Edinburgh Tour Guides
Taking a personalised tour of Edinburgh with a private guide
A good guide book is enough for most people to plan a tour of Edinburgh. These guide books list the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh but one thing they do not give are the whole stories and legends associated with places of interest. This is where professional tour guides come in.
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Local tour guides are professionals trained in Scotland's history and culture but, most importantly, many of them are residents of Edinburgh. This gives them unique inside knowledge -- they know the best pubs, can recommend accommodation and most importantly, a tour guide can take you to great places in and around Edinburgh that you would otherwise miss out on.
Tour guides specialise in different aspects of Edinburgh. Some will have better knowledge in history and culture, others in architecture or geography. Some will do walking tours while some take you on driving tours but nearly all of them are willing to create custom itineraries to suit particular needs.
How to choose an Edinburgh tour guide
There must be tens of tour guides in Edinburgh so picking one might be a tricky affair. One criteria to help you make an informed decision is membership to one of the recognised tour associations.
Blue Badge tourist guides in Edinburgh
The Blue Badge is 'the British national standard guiding qualification and internationally recognised benchmark of excellence'. All tourist guides holding a Blue Badge are examined by local tourist boards and are part of the guild of registered tourist guides.
Registered Blue Badge tour guides based in Edinburgh are:
- Norma Allan
- Jean Blair
- Margaret Butcher
- Stuart Cowie
- Eva Doyle
- Morag Dunbar
- Manuela Fraenkel
- Rosemary Graham
- Michael Hardie
- Fiona Maxwell
- Andrea Todd
Choosing a Blue Badge tour guide is a safe bet. The commentary is entertaining and the stories accurate and full of interesting facts.
Members of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association in Edinburgh
Members of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association are Blue Badge guides recognised by VisitScotland and the only university-trained tourist guides in Scotland. The accreditation ensures that not only is the guiding of the highest standard but that the guides also have an intimate knowledge of Edinburgh.
You can expect the best possible guiding from tour guides who are Blue Badge members as well as Scottish Tourist Guides Association although this doesn't mean that other tourist guides should be avoided.
Generally speaking, hiring a Blue Badge and STGA guide presents minimum risk but other guides should also be considered especially when they have a keen interest in a particular attraction or place in or around Edinburgh.
For example, there is a writer with a particular interest in Rosslyn Chapel who also does guided tours. In this case, her knowledge of the place is second to none and few Blue Badge guides could provide a more insightful commentary.
When choosing a guide for Edinburgh tours I would look at testimonials and endorsements first and then at accreditation.