New Students: Edinburgh off the Beaten Path

Make the most of your time with us and explore a bit of Edinburgh!  International student Shelby King has put together an Edinburgh bucket list which includes places that may not be as widely visited, but should certainly not be overlooked!

Craigmillar Castle

craigmillar castle

An hour walk, or short bus ride from the city centre will get you to the labyrinth-like castle of Craigmillar.

Built in the medieval times, the castle has many small connecting chambers to explore and a great view of Holyrood Park and Edinburgh Castle from the tower house.  The ruins make for a quick half day trip!

Surgeon’s Hall Museum

Discover Edinburgh’s bloody past! Fittingly, the museum displays a death mask, and pocketbook made of the skin from William Burke, an infamous body snatcher in Edinburgh, who was publicly dissected during a class at the University of Edinburgh.

Interesting Shops 


Have you ever been to a cat café? A milk bar? Save some money and hit up a second hand book shop!

Edinburgh has many interesting shops, locally owned, that are unique to the city.  Take a stroll along Westport, and you will run into all three of these shops, as well as several trendy boutiques.


To the south of Holyrood Park lays the quaint village of Duddingston. Stop by one of Edinburgh’s oldest pups, the Sheep Heid Inn, and play skittles, a European bowling game, visit Duddingston Kirk, and find the extensive gardens of Dr. Neil, often called ‘Edinburgh’s Secret Garden’.


Cramond Island

Located in the Firth of Forth, Cramond Island is a tidal island. The causeway to the island, accessible by foot, is only clear while the tide is out.

The island, like many islands in the Firth of Forth, was fortified during World War II, hence the anti-submarine pylons which follow the pathway to the island, blocking the passage of submarines into the firth. You can easily catch a bus to the coast from the city centre.

Dean Village


Stroll along the Water of Leith at Dean village, and Dean Gardens to escape the busy streets of Edinburgh.


 Murrayfield Stadium


Attend a rugby match! Keep an eye on the calendar and cheer on our university rugby teams this fall!  Or watch, at a discounted price as a student, the Scottish national rugby team, who will be playing Australia, Argentina, and Georgia this season!

Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach boasts a lovely scene to relax with friends, and to grill out while watching the waves roll onto the shore. The beach is about an hour walk from Arthur’s Seat, or a quick bus ride from the city centre.

Inchcolm Island 

Another island in the Firth of Forth worth a visit is Inchcolm Island. This island has the remains of medieval, monastic buildings, and its rocky waters are home to many grey seals!

Tour Edinburgh with Harry Potter

Victoria Stree

Why not escape reality for an hour and enter the magical world of Harry Potter? Free guided tours lead groups through Old Town, to locations where J.K. Rowling wrote the popular series of books, Voldemort’s Gravestone, and where Rowling found inspiration for the character of Professor McGonagall, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts!

If you are looking for more activities to do in Edinburgh, check out Edinburgh University Students’ Association’s top 10 things to do on your first weekend,  as well as our ISAS hit list  from last year!


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