Cycling in Scotland

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Photo: la2rad

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With an unbelievably vast coastline, towering peaks, rolling lowlands and staggering lochs, cycling in Scotland’s tremendous landscape is inspiring to say the least. Famous for its extraordinary views, when you pedal around this majestic country you’re never far from a photo opportunity whether you’re in the Cairngorms or the wild hills of the south. 

There are so many cycle routes in Scotland that you could spend a lifetime riding here, stopping only for meals. With thousands of miles of designated cycle paths as well as hundreds of miles of traffic-free trails, Scotland is a cyclist’s paradise.

You’re in for a true adventure if you’re interested in long-distance rides as Scotland is the perfect place for a week or more of exploration. Day rides are just as wonderful though, with plenty of stunning routes both hilly and flat. And we haven’t even got started with the Scottish islands yet.

Difficult
05:51
56.4 mi
Easy
01:45
17.0 mi
Intermediate
03:33
37.4 mi
Difficult
06:48
62.7 mi
Intermediate
02:22
23.5 mi
Intermediate
04:24
46.2 mi
Intermediate
02:52
25.0 mi
Intermediate
04:19
45.6 mi
Intermediate
01:39
14.7 mi
Intermediate
02:13
16.3 mi
Difficult
04:21
42.5 mi
Easy
01:18
12.7 mi
Difficult
04:00
38.6 mi
Difficult
03:09
31.3 mi
Difficult
03:43
36.3 mi
Easy
01:14
12.7 mi
Intermediate
04:18
45.1 mi
Difficult
05:50
45.9 mi
Intermediate
01:39
17.0 mi
Difficult
04:28
44.9 mi

Top 20 cycling routes in Scotland

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Scottish scenery is seriously splendid

Bike rides in Scotland benefit from a huge variety of landscapes and you can stay low or climb heady trails whenever you like. While not official designations, you can broadly split Scotland into two, the Lowlands and the Highlands. Don’t be fooled by these terms either, for the Lowlands have plenty of thigh-burning routes and the Highlands have lots of flat trails in valleys, along coastlines and circling lochs. 

The Highlands are a sparsely populated yet vast region with incredible mountain ranges and a frankly unbelievable amount of rugged coast. Cycling in Scotland’s isolated Highlands is as breathtaking as riding gets and you can spend days or weeks adventuring out here. Ride through sweeping valleys, dense woods and along towering cliffs. 

The Lowlands are just as beautiful but with markedly different scenery. They include the Central Plain and the mountainous Southern Uplands. Here you can enjoy trail after trail through pastoral countryside, up and over rolling hills and past ancient castles. 

Cycle routes in Scotland aren’t limited to the wonderful mainland, some of the best trails will take you around islands and past exquisite, remote beaches. Often mountainous and always magnificent, exploring the Scottish islands takes you headfirst into the elements. 

Sharing the landscape with wildlife

One of the most fantastic parts of cycling in Scotland is the unrivalled access to incredible wildlife. Birds and animals thrive in this enchanting country, with its sprawling wildernesses and dedicated conservation efforts. 

The birds in Scotland are an ornithologist’s dream, with faces like the ptarmigan, Arctic skua, corncrake, common skota and golden eagle showing up here. Hen harriers, honey buzzards and kestrels are other birds of prey that light up Scottish skies. 

Scotland has a huge population of red deer and these large animals can be seen in the wild throughout the year. The majority of the UK’s red squirrel population resides in Scotland too, so keep an eye out in coniferous forests. 

Seals, dolphins, basking sharks and eider ducks all make Scotland’s coastline a magical place to visit and you’ll find many cycle routes with sea views. 

Two words of warning though. Firstly, Scotland’s most infamous animal, the midge, can be a serious problem. Prevalent between May and September, these tiny biting flies love the Western Highlands and the keen cyclists who ride through them. Secondly, ticks are common and taking precautions is wise. Long socks, tights and carrying a tick remover are all recommended. 

Scotland's best cycling routes on the map

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