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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
Additional information for the Pentlands:
The Pentland Hills Regional Park website provides all the information you need including trail maps, advice and tips.
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.
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:
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.
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?
Medieval Towns with German Castles Near Munich & Frankfurt
Our favorite castles in Germany near Frankfurt and Munich:
We were crazy enough to visit Neuschwanstein Castle on a public holiday. This meant that along with all the Asian tourists, there were an awful lot of Germans. Plus, even though we arrived by 11 am, the soonest tickets we could buy were for the German tour at 2.30 pm, as the terms in English were sold out until 4 pm. So, if you don’t have German friends at hand to translate the tour for you, we recommend booking in advance online. The castle was impressive, and the time was undoubtedly fascinating! Don’t worry, I won’t spill the beans, but the manmade Grotto room made my jaw drop!
Mespelbrunn Castle is located on a pond between Frankfurt and Wurzburg. Unfortunately, we arrived 30 minutes after its closing time of 5 pm, but it looked cool from behind the fence!
Lichtenstein Castle is located on a clifftop near Stuttgart and costs 6 euros per person for a tour in German; however, they did give us a very informative written guide in English. This castle is small compared to Hohenzollern castle, but its story is fascinating. Tanks shelled it in World War II, and today you can still see the cracked mirror from where a small fragment of a tank grenade ricocheted!
Hohenzollern Castle is not too far from Lichtenstein Castle. It is located on a hilltop near Hechingen, and we enjoyed the guided tour. Along with getting to wear GIANT slippers, make sure you explore the casemates and secret passages. One sign made me want to learn more. It read, “Exactly where these steps lead to is unknown. More casemates and secret passageways are likely waiting to be discovered in the heart of the mountain”!
Heidelberg Castle was a lot larger than we expected! Unfortunately, we had spent far too much time at the Auto & Technik Museum in Sinsheim, so we did not have time to explore this castle. But if we get the chance, we will explore the town and its castle next time in Germany.
On our drive from Munich to Frankfurt, we also loved:
The beer garden at Andechs Monastery was just like Oktoberfest but amongst trees and more family-friendly. The beer was cheaper, and the food was great, including the giant pork knuckle, which Moss could not finish. It was also fun walking up multiple flights of stairs to the tower’s very top.
Three hours in Rothenburg was not enough to explore this wonderful medieval town! We recommend getting your hands on a city map from the tourist information office. We enjoyed Roder Gate, walking along the wall and exploring the 17th-century spital bastion, plus Moss lost me in the Kathe Wohlfahrt Christmas shop for over half an hour, and I didn’t even buy anything!
The average person would Google Munich to Frankfurt and see that it only takes about 3 ½ hours depending on how fast you wish to drive on the autobahn! However, we are NOT typical. We took one look at train prices and decided that hiring a car wouldn’t cost too much more.
We aren’t going to tell you our exact route. Still, after surviving Oktoberfest in Munich, we did a giant zigzag to see as many castles and medieval towns as possible. So to save you doing so much driving, we have picked our favorite cities and castles. First of all, ‘Ausfahrt’ is not a destination accessible from every off-ramp! It means ‘Exit’! Another word of wisdom to keep in mind is that the autobahns with speed limits do have speed cameras… and the flash is blinding!
Running with the Bulls Video
Our shaky Running with the Bulls Video footage from the Festival de San Fermin in 2012. Experience it first hand in Pamplona. Enjoy.
We recently wrote about our life or death experience of Running with the Bulls this year at the Festival of San Fermin in Pamplona. On that run, I carried along with our GoPro video camera and tried to shoot some footage for our running with the video of the bull.
All our travel video shooting techniques went out the window when the bulls’ hooves started to shake the ground beneath our feet.
Once we had lined up for the running with the bulls, there was no escape from it as we were walled in by apartment blocks, shopfront windows, and 3-meter high wooden barriers packed with photographers along the entire length. At one end lay the relative safety of the bull ring pulsating with the cheers of the crowd who were still partying from the night before. Behind me, a dozen wild bulls pawed the stony ground looking for freedom.
Unfortunately, I was standing in their path.
What we ended up with is below. However, I think what we filmed for our running with the bull video captures the chaos, craziness, and complete madness a lot better than if I had stood my ground.
Enjoy it and watch for the guy that nearly gets trampled to death near the beginning!
Running with the Bulls Video
Would you ever consider running with the bulls?
While we are very aware that not all people agree that the San Fermin Festival should be allowed to go ahead mainly due to animal cruelty, we think there are two sides to every story. We wrote a post about the controversy surrounding Bullfighting in Spain and the Festival de San Fermin.
