The Best Road Cycling Routes in Scotland
Scotland is one of the world’s best destinations for cycling. The vast and wild country boasts snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches, and quiet and scenic single-track roads. In some parts of the country, you will feel a million miles away from civilisation, suitable for those who want to enjoy relaxing cycling solitude.
If you’re thinking of cycling through Scotland but not sure where to ride, check out our list of the best road cycling routes in Scotland.
- The Hebridean Way
The majestic islands of the Outer Hebrides have long been luring cyclists seeking quiet roads and enjoying a slower pace of life. You will lose track of time as you cycle past stunning white sand beaches while stopping to explore a historical site or admire eagles soar into the sky.
With the island of Vatersay as your starting point, you can take two ferry rides and causeways as you hop from one island to another. You don’t have to worry about getting lost during your cycling holiday since the routes are way-marked throughout their entire length. But you may need to bring a map to plan detours, such as when stopping on historic sites or relaxing at a cafe for a refreshing drink.
Breathe fresh air as you enjoy breathtaking sceneries subtly changing along the way. You can cycle through turquoise seas, past rugged hills and charming villages. There is no need to hurry – this is a journey to savour, so take your time and feel free to stop as you, please.
- Loch Leven Heritage Trail
The Loch Leven Heritage Trail is one of Scotland’s most famous cycling trails. It’s a largely traffic-free path around Loch Leven, about 13 miles long and sandwiched by Perth and Edinburgh along the eastern portion of Scotland’s Central Lowlands. The trail is made of a gravel surface and is mostly flat, allowing for a relaxing and easy bike ride as you take in the scenic views of the loch.
There’s plenty to enjoy along the trail. And if you feel like taking a break, you will find many cosy cafes to enjoy tea and cookies. Or better yet, pack some snacks since there are plenty of picnic sites to stop and relax and soak up the views.
Most sections of the Loch Leven Heritage Trail are far from the actual loch, although some paths are right down the shore. It takes you through lush forests, passing through beautiful bridges and scenic fields. There are helpful maps along the way showing your position and what to see and do in the area. You can also ask for a copy of a map from those cafes you will pass along the way.
- The Assynt Achiltibuie Circular
If you’re looking for a long-distance cycling trail in the Scottish Highlands, the Assynt Achiltibuie Circular is perfect. It’s about 112 km long and one of the best cycling routes in Scotland, taking cyclists through the country’s rugged countryside. It begins in the scenic village of Achiltibuie and follows a road past stunning mountains, Stac Pollaidh, Cùl Mòr and Sula Bheinn. The trail also takes you through beaches and majestic lochs.
The 130 km trail is suitable for those who want to explore the rugged landscapes of Northwest Scotland and its many beautiful lochs. It’s a bit challenging, but the stunning coastal scenery makes it well worth it. Also, you might want to consider spending overnight in the area to make the most of your cycling adventure. There are many excellent rental cottages in Scotland, offering the perfect place to relax while exploring the Highlands on a bike.
Coming from the village of Achiltibuie, cycle north towards Lochinver. Feel free to stop at the Lochinver Larder to sample their delectable pies. Then make your way towards the coastal road to Drumbeg and Newton before heading to A894 and admiring Loch Assynt and Ardvreck’l Castle. Once you reach Ledmore, follow the path leading to A835 before turning right after Drumrunie. At this point, prepare yourself for the many ascents and descents, and be wary of the flocks of sheep.
- The Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way
The Ayrshire Coast Cycle Way covers long portions of the Ayrshire coastline between the towns of Irvine and Ayr. You will pass through two Scottish Wildlife reserves, the Shewalton Wood and Gailes Marsh. Enjoy the incredible views of the Isle of Arran, stop by the beautiful beaches, or check out the town centres.
As part of the National Cycle Network, the Ayrshire Cycle Route forms a section of the Lochs and Glens Cycle Route, running towards Carlisle and Glasgow. It’s a smooth ride with views of the Firth of Clyde, some castles, and the stunning countryside.
The route begins in the Blackburn car park on the seafront at Ayr. Take the road towards B7023, and before you reach Maybole, turn right towards the Covenanters Memorial and onto road A719, which takes you to the old fishing village of Maiden. It’s a fantastic place to stop, where you’ll find shops and tea houses along the seafront.
- Edinburgh City Centre to the Shore
One of the most popular cycling routes for visitors to Edinburgh is the route from the city centre towards the shore. Some companies offer a guided cycling tour through this route, where you explore Scotland’s ancient capital city, cycling through the Old Town streets and admiring the city’s magnificent views from Arthur’s Seat.
You will then cycle towards the Royal Mile to see the historic Edinburgh Castle. After exploring the castle, head to Castlehill and discover one of the many atmospheric alleys along the backbone of the Royal Mile, including attractions like St Giles’ Cathedral. You can stop by the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the British Royal Family’s residence in Scotland. Learn the history behind the baroque palace, best known as the home of Mary, Queen of Scots. From here, you’ll journey through the city’s New Town. Cycle along the cobblestone streets and admire the fantastic architecture before heading back to the port of Edinburgh.