When you think of a city break you might picture yourself sipping on a flat white before visiting a museum or a monument. But what about a city break where you can go surfing, go-karting or mountain biking? If this sounds like what you’re looking for then we have a few ideas for you.
Scotland’s cities are full of adventure activities for buzz-seekers looking to combine a city holiday with an adrenaline rush. From inner-city activity centres to nature spots on the outskirts, this list of adventures will keep you on your toes!
First we’re off to the capital of the Highlands, Inverness, a city with the wild Scottish outdoors on its doorstep. Adventurous types will feel at home by Loch Ness, only a short journey from the city. Covering some 80 miles, the Loch Ness 360 trail is a great way to experience this famous body of water and is open to walkers, runners, cyclists and riders. Or if you want to get closer to the water, you could plan a paddle along the Great Glen Canoe Trail.
Inverness is also a great base to try out winter sports in the Cairngorms National Park. Companies like Explore Highland and In Your Element offer bespoke tours that offer everything from canoeing to climbing. Ticket to Ride Highlands helps people organise bike tours of the Highlands, while Craggan Outdoors is a fine place to advance your outdoor education.
Find out more about outdoor activities around Inverness.
If you’re looking for adventure in Aberdeen, you have lots of options. Why not spend the day at Transition Extreme? This extreme sports centre provides year-round indoor and outdoor facilities including rock climbing, a high ropes course and a skatepark. If winter sports are your thing you could book a trip to Aberdeen Snowsport Centre – a brilliant place for kids to learn the slopes.
Animal lovers will enjoy a visit to Torry Battery to spot dolphins. And that might put you in the mood to go surfing along Aberdeen Beach with Scot Surf School. For cyclists and walkers looking for a beautiful route, The Deeside Way begins in the city and stretches out into amazing countryside.
Find more ideas for adventures in Aberdeen.
Planning a trip to Dundee? Make sure to factor in some time for adventure. One of the most exciting things you can do if you love the water is to visit Wild Shore Dundee. This aqua park and cable wakeboarding site provides intense fun in the heart of the city – suitable for beginners and experts. Or you could take your place on the starting grid at ScotKart Dundee and race away the afternoon on a 400m go-karting circuit.
Cyclists will love the The Green Circular, a 26-mile cycle route that circumnavigates Dundee. It passes alongside the scenic Firth of Tay riverfront and past many of Dundee’s visitor attractions including Discovery Point. Discover more of Scotland’s city cycling routes.
If climbing is your thing then Avertical World Climbing Centre is a must-visit. Kids will love a trip to Ryze Dundee, a playground of oversized trampolines, obstacle pits and more. Finally, for a taste of the sea why not take a trip on a fast rib on the Tay with Pirate Boats. Spot seals, dolphins, lighthouses, and the V&A from the water all at high speed!
Find out more about a trip to Dundee.
A holiday to Perth offers up a wealth of adventures to those who know where to look. Willowgate Activity Centre is a great place to start – with everything from aqua-zorbing to bushcraft courses available. Outdoor Explore will take you night-kayaking on the Tay, a thrilling way to see the stars. Runners may want to take part in park runs that take place across the city. Climbers will enjoy a trip to Perth College Climbing Wall, where a feast of unusual climbing features await.
For those happy to travel outside the city, Perthshire is buzzing with activity centres. Beyond Adventure near Aberfeldy offers a range of outdoor adventures. You could try white-water rafting or quad biking with Nae Limits, or have a shot at canyoning with Freespirits. For the ultimate off-road driving experience, visit the Land Rover Experience in Dunkeld. Highland Perthshire also offers gravel trails for biking, Splash Whitewater provide top quality rafting, and for the ultimate crazy adrenaline rush you could attempt the Highland Fling Bungee Jump!
Find out more about outdoor activities in Perthshire.
Stirling is of course famous for Scottish history, but it’s also a super base for adventurous types. Action Adventure Activities on the edge of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park is the place for an activity break featuring quad biking and water sports. Mountain bikers will feel at home on Callendar Estate, where there are a variety of exciting trails.
Loch Lomond is a hotspot for water sports and companies like In Your Element provide guided activities. If you have a head for heights you’ll love the ziplines and treetop challenges at TreeZone Loch Lomond and Go Ape Aberfoyle. Test your orienteering skills at the The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre, or go for a drive with 4×4 Adventures Scotland.
For an unusual two-wheeled experience take a trip to the Scottish Segway Centre at the Falkirk Wheel. 25 mins away by car from Stirling, it’s golf but not as you know it, at Footgolf Cumbernauld. Nearby Dollar is also full of activities including canyoning at Vertical Descents and outdoor training at SAS Adventures.
Find out more about Stirling.
Scotland’s largest city has no shortage of adventure activities for those who know where to look. Learn to climb in a safe environment at Glasgow Climbing Centre, or get out on the water at Pinkston Watersports and Glasgow Wake Park. Dust off your mountain bike for a trip to Cathkin Braes Country Park in the south east of the city, or visit Cuningar Loop on the banks of the River Clyde. Snow Factor Glasgow is Scotland’s only indoor ski slope, which you’ll find 10 minutes from the city centre – you can also try ice-climbing here.
Those looking for an invigorating walk or cycle should visit the Clyde Walkway or traverse The Campsie Fells to the north of the city. More outdoor adventures are waiting to be found at Adventure Carrick in Girvan and Outdoor Trax in Kilsyth. Clyde Cruises in Greenock and Seatrek Marine Services in Inverkip will have you out on the water enjoying yourself in no time.
Find out more about Glasgow.
A trip to Edinburgh is always an adventure, but these adrenalin-fuelled activities will show you a different side to the city. Take aim at Bedlam Paintball for a fun day out with family and friends, or speed round the track at Xtreme Karting Edinburgh. Find a climber’s paradise at the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena or race down the dry ski slopes at Hillend. For those who want to get out on the water you could try dinghy sailing and windsurfing at Port Edgar Watersports or sail out to sea with Edinburgh Boat Charters.
To see this part of Scotland from a bird’s eye perspective visit East of Scotland Microlights for flying experiences. Bounce around at Ryze Trampoline Park or venture down the coast to North Berwick for a boat trip to the Bass Rock. Stay in East Lothian for more water sports like wakeboarding at Foxlake Adventures, stand-up paddle boarding with Ocean Vertical and surfing with Coast to Coast Surf School.
Find out more about a trip to Edinburgh.
Dunfermline is ripe for adrenaline-fuelled activities, and there are many adventurous things to do to have a memorable and unique experience.
Are you a daredevil who likes to take control in the front seat? The premier racing track in Scotland and Scotland’s National Motorsport Centre, Knockhill, offers a wide variety of activities to suit the whole family from karting to skid control, rally driving, off-road and even driving supercars such as the Ferrari F430 or Aston Martin, amongst many other options.
Bored of wheels? Craigluscar Activities is the place to go. Float on air on a miniature hovercraft and experience the thrill of actually hovering above the ground on a cushion of air. This multi-activity centre also offers clay pigeon shooting, rifle shooting, archery and more.
If you’re more of a water baby, Town Loch is your place to be. Located less than five minutes from Dunfermline, it’s the location of Waterski & Wakeboard Scotland. Take to the water and enjoy the buzz of water-skiing or wakeboarding within the beautiful surroundings of Townhill Country Park. The centre offers a wide range of experiences, including beginner sessions for first timers.
If you can travel a bit further, Geronigo® at Dundas Castle – just 15 minutes away from central Dunfermline – offers you a chance to experience challenging off-road quad treks, where you’ll take on all terrains and conquer everything from hills to ditches.
As you can see Scotland’s cities are not short of an adventure or two. Visit our outdoor activities page for more info on how to get out and about.