Exploring Edinburgh

Five outdoor activities to get you started

Some of the most popular activities among Edinburgh’s student population include taking in the city while braving the infamous weather. Avoid the crowds and discover the great outdoor gems of Scotland's capital.

1. See the whole city

Arthur’s Seat, rooted in Holyrood Park, is a famous landmark of Edinburgh and a favourite spot for locals to stretch their legs, watch firework displays and take photos worthy of the pickiest Instagram feed.

The extinct volcano offers a relatively easy climb of just over 250 meters and half-an-hour’s hike will reward you with breath-taking views of Edinburgh and beyond. If that seems a little too ambitious, the city centre Calton Hill is a smaller outlook point, scattered with architectural oddities.

2. Find a quiet spot

Hidden in the heart of New Town, the Royal Botanic Gardens are made up of over 70 acres of tranquil landscape. The carefully curated gardens are home to exotic plant life, towering Glasshouses, and a Living Collection dating back 350 years.

Currently, you do have to book ahead to visit this city oasis but entry is free and, once inside, you can spend as long as you like exploring flowerbeds and expanses of green space.

3. Enjoy the weather

Believe it or not, Edinburgh has been known to get warm and (dare we say) hot on occasion. With the weather on side, there are a few perfect picnic spots that you might struggle to believe are part of the capital.

The Meadows, Holyrood Park and Princes Street Gardens are all beautiful green spaces where you can chill out and catch up on some reading. If a beach is more your scene, hop on a bus and discover the two-mile stretch of white sand at Portobello.

4. Get active

No matter where you are in Edinburgh, you're never far from a secluded woodland trail, picturesque cycle path or leisurely hill climb. This city has the most green spaces of any other in the UK and the vast majority are open to the public.

The Water of Leith Walkway is a scenic footpath that spans over 12 miles, passing by areas of interest including Dean Village, Stockbridge and Murrayfield Stadium. If you're looking to go further afield, the John Muir Way is a coast-to-coast route that winds through Edinburgh with easy access points in many public parks.

5. Explore the streets

In such a historic city, it's little surprise that walking tours are a popular attraction for visitors and residents alike. Covering subjects ranging from literary hotspots and haunted halls to dark crimes and a certain boy wizard, guides and enthusiasts paint the cobbled streets of Edinburgh in a new light.

Several of these tours are even offered free of charge. Do your research and find something special to help you fall in love with your new home.

Three things to make you feel at home

As things start to get back to a post-lockdown normal, there are a few things you can do to try out life in our city*. Remember to check ahead if indoor activities require pre-booking. Many venues will be operating at limited capacity to help social distancing.

1. Get a tasty treat

You need good food to fuel you through your studies and finding your favourite spot to indulge is essential for student life.

Maki & Ramen is a popular choice with four locations dotted around the city, all offering delivery and pickup options. The Three Sisters (our Student Union!) is also well-known for good burgers and students flock to Mary’s Milk Bar for ice cream on sunny days.

2. Sample the nightlife

If you’re already over 18, why not hang around until the sun goes down and scope out some of the places that will no doubt become your favourite haunts?

Cowgate and the surrounding streets have some of the most popular and reasonably priced clubs and bars to be found in the city centre. Key venues that have opened their doors include Pilgrim Bar, Sneaky Pete’s, Bannermans and our Student Union at The Three Sisters

3. Discover our history

No visitor’s guide to our city would be complete without mention of Edinburgh Castle - take a stroll up the Royal Mile and Castle Hill to find the gates. Inside, you can view the Honours (Crown Jewels) of Scotland, the One O’Clock Gun and the Stone of Destiny.

Edinburgh is also home to the National Museum of Scotland. Wander through time with exhibitions on world cultures, Scottish archaeology, science and innovation, fashion through the ages, and natural history (yes, that means dinosaurs). You can also access the building’s roof terrace, which has spectacular views of the city.

*Any details regarding open venues and available services listed here were correct at time of writing. Please check with respective providers before making plans.