We would love to hear your thoughts on the Festival de San Fermin and whether you would ever consider running with the bulls.
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok – Adventure City Guide
Find out how you can explore the streets, canals and local markets within minutes of Bangkok with our Outdoor Activities in Bangkok Adventure City Guide.
Are you looking for an insider’s adventure travel guide for the best outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Why visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is one of the world’s largest metropolises and a gateway for most of the world to access the rest of South East Asia. With numbers surpassing 14 million people in the Greater Bangkok Region, this is no small player in the world’s super-cities. Of course, having such a long history with foreign visitors, the city has become incredibly established in the world’s tourist sector.
This has allowed it to grow many facets of adventurous activities – making access to something for everyone!
Outdoor Activities in Bangkok
Exploring the Klongs
Klongs are canals that used to feed the entire city with life-giving water, branched off from the city’s main artery – the Chao Phraya River. Today, the locals wouldn’t drink the water if you paid them, but there is still a fascinating life along the Klongs’ banks. There is so much to explore, from floating markets to old houses on stilts, and it gives insight into this ancient way of life!
What’s it cost, and how to get to the Klongs?
You can usually arrange the Klongs from the pier “Saphan Taksin” along the Chao Phraya River. This is conveniently a stop on the Skytrain, making it very easy to access. Usually, you will be renting the entire boat for the day (about 1000 THB, or USD 35) and not paying a per-person rate. So if you can find a few people to go with, the price will drop significantly per person.
Rickshaw City Tours
If you’ve never been to Asia before, Rickshaws are one of the most fun ways to get around. Although they can often be a little more expensive than metered taxis, you get an experience (and a view) that is unparalleled, especially in the busy streets of Bangkok.
What’s it cost?
Occasionally, you can even haggle a deal for a city tour for next to nothing (50-100 THB or $1.50-3 USD), as long as you visit a couple of affiliated ‘custom suit tailors’ throughout the day, as they’ll get a kickback from the shops just for bringing you there… No purchase is necessary.
You can often find Tuk Tuk drivers willing to do this standing along the perimeter of the Kings’ Palace. It may take a few attempts of asking for a ‘special city tour,’ but you will be bound to find someone ready for a cut of this business.
Local Secret Spot
Though most people wouldn’t consider going to a market an adventure, they probably have never experienced the likes of Chatuchak (also known as JJs). This is one of SE Asia’s LARGEST outdoor markets. It’s so prominent that you can find maps of the market to help navigate. It’s roughly the size of 4 city blocks and is divided into various sections.
You’ll find everything under the sun here, from clothing to handicrafts, food, mobile phones, and even puppies and other cute critters for sale!! It’s bonkers. If it gets too much for you, you can take a break in one of Bangkok’s most famous parks (Chatuchak park), located next to the market.
How to get there?
You can get here via Skytrain (BTS), subway (MRT), taxi, bus, you name it – it’s very accessible! But it’s only open on weekends, from about dawn until 5 or 6 pm at its peak. Some shops stay open longer, but most will be closed by dusk. It’s free entry and a perfect place to buy ANY souvenirs at the end of your time in Thailand.
Suppose you can coordinate to be here on the weekend. I generally hate shopping for ‘stuff,’ but I love this market and its energy!
Best time of the year to visit Bangkok for adventure?
Bangkok is in the tropics and quite close to the Equator. Of course, this means it’s hot on a year-round basis.
It’s considered the rainy season from May to October, though showers can happen at any time of the year. This is generally a less busy time for tourists, though the rains are not quite as bad as expected and often only last 30 mins-1 hour, cooling the city’s heart. Peak season is in December-January when temperatures are at their most astounding ad driest… though it’s still pretty hot!
And if Bangkok isn’t to your taste, the luxury Koh Samui will be. Endless sandy beach, beautiful clear waters, and nightlife that could be lived in forever. The luxury rental properties are stunning, and we recommend Tempston Luxury villa rentals.
Finally, the reason I love Bangkok for adventure is that…
It’s never-ending. This city is SO BIG that you could get lost in a new neighborhood almost every day. Single. Day. And still find new, exciting things to explore. On my list for the upcoming weeks, I’ve got the Scala Cinema, the Thai Air Force Museum, Papaya Vintage Shop, and the Erawan Museum – to name a few. Every time I explore one place, I learn of 3 more!!
From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He’s since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. You can follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and his travel blog Where Sidewalks End.
Have you been to Bangkok? What were your favorite outdoor activities in Bangkok?
Meet Cole and Adela
We 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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