If you live in Edinburgh, you’ll know that the city has a great selection of outdoor spaces to walk around. It’s also a very dog-friendly place so expect to see fellow dog walkers on pretty much every walk.
There’s plenty of variety in Edinburgh too, with beachside strolls, hill walks and parks galore. However, it can be tricky to find the best dog walks if you live in the city centre or are new to the area.
We’ve found five of the best dog walks in Edinburgh and the surrounding area. As always, our recommendations consider everyone, with accessibility high on our list.
Dalkeith Country Park
1 to 5 miles
20 minutes to 2 hours
With 1000 acres to explore and six marked walking trails to follow, Dalkeith Country Park is a favourite in the city. Ranging from just over 1 mile up to 5 miles, you can pick a different walk depending on your mood or footwear! The shorter trails are perfect for those in wheelchairs or with a pushchair as the paths are flat. The longer the trail, the less accessible it is and the more challenging the walk is, due to uneven sections of the paths.
When taking your pooch, be aware that Dalkeith Country Park is a working farm so there can be livestock around and about. It’s best to keep your dog on a lead when it’s busy and especially in populated areas. However, they are more than welcome to go off-lead throughout the woods but again, make sure they’re not disturbing others. Dalkeith is used by walkers, dog walkers, families, cyclists and horse riders so always double-check to see who’s around you before letting your dog explore off-lead.
If you’re not comfortable with longer walks, there’s so much to do here. Go Ape, an adventure park, and the Restoration Yard are all in the country park ready to visit. The Restoration Yard includes shops and eateries (The Kitchen, The Coffee Bar and The Larder) as well as a wellness space, used for yoga and pilates classes. Why not treat yourself after completing one or several of the trails with a coffee, a slice of cake or a slap-up meal for breakfast or lunch?
Arthur’s Seat and Holyrood Park
If you want to reach the summit of Arthur’s Seat at 251 metres and back down again, this 3 mile route is perfect for you. It’s the steadiest of the routes to the top but the longest. However, there are still rough paths and rocky sections to navigate en route. The two alternative routes to the top are much more steep so only advanced walkers and hikers should try those. For anyone walking up to the summit, you’ll need a pair of walking shoes or boots because you’ll encounter uneven terrain no matter which route you take.
Situated right at the bottom of the Royal Mile, Holyrood Park is about 1 mile east of Edinburgh Castle so not too far outside of the city. It’s a great spot to explore at the weekends as all roads are closed to vehicles between 8am to 9pm, ideal for family trips.it’s a popular place in the area for holding events too so be sure to check before you plan a visit.
If walking up Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano, doesn’t appeal to you, there are multiple walking trails around the park, which are much flatter! You might not get views quite as epic but there is some beautiful scenery from most spots in the park.
Regardless of which trail you follow around the park, locals always say that it can be very blustery, whatever time of the year that it is. Don’t forget that waterproof jacket that’s also windproof!
Sitting next to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Inverleith Park is one of the best green spaces in the city. It’s towards the north of Edinburgh but isn’t too far away from the centre but definitely feels like you’re further away than you are. The park hosts around 400 events a year, especially during the summer, so always check to see if anything’s happening before you visit. Many of these events are free to the public, with some being ticketed.
If you and your pooch much prefer leisurely strolls than energetic hikes, this walk is for you. With 54 acres to explore as well as the neighbouring Botanic Gardens, you can definitely find some quieter spots around. All the paths are very clear so you can easily follow them throughout the park.
Inverleith Park is very popular with dog walkers so if your pooch isn’t a fan of attention, it’s best to steer clear. Also, you’ll see plenty of families because the green open spaces are perfect for picnics. There’s a great play park inside the main park too, making it very busy during school holidays. If you have a sporty family, you might want to check out their recreational area, containing three football pitches, a cricket square and four rugby pitches.
Dogs can be off-lead here but be aware of other dogs, people and swans in the lake! Inverleith Park is a ‘best of both worlds’ park, with areas full of activity and other spots for some peace and quiet outside of the city.
Slateford to Balerno (return)
The walk from Slateford to Balerno (and back again) takes you along the path on a disused railway line. It is accessible by public transport but it’s definitely easier to get to via car. Despite it being on the outskirts of Edinburgh, it can feel quite remote during the trail.
Despite passing through multiple places, it’s a quiet and tranquil section of the Water of Leith. It’s a popular spot with ramblers and locals but it doesn’t get too busy at any time. In particular, it’s a very flat walk so it’s also popular for those with mobility issues and young families with pushchairs. Cyclists frequent this route too as it’s an easier route compared to other routes in the city.
On this walk, you’ll pass the Redhall Mill and Kate’s Mill, which is apparently where the first Scottish bank notes were made. Other views include Pentland Hills, Spylaw Park, the former tunnel at Colinton Station (now an art mural), and Colinton Dell.
Once again, you don’t have to do the full stretch of this walk because 10 miles is a lot! There are tons of pubs along the entire route so you could always just head towards one, eat and drink up before returning back.
4 miles (along the promenade and back)
Around 5 miles north-west of the city centre is Cramond Foreshore. Whilst it’s a little further outside of Edinburgh than the rest of the walks on this list, it’s worth it to feel that sea breeze on your face. It’s a bit of a change to all of the woodlands and green space routes too.
Park in the large free car park behind the Cramond Inn before setting off along the foreshore. It’s a great route for dog owners because dogs can be off-lead all year long. As always, make sure the people around you are comfortable with your dog being off-lead and pop them back on the lead if it gets particularly busy or if they get unsettled.
You can even explore Cramond Island, accessed by a causeway during low tide too. There’s a signpost close by as to when it is safe to cross so if you’re there at the right time, it’s a lovely extra walk. It’s common for people to get stuck out because they don’t know when the tidal times are so please triple-check before walking the causeway!
When you think of dog walks in Edinburgh, you might not expect to explore as many green spaces as there are. Despite being such a populated city, there are plenty of walks not too far away from the city centre and lots of choices just a short drive away.