Views, views and more hidden views
Day 1 ride length: Up to 24km — day one is all about views.
Grab breakfast in Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town — try Archipelago Bakery. The morning is a good time to wander around Old Town’s quirky streets. Look out for little lanes and alleys, or head to Victoria Street which inspired J K Rowling’s description of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.
The crowds will start to build, so time to escape with a quick pedal up Calton Hill for views of the city's major sites, including Arthur's Seat, Holyrood Palace, the Parliament, and the Royal Mile.
Admire the Greek-style historic buildings before descending down the Royal Mile to ride a lap of Arthur’s Seat. The 5km road loop is best ridden clockwise because after you gently climb, the alpine-style bends open up to reveal a perfect view of the city, the castle, monuments, and a fun descent back to Holyrood Palace. A must ride!
Lunch on the sand
Time to get a late lunch at Portobello Beach (or Porty, as it’s known to locals), a seaside village three miles east of the city centre, home to Georgian crescents and a promenade. Get a bagel at Bross Bagels and a doughnut at Twelve Triangles, and sit on the beach wall or on the sand and consume! Then pedal along the beach to the viewpoint of the conical peak of North Berwick Law and stop for a tipple in The Espy.
Take a direct route back to the city and sneak in a museum trip to the National Museum of Scotland, which is free and has luggage storage for Brompton.
Day Two and Two Routes
Day two and you’ve got two choices.
Colington Mural, Botanic Gardens & Water of Leith
Ride length: up to 28km
Start the day with a gentle ride to and then through the Colinton Tunnel, home to Scotland's largest mural filled with lines from a poem crafted by Robert Louis Stevenson, then join cycle path 75 along Water of Leith around Murrayfield stadium to the Royal Botanic Gardens. It's free to wander around the gardens apart from the glasshouses, which are ticketed. You will need to fold your bike and lock it inside the visitor centre.
Re-join the cycle path along the Water of Leith, a river a few pedal strokes from the gardens, and cycle along to the Firth of Forth — an estuary where seven Scottish rivers meet. In an area known locally as ‘The Shore’ there are plenty of foodie spots to grab lunch. Try The Pitt, Leith's popular independent weekend market, where you'll find an ever-changing array of street food. Then take a direct, one-mile spin back into the centre on Leith Walk and end the weekend with a Scotch Whiskey Tour at a distillery in Old Town.
Rugged Coastline, Volcanos and Jets
Ride length: up to 44km
If you want to stretch your legs, head out early along coastal cycle path 76 and John Muir Way to North Berwick, a twee Victorian holiday town and total contrast in architecture to Edinburgh's imposing Georgian buildings. This is where Victorian elite came to holiday.
If the wind is against you, use inland cycle path 76 or 196. Alternatively take the train direct to North Berwick and cycle with the wind on your back to the city. On arrival, admire North Berwick Law, an extinct volcano. You can even hike to the top then clamber down onto the sandy beaches. Get lunch at The Lobster Shack (open from noon Wednesday to Sunday) or cycle along to DRIFT cafe, a converted shipping container perched above a sandy cove. You could spend the rest of the day here if you wanted.
Still keen to explore? Next cycle to the National Museum of Flight on the site of East Fortune Airfield, which played an important role in WWII. Inside the original buildings you can climb aboard aviation gems, including a restored Concorde (make sure you pick up a free audio guide); the world’s first commercial jet, the Comet; BAC 1-11; and view the stealthy bomber, the Vulcan. Plus there are interactive exhibits to test your pilot skills, ex-World War II parachute stores, bomb shelters to explore, and over twenty other planes.