Edinburgh on two wheels
Edinburgh’s size makes it a fab city to be explored on foot or by bike, with many of the attractions located very close together in central Edinburgh such as The Castle, Grey Friars Kirk and the bustling Cockburn Street.
In this guide I’ll give a different perspective on sightseeing, on two wheels; with a rundown of a great day out if you are wanting to change it up and explore areas of this beautiful city on two wheels outside of the busy city center. I’ll start with some options for rentals just in case you don’t have your own bike with you:
Edinburgh has a self-service bike hire scheme with stations located throughout the city; very similar to the bike schemes found in many other cities across the globe. This option is great if you’re looking to make short trips around town. To use it, you’ll need to download the app onto your smartphone and add a debit or credit card. You simply use the app to find the closest station to you and go from there. The best value option is to purchase the day pass for £3; allowing unlimited journeys of up to an hour within the 24 hour period. For a one off journey, you can also hire a bike for £1.50 for the hour; you will then be charged £1 for each additional 30 minutes. When you are finished riding just return the bike to any of the stations dotted throughout the city.
The bikes (created by Pashley) come equipped with three gears; calibrated for Edinburgh’s hills (Edinburgh is built on seven hills). Comparing this option to bike rental, one downside is that this does not provide you with a lock or helmet. The lack of a lock can be a particular issue if you plan to leave your bike unattended. On these occasions it’s best to just leave your bike at the nearest station and walk the remainder of the route.
Biketrax (11-13 Lochrin Place; 0131 228 6633)
Biketrax has a wide range of bike hire options available including Brompton folding bikes, 16 gear road bikes and mountain bikes. All rentals include lock, lights and helmet and the price for day hire starts from £20.
Pedal Forth (17 East Cromwell Street; 0131 554 9990; closed Sunday)
Pedal Forth offer 2017 models of Elios Hybrid Bicycles with prices starting at £15 per day. Much like Biketrax, Pedal Forth also offer a helmet, lock and lights. Perfectly situated near the north Edinburgh cycle network, this shop is ideal if you don’t want to cycle far to reach those traffic-free cycle routes.
One day in Edinburgh
For me, the perfect day out involves being in the outdoors and a day out in Edinburgh is no different. Below is a suggested itinerary for a great day out for those on two wheels that will largely avoid the busy city centre. An alternative guide on two wheels!
First things first, I recommend heading to the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh for a relaxing morning stroll (the gardens open at 10 am). For me, this truly is one of the best escapes from the city. Garden admission is free although you’ll need to pay a small fee to gain access to the glasshouses which contain many tropical species; can I just say it’s the perfect place to escape the winter chill and warm up!
You’ll find places to lock your bike on both the east and west gate entrance. If you happen to be using the just-eat cycle hire service, I’d recommend leaving your bike at either the Inverleith Row or Stockbridge station and walking the remainder of the way.
When you finish up in the Gardens, head over to Stockbridge for a bite to eat. Some of my fave spots include The Pantry and Cowan & Sons; both are a must for brunch vibes. Alternatively, a lovely pub called Hectors would be ideal if you’d prefer some classic pub food and pint to refresh you.
If you happen to be planning this for a Sunday, check out the wonderful Stockbridge Market (open 10am-5pm) to try some delicious street food and have a wander around their famed market stalls - the paella is an absolute must. Whilst in Stockbridge, make sure to take a little time out to appreciate the charming Circus Lane; perhaps the most picturesque street in the whole city and a guaranteed Instagram opportunity!
Next, join the Water of Leith Walkway. This has to be one of the prettiest cycles in the city and what makes it even better, there’s virtually no uphill! The path that runs along the Water of Leith is extensive, running for nineteen kilometers all the way from Balerno to Leith; you could easily spend half a day purely cycling this route. One of the most popular sections to cycle along, and the one I’d recommend, is from Stockbridge to Roseburn (just over three kilometers). Keep a special eye out for The Dean Village, where you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported to another city from another time period altogether. Sitting delicately on the Water of Leith, it’s a worthwhile visit and a perfect place to escape, take in the views, and admire the architecture.
If you’re in the mood for a bit culture, then carry on cycling along the water of Leith walkway until you pass the back entrance to The Gallery of Modern Art. In order to find the back entrance, look out for a small wooden bridge, where the gallery should be signposted. This stop is a perfect place to soak up some culture and check out their latest exhibition. Admission is free so it’s well worth a stop even if not for long.
An alternative and slightly longer bike ride that’s a favourite in the summer months is to head out to Cramond. This beautiful little spot is located just along the coast. You can get to Cramond via the Blackhall cycle path which you can join in from Newhaven, this route is just over 20 kilometers there and back.
Located at the very beginning of the path and a personal fave, Café Milk is the perfect place to fill up before you begin your cycle. This cycle friendly cafe even has a handy bike rack!
Once out in Cramond make sure to explore Cramond Island, located around one kilometer from shore, you can reach it by crossing the connecting causeway on low tide; obviously watch out for the tide coming in!! There are also various cafe’s and pubs explore if you fancy a little pit stop before heading back to the city centre.
After a big day out exploring, you’ll probably be in search of something tasty to fill you up, Ting Thai Caravan, El Cartel Mexicana or Civerinos Slice are vibrant spots to round up your day. All three of these suggestions are perfectly located in Edinburgh’s Old Town, making them a great starting place to kick off whatever you have in store for the evening ahead….
If you try our cycle guide, please let us know how you get on. We love to hear your feedback. And don’t forget to check out Meander Apparel on Instagram as we may have a pop up store going on in the capital.