A Student’s Guide To Edinburgh

guide to Edinburgh Rakbo Park

Edinburgh, a Scottish city built atop an extinct volcano has its history at its roots. The city has played its role in not only the history of the United Kingdom, as it staged various attacks against the British from the near-impenetrable Edinburgh Castle, but also the field of science, with the University of Edinburgh at the forefront of medical discovery.  From the pagan Samhuinn fire festival to herald the coming of winter to the enormous Hogmanay celebrations, the winding alleyways of Old Town to the modernity of Princes Street, it has it all. So, without further ado, here is our tips on visiting the iconic Scottish capital.

Go for a walk.

In a city as small as Edinburgh, the best way to explore is on foot. From the shopping district of Princes street, a short walk up the mound takes you to the Royal Mile and the lead-up to the Edinburgh Castle. From there, you are within a 10-minute walk of the National Museum, the university and countless other attractions hidden down alleyways.

With the city’s Old Town serving as an attraction unto itself, it is somewhat hard to narrow it down for a weekend trip. However, no trip to Edinburgh is complete without visiting the Edinburgh Castle before heading over George IV bridge to Greyfriars Bobby and the National Museum and university area. From there, take a quick jaunt down to Holyrood to see the Parliament and climb Arthur’s Seat. Time your walk to coincide with the sunset to witness the most incredible views of the city. For those of you with more time, a trip down to Leith and the Botanical Gardens is a lovely way to spend a day with a picnic, while Carlton Hill next to the epic Balmoral Hotel is the reason the city is known as the ‘Athens of the North’.

With these and many other of the city’s gems hidden down small alleyways in the multi-tiered and maze-like Old Town, buses would be more of a hassle than a help.

guide to Edinburgh Rakbo Edinburgh

Best times to visit!

For one small city, Edinburgh has an incredible amount of festivals and celebrations that, if they fit into your calendar, should definitely shape your visit. From the Samhuinn festival on Halloween that fills the city with fire-shows and parades to the infamous three-day Hogmanay to celebrate New Year’s Eve (last year’s street party reported over 150,000 attendees!), each event gives the city a completely different vibe. Add to that the world’s largest arts festival that takes over every inch of space in August, and Edinburgh has something for everyone! Just remember that it is Scotland so you should definitely pack as such, as even a sunny day can be chillingly cold!

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Best places to re-energize.

Okay, so we all know that traveling is the best excuse to eat out every day and, in Edinburgh, you won’t be disappointed. From the myriad of Asian cuisines around Newington to the traditional Scottish ‘Cellar Door’ on George IV Bridge, there is something for everyone. For a nice brunch, be sure to check out Montpelier’s in Bruntsfield or, for views of the castle fit for royals, try your hand at The Outsider Restaurant. For dinner, be sure to visit Hanam’s, a Middle-Eastern restaurant just off the Royal Mile for fantastic food at a great price, just remember to bring your own alcohol!

For a quick pick-me-up throughout the day, Edinburgh has a thriving coffee scene with countless artisanal coffee places throughout the city. Check out the ‘Disloyal 7’ coffee crawl for a full coffee experience in the Scottish capital!

guide to Edinburgh Rakbo Coffee

​​Needing some Saturday night fever?

Edinburgh has you covered. From the dive bars strewn throughout the Old Town to the ‘fancy’ nightclubs that dominate George Street and the small cocktail bars that pop up in-between, the options are endless. For those of you wanting to get dressed up and dance, Lulu Club or Opal on a Saturday night on George Street are never bad choices despite their status as a little pricey. If, however, the idea of dancing with a bunch of 20-something students is not quite your cup of tea, head over to New Town where bars like Bramble, Copper Blossom and Panda & Sons will be sure to mix you the perfect cocktail for the occasion. Additionally, head over to the Whiski Rooms on the Mound (above the Scott Monument) at any time of the day for a complete whisky experience. It is Scotland after all…


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Alex Feal

Alex is a student at the University of Edinburgh currently studying abroad at the University of Mississippi. Originally from Spain, Alex found the cold weather of London and Edinburgh too much to handle so escaped to the American South to get back to sunning himself by the pool. A travel aficionado and complete coffee addict, Alex hopes to get into teaching history at international schools when he's older, using their exotic locations and long holidays as bases from which to further explore the world. Often found with a camera in-hand, you can follow him on his travels on instagram as well as on his blog


  1. Almost all of the round-the-world travellers I’ve met recently have said Edinburgh was their favourite place, I’m a bit ashamed that as a Brit I still haven’t been!

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