

  • Free coffee/tea
  • Lots of fun social events
  • Cheap daily breakfast

Beds from 24 GBP.

5. Kick Ass Grassmarket

Cool, futuristic pods at the Kick Ass Grassmarket hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

The standard dorms here are all bright and airy, with comfy mattresses and individual lights, outlets, and lockers. Some dorm rooms have en suite bathrooms, and there are female-only dorms too. But the highlight for me is the pod-style beds in the “superior” dorms; they have thick curtains and offer lots of privacy, making it super easy to get a good night’s sleep. Just note that you have to be at least 18 to stay here.

Kick Ass Grassmarket at a glance:

  • Fun events (pub crawls, quiz nights)
  • Super cozy pod beds
  • Lively bar makes meeting people a breeze

Beds from 20 GBP, private rooms from 179 GBP.

6. Edinburgh Backpackers

A spacious and bright dorm room with lots of wooden bunk beds at Edinburgh Backpackers in Scotland

The rooms here are a bit simple and small, but the beds are comfy and have decent mattresses. There are no curtains for the beds, but there are lockers for your stuff and the bathrooms are always kept clean. There’s a big kitchen and a variety of room types to choose from, including single private rooms, female-only dorms, and even a cozy penthouse suite. Overall, it’s a cheap and quiet place to stay in a great location.

Edinburgh Backpackers at a glance:

  • Great location
  • Big kitchen

Beds from 26 GBP, private rooms from 65 GBP.

7. Code Pod – The Court

Sleek pod beds at the Code hostel in Edinburgh, Scotland

As for the dorms, the pod beds have really nice mattresses, as well as individual lights, shelves, and outlets so you can charge your gear (they have curtains and earplugs and eye masks are provided too, so you can sleep well). The hostel also has female-only dorms.

If you want a unique, more upscale hostel, stay here. It’s a really neat place!

Code Pod at a glance:

  • Super comfy pod beds
  • Cool underground bar
  • Female-only dorm

Beds from 43 GBP, private rooms from 140 GBP.

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

Get Your In-Depth Budget Guide to Europe!

My detailed 200+ page guidebook is made for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need to travel while in Europe. It has suggested itineraries, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, safety tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.

Book Your Trip to Edinburgh: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (best for everyone)
  • Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
  • Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)

Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With? Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.

Got a comment on this article? Join the conversation on Facebook , Instagram , or Twitter and share your thoughts!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I recommend only products and companies I use and the income goes to keeping the site community supported and ad free.

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The narrow and charming Circus Lane in historic Edinburgh, Scotland on a sunny day


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