Cycling enthusiast with some time to spare this summer? Try biking Scotland. With over 2000 miles of designated cycling routes to explore, this beautiful country is the perfect setting for a bike ride. Quaint villages nestle amongst awe-inspiring landscapes, dwarfed by rolling hills, imposing mountains and sprawling lochs. Prefer urban cycling? Edinburgh, renowned for its historical and cultural significance, was recently named the most bike-friendly city in the UK. 


According to research from Glasgow based bike manufacturers Sprockets, it would take, on average, a jaw-dropping 220 hours to cycle every bike-accessible route on the Ordnance Survey map. This includes traffic-free routes on the National Cycle Network, traffic-free routes not on the National Cycle Network, On-road routes on the National Cycle Network, and on-road routes not on the National Cycle Network. Researchers accounted for the difference in speed between on-road and off-road cycling and elevation. 


If 220 hours of cycling seems daunting, don’t panic! We’ve rounded up some of Scotland's best attractions, and provided a comprehensive guide to exploring them by bike and via public transport. 


Scotland’s most "Instagrammable" landmarks


With so many heritage sites, designated National Scenic Areas and architectural wonders, exploring Scotland can be overwhelming to newcomers, particularly if your time in the country is limited. We took to Instagram to find out which of Scotland’s landmarks were the most commonly photographed by the platform’s billion users.


The top 10 



Number of "Hashtagged" Images

Ben Nevis 

233 120

Edinburgh Castle 

633 367

Loch Ness 

459 554

Cairngorms National Park 

112 539

Stirling Castle 

79 735

Glenfinnan viaduct

62 712

Dunnottar Castle 

55 436

Urquhart Castle 

53 557

Forth Bridge 

48 760

The Kelpies 

40 110


Our guide to biking the top 3 


Ben Nevis 



Casting an imposing shadow on the idyllic Scottish countryside, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the British Isles. This iconic peak attracts 125 000 visitors every year and was once an active volcano. Ben Nevis is located in the northwest Highlands and boasts a peak of 1345m. A cornucopia of cliffs, stony plateaus and glacial valleys, this famous Scottish landmark certainly deserves a spot on your bucket list. 


There are plenty of bike-accessible trails in the hills and forests surrounding Ben Nevis. Cyclists searching for adventure can even attempt to tackle some of the mountain’s downhill trails, which can be reached by a cliff gondola. These tantalising downhill trails range from intermediate to expert, and are not for the faint of heart!


Not an adrenaline junkie? National Cycle Route 7, sandwiched between the Glen Coe Scenic Area and the Cairngorms National Park, offer fantastic views of Ben Nevis. Stop along the way to explore the Pass of Drumochter, Strathspey Heritage Railway, Boat of Garten village and the Highland Folk Museum. For easy access to Ben Nevis, we recommend travelling by train to Fort William. Bikes are welcome on both ScotRail and Caledonian Sleeper trains. Some routes require a reservation, so it's important to check this ahead of time.


Edinburgh Castle



Castle rock, the famed foundation for Edinburgh castle, is steeped in over 3000 years of history, occupied by humans since the Iron Age. Celtic tribes took up residence on the rock, as did the first King of Scotland, Malcolm III Canmore, during his reign in the 11th century. Edinburgh Castle boasts the dubious honour of being the most besieged place in Great Britain and has witnessed its share of brutal conflict, royal ceremonies and spectacular national events. Today, Edinburgh Castle houses the Honours of Scotland or the county’s crown jewels. Every year, it plays host to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which is an international military music festival. 


Edinburgh was recently crowned as the most cyclist-friendly city in the UK and is easily accessible by bike. National Cycle Route 1, which passes through Edinburgh, actually extends into the majority of the UK, hugging the east coast and offering captivating views of rugged moorland, desolate cliffs and imposing castles. If you’re short on time, we recommend travelling to Edinburgh by train and exploring the surrounding area by bike. 


Loch Ness 



Whether you’re in search of adventure, a scenic bike ride or a giant mythic monster, Loch Ness has it all. Loch Ness, located in Inverness, is 23 miles long, deeper than the North Sea, and holds more water than all the lakes In England and Wales combined. The Loch is surrounded by castles, forests and roaring waterfalls, and boasts a myriad of trails suitable for both cyclists and walkers. Check out the Inverfarigaig Pier, built by Thomas Telford, for some of the best views of the loch. For thrill-seekers, the Suidhe Viewpoint is one of the highest points on the Loch Ness 360° trail and is a fantastic place to enjoy some uninterrupted views. 


The Loch Ness 360° trail is the perfect way to enjoy Loch Ness by bike. This awe-inspiring trail loops around the entire circumference of the loch, connecting the Great Glen Way and South Loch Ness trail. The route is split into six sections, making it perfect for those with limited time to explore. Start in Inverness, which can be easily reached by train, or join the trail at another point. 




Estimating the average time needed to bike Scotland’s trails and roads


We used data from Ordnance Survey maps to calculate the approximate time needed to bike Scotland’s trails and roads. We mapped every route individually. This included traffic-free routes on the National Cycle Network, traffic-free routes not on the National Cycle Network, On-road routes on the National Cycle Network, and on-road routes not on the National Cycle Network. We accounted for total elevation and the difference in speed between on-road and off-road cycling. A summary of each route measured, including distance, total elevation, total time and start and endpoint can be found here


Identifying Scotland’s most "Instagrammable" landmarks


We found the number of “hashtagged” posts for 27 of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks. These included Edinburgh Castle, the Kelpies, Urquhart Castle, St Giles Cathedral and Skara Brae. Our full data set can be found here