A trip to Edinburgh doesn’t need to mean visiting Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood House.
There are plenty of places, away from the tourist crowds, that will get the adrenaline pumping. If you are looking to add adventure to your trip to Edinburgh we have got some great ideas and places for you to visit.
Glentress Mountain Biking
A 45-minute drive south from Pollock Halls (the X62 bus runs from Salisbury Place) takes you to Scotland’s mecca for mountain bikers. Deep in the heart of the stunning Tweed Valley, this biking experience includes Green, Blue, Red and Black graded trails as well as a ‘free-ride’ area. What’s more, the trails are free to use, you just need to pay for your parking. AND, there are plenty of bike hire shops nearby so you don’t need to bring your own.
If you’re new to mountain biking or would like some more pointers, Glentress run tuition and courses depending on your ability.
Edinburgh International Climbing Centre
Built into a disused quarry on the outskirts of Edinburgh sits Europe’s largest indoor climbing arena. With some of the walls standing at nearly 100 feet tall, this is a really impressive place to visit. Whether you are an expert or would like to try it for the first time, there are climbing routes to suit all levels. There are plenty of bouldering opportunities as well (smaller challenges that don’t need ropes) for those wanting to work on their technique.
This is the ideal place for any thrill seeker visiting Edinburgh, although we’d recommend booking a lesson if you have never climbed before.
Staying in Edinburgh provides a good base for accessing much of Scotland and the adventures it holds. My Adventure is an Edinburgh based company that offer canyoning, coasteering, gorge walking, mountain biking and hill walking in some of Scotland’s most breath taking countryside, all within a maximum 90 minutes’ drive from Edinburgh. They provide you with all the equipment and even the transport from accommodation to the countryside.
Whether you want to jump off water falls, clamber of cliffs or take part in a 70 foot abseil with some stunning Scottish scenery as the backdrop, My Adventure has you covered.
Arthur’s Seat is dominant in Edinburgh’s skyline. An extinct volcano with a peak of around 820 feet, a brisk stroll to the top provides enough exercise to get the blood pumping and you will be provided with a spectacular view across the whole of Edinburgh and beyond.
As you take a look at the view from the summit of Arhtur’s Seat, you will notice the rolling hills of the Pentlands. This range stretches for 20 miles and offers plenty of walking trails depending on how far you want to walk, or cycle.
For something more challenging, you might want to look at ‘bagging’ a few Munros. A Munro is any mountain in Scotland that is over 3,000 feet in height and it must be registered on the Scottish Mountaineering Club’s official list. There are a few within two hours’ driving distance that are worth trying:
Beinn a’Ghlo – A trio of Munros popular with Edinburgh walkers, these mountains sit near the town of Blair Atholl. All can be climbed within a day but you may need to stop by one of the famous chip shops at Pitlochry on the way back to build your strength up again.
Ben Chonzie – With two popular routes, this Munro in the spectacular Perthshire countryside is popular with Edinburgh locals. One route is much more trodden than the other, take your pick depending on how adventurous you feel.
Ben Vorlich – Towering over Loch Earn, this Munro offers a fairly gentle incline for the most part until nearer the top when scrambling comes into play. You can continue on to Stuc a Chroin, the adjacent Munro, if you feel particularly energetic. Loch Earn is the perfect place to cool down after a warm summer hike.
Lying on one of the Pentland hills overlooking Edinburgh is Midlothian Snow Sports Centre (also known as Hillend). https://www.midlothian.gov.uk/info/200281/snowsports_centre This Edinburgh institution is one of Europe’s longest dry ski slopes, a number of Scottish Olympians have trained here over the years. They offer ski and snowboard hire and lessons to all abilities throughout the year. They have also recently added a tubing course, if you fancy sliding down the hill in a giant doughnut. Hillend can be directly accessed using the number 4 Lothian Bus which you can get from Princes Street.
Scotland has a couple of ski centres that can be reached on day trips from Edinburgh during the winter.
Glenshee – Two hours north of the city by car, sitting in the Cairngorms National Park, is the popular Glenshee Ski Centre. This mountain, at over 3,500 feet, offers skiers and snowboarders the most extensive range of any other resort in Scotland, from steep to glades, open bowls to narrow gullies, Glenshee offers something for everyone no matter your ability. https://www.ski-glenshee.co.uk/
Glencoe – Scotland’s oldest ski centre has a great reputation as being great for the more experienced skier and snowboarder. It is home to the famous ‘flypaper’, the UK’s steepest black run. There is, however, a large plateau area which is ideal for beginners as well. https://www.glencoemountain.co.uk/
Both resorts offer ski hire and lessons. And if you are visiting in the summer, they also offer great terrain for mountain biking and hiking.
With Edinburgh sitting on the south coast of the Firth of Forth, surfing is not far away. Belhaven Bay, near Dunbar, around a forty minute drive from Edinburgh is the closest, and best, place to catch some surf. Coast to Coast are a surf school who rent out boards and wetsuits as well as offer lessons to any one of any ability. For those looking for a more relaxing activity, they also rent out stand up paddle boards. The surf school provide access to changing facilities with hot showers and heated floors, a nice bonus after a day in the North Sea.
For more stand up paddle boarding (SUP), Ocean Vertical offer tours around the waters of the East Coast. Based in the picturesque fishing village of North Berwick, your SUP guide will take you exploring some spectacular loactions and landmarks such as Seacliff Beach, Tantallon Castle and the Bass Rock (home to the world’s largest gannet colony). They have even been known to come across a dolphin now and again. These great tours allow you to experience the Firth of Forth from a different perspective.