Possibly the most popular sport played in and around Edinburgh is golf. Scotland is famous for its link courses, private courses, and its very accessible public courses. Edinburgh has 6 public courses, owned and managed by Edinburgh Leisure. The courses range from the gentle beginners course at Portabello, to the challenging 9 hole course on the Braids Hills (called the Princess) through to the amazing Braids Hills number 1 course. All the courses are open to the public, and it is not generally difficult to get a tee-off time. Both the courses on the Braids Hills offer fantastic views all around the city of Edinburgh, and even over to the Forth! You don’t even need a handicap to play – just phone, book, and play – it couldn’t be simpler. Most of the courses also have clubs and trollys for hire. Visit Edinburgh Leisure for more information.
A short walk from Edinburgh’s West End lies the Rugby International Stadium in Murrayfield. It hosts the Six Nations Rugby tournaments, which are usually held in February and March. There are friendly international games held in the autumn, and when those aren’t being held, the Edinburgh Gunners play their home games in this stadium. The stadium also hosts music concerts throughout the year.
Next to Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium is the Murrayfield Ice Rink. The ice rink hosts the Edinburgh Capitals hockey team, but it also has open sessions to the public most days of the week. Check with the stadium for further details.
Arguably the most popular spectator sport in Scotland is football. Edinburgh is home to two Premierships Teams Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian. Matches are held throughout the year. Watch out for the Derby matches, they can be extremely lively and competitive games, certainly not for the faint hearted!
Cycling is becoming a very popular sport in Edinburgh, and there are a variety of cycle paths and they will take you all over the city. Look out for the Water of Leith long cycle trail from the heart of the city through to the heart of the countryside. Edinburgh Cycling details some of the cycle routes. If you would like to rent a bicycle for the day try Edinburgh Bike Hire.
There are a variety of swimming pools that are operated by Edinburgh Leisure. For the ‘old fashioned’ Victorian Baths, you can visit (and swim) in Warrendar Baths, Dalry or Glenogle Pools. For a larger complex The Royal Commonwealth Pool, lies at one end of Holyrood Park. The pool was built back in 1970 for the Commonwealth games and is a long course 50m pool. The Pool complex also has a gym, sauna and extensive softplay area for young children. It’s a great way to spend the afternoon, after you come down from your walk in Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat.
The Royal Botanic Gardens found in the suburb of Inverleith is a scientific research garden which also provides a small haven of relaxation to locals and tourists alike. The Gardens feature a world-famous rock garden, bright herbaceous borders, and a large range of plant houses. There is usually an exhibition on in one of the plant houses. When you are tired from walking around the Gardens, it also hosts a nice cafe where you can sit in or outside depending on the weather.
Directly across the Gardens is the large Inverleith Park located at the North Edge of Stockbridge. The park is great for walking and viewing Edinburgh Castle. It is very popular for the residents to walk their dogs, and it is also popular spot for cricket in the summer. This park is a short stroll from the bustle of Stockbridge, and close to Edinburgh’s Famous Botanic Gardens. There is also a playpark for children on the east end of the park.
Princes St Gardens are situated below Edinburgh Castle and makes the famous Princes Street shopping area one of the most attractive shopping streets in the world. It is a lovely place to relax, take in the spectacular views and soak up the atmosphere right in the heart of the city. During the summer and winter festivals, there is usually a range of activities occurring in the park. Not usually a quiet place, so don’t head inside if you were thinking of lying and relaxing away from the hustle and bustle of Princes Street.
Carlton Hill with Edinburgh’s version of the Parthenon is another hilly spot in the city centre – this time at the east end of Princes St.
The Meadows is a large expansive grassy area just next to the University. It holds many events during the festival, as well as hosting many football games. There is a play park in the East end and a very well kept tennis courts. The tennis courts are operated by Edinburgh Leisure, and are open to the public. On the opposite end of the park there is a pitch and putt golf course – a gentle way to get into the game of golf.
For a city, there are an abundance of walks in and around the city. For the country life, try your skills at walking up Arthur’s Seat (which is located in Holyrood Park). Or if you would like to go further afield, try some walks up the Pentland Hills (located just to the south end of the city). The number 4 bus route will deliver you to the bottom of the hills, and the Edinburgh Dry Ski Slope. In the south of the city is the Hermitage Walk. This easy and well marked path takes you through the valley in the Braids, and out to the bottom of Blackford Hill. You can also climb Blackford Hill to see even more spectacular views of the city. An observatory sits on the top of the hill, and there are occasional nights when it is open to the public. It is also a fantastic spot to watch the fireworks exploding at the castle from time to time.
Just outside of Edinburgh, in the village of Ratho lies the world’s largest indoor climbing facility on the bank of the Union Canal. It boasts 2,400m² of artificial climbing surface, including 400m² of free-standing boulders, there are also plans for an additional bouldering room. The centre is unique in its use of covered natural rock. Competitive and amateur climbers are attracted from around the world and the centre provides training up to World Cup competition standard. Above the climbing arena is SkyRide, a 150m aerial assault course taking 10-30 minutes. In addition there is also a large gym, with new equipment and a spa. There is a ‘Scrambles’ climbing themed soft play area, that kids will love exploring, swinging, climbing and sliding around in a unique adult free zone.
Musselburgh Race Course sits just outside of Edinburgh to the East. There are horse races running throughout the year, and it is a most enjoyable day out of the city.