Looking for the best places to go hiking in Edinburgh?
You might be surprised to learn that you don’t need to leave the city to immerse yourself in nature. In fact, Edinburgh is one the greenest cities in the UK, home to several parks and hiking trails. My husband and I spent three years living in Edinburgh, where we spent most of our weekends exploring some of the city’s lesser-known areas.
So, if you want to get off the beaten path in Edinburgh, here are 5 amazing hiking trails you should check out.
Note: I’ve also included a Google map of the best hiking trails in Edinburgh, which shows you the suggested start and end points of each hike.
1. Water of Leith Walkway
The Water of Leith walkway is a path that runs along a small river in Edinburgh, which starts from Balerno and ends in Leith. The pathway passes though some of the most picturesque neighbourhoods in Edinburgh, including Dean Village and Stockbridge.
I recommend starting your walk from Roseburn and finishing in Leith. You can pop into the the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art along the way, or stop at Dean Village for some nice photos. Keep walking along the river until you reach Leith Shore, where you can reward yourself with a nice meal from one of the pubs along the waterfront.
The path is mostly smooth, with some parts being cobbled or a bit muddy. At certain points along the walkway, the path is interrupted. You will need to walk up to the road and head back down to the walkway (there are signs that guide you back to the river).
2. Union Canal
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Edinburgh, go for a wee walk along the Union Canal. This historic waterway starts from Fountainbridge and ends in Falkirk. Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you walk all the way to Falkirk. If you enjoy cycling, you can travel along the same pathway and finish at Falkirk Wheel.
Start the walk from Fountainbridge, where you can take photos of the colourful barges and grab a hot drink from a floating coffee shop. Around 10-15 minutes into the hike, you’ll arrive at Harrison Park, a lovely green area with a cute boathouse.
Keep walking along the path till you get to Slateford or Longstone, then make your back to Fountainbridge along the same path (though that’s entirely up to you – you might decide to walk further).
Recommendation: Baja Bikes offer amazing bike tours in Edinburgh, where you get to see the city’s landmarks as well as some hidden gems. They also offer bike rental services.
3. Easter Craiglockhart Hill
Easter Craiglockhart Hill is one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems. It forms part of the Craiglockhart Hill Local Nature Reserve, and features steep, wooded slopes, dramatic cliff faces, and a big pond. The hill, which stands at 525 feet, offers stunning views over Edinburgh.
Start the hike from Craighouse Road, and follow the loop trail around the reserve. There are signposts along the trail that guide you to the different attractions in the area, including the pond and the viewpoint.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Edinburgh is said to have been built on seven hills? These are Castle Rock, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill.
4. The Hermitage of Braid & Blackford Hill
Another great place for hiking in Edinburgh is The Hermitage of Braid. This wooded nature reserve is home to several beautiful hiking trails. Start your hike from the main entrance on Braid Road, and follow the path along the stream. Along the way you’ll come across the beautiful 18th-century Hermitage House, which serves at the visitor centre.
Once you approach the bridge, take the path on your left and make your way up to the viewpoint on Blackford Hill. From there, you can either exit through the road in the car park, or walk back down the hill towards the stream.
Tip: The Royal Observatory on Blackford Hill organises public astronomy evenings, which allow visitors to explore the Victorian telescope dome and observe the night sky from the roof.
5. Arthur’s Seat & Holyrood Park
Arthur’s Seat is home to one of the best hiking trails in Edinburgh. This popular landmark is a great place for those who want to go hiking in Edinburgh without straying too far from the city centre. Climbing Arthur’s Seat is also one of my top recommendations for awesome things to do in Edinburgh.
While there are various starting points for the hike along Queen’s Drive, I recommend taking the path that goes up past St. Margaret’s Well and the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. Keep walking along the path until you reach the viewpoint.
Once you’ve taken in the panoramic views of Edinburgh from from the top of Arthur’s Seat, make your way down along the other side of the hill along a path marked as Radical Road. Alternatively, you could take the trail atop Salisbury Crags.
Tip: While the paths on Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park are relatively smooth, the summit is a bit rocky, so make sure to wear the right shoes for this hike.
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