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8 Amazing Cycling Experiences in Scotland’s Cities

We all know that exercise is good for you! Cycling is a win-win situation and ticks all the boxes: it lifts your mood, boosts your metabolism, helps the environment and is kind to your bank balance. Cycling is having its moment in the spotlight right now, making more of us take to two wheels to explore our cities and neighbourhoods.

You can hire bikes, including e-bikes, in all of Scotland’s cities and there are some great routes to discover which are suitable for all. So, get on your bike and start exploring!

1. Fountainbridge to Colinton Tunnel, Edinburgh

Weir at Colinton Dell on The Water of Leith

Distance: 3.7 miles (5.9 km)

Duration: 30 mins

This route starts at Edinburgh Quay in Fountainbridge, the birthplace of Sir Sean Connery. This is also where the Union Canal begins and is very popular with the locals as an escape from the bustling capital city. If you head along the colourful canal towpath you will soon reach Slateford Aqueduct and notice signs for The Water of Leith Visitor Centre and the Walkway (across the road) which heads out to the Colinton area. Don’t miss the village and the Dell, which is a perfect stop for coffee or lunch. Another amazing spot to discover is Colinton Tunnel, once a railway line it has now been made into beautiful murals representing a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Find out more about the NCR 754 route and the Water of Leith Walkway.

Where to hire bikes:

2. Glasgow City Ways

Glasgow Riverside Museum

Distance: 7 miles (12 km)

Duration: 45 mins

Discover Glasgow’s museums, parks and art on a bike. An ideal place to start your route is at the Gallery of Modern Art and its iconic landmark, The Duke of Wellington Statue with a cone on his head (showing Glaswegian humour). Head down to the river Clyde and turn right along the bank. There you will spot famous landmarks and many examples of modern architecture such as the Armadillo and the Riverside Museum. It is then worth crossing over the river to explore the House for an Art Lover and Pollock Country Park.

If you wish to extend your route, cycle to Glasgow Green to see the impressive People’s Palace and public art.

Find out more about cycling routes NCR75 and NCR7 in Glasgow.

In 2023, Glasgow will be hosting a mega event which will bring together 13 UCI events across different cycling disciplines into one major championship for the first time ever.  Find out more about the UCI Cycling World Championships

 Where to hire bikes:

3. The Wallace Monument Loop, Stirling

Stirling from the Wallace Monument

Distance: 4.3 miles (6.9 km)

Duration: 60 mins

Start your route, by crossing the River Forth passing Cambuskenneth Abbey towards the Wallace Monument, and learn about Scotland’s National Hero. You can stop there for a picnic and enjoy the panoramic views towards the Ochil Hills. On the way back you will cross another historic landmark, the Old Bridge.

When you are back in the Old Town, why not visit Stirling Castle. It might be steep, but it will be worth it. Check this link for tips on amazing photography spots.

Where to hire bikes:

4. River Tay Public Art Trail, Perth

River Tay Public Art Trail

Distance: 2 miles (3 km)

Duration: 20 mins

Cycling along the banks of the River Tay, Scotland’s longest river, is a very enjoyable experience. You will discover beautiful Public Artwork as well as peaceful gardens and parks such as Branklyn Garden, Bellwood Park, Rodney Gardens and Norie Miller Walk which features many exotic plants from China, Tibet and Bhutan. Less than three miles away is Scone Palace, a beautiful stately home where Scottish Kings were once crowned over the Stone of Destiny. Keep an eye out for peacocks and hairy Highland cows!

Check out Perth’s cycling map

Where to hire bikes:

5. The Green Circular Route, Dundee

Distance: 4.5 miles (7.3 km)

Duration: 20 mins

The Dundee to Broughty Ferry route is part of Dundee’s 26 mile-long Green Circular. You can hire a bike at Slessor Gardens then cycle alongside the Firth of Tay waterfront past some of the city’s main attractions many of which celebrate its maritime heritage, such as RRS Discovery (which took Captain Scott to the Antarctic), The Frigate Unicorn and V&A Dundee. When you reach the historic seaside town of Broughty Ferry, you will find many places where you can have a bite to eat. You may also want to visit Broughty Castle or the Nature Reserve, before heading back to the city.

If you have additional time and fancy seeing more of this creative city, follow the Green circular route. You will pass many places of interest such as attractions and parks and much more.

Where to hire bikes:

6. Aberdeen Coast Cycle

Seaton Park and St Machar’s Cathedral

Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)

Duration: 40 mins

This route is a great way to get a feel for the city. It takes you through the cobbled streets of Old Aberdeen, past the University and through the picturesque Seaton Park. After crossing the Bridge of Don, you come to the mile-long beach esplanade and the colourful fishing village of Footdee or ‘Fittie’, as the locals like to call it. In the summer, watch out for dolphins leaping by the harbour!

Where to hire bikes:

7. Ness Islands, The Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, Inverness

Inverness Castle

Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)

Duration: 40 mins

Spend some time in the Capital of the Highlands, cycling along the scenic River Ness to the Ness Islands, the Botanic Gardens and then connecting with the Caledonian Canal towpath to Dochgarroch. This is an ideal route for families as it is mostly flat and free of traffic.

If you are a more experienced cyclist and want to have a glimpse of Loch Ness, there is also another route on the South Side of the Loch starting from Inverness.

Where to hire bikes:

8. West Fife Way, Dunfermline

Dunfermline view

Dunfermline Abbey

Distance: 15 miles (24 km)

Duration: 3 hours

Follow this almost traffic-free route which runs along old railway paths from Dunfermline, Scotland’s newest city, out west to Clackmannan.

The West Fife Way route winds through tranquil, open countryside. It connects to National Cycle Network Routes 1 and 76, and has a short diversion link to the mountain bike trails of Devilla Forest.

Where to hire bikes:

*All distances and durations for these cycles are an approximate. 

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