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Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh: Adventure City Guide

Check out our Adventure City Guide to the best Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh. From Mountain Biking in the Pentlands to hiking up Arthurs Seat.

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Arthurs Seat from Salisbury Crags

Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Edinburgh?

As part of our Adventure City Guide series, we share with you our insider tips on the top adventure and outdoor activities to do in Edinburgh; including how to get there and costs.

Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle Braveheart Scotland

Why visit Edinburgh for adventure?

We think Edinburgh is one of the most liveable capitals in Europe. It has been our base for the last 2 years and is ideal for adventure travellers. While the weather may not always be the best, when the sun is shining, the Scottish capital comes to life.

The best part about the outdoor activities in Edinburgh, is that most can be reached within a few minutes by walking, biking or using public transport. Perfect if you are travelling without a car.

The Best Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh

Climbing Arthurs Seat

Our favourite outdoor activity in Edinburgh is walking up Arthurs Seat in Holyrood Park. This old volcano provides a spectacular backdrop to an already beautiful city. You won’t miss it either because Arthurs Seat can be seen from nearly every corner of Edinburgh.

Arthurs Seat from Salisbury Crags

From leisurely meandering paths to the lung busting, calf burning climb up the near-vertical stairs, there are a number of different paths leading up Arthurs Seat to suit all abilities. The quickest route will take approximately 20 – 30 minutes.

The views at the top of Arthurs Seat are truly spectacular. On a clear day you can see across Edinburgh city to the Pentland Hills and the Firth of Forth.

You can easily spend a whole day exploring Arthurs Seat with three different lochs, the ruins of Anthony’s Chapel and the Queens Holyrood Palace.

Arthurs Seat Walking Route Map by Geowalks

Getting to Arthurs Seat:

Arthurs Seat can be reached by walking from the city centre in 10 minutes. Car parking spaces are available within Holyrood Park if you are feeling lazy.

Cost of walking up Arthurs Seat:

Free!

Additional information for Arthurs Seat:

Read our Arthurs Seat walking guide to find out a little bit more about the walk. The Visit Scotland Edinburgh page also has lots of additional information about Holyrood Park.

Exploring the Pentland Hills Regional Park

The Pentlands Hills Regional Park are perfect for walkers and mountain bikers of all abilities wanting to escape the city for a few hours of outdoor activities in Edinburgh.

Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh

With over 100 km (60 miles) of signposted tracks running across the Pentlands, you are spoilt for choice. And even though the hills attract over 600, 000 visitors annually, it is uncommon to see another person.

Many of the trails and paths are multi-use so you will share them with cyclists, walkers, dogs and even the odd farm animal. So take care if you are careening down the hills on a mountain bike.

Getting to the Pentland Hills Regional Park:

Get to the Pentlands by cycling on dedicated cycle paths from Edinburgh city centre or catch local buses. These include bus routes 4, 10, 11, 15, 15A, 16, 27, 44 and 44A with Lothian Buses.

Cost of exploring the Pentlands:

Free!

Additional information for the Pentlands:

The Pentland Hills Regional Park website provides all the information you need including trail maps, advice and tips.

Pentland Hills Regional Park, Highland Cow and calf

It isn’t uncommon to see Highland Cows in the Pentlands.

Walking and Biking the Water of Leith

The Water of Leith is a river flowing from the Pentland Hills through the heart of Edinburgh to the Firth of Forth in Leith. Criss-crossing the meandering river is the stunning 20 km (12 mile) Water of Leith Walkway which provides a welcome respite in the city centre.

The Water of Leith walkway is perfect for family strolls, romantic couples or a morning run to burn off the haggis from the night before. The walkway is suitable for cycling and is accessible across some sections by wheelchair and even horseback.

After rainfall it can be quite wet and muddy along some of the pathways so you may need a change of clothes after mountain biking!

Getting to the Water of Leith Walkway

The Water of Leith walkway can be joined at hundreds of places up and down the river. These also link with other paths and cycle routes, including the Union Canal and Pentland Hills. The walkway is well signposted and you can buy detailed maps from the visitor centres for £2.

Outdoor activities in Edinburgh

Cost of the Water of Leith Walkway

Walking and cycling along the Water of Leith is free.

Additional information for the Water of Leith Walkway

The Water of Leith Conservation Trust provides lots of extra information including outdoor activities in Edinburgh, trail maps and details of any closures or detours.

Walking and Cycling the Union Canal

The Union Canal runs 51 km (32 miles) from Edinburgh city, over ancient aqueducts and through tunnels until you reach the Falkirk Wheel. It is a perfect route for getting out of the city to explore the Pentland Hills.

