Edinburgh City Passes

What’s a Edinburgh City Pass?

With an Edinburgh city pass you can visit several places of interest for an all-inclusive price. You only buy the city pass once and get free admission to many attractions. You may also be able to take the hop-on hop-off buses free of charge.

There are currently two Edinburgh city passes as well as one Explorer Pass, which covers attractions all over Scotland. They cost between £33.00 and £65.00, depending on what they include and how long they are valid. On this page we compare these city passes with each other and work out which pass is suitable for whom.

You can buy all three Edinburgh city passes on the internet. In some cases it is sufficient to print out the confirmation of purchase or download the pass to your smartphone. Sometimes you need to exchange your online voucher for physical tickets at a central location in Edinburgh.

This page contains partner links. This means that we receive a commission when you buy a product through an affiliate link (e.g. a Edinburgh Pass). This does not make the product more expensive for you.

When Is a Edinburgh City Pass Worthwhile?

  • When You’re in Edinburgh for the first time

    The Royal Edinburgh Ticket, one of the three major city passes, is particularly suitable for first-time travellers, as it contains the main top attractions of Edinburgh. If you want to visit those, this city pass will definitely save you money.

  • When You’ve Been to Edinburgh Before

    City passes are usually suitable for first-time visitors to a city. However, the Edinburgh City Pass is designed for people who already know the major attractions and would like to delve a little deeper into the city’s culture. Therefore, this city pass is worthwhile for travellers who already know Edinburgh.

  • When you’d like to do intensive sightseeing

    Most city passes are made for travellers who enjoy sightseeing and therefore want to visit as many attractions as possible in a short time. For those who want to visit a lot of sights, the all-inclusive price of an Edinburgh city pass is worthwhile.

  • When You Like Hop-on Hop-off Buses

    Tourist buses that criss-cross a city and can be boarded at any time are popular with travellers – but they are also very expensive. Often, trips with these buses are included in city passes, so that one saves the expensive tickets. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket includes 48 hours bus travel.

  • When You Know What You Want

    Before you buy a city pass, you should ideally already know what sights you want to see in Edinburgh, because then you can easily find out whether a city pass is worthwhile for you by comparing the individual ticket prices with the purchase price of the city pass.

  • When you travel unprepared

    If you don’t know which attractions you want to see in Edinburgh, there’s no way of knowing whether you can save money with a city pass. However, you could use the city pass for inspiration by simply visiting the attractions included in the pass.

  • When you don’t want to buy single tickets

    A weighty argument for city passes is that they offer many services from a single source. One does not have to buy single tickets, does not have to handle cash on the spot and often, with a city pass, one does not have to line up in the queues that form in high season in front of many attractions. In short: an Edinburgh city pass is very comfortable.

All Edinburgh City Passes at a glance

In the following section we briefly introduce the four most important tourist cards for Edinburgh.

Please click on the respective icon.

Benefits of the Edinburgh Ticket

  • Free entry at Edinburgh Castle
  • Free admission to the Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Free entry at the Royal Yacht Britannia
  • 48 hours free travel on hop-on Hop-off buses
  • Guaranteed admission – even when there is a lot going on
  • Detailed information about this Ticket

Benefits of the Scotland Explorer Pass

  • Free admission to up to 78 attractions
  • Including Edinburgh Castle & Stirling Castle
  • Focus on castles, palaces & abbeys
  • Valid for 3, 7 or 14 days
  • Detailed travel brochure included
  • Download the pass to your phone
  • Detailed information about the Explorer Pass

Benefits of the Edinburgh City Pass

  • Free admission to 22 attractions
  • Free airport transfer
  • 24 hours Hop-on Hop-off bus
  • Valid for 1, 2 or 3 calendar days
  • Digital ticket or shipping by mail
  • Including detailed manual
  • Detailed information about the City Pass

Edinburgh City Passes Compared (Table)

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Last update: 08/2020

Differences between City Passes

Each city pass is a complex package of different attractions and none of the Edinburgh city passes is like any other. If you don’t know what to look out for at first, we would like to point out the following main differences between the tourist passes:

 Top Attractions: Only the Royal Edinburgh Ticket includes the major top attractions of the city. If you want to visit these, your choice should automatically fall on this pass. The Edinburgh City Pass, on the other hand, prides itself on not offering the standard attractions.

Guaranteed Admission: During the high season, you will have to queue at the box office for some attractions unless you have purchased online tickets with a fixed time slot. This may take some time. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket gives you guaranteed admission to all attractions. This means you can get in no matter how busy it is. With an Edinburgh City Pass you won’t get a fast entrance.

 Hop-on Hop-Off Bus: Hop-on Hop-off buses are an expensive attraction in any city. If you are interested in this type of sightseeing, you should make sure that the buses are included in your city pass. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket includes three bus routes for a total of 48 hours. The Edinburgh City Pass includes a ticket for a route through the city centre. This is valid for 24 hours.

