Edinburgh – capital of Scotland and the city that brought us Harry Potter, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Sherlock Holmes, and the world’s only knighted penguin – Brigadier Sir Nils Olav.
Not content with being drop-dead gorgeous and sporting a castle built on an extinct volcano, Edinburgh’s redeveloped airport and new tramline linking it to the city have now made it easier and more convenient than ever before as the starting point for an adventure. So if you’re looking to escape the call of the pub, or want to do something seriously incredible with your time off, here are ten amazing adventures all leaving direct from Edinburgh.
Test yourself against the 3798-metre summit of Austria’s Mount Grossglockner. Alongside an experienced mountain guide, you’ll hike graded trails, cross the ice field of the Koednitz-kees glacier, descend the gap between two mountains and climb high ridges before tackling the summit itself.
Don’t miss: Dinner with a view at the Stüdl Hut -2801 metres up.
When to go: June – September
Fancy a long weekend surrounded by twenty of the highest peaks in the Italian Alps? Over three days you’ll get up early to claim untouched powder, cross a glacier to try your hand at ski mountaineering and then get to grips with the Balma Run, one of the best off-piste routes in the country.
Don’t miss: The 40-45° couloir descent from the top of a mountain.
When to go: February and March when the ski conditions are at their very best.
Fly to: Malpensa International Airport, Milano (MXP)
Combine the relaxation of yoga with the fun of paddleboarding on the calm, warm waters of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. You’ll meditate on the water, snorkel around Stobrec Bay and relax body and mind as you explore one of the most dramatic shorelines in Europe.
Don’t miss: A sunset yoga class on your board.
When to go: September – Calm water and lots of sun.
Fly to: Split Airport, Split (SPU)
Tackle one of Europe’s most iconic long-distance trails as you cross from Chamonix in France, to Zermatt in Switzerland. Over ten incredible days you’ll travel hut-to-hut across the Alps, hike through alpine villages and farms, pass the un-missable Matterhorn and ascend the legendary Augstbord Pass.
Don’t miss: The unbelievable Fenêtre d’Arpette mountain pass.
When to go: May-August, when it’s green and gorgeous.
Follow the unspoilt coastline of the beautiful Gulf of Finland, pulling up your kayak whenever the mood takes you. You’ll explore the waterside bars and café’s of Helsinki, paddle to remote coves and quiet beaches, enjoy sunset on the water and then camp beside the waves on a deserted island.
Don’t miss: Encountering grey seals on the water.
When to go: July-September when the water is calm and clear.
Fly to: Helsinki Vantaa Airport, Helsinki (HEL)
Ride on the 650km of forest trails and smooth roads that surround the Portes du Solei and experience some of the world’s best mountain biking. Take the gondola to the top of the mountain, descend the Les Gets trail and then ride the maze of challenging single-track that make Portes du Soleil the best bike park in Europe.
Don’t miss: The Pleney downhill run – seriously intense but worth it.
When to go: June-August when the trails are all open and the sky is blue.
Fly to: Geneva Cointrin International Airport, Geneva (GVA)
Explore the beautiful Cyclades on a private yacht, docking in a different bay every night. Over five days you’ll sail to the picturesque port of Loutra, hike around Kythnos and Serifos, paddle board on warm, clear waters, swim, snorkel and then enjoy the local bars and restaurants.
Don’t miss: Waking up to a different Aegean view every day.
When to go: March-May – Not too hot and absolutely gorgeous.
Fly to: Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport, Athens (ATH)
Travel to the land of fire and ice as you search for the elusive Northern Lights. You’ll explore the Eyjafajallajökull volcano, walk along the black sand beaches of Dyrhólaey Island and then strap on crampons to experience the deep crevasses and dramatic water cauldrons of Sólheimajökull Glacier.
Don’t miss: The pounding spray of the Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls – beautiful in winter or summer.
When to go: If you want the best chance of seeing the Aurora go from November to January.
Fly to: Keflavik International Airport, Keflavik (KEF)
Navigate the entire 210 km coastline of Menorca, wildest of the Balearic Islands, over eight exciting days. You’ll paddle across beautiful Punta Prima Bay, explore the uninhabited islands that lay off the quiet southeastern coast, sleep on white sand beaches and navigate around rocky capes and past towering cliffs.
Don’t miss: The beaches of the northern marine reserve – a unique and protected biosphere.
When to go: June to October – calm seas, balmy nights.
Fly to: Menorca Airport, Menorca (MAH)
Trek the rugged interior of Lanzarote, home to more than 300 volcanoes, and tackle the world-class surf off its beautiful coast. You’ll hike through the fire-blasted moonscape of Timanfaya National Park, see craters, cliffs and lava tubes, spend a day surfing in warm, blue waters and have lunch on the lip of a caldera.
Don’t miss: Surfing beneath the cliffs at Famara bay – the best surf spot on the island.
When to go: Anytime – subtropical Lanzarote is warm and sunny all year round, but the surf is particularly good in September and January.
Fly to: Lanzarote Airport, Arrecife (ACE)
Love travelling? Want to see more adventures? Discover our other hand-picked experiences run by the best local hosts and guides.