On a sunny day the Canal can be packed with others running, cycling and walking with their kids feeding the swans.

While it can be a little scary riding your bike along the narrow paths, as long as you do it slowly and use your bell frequently, you will have no problems with other users. Just be prepared to stop often and let other users pass you by too.

No point forcing one of you into the water!

Getting to the Union Canal:

The best place to join the Union Canal is in the city centre off Fountainbridge Road. You can also join from hundreds of linking pathways along the route.

Cost of exploring the Union Canal:

Free!

Additional information for the Union Canal:

Find out about what other outdoor activities in Edinburgh you can do along the Union Canal from the Scottish Canals website.

Outdoor activities to do in Edinburgh

Best time of year to visit Edinburgh for adventure?

We think the best time of year for outdoor activities in Edinburgh is during spring (May – June). There are not as many tourists clogging up the main tourist attractions and the weather is the most settled.

Summer can be great, especially if you time your visit with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. While winter often brings snow and freezing temperatures which will make hiking and biking hazardous. But the scenery can be spectacular when dusted in white.

I love Edinburgh for adventure because…

When the sun is shining the city comes alive. Within short walking and cycling distances you have some of the best scenery in Scotland to enjoy.

Do you have any outdoor activities in Edinburgh to add to our adventure city guide?

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Shalu Sharma

    February 21, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Edinburgh is indeed a very exciting place to go on holiday. I regard it the first stop to Scotland. The furtherest I have been to Newcastle but I do hope to visit Edinburgh someday hopefully very soon. I love those cows.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 8:14 AM

      Edinburgh is such a beautiful city full of history. And the fact that you can enjoy all these outdoor activities in Edinburgh makes it the ideal city for us!

  2. Jennifer

    February 21, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Great guide! We haven’t been to Scotland yet, but this will certainly come in handy when we do make it to Edinburgh!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 8:10 AM

      Edinburgh has been our home base for 2 years now but time to move on. You will love it once you make it here!

  3. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    February 21, 2013 at 7:36 PM

    Thanks for the eye-opener about Edinburgh. Any place where I can “climb up Arthur’s Seat” is okay by me….Looking forward to getting active tips for other cities as well.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 8:11 AM

      Too many people get put off by Arthurs Seat when they look at it, but it is such an easy walk if you want it to be.

  4. Stephen S.

    February 22, 2013 at 1:13 AM

    Great guide to a great part of the world. Arthurs Seat give you such an amzing view of Edinburgh.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 8:13 AM

      The only problem is that you need a nice clear day to get the fantastic views. And they are quite rare in Scotland 😉

  5. Laurence

    February 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    You’ve missed off drinking copious amounts and trying to weave your way back home in the early hours of the morning. That particular one has caused me multiple bruises on various nights out in Edinburgh. Other than that, great round up 😉

    • Cole Burmester

      February 22, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      Hmmm good point. The cobblestones are a nightmare to navigate even when I am sober! Put your life at risk when it is after a few beers 😉

  6. Jonathan Look, Jr.

    February 23, 2013 at 3:36 AM

    Looks like an amazing and surprisingly assessable place. Ah, this summer maybe! I bet winter is quiet though.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 23, 2013 at 9:11 AM

      Winter is chilly and the days are very short. In summer it is light until 11pm at night so you can be out for hours after work exploring.

  7. Cheryl

    February 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    Love this adventure guide! I can’t wait to visit Scottland sometime. 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      February 23, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      If you visit in the next 6 weeks then we would have been able to put you up but we are moving on in April 🙂

  8. Arti

    February 24, 2013 at 1:17 AM

    The view from Arthurs seat must be a sight to behold! Thanks for the post and photographs.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 24, 2013 at 11:08 AM

      You will have to check it out Arti! Great views when it is nice weather 😉

  9. Nico

    February 24, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    Some really great photos, you’ve more than done justice to one of my favourite cities in Britain.

  10. Dana

    February 25, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    I enjoyed your post! We went to Edinburgh several years ago and LOVED Arthur’s Seat. Just beautiful!! I hope we make it back there soon & can enjoy some of the other sites!

    • Cole Burmester

      February 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM

      Hope you can make it back for some outdoor activities in Edinburgh too Dana!

  11. Jeremy Branham

    February 26, 2013 at 3:56 PM

    This is an awesome guide. It’s exactly the way I like to travel when I visit a city. No matter where I go, I always find a hike or a park or somewhere that gets me outdoors. With that said, Edinburgh is a top city on my list of places to visit. I have a fascination with Scotland. However, the country is so beautiful and I love this approach to the city.

