A commuter village of the City of Edinburgh Council Area, Ratho lies to the south of the M8 motorway and on the course of the Union Canal, a 2½ miles (4 km) south of Kirkliston and 8 miles (13 km) west of the city centre. The core of the village comprises distinctive black whinstone buildings, but Ratho has grown rapidly since the 1970s. Once in Midlothian, it transferred to the City of Edinburgh with the local government re-organisation of 1975.
Originally constructed by the Knights Hospitaller in the Middle Ages, sections of the much altered Parish Church of St. Mary's date back to the 12th century. The Adventure Centre, home of the National Rock Climbing Centre and the world's largest indoor climbing arena, was opened in 2003 on the site of a quarry to the west of the village. The Edinburgh Canal Centre provides cruising on the Union Canal since 1974.
Ratho Station is an industrial settlement located alongside the railway a mile (1.5 km) to the north.