9 Great Green Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh

Love the great Edinburgh outdoors?

Then we have just the ticket. Edinburgh has been named the UK’s greenest city. And with nearly half of the city classified as “green” space, you know there is sure to be a range of amazing outdoor activities to enjoy. So to help you discover the wonders of the outdoors for yourself, we are counting down 10 of our favourite outdoor things to do in Edinburgh.

1. Wander the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Open: Daily
Admission: FREE

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a world-renowned centre of horticulture and plant science. Founded in 1670 as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants, the centre has been growing and studying plants for over 330 years. Today, the grounds are a major attraction for locals and tourists alike. They are home to the world-famous Rock Garden, peat and woodland gardens, beautiful herbaceous borders, fascinating Glasshouses, and specialist collections of plants, like the Chinese Hillside. All in all, a day spent in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of our favourite year-round outdoor activities in Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh Botanical Gardens Glasshouse

2. Take a foraging walk on Edinburgh’s wild side

Available: Various dates throughout the year
Admission: from £50

If the Royal Botanic Garden has whet your appetite for local plants and their medicinal properties, embark on a Foraging Walk for edible wild food in the natural habitat around West Lothian. Increase your knowledge of local plants, experiment with wild food and medicines as you forage for seaweeds, hedgerow plants or edible fungi.

A metal bowl of foraged edible flowers and plants

3. Curious About … Self-guided walking tours in Edinburgh

Available: Download online
Price: £7.49

If you love walking in Edinburgh, then we highly recommend hitting the streets of our beloved city with these great Edinburgh Walking Tours. Choose between two self-guided tours of Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town. Walk the cobbled streets. Visit the many wonderful eateries and attractions in Edinburgh. And take in the splendour of some of the city’s most beautiful gardens along the way.

The Royal Mile with shoppers on it in Edinburgh

4. Uncover Arthur’s Seat’s secrets

Open: Daily (talks currently on hold)
Admission: FREE

Climb Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park for spectacular views of Edinburgh. A large volcanic structure that dominates the Edinburgh skyline, Arthur’s Seat has a rich, vibrant and turbulent past all its own. There is Visitor Information in the park and a free exhibition, where you can learn more about the park’s history and its various walking routes. 

Although currently on hold, keep an eye on upcoming events for the return of Holyrood Park’s expert guided walks. Here, you can join one of the Holyrood Park Rangers, along with an expert geologist. Learn about the people who lived and worked in the park over the last 7,000 years, as well as all the rare and wonderful wildlife that makes Holyrood Park such a unique green space in Edinburgh.

Arthur's Seat at sunset

5. Step back in time at Lauriston Castle Gardens

Open: Daily
Admission: FREE (gardens only)

From extinct volcanoes to Edwardian castles, step back in time with a trip to Lauriston Castle. Just off Cramond Road South, this beautiful castle has been frozen in time when it was gifted to the nation by its last private owner in 1926. Retaining all its former glory, the gardens are simply beautiful (not to mention free) to explore all year round.

Lauriston Castle's beautiful Edwardian gardens

6. Not-to-miss Water of Leith Walkway

Open: Daily
Admission: FREE

Leith is an area like no other. Like a city within a city, the district of Leith is a vivacious, charismatic area jam-packed with delis, cafes, top restaurants and sensational shops. And one of the best ways to reach this bustling part of Edinburgh, is through the most charming footpath known as the Water of Leith Walkway. This peaceful walking and cycle route passes by city attractions such as Murrayfield Stadium, Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The Water of Leith at Dean Village

7. Outdoor activities in Edinburgh on two wheels

Available: Various dates throughout the year
Admission: from £30

If you think walking in Edinburgh is a big deal, just wait until you go biking. Edinburgh is home to an extensive cycle network that weaves around the city’s parks and coastlines. Which means you can enjoy the wonders of Holyrood Park, Portobello, Lauriston Castle and more with these great guided Edinburgh Bike Tours.

View of Holyrood Park in Ednburgh on a sunny day

8. Horse-riding in the Pentland Hills

Available: Various dates from September to May
Admission: from £35

From walking cobbled closes to two-wheel city adventures, hoof it along to the beautiful Pentland Hills in the south of Edinburgh for some pony trekking. Explore the lush green hills and breath-taking surroundings of one of the most beautiful areas in Edinburgh.

A lake in the Pentland Hills outside Edinburgh.

9. Hunt for treasure in Edinburgh’s iconic Old Town

Available: Download online
Price: £9.99

Uncover a treasure trove of hidden gems along the Royal Mile with a self-guided treasure hunt of Edinburgh’s old Town. The trail will take you along one of the most iconic streets in all of Edinburgh. Solve sneaky clues hidden on historic buildings, features and monuments as you try to discover the location of buried treasure.

Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

To find out more about things to do or outdoor activities in Edinburgh during your stay, visit our Edinburgh Guide.