Find out how to discover Edinburgh on two wheels – Lonely Planet


Crisscrossed by cobbled pathways and steep, traffic-ladened lanes, Edinburgh may not appear excellent for biking. Nonetheless, regardless of the undulating topography and net of historical streets, Scotland’s hilly, historic capital is surprisingly nicely arrange for cyclists.

Decommissioned railway strains, Victorian-era canal paths and extensive seaside promenades are simply of the various routes that may simply be traversed on two wheels. Whether or not you include your individual bike or hire wheels on arrival, this is easy methods to take advantage of biking in Edinburgh.

The place to hire a motorcycle in Edinburgh

Let’s begin with the practicalities. Though Edinburgh’s Bike & Go bike share scheme closed in 2021, there are nonetheless loads of native bike retailers within the middle the place you’ll be able to hire a cycle. Biketrax, a 15-minute stroll from Edinburgh Fort, rents out highway bikes for round £25 (US$35) per day, together with a helmet, bike lock and lights; the associated fee decreases barely for every extra day. They’re additionally a superb choose for electrical bike rent.

Staying a bit longer? You is perhaps higher off choosing up a second-hand bike. Pedal Forth, Soul Cycles and charity-run The Bike Station are all good choices for used cycles (and so they might supply every day or weekly leases as nicely). You may discover a good vary of mountain bikes, too – helpful in the event you plan to deal with routes heading out into the hills.

Ideas for biking in Edinburgh

Highway biking in Edinburgh is pretty simple, cobbles and topography however. Drivers are used to sharing the highway with cyclists, however put on a helmet and be cautious of passing on the within of buses, vans and lorries, which can flip left unexpectedly.

There are many reserved bike lanes and cycle paths, and there is a security field for cyclists forward of the vehicles at visitors lights. Use bike lights and put on high-visibility clothes at evening. Edinburgh’s parks present some helpful biking cut-throughs, notably Holyrood Park and The Meadows. Contact Biking Edinburgh for extra suggestions and native insights.

In the case of route-finding, the old style paper Edinburgh Cycle Map from Spokes offers an in depth overview of town’s cycle community, together with gradients and terrain. Buy it on-line through the Spokes web site, or from any of Edinburgh’s bike retailers. Spokes additionally produces maps of the broader Lothian area in the event you’re planning a day journey past the capital along with your bike.

Choose to go digital? Maps of Edinburgh’s hottest cycle paths are simple to seek out on-line, and you may plan a route utilizing the web cycle route planners at CycleStreets and BBBike, which additionally helps you to filter by highway floor sort and avenue lighting degree.

Cycle to the highest of Calton Hill for one among Edinburgh’s best views © Leonid Andronov / Shutterstock

Edinburgh’s finest cycle routes

Edinburgh has commendable assortment of cycle routes, so you’ll be able to wind by the historic streets of the middle or keep away from the hustle and bustle altogether with a leisurely journey alongside the seafront.

Portobello Promenade Loop

5.6 miles (9km) every means; 3 hours; intermediate

The suburb of Portobello is Edinburgh’s most tasty coastal neighborhood and it is residence to one of many metropolis’s finest seashores. The most effective journey here’s a picturesque out and again that takes you proper alongside the Portobello promenade, after a whirlwind tour of a few of Edinburgh’s high websites.

Start your loop at Edinburgh Waverley station and take a mini detour up Calton Hill to see the Athenian-inspired Nationwide Monument. You’ll then skirt across the grand Palace of Holyroodhouse and the bottom of Arthur’s Seat. After a brief stretch alongside comparatively quiet backstreets, you may leap onto the Restalrig Railway Path, operating all the best way to the coast, the place you’ll be able to choose up the promenade path.

The return journey from Portobello largely follows the identical route, aside from the ultimate part the place you’ll glide down Leith Stroll again to the station. It is an important journey for folks arriving in Edinburgh by practice with a motorcycle in tow.

Water of Leith Cycle Path

12 miles (19km); 1.5 hours a method; simple

A visit to Leith, one among Edinburgh’s finest neighborhoods simply northeast of town middle, ought to undoubtedly be in your agenda. Biking here’s a breeze, too, because of the Water of Leith Cycle Path, a 12 mile (19km) path reserved for bikes and walkers, reducing throughout Edinburgh to Balerno, simply southwest of the middle.

The largely flat path weaves its well past quite a few landmarks, together with Dean Village, a slice of bucolic village life on the fringes of town, and the Collington Tunnel with its big psychedelic mural. You’ll additionally glimpse the grand facade of the Scottish Nationwide Gallery of Fashionable Artwork; it’s price popping in to admire the Van Gogh, Dali and Eduardo Paolozzi masterpieces.

Dean Village is a shocking discover on the Water of Leith cycle path © Christian Mueller / Shutterstock

The Union Canal Towpath

31 miles (51km); 2.5-3 hours a method; intermediate

The Union Canal, as soon as a significant freight route connecting Edinburgh with Falkirk, celebrates its two hundredth birthday in 2022. It’s probably the most widespread traffic-free cycle routes out and in of town, stretching for a complete of 31 miles (51km).

Start your journey at Lochrin Basin close to Haymarket and dive right into a kaleidoscope of Edinburgh surroundings. Victorian tenements and industrial websites give option to superior aqueducts and plush countryside across the picturesque River Almond Gorge. On the finish of the canal is the Falkirk Wheel, an epic feat of recent engineering which permits boats to navigate the 110ft (34m) peak distinction between the Union Canal and the Forth & Clyde Canal.

Learn extra: Edinburgh’s most enjoyable free issues to do

A pleasant midway level between the wheel and town is the Fifteenth-century Linlithgow Palace, celebrated as Mary Queen of Scots’ birthplace. When you’ve reached Falkirk, you’ll be able to retrace your tracks again to Edinburgh or keep on to Glasgow by following the towpath of the connecting Forth & Clyde Canal.

The Union Canal towpath is barely a meter extensive in locations, so be careful for walkers and different cyclists. The route is nicely signposted because it’s a part of each Route 75 and Route 754 of the Nationwide Cycle Community.

Harmless Railway Path

6 miles (9.5km); 40 minute spherical journey; simple

If you happen to’re quick on time, this scenic 6 mile (9.5km) out and again route is an effective choose. The path, which kinds a part of Nationwide Cycle Route 1, follows a disused railway line operating from Newington close to town middle to Brunstane simply south of Portobello.

The Harmless Railway Tunnel, a barely elusive landmark alongside the southwest fringe of Holyrood Park, is a wise start line. Endure just a few cool, damp minutes on this eerie passageway earlier than cruising by the leafy grounds of one among Edinburgh’s hottest parks.

The trail turns into steeper the additional south you get and finally ends up near Brunstane station – helpful if you wish to cycle a method and catch the practice again to city. If you happen to’re not eager on climbs and solely need to cycle in a single route, deal with this route from south to north as an alternative.

The cycle path alongside the Union Canal presents a delicate transect by the Edinburgh suburbs © Bob Douglas / Getty Photographs

Mountain biking in Edinburgh

Transcend town limits and also you’ll uncover dozens of trails the place you’ll be able to tear by difficult terrain. The Inexperienced Cleugh Valley sits throughout the Pentland Hills and has a number of loops appropriate for intermediate mountain bikers. A preferred choice is reducing by the hole between Hare Hill and Black Hill alongside a mixture of rocky paths and clean tracks.

If you happen to’re a extra seasoned rider, contemplate the Capital Path – an formidable 124 mile (200km) route that has been mapped out by Bikepacking Scotland, aimed toward superior cyclists. It begins on Portobello Seaside and takes you throughout the hilly outskirts of Edinburgh. The surfaces and terrain are massively different, from steep uphill climbs round Peebles to lengthy, flat sections alongside the Firth of Forth coast.

Bike restore retailers in Edinburgh

Experience halted by a pesky puncture or a damaged chain? Fear not – Edinburgh has no scarcity of motorbike restore retailers. Most bike rental retailers additionally do repairs, and Halfords Bike Service presents a free evaluation to verify the general well being of your bike (helpful in the event you’ve not too long ago purchased one second-hand). If you end up caught someplace distant, contact Allbikes-Edinburgh, one among a number of cell bike restore companies.

If you happen to take your biking critically, you’ll be able to choose up high quality bike components in Edinburgh’s many impartial cycle shops. The Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative is especially good and shares gadgets from dozens of widespread bike manufacturers.

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