 Validity: Usually the validity of a city pass is limited. For example, the Edinburgh City Pass is valid for 1, 2 or 3 calendar days. This is quite little time to visit a lot of attractions. With the Royal Edinburgh Ticket only the bus journey is limited to 48 hours. You can visit the other attractions at any time.

 Edinburgh vs. Scotland: Two of the city passes presented here refer exclusively to Edinburgh. If you are just staying in the city, only these are for you. However, if you’re travelling through Scotland in a vehicle, you may want to consider the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, which includes only one attraction in Edinburgh.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Pass

Advantages of the Royal Ticket

 The Royal Edinburgh Ticket focuses on the essentials. It includes only the top attractions of the city.

With the ticket you save £14.00 compared to buying individual tickets.

Plus, with the Royal Edinburgh Ticket you never have to worry about getting access to any of the sights. Admission is guaranteed with this pass.

Disadvantages of the Royal Ticket

 The number of included attractions is very limited.

The Royal Edinburgh Ticket is not a proper city pass. Instead, you will receive several individual tickets in exchange for your voucher.

Advantages of the Scotland Pass

 The Explorer Pass includes top attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle and Urquhart Castle.

The pass is worthwhile even if you visit only three attractions and therefore pays off very quickly.

The family pass for parents with up to six children is very attractive.

With 3, 7 or 14 days you have enough time to visit many historical sites.

Disadvantages of the Scotland Pass

 The Explorer Pass includes only one attraction in Edinburgh.

The Palace of Holyroodhouse is not included in the pass.

It is not a diversified sightseeing pass. The included attractions are only historical sites.

Advantages of the Edinburgh Pass

 The City Pass is suitable for repeat travellers to Edinburgh as well as for travellers who do not want to do the classic sightseeing.

The 3-day pass is quite cheap per day. If you are interested in many attractionss, it will definitely save you money.

The pass works on your smartphone. But you can also have it sent to you by mail. Shipping costs are very fair.

Disadvantages of the Edinburgh Pass

 Important sights for first-time visitors are missing. Those who want to visit the classic attractions won’t enjoy this city pass very much.

The pass is limited to only a few days. These are calendar days so you should start using the pass in the morning.

Some attractions are difficult to reach without a car. It will not be worthwhile using the city pass for those.

Which Edinburgh City Pass is the Best?

Often there is not the one best city pass. But for the city of Edinburgh we do not have a hard time choosing the best pass. We think: The Royal Edinburgh Ticket is the best pass, because it concentrates on the main attractions and with this pass you actually save money. Nevertheless, one city pass cannot be suitable for all situations. Therefore, we recommend the best city passes in the following paragraphs, broken down according to different preferences. Just click on a statement that suits you.

For you, the Royal Edinburgh Ticket is the right ticket, as it is limited to three top attractions and 48 hours of bus travel on the hop-on hop-off buses. This means that you can see the whole of Edinburgh from the bus, but only enter the main attractions.

How about two city passes? The Royal Edinburgh Ticket and the Edinburgh City Pass are complementary products as there is no overlap between their services. If you want to see as much of Edinburgh as possible, you can combine both passes. You should note, however, that the Edinburgh City Pass is limited to 1, 2 or 3 calendar days. The Royal Edinburgh Ticket only limits the bus journey to 48 hours.

With the Royal Edinburgh Ticket you’ll save money in any case, as long as you use the hop-on hop-off buses and visit all three top attractions. The Edinburgh City Pass is also a great way to save money, but remember that the top attractions are not included in this pass.

Most museums in Edinburgh are free of charge. Thus you don’t need a city pass for museums.

Only the Royal Edinburgh Ticket includes a 48 hour ticket for the Hop-on Hop-off buses. These take you to all the major attractions in the city. You can get on and off at countless stations.

With the Edinburgh City Pass you can get on and off as many times as you like for 24 hours on a route within the city centre.

The Royal Edinburgh Ticket includes entry to three of the most important historical sites in Edinburgh. If you are travelling through Scotland by car, the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is ideal. As both passes include Edinburgh Castle, you should choose one one these two.

In this case, the Royal Edinburgh Ticket is ideal for you as all attractions are within city limits. The Edinburgh City Pass can also be worthwhile, but it includes some attractions that are far outside the city limits.

All three Edinburgh passes offer significantly reduced prices for children aged 5 and over. Children under 5 years of age can visit most attractions free of charge and do not need their own city pass.

For travellers visiting many places in Scotland, the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass is perfect, as the included attractions are scattered across the country and the pass is worthwhile even if you visit only three top attractions.

Alternative to Edinburgh Passes

If you are not convinced by any city pass, you are most flexible if you buy individual tickets for the sights of your choice. It is often worth buying tickets in advance on the internet, as you can avoid the queues at the box office with a ticket in your hand.

Tickets for the main attractions: