Why should I choose Edinburgh for my year abroad?
Traditional (don’t miss your chance to celebrate the Scottish new year, Hogmanay) yet alternative, thanks to its vