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A Guide To Cycling Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh is such a beautiful city –with so many things to do and see. Given its compact nature many of the most famous sights can be reached on foot. However, saddling up, hopping on two wheels and pushing some pedals is also a great way to explore further afield.


Richard from Pedalforth Bicycle Rental shares his views and top tips for cycling around our fair city.

Cycling in Edinburgh is nowhere near as popular as in some of our European counterparts, take Copenhagen for example. Both cities are a similar size; both get lots of tourists and have similar climates. However, the great folk of Edinburgh have been more reluctant to brave the weather and prized out of their beloved cars.

This is all changing, albeit more slowly than some of us would like. Call me a bit sad, but I often count the cyclists coming in the opposite direction when doing my daily commute from Corstorphine (next to the Zoo) down to Leith (Royal Yacht Britannia etc). When I say “down”, I mean a drop of about 100 metres (300 feet). It often feels more of a climb back up because the prevailing wind in Edinburgh is Westerly, so it is, more often than not, a journey home into the wind. Anyway, coming back to the counting, there were times during the winter that I counted over 30 brave souls coming in the other direction in my half hour commute. This may not sound a lot, but in 2012 I often counted less than none, so that is an increase of around 30 if my maths is reliable. This is surely a great thing?

Cycling is growing. The Scottish Government has pledged to make around 15% of all commuter journeys ones by bicycle by 2020. And so we should embrace this liberating means of transport for visitors too. There are so many picturesque places in and around the city that can present an entirely different experience if done so by bike and you can fit more in.

If you are a tourist then bringing a bike to Edinburgh is a worthwhile exercise. If you can’t bring your own bike due to logistics, then there are various places to rent one – including Pedalforth.

The best map to buy is “Spokes Edinburgh Cycle Map“. It is indispensable. There are versions that cover other areas of Scotland too.

Your checklist & tips should include:

A helmet – not mandatory, but advisable, as about the only bit of your body you can’t do without is your head.
Bike lock – Scots are generally honest, but some of us are not.
Reflective Jacket – always handy in traffic
Direction – A vague idea of what side of road you should be on – you’d be amazed how many locals don’t necessarily have this.
Stay sober – Cycling and drink don’t really mix, believe you me
Kids – if you have got small ones, there are plenty of totally traffic free routes
Tourist Attractions – Most are accessible by bike, no parking issues or public transport hassles
Waterproofs – Edinburgh tends to encounter four seasons in one day!
Fitness – You have to be slightly fit. Don’t expect to get back on a bike if you haven’t cycled for 20 years & expect it not to hurt the next day. We are all getting older!
Advice – If you are cycling in Edinburgh, feel free to ask another cyclist for directions or route recommendations. The Scots cycling fraternity are on the whole a friendly bunch so will be happy to oblige you with a moment of our time.

Some top routes include:

Water of Leith Canal (approx. 5 miles)
Leith to Crammond (approx. 15 miles)
Edinburgh to Roslyn Chapel (approx. 8 miles)
Edinburgh to Berwick Coastal (approx. 25 miles)
Edinburgh to St Andrews (approx. 50miles)

Bike Hire Charges:

£10 per 4 hours (or part thereof)
£15 per 24 hours
Hire for 5 days and receive 2 days free.

To speak to Richard for more cycle tips or about hiring a bike please visit or call 0131 554 9990

Written by Amanda Brown

Amanda, Director of VieAmhor, is a local Edinburgher through and through. Amanda spends her weekends dining out, drinking cocktails and hanging with her three boys (the four-legged, furry variety).

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