    • Cole Burmester

      February 26, 2013 at 6:09 PM

      Edinburgh is definitely one of my favourite cities for living in because it is so easy to escape from haha. You can be in the hills within 10 minutes! Perfect for someone like myself and I am sure you would love the outdoor activities in Edinburgh too.

  12. Pingback: The Radar: Travel Lately – Intelligent Travel

  13. Jenna

    March 1, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    I love how you are promoting outdoor activities around the world–a great way to really see a place while staying healthy, too. I haven’t been to Edinburgh but it’s high on my list.

    • Cole Burmester

      March 2, 2013 at 10:45 AM

      If you want to contribute an adventure city guide then we would love to have one from you 🙂

  14. Stephanie - The Travel Chica

    March 2, 2013 at 12:49 AM

    Great new series. Perfect for my travel interests 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      March 2, 2013 at 10:44 AM

      If you want to contribute then feel free Stephanie 😉

  15. EurotripTips

    March 7, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I had no idea these places were so close to Edinburgh. Must check’em out next time I’m in town!

    • Cole Burmester

      March 7, 2013 at 1:00 PM

      There are so many good outdoor activities in Edinburgh that you can access within about an hour! Have you ever climbed Arthurs Seat? Do that first 😉

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Adventure Travel

Popular vs. Underrated Destinations:How To Avoid The Crowd?

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The biggest dilemma you have to face as an enthusiastic holidaymaker is whether to embrace popular destinations or to find lesser known regions for your vacations. Popular destinations have the advantage that they are experienced with tourists. You can be sure that you will find someone speaking your language and that hotel receptions will be open 24/7. But they are likely to be crowded to the point where it can be impossible to find a free spot on the beach or to walk down that famous avenue you’ve read about in your guidebook. Underrated destinations, in comparison, offer freedom of movement and peacefulness that you associate with a quiet pace of life. But they may not have all the necessary facilities to welcome tourists. You may struggle to find someone who speaks your language or even to get a decent hotel room, let alone direct flights to get there. In short, what’s the best answer to this dilemma?

Popular destinations with a twist

When you pick a destination that is familiar to the tourist industry, it’s both a blessing and a curse, as the available facilities and attractions are likely to attract hundreds if not thousands of same-minded tourists. However, these destinations are popular for a reason, so it would be a pity to avoid visiting marvels of the world just because you want to stay away from the crowd. Dubai, for example, receives every year a growing number of tourists, with estimations for 2020 to top 20 million. Needless to say, you’ll need to find things to do in Dubai that avoid the main entrance to their attraction area. But, looking for concierge services in famous cities like Dubai, Paris or Hong Kong can get you access to a privileged network to avoid tourists.

Visiting Dubai without the tourists

The perfect mix: Destinations that are about to get trendy

There are some destinations that are getting the necessary infrastructure to welcome tourists without having yet become popular. They are destinations in the making, areas that are about to go big and that you can visit while they’re not yet famous. The rising stars of the holiday industry are places such as José Ignacio in Uruguay – where you can meet the likes of Shakira among other celebrities – and Sofia in Bulgaria, which is Europe’s cheapest city destination. In those places, you can enjoy quality visits, beautiful landscapes, and architectures, without forgetting the exquisite hotel services too.

Beautiful and underrated destinations offer peace

Finally, there are places that simply don’t attract tourists for a reason or another. They are not specifically growing in popularity, but they remain hidden gems across the world. You will need to plan your holiday in advance, as some of these areas provide minimal comfort, such as the Basque Country which is a humble and quirky location. The Canary Islands, while being a highly popular spot in summer, is almost deserted in spring. There, you don’t need to worry about holiday attractions.

The charm of the forgotten destinations

In short, picking the best destinations for you demands a little bit of logistics juggle at first. Nobody likes a crowded place, so you can avoid other tourists either by choosing a different tile in a popular area or by working directly with a privileged service. If you are not keen on a famous destination, visit rising holiday stars or forgotten jewels. You’ll have fewer tourists but still a lot of fun!

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Adventure Travel

Five Of The Best Ways To Soak Up Scotland

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Rugged scenery, historic landmarks and a rich heritage – Scotland is a fantastic place to explore. With walking routes dotted between quaint cosy pubs, cities full with culture, and miles of beaches and scenic drives, there’s really no excuse not to embrace the tartan. Here are some of the best ways you can explore and soak up Scotland’s rich heritage.

Tour famous film locations

Scotland’s landscape is stunning, so no wonder its dramatic scenery has been captured on the big screen. Explore the picturesque film locations, such as Glen Coe for James Bond’s Skyfall moments. Visit Gairloch for the Billy Connolly classic, What We Did On Our Holiday where you can see views of the Isle of Skye from the expansive Red Point beach. Explore the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Lochaber for the iconic arched bridge that the Hogwarts Express chugs down in Harry potter.

By rail

Take the leisurely route around Scotland and travel by train. It’s a much needed break from walking routes, with stunning views from the window that look out across the ever-changing landscape. Scotland’s rail routes connect its seven cities with stops in many towns and villages across country, so you’ll find it easy to delve into the West Highlands from Glasgow, traveling through the scenic Fort William, or roll past the battlefields of Robert the Bruce through Dumfries.

Walk, trek, stroll

Discover all the wonderful wildlife and nature on foot. Trek through the rugged countryside for unbelievable sights of the towering mountains, shimmering lochs, golden beaches and lush farmland. Find Lochan Urr in Glen Etive for a spot of paradise, stroll along Applecross Bay, or scale new heights for stunning views of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. For longer routes head to Fort William and Glen Coe for miles of green countryside.

Castle to castle

You’ll find castles on top of, near enough, every rolling hill in Scotland. From pretty fairy tale castles to robust medieval fortresses, you can visit the most spectacular buildings all around Scotland. Enjoy strolling around the floral gardens looking up at the enchanting French design of Dunrobin Castle, on the northern coast near Dornoch. Explore Culzean Castle for dramatic scenes, or, Kilchurn near Dalmally in Argyll to gaze over the Loch Awe. Visit the royal stronghold, Fyvie Castle near Turriff for rich decor and 13th century furnishings. For something completely different, head to Kelburn Castle in Ayrshire for a colourful mural of unusual cartoons.

Cruise the Scottish waters

Take a look at Scotland from a different point of view by travelling Scotland’s shores on a boat cruise around the islands. Visit the Isle of Skye, Stornoway, Port Ellen, Montrose and the picturesque Holy Loch Port. For something even more adventurous, canoe in the lochs and rivers around Fort William.

Sound good? There’s so much to see in Scotland that you’re bound to be mesmerised!

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Adventure Travel

Top things to do in Cleveland

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Cleveland, Ohio may not be a well-known city like the Big Apple or the sunny beach cities of California, yet there is still much to do in this small but very vibrant city. If you have been planning on heading out to this wonderful city, then you’re in luck as there are numerous activities, attraction, and reservations that will be sure to educate as well as entertain the family.

Here is a small list of places and activities for the family and visitors to enjoy.

Why We Rock: Top Things to do in Cleveland

 

# 1 Hard Rock Rocksino

The Hard Rock Rocksino offers people a Las Vegas-esque kind of vibe and feel for the citizens and tourist of Ohio. If you love games, racing, elegant cuisine and just an overall fantastic night out on the town, the Hard Rock Rocksino is the place for you.

 

# 2 Outdoor Activities

If you are someone who isn’t too much into the nightlife and the whole city feel then Ohio still has you covered. Ohio indeed is one of the most aesthetically pleasing states to see and visit. Boasting and offering its residents and visitors sights and environments such as the Cuyahoga River in Lake Erie where people can go kayaking to The Townpath Trail where people can go jogging, hiking or horseback riding.

If you are an outdoor’ kind of person than this is the place for you. Beautiful atmosphere, surrounded by nature and overall a sight that is awe-inspiring to look at – what more could an outdoors person as for?

 

# 3 Education – Family friendly Orientated Places

Now, ask yourself what type of family trip it would be if you just visit and didn’t walk away learning something new and different? Well, in Ohio there are a plethora of places where you can take the family for an educational trip for the day.

There is the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo which boasts a wide array of animals from all around the world. There really is nothing more splendid for kids to see the animals that they love to imitate in person.

If the Zoo were fascinating and intriguing then the next destination, Greater Cleveland Aquarium would be sure to be as equally entertaining as the Zoo. When Visiting the Greater Cleveland Aquarium enter into an under that is akin to the Atlantis. Experience the aquatic lifeforms in such proximity.

Lastly, Ohio offers its residents and visitors many museums. There is the International Women’s Air and Space Museum which educates the populace about the story of aviation and how much women had their part in history. And let’s not forget the famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Final Thoughts

If you are deciding to visit this fantastic state, then be prepared for a wonderful visit and many cultural aspects that will be learned and offered. Make this trip a trip to remember with these places in mind.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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