Official Guide to Edinburgh
  • 11°C

Outdoors

Make the most of the great outdoors in Scotland’s beautiful capital city

Edinburgh abounds with fantastic things to do outdoors throughout the year. Step outside in the city centre and discover its cobbled streets, fashionable walkways and ancient alleys.  From the picturesque West End sprinkled with stylish boutiques, gift shops, florists and interior shops to the bustling streets of George and Princes Streets and the colourful Grassmarket and ancient Royal Mile, the beauty of Edinburgh city centre is its compact size.  A walkable city, you can easily explore the architecture, history, shops, theatres and museums on foot.

Parks, Gardens and Walks

A visit to Princes Street Gardens is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the capital’s main shopping street.  Enjoy the beautiful, seasonal floral displays, historical statues and grand monuments. Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat are popular with energetic walkers throughout the year.  Small Lochs, craggy cliffs, natural fauna and superb views will reward an energetic stride around this landmark overlooking the capital.  The Meadows on the south of the city is a popular spot for outdoor sports and ball games. Why not sit back and watch a game of cricket or take part in a game of tennis.  Young children enjoy playing in its popular play park.

To the North of the city is Inverleith Park, a perfect spot for a gentle stroll and an opportunity to admire the cityscape.  Popular with dog walkers and those with young children, it has a play park and boating pond which sees boating enthusiasts steer their remote controlled vessels through the water.  If a riverside walk is to your liking, then a visit to the Water of Leith Visitor Centre is a great starting point for a gentle walk along its banks.  The Water of Leith starts its journey in the Pentland Hills and winds its way through the picturesque village of Deans before arriving at the Shores of Leith and Firth of Forth.

A day or afternoon out at the Royal Botanic Gardens is a must for gardening enthusiasts.  Walk through the beautiful landscaped gardens and admire the water features, rock gardens and stunning floral displays which change throughout the season.  A constantly changing calendar of events and exhibitions provides the perfect excuse to visit all year round not to mention the excellent café and restaurant facilities.

Corstorphine Hill is a popular nature reserve in the North West of the city.  Enjoyed by dog walkers and ramblers, listen out for a woodpecker or see if you can spot a kestrel.  Night time visitors include badgers and tawny owls. 

Walkers and rollerbladers enjoy the beautiful views of the Firth of Forth from the promenade at Cramond to the North of Edinburgh.  When the tide is out, a walk across its famous causeway will lead you to Cramond Island where you can have a picnic and watch the seabirds.  The small beach at Cramond is popular with local residents who feed the swans and admire the gentle bobbing boats.  A charming row of whitewashed houses include a traditional cafeteria, which in warmer weather, is a nice spot to sit outdoors and enjoy the views and fresh air.

The Pentland Hills overlook Edinburgh to the south of the city.  Over 100km of signposted paths guide walkers through an oasis of green hills and lochs.  With beautiful views of the surrounding area, there are also cycle and pony trails from which to enjoy this outdoor sanctuary.

Explore Edinburgh's Outdoors 

If you want to explore Edinburgh’s outstanding parks and greenspaces, the City of Edinburgh Council has a fantastic app to improve your visitor experience at parks throughout the capital. In an exciting new initiative, Edinburgh Outdoors, helps you find out the location of your nearest park, play area or public toilet. Learn about trees and wildlife, monuments and what events are taking place. This free app (available on Android and Apple app stores) is an easy way to explore Edinburgh’s parks on the move. Just search for "Edinburgh Outdoors". 

For all the information visit www.edinburghoutdoors.org.uk. You can join in by following Edinburgh Outdoors on Twitter and Facebook for news and updates about what is going on in parks across the city. 

Skiing

The Midlothian Snowsports Centre overlooks the city from the Pentland Hills.  Open all year round, the centre offers skiing enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the thrill of Europe’s largest artificial ski slope.  A jump slope and learning slopes means that visitors of all levels can take advantage of first class tuition.  Dare devils will also love the excitement of the centres tubing runs. 

Discover more great things to do in Edinburgh with our Top 5 Outdoor Activities >