Great Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh

Edinburgh and the surrounding area offer a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy, including cycling
Edinburgh and the surrounding area offer a wealth of outdoor activities to enjoy, including cycling | © Arch White / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Tamarin Fountain
31 August 2020

Looking to get outside and breathe in the Scottish air? Edinburgh offers a multitude of green spaces and waterways, is home to innovative activity organisers and has excellent municipal provision for recreation. From silent disco walking tours to strolling with alpacas, here are some superb outdoor activities to enjoy in Scotland’s capital.

Hire a Just Eat bike

Fitness Studio
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Transport for Edinburgh rentable bikes parking station in east-central Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, looking down on railway lines Waverley Station.
© Elizabeth Leyden / Alamy Stock Photo

Sightsee and skip traffic by cycling. The Just Eat app will show you the nearest set of wheels (there are more than 100 pick-up/drop-off points across the city, so you won’t have far to go). A single trip is £1.50, and a 24-hour pass is just £3 for traditional bikes. Or pay £0.10 per minute for an electric version. If you’re nervous about road cycling, head for the lengthy canal towpath, via the Dundee Terrace pick-up point.

Play tennis on the Meadows

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Edinburgh Leisure provides a range of indoor and outdoor activities for the community, including these tennis courts. They’re unmanned and completely free to use, but you’ll need to bring your own racquets and balls. Play is on a first-come, first-served (in more ways than one) basis, so be prepared to wait a while, unless you’re visiting on a weekday.

Go quad biking at MadMax Adventures

Sports Center
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Catch a bus to Kirknewton Village, where you’ll find this expansive adventure ground, complete with exhilarating quad trails. Feel the adrenaline pumping as you navigate the thrills of rural Lothian terrain on modern Fourtrax bikes. A safari takes an hour and is one of the pricier but most exciting recommendations on our list, at £50 per person (over 16s only). Archery and clay pigeon shooting are also available on site.

Perfect your swing at Wee Braids Golf Course

Sports Center
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Late evening view across South Edinburgh to Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags, from the Braid Hills, Edinburgh.
© Diarmid Weir / Alamy Stock Photo

Another of Edinburgh Leisure’s facilities, this is the mini version of the adjacent extensive Braid Hills Golf Course. It has just nine holes, so it’s relaxing for the more experienced golfer and an accessible starting point for beginners – the addition of junior tees make it an ideal afternoon out for the whole family. Wee Braids is a 10-minute bus ride from the centre, and yet it offers rolling green scenery and farmland views.

Join a silent disco walking tour

Architectural Landmark
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Once purely a Fringe Festival feature, the roaming silent disco has since become an ongoing attraction in Edinburgh. Leave your inhibitions at the meeting point in Hunter Square, don a high-tech headset and prepare to sing and dance your way around the capital’s historic landmarks for 60 minutes. Participants need to be over five years old, fit enough to maintain a moderate walking pace and up for a laugh. Do wear comfy shoes as some of the routes involve cobblestones.

Solve puzzles with Operation Mindfall

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The acclaimed Escape Hunt has taken its puzzles into the great outdoors this year, with Operation Mindfall. The game spans a 2km (1mi) radius and has a two-hour time limit. Armed with an iPad and action pack, you and your teammates must race against the clock to collect clues and use your problem-solving skills, saving the city from a deadly virus. Operation Mindfall is suitable for two to four players, and the route you’ll take is fully accessible.

Walk an alpaca at BobCat Alpacas

Park, Zoo
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Bobcat Alpaca's, Bonaly, Owner Cath Crosby with Milo, Calvin, Vivace and Carmelle
© IAN GEORGESON / Alamy Stock Photo

Enjoy a leisurely, therapeutic experience at BobCat Alpacas in the suburb of Bonaly, on the edge of the Pentland Hills. Take a 90-minute scenic stroll with these calming and cute creatures for £25. Don’t forget to snap some pictures and be prepared for lots of laughs along the way. Those unable to walk for this duration can still get up close with the animals by booking a farm visit at £20.

Swim at Wardie Bay

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Wardie Bay, to the north of the city, might seem like an unlikely spot for a dip due to its gritty urban backdrop. But the tiny beach and large, safe breakwater is a magnet for friendly local paddlers in the know. Spot seals, dolphins, herons and guillemots diving, as well as the occasional oddity – a triathlete once bumped into a mannequin’s leg while swimming. Pop along to the Old Chain Pier afterwards to warm up with a coffee, or even whisky.

These recommendations were updated on August 31, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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