If exploring all of Edinburgh’s hidden gems, ancient alleys and cobbled streets isn’t exciting enough, what about whizzing down a ski slope or hiking up a dormant volcano? There are a raft of exciting indoor and outdoor activities that can make your Edinburgh city break as adrenaline-fuelled as you can handle, plus walking tours and cycle routes if that all sounds a bit too much like hard work. And to get your Scottish adventure off to the best possible start, why not stay in a Premier Inn hotel in Edinburgh? There are several all over the city and the comfy beds and great breakfasts will ensure you arrive at your chosen activity well-rested and raring to go.
Activities in Edinburgh
The Royal Mile
Real Mary King's Close
Hiking, skiing, horse riding - Edinburgh and its beautiful surroundings make the perfect place to try your hand at some exciting outdoor pursuits.
Just because the path up Arthur’s Seat is well-trodden, it doesn’t make the hike up there any less challenging. Edinburgh’s extinct volcano is 251 metres high and a two-hour climb - the route can be slippery, so good boots are a must. To get there, head to Holyrood, a 640-acre Royal Park just off Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, then follow the Radical Road path past Salisbury Crags. There’s plenty to look out for on the way, like the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel, before you start the steep climb to the top. Just keep telling yourself it’ll be worth it for the views!
If hiking sounds too sedate, what about whizzing down Britain’s largest artificial ski slope? Four miles south of the city is the Midlothian Snowsports Centre and it’s set in the stunning surroundings - a hillside in the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Open all year round, it caters to everyone from nervous beginners to daredevils, with two main slopes, three nursery slopes and a jump slope. You can even ditch the skis and go whizzing down on a rubber tyre.
While you’re in the area, why not make time to visit the Pentland Hills themselves? This regional park south of Edinburgh has 100km of marked routes that are suitable for all levels of fitness. But, if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can explore the hills on horseback. There are several equestrian centres in the area, all offering hacking and trekking trips. There’s a Premier Inn hotel near the Pentland Hills Regional Park too, which makes the perfect place to rest after your day in the saddle.
Don’t let a little drizzle dampen your sense of adventure, because there’s still heaps of fun to be had indoors.
What could be more exciting than going for a walk underground, in a seriously spooky place that’s shrouded in legend? A short walk from our hub by Premier Inn Edinburgh Royal Mile hotel, The Real Mary King’s Close was once the heart of Edinburgh, but it now lies beneath the streets of the Old Town - and it’s become one of Scotland’s most talked about visitor attractions. Dramatic guided tours tell real-life tales of this plague-infested, haunted and intriguing part of town.
There’s nothing like a spot of rain for giving you cabin fever. Luckily, the whole family can burn off a bit of energy at Edinburgh International Climbing Arena. Europe’s largest indoor climbing centre,12 miles from the city centre, it has hundreds of climbing routes to master, a soft play area and a clip and climb section for children aged four and over. But the star of the show is the dramatic arena, cut from the bare rock of a disused quarry.
If you prefer your indoor activities to be more alcohol than adrenaline fuelled, the Scotch Whisky Experience was made for you. Enjoy a wee dram and gawp at the world’s biggest private collection of scotch, but only after a barrel ride through a visual distillery and a sensory exploration of the art of blending. Booking in advance recommended, especially during November and December.
Edinburgh is one of the most walkable cities in Europe. With a compact centre, there’s just so much to see as you strolll, from the superb Georgian architecture of the New Town to the warren of medieval streets of the Old Town. Grab a map or, if you don’t fancy going it alone, join one of the city’s informative walking tours instead.
Run by City Explorers, there are two free walking tours every day, rain or shine, starting at 11am and 1pm at the Royal Mile (144 High Street to be precise). The story-telling guides know some great anecdotes about the places you’ll see - and boy, will you see a lot of places. Each tour lasts two and a half hours and takes in all of the major sites, including Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh Castle and Mercat Cross.
Equally popular are City Explorers’ evening ghost walks - a one and a half hour ramble that will transport you back to the terrifying past of old Edinburgh. It’s free, but bring spare change in case you want to give your guide a tip at the end.
Or see Edinburgh in a new light on a Small-Group Photography Walking Tour of Edinburgh run by Iconic Tours. It costs £60 per person but, if you love taking envy-inducing snaps, it’s worth it for all the hidden photo opportunities you’ll uncover. Your knowledgeable guide will lead you to all of the city’s most Instagrammable spots, and give you tips to sharpen your skills behind the lens.
Edinburgh is a great place to cycle, whether you’ve brought your bike with you or plan to hire one while you’re there.
Just remember though, that while the trams allow bikes to be taken on board, the city’s buses don’t - unless your bike is foldable and put in a bag. That’s unlike our bike-friendly Premier Inn hotels in Edinburgh, where you can even keep your two-wheeled wonder in your room.
Enjoy off-street cycling along the city’s disused inner-city railway lines. Cycle for miles through tunnels and along paths embedded in deep embankments, without even hearing a car. The paths criss-cross right through the city, taking you from the centre out to the seaside at Cramond. Just download a free Innertube Map, cleverly designed in a London Tube style.
Cycling with added exhilaration can be found under 30 miles south of Edinburgh. Situated in Peebles, the Glentress Forest Mountain Biking Centre is one of the best in Britain, with everything from beginners trails to extreme downhill runs strictly for the pros. All ages and skill levels can enjoy the routes, plus there’s an excellent bike shop and restaurant.