Once in a Lifetime: Edinburgh

By: Katie Manning

January 10, 2013


It may lay claim to celebrated pandas, award winning galleries and a world famous castle, but we’ve discovered that Edinburgh offers plenty more for the visitor seeking adventure beyond the ordinary.

Aerial Assault

Aerial Assault | Edinburgh

EICA Ratho Aerial Assault © EICA Ratho

Built within a former quarry, the more adventurous among us always love this mighty behemoth of an arena. Europe’s largest indoor climbing space, Edinburgh’s EICA boasts 15-ft high bouldering; a sheer 90-ft ascent and a slightly perilous 50-ft overhang. Hardcore adrenaline junkies can generally be found hurtling themselves 100-ft off the ground on aerial assault course, the SkyRide. Not for the faint of heart. EICA: Ratho, South Platt Hill, +44 131 333 6333,, Mon-Fri 9am-10pm; Sat & Sun 9-6pm.

Arthur’s Seat & the Sheep Heid

Arthur's Seat | EdinburghArthur’s Seat © Anna Millar

Not many capitals we’ve been to have a dormant volcano sitting at the heart of the city. And Arthur’s Seat set in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park – a short walk from the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Scottish Parliament – not only provides one of the most extraordinary panoramic views from its peak, but a half hour walk down the other side takes you to the Sheep Heid Inn, reputedly Scotland’s oldest pub (compete with 19th century skittle alley). Holyrood Park & 43-45 The Causeway, +44 131 661 7974,

Alba Ballooning

Alba Ballooning | Edinburgh

Hot air balloon rides with Alba Ballooning © Alba Ballooning

One of a kind north of the border, Alba Ballooning takes us on a classic hot air balloon flight over the Edinburgh, Fife and Perthshire countryside. Scottish weather permitting, flights set off a few hours after sunrise or a few hours before sunset to ensure you see all the surrounding castles, reservoirs and peaks in all their glory. Meet at Hillend, Edinburgh, +44 1875 830 709,, call ahead to check flight availability.

Trike Tours Scotland

Trike Tour | Edinburgh

Trike Tours © Trike Tours Scotland

Forget the identikit city bus tour, we want something extraordinary on a city tour. Trike Tours Scotland offers something a little different, with a chauffeur driven tour of the city on a motorised trike. Tours run from 1-3 hours and there are several Edinburgh-based rides, including the All Day Breakfast Tour, the Trike Tour and Photo Shoot, and our personal favourite, the Afternoon Cocktail Tour, complete with a whisky cocktail pit stop. Leather jackets and helmets are provided, so you even look the part. Various venues, Edinburgh, +44 800 056 7779,, daily, tour times vary.

Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour

Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour | EdinburghEdinburgh Literary Pub Tour © The Scottish Literary Tour Trust Ltd

As the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature, to say Edinburgh’s literary heritage is quite rich is like saying Scotland has a few castles. From Rabbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott to Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh, the capital’s bookish credentials are plentiful, and we think there’s no better way to celebrate them than with this long-established and much-loved cultural crawl around the watering holes of Edinburgh, offering not only a great background to the city’s writers but also its history. Meet outside the Beehive Inn, Grassmarket, +44 800 169 7410 nightly 7.30pm, check for seasonal date changes.


Katie Manning

Katie is an author for the Virgin Atlantic blog. Despite her urban London residency, Katie can often be found exploring far-flung corners of the globe in search of exciting new experiences and stories. A self-confessed night-owl, she makes it her mission to search out the best cocktail bars and live music venues on each and every expedition. Follow Katie @kt_saramanning