Edinburgh offers an extensive range of transport networks from buses, trains and now even trams. However, to get to the nitty-gritty of the city, you often have to rely on foot.
One of the most pleasant alternatives to exploring the city of Edinburgh is by bicycle. Edinburgh is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the UK, as two-wheeled travel allows access to most of Edinburgh’s attractions which are otherwise restricted on public transport.
The City Centre
Don’t be put off by the cobbled streets of Old Town Edinburgh, you can avoid the rattle with some careful planning as the cobbles are fortunately confined to small areas. Despite Edinburgh’s hillside landscape, with exception to the climb up to the castle, the gradients are a lot less demanding than you may think. Cycling is permitted just about everywhere in the city centre, including all the tourist attractions and Princes Street (the main shopping area). The plus point is that bikes have access to all major roads, making it quicker to get about.
Edinburgh can be pretty crowded, especially over the summer months. If riding through the festival bustle is a bit too overwhelming and you fancy a bit more space, Holyrood Park is a great alternative. Still taking in the Edinburgh city backdrop, you can cycle past the Palace of Holyroodhouse, passing Dynamic Earth, St Margaret’s Loch and the Scottish Parliament at your leisure. There is no official off-road bike path at Holyrood Park, the path is shared with pedestrians and has no lighting at night but the surface is good for an easy, basic ability cycle. Whilst planning, you might want to take note that the park is closed to motoring traffic on a Sunday, on that day, you can ride free of traffic.
The Innocent Railway Path
If off-road cycling sounds more appealing but you don’t want to leave behind the historic city culture, the Innocent Railway path is one of Edinburgh’s best-preserved secrets. The route begins in the Meadows and leads to a 320m disused railway tunnel. If it’s a hot day, the tunnel can be one of the less crowded places to cool down as the tunnel drops in temperature and has very low lighting. If you want to avoid the tunnel, you can start the route at Holyrood Park and still experience the historic railway route and the remains of the cast iron bridge. The Innocent Railway was Edinburgh’s first railway and was originally built for horse-drawn systems in 1831, which makes it perfect for cycling because the path is generally flat.
Providing you don’t mind giving way to dog walkers and families on a busy day, the picturesque view of the Firth of Forth from this route makes Silverknowes one of the best routes in Edinburgh to cycle. Edinburgh has a great selection of cycle paths, many of them on the routes of old railway lines. You can make your way to Silverknowes Esplanade from East Trinity Road, this route opens out to the coast of Granton. Overlooking a colourful harbour dotted with fishing boats, it is the perfect place for a picnic or a coffee. The Esplanade can get quite crowded in the summer, as many of the residents enjoy a stroll and an ice-cream along the esplanade to the old fishing village of Cramond.
Leith and Portobello
Recently resurfaced for a pleasant cycling experience is the path running along the northern edge of Leith Links. There is a minor light controlled crossing to take into consideration at Seafield Place if you want to carry on to Portobello promenade to take in the coastal views. Why not enjoy a day at the seaside and see what Portobello has to offer.