The best ways to see Edinburgh

See Edinburgh at your own pace on a hop-on hop-off bus
See Edinburgh at your own pace on a hop-on hop-off bus

Whether it's by foot, bike or bus, there are better ways to see Edinburgh than through a car window.

As well as being bad for the environment, driving around Edinburgh city centre tends to be a slow and stressful affair, and parking is scarce.

Cycle the Union Canal to get back in touch with nature

Cycle the Union Canal to get back in touch with nature

Luckily, this relatively small city has a great public transport system, and is also easy to explore on foot or by bike in good weather.

READ MORE: 16 of the best things to do in Edinburgh at night

On foot

With sensible footwear and an emergency waterproof jacket stashed somewhere on your person, Edinburgh is the perfect city to discover as a pedestrian.

Explore the cobbled streets of the Old Town, parts of which - like sections of the Royal Mile - are pedestrianised and can only be seen on foot.

Sleek and affordable, Edinburgh's trams are an alternative to the bus or car

Sleek and affordable, Edinburgh's trams are an alternative to the bus or car

Wander the Grassmarket and stop at one of the historic pubs there to enjoy a drink al fresco, or climb Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill for stunning views of the city.

Walk from Stockbridge to Leith along the peaceful Water of Leith walkway and enjoy nature just outside of the city centre.

If you don’t want to go it alone, there are plenty of comprehensive walking tours taking place all over the city, for fans of literature, film and even beer, as well as history.

By bus

There are several hop-on hop-off bus tours designed especially for visitors operating in Edinburgh throughout the year.

Some of these services only travel between big attractions (like the Castle and the Royal Yacht Britannia), while others take in areas like the Grassmarket and the New Town.

Tickets are valid for 24 hours after purchase, and you can board and disembark as many times as you like at designated bus stops across the city.

Edinburgh also has an efficient and affordable public bus service running across the city and its outskirts, managed by Lothian Buses.

An adult DAYticket costs £4 and is ideal for anyone making more than three journeys in one day. With this ticket you can travel as many times as you like in one day, and go as far as Portobello, parts of East Lothian or South Queensferry.

If you only need to make one or two bus journeys in one day, you can buy single tickets from Lothian Bus drivers, which currently cost £1.60 - make sure to have exact change.

READ MORE: 9 of the most unusual things to do in Edinburgh

By bike

Edinburgh is becoming more bike-friendly by the day, with more cycle lanes and cyclists popping up everywhere you look.

Plenty of businesses (including Biketrax in Tollcross, Cycle Scotland in the Old Town and Leith Cycle Co) offer bicycles for sale and hire, so you’ll be able to get your own set of wheels easily.

As well as bike lanes on many of its roads, Edinburgh also has an impressive number of bike-only paths connecting different parts of the city, affectionately known as the ‘Innertube’. Using these routes, it is possible to cycle for long stretches without ever having to worry about a car.

Considerate cyclists are also welcome to travel along the Water of Leith or Union Canal paths.

If you want to team up with other like-minded bike lovers and see the sights on two wheels, several companies offer bike tours of the city.

By tram

Offering a sleek alternative to the bus, Edinburgh’s tram system currently runs until 11:30pm between York Place in the city centre and Edinburgh Airport, with several stops along the way.

Use the tram to reach the outskirts of Edinburgh more quickly than you might by car or bus - this is particularly useful if you are staying outside of the city centre or commuting.

Alight at Murrayfield to visit the world famous stadium, or at Edinburgh Park Station to visit Hermiston Gate retail park.

Events like the annual Royal Highland Show are held at Ingliston, which can be reached easily by tram.

Priced at £1.60 for a single ticket and £4 for a DAYticket, there is no price difference between the tram and Edinburgh’s bus service.