When you live in a city, it is often all too easy to turn a blind eye to the big tourist attractions, taking them for granted. So, sometimes it can be nice to take some time to appreciate what the city has to offer outside of your daily routine. Whenever my pals come to visit, I make sure to take the time to show them as much of the city as possible, and this means I have an excuse to do lots of fun and interesting things too!
FOOD AND DRINK
One of the best bits about having guests is that you can sort of justify eating out most of the time. Here is a list of some of my favourite places to take people!
Probably one of my favourite restaurants in Edinburgh, Cafe Andaluz offers an authentic Spanish dining experience at a very reasonable price. Try their Menu Especial, which offers 3 tapas dishes for £12.95! I would also highly recommend the sangria, which can be purchased by the pitcher. (Just saying.)
I would never normally go for French food, but this small restaurant on Hanover Street really hits the spot. The restaurant itself is really cute and the staff are lovely, not to mention you can get a three course meal for under £10! The atmosphere is really fun and welcoming, but try to avoid peak times if possible as it can get very busy.
It seems a bit odd to be recommending an ice-cream parlour when we all know the weather here isn’t always that great, but this place is a hidden gem. The flavours change daily as the ice-cream is made fresh in the mornings, so there is always something a bit quirky and interesting to try! Get down there early in the day to avoid disappointment, as some flavours do sell out before the day is over.
This is proper pub grub. The atmosphere in here is great, especially if there is some sport on, and they have a really nice garden outside for when the weather perks up. Traditional, honest pub food and cheap pints, this is a good place to come if you’ve been out the night before!
As a tradition, this is where I take everyone after I’ve made them trudge up Arthur’s Seat. The restaurant is best known for its gourmet burgers, and it has a great range of veggie options too. A bit more pricey, but worth it for the good service and great food. This particular branch can get quite busy, but they have a sister-branch just along the Cowgate called OX-184, which offers virtually the same menu and also does food until 2.30am!
If you’re looking for good pizza at a good price, this is the place to come. I’m never usually a fan of the big chain pizza restaurants, so it was nice to find somewhere that does good Italian food at student-friendly prices. They have a really wide selection of pizza toppings as well as lots of pasta dishes and burgers too, so there is something for everyone.
STUFF TO DO
Edinburgh’s national galleries are across three sites: the National, Modern and Portrait. They are all within walking distance of the centre of town, and the walk to the Modern takes you through the picturesque Dean Village, which is worth a visit! They are all free admission with the exception of some exhibits, and are a good way to spend a few hours.
There are actually quite a few museums in Edinburgh, so you’ll definitely have to plan which ones you’d want to go to. Here are a few of my faves:
- National Museum of Scotland : lots of cool exhibitions, and the bit about Scottish history is really interesting! Also the building itself makes for a good insta, very pretty
- Writer’s Museum : one of my personal faves, this museum is tucked away but worth discovering. Tells you a little about the history of some of Scotland’s finest writers, and shows some rare objects and portraits – one for the bookworms
- Museum of Childhood : if you want to feel old, this is the place to go. A cool collection of children’s toys and games through the ages, you might even spot a few things from your own childhood along the way! (The website says this is a nice trip down memory lane, but I fully condone having a weep when you see the original iPod Shuffle behind the glass.)
We’re lucky enough in Edinburgh to have a mix of the hustle and bustle of the city alongside some beautiful scenery. Check out these places if you fancy a stroll and some fresh air:
- Arthur’s Seat: Obviously, this one has to be done. It isn’t as high as it looks, I promise… (also this is a 10/10 hangover cure, sorts you right out.)
- Calton Hill: if you’re after something slightly less ambitious, Calton Hill offers just as good views, but without the hefty climb
- Botanic Gardens: definitely worth a visit, the gardens are lovely and you can make a proper day out of it!
- Portobello Beach: just a short bus ride out from the centre of town, sometimes its nice to get down to the beach and feel the sea air! (Although be warned, it can get pretty cold – it is the beach in Scotland after all!)
This is just a small list of my favourite places to go when I fancy pretending to be a tourist, but if you’re really stumped for ideas there are loads more suggestions for things to do online. Some attractions can be quite pricey though, so make sure you take full advantage of student discount where you can!