Edinburgh abounds with fantastic things to do outdoors throughout the year. Venture outside and discover the city's 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 to 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? The playpark to the East proves popular with families, especially during the summer months.
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 Dean Village before arriving at the Shores of Leith and Firth of Forth.
A day or afternoon out at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh 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 woodpeckers or see if you can spot a kestrel. Night-time visitors include badgers and tawny owls.
Portobello Beach offers a delightful alternative to the city centre. This beach is a much loved escape for most Edinburgh locals, and offers a great view of the sunset. On a sunny day, the beach is full of people having fun in the sun, great for dog walkers and nature lovers. There are also some charming cafés on the promande, and traditional fairground amusements where you can play air hockey to your heart's content.
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 offering lots of ways to explore this beautiful outdoor sanctuary.
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.
Please note: Due to Covid-19 Midlothian Snowsport Centre is closed until further notice. For the most up to date information, please visit their website.
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 help you discover outdoor spaces near you. In an exciting new initiative, Edinburgh Outdoors helps you find the location of your nearest park, play area or public toilet. Learn about trees and wildlife, monuments and upcoming events in Edinburgh parks. This free app is an easy way to explore Edinburgh’s parks on the move. Just search for "Edinburgh Outdoors" in the Android and Apple app stores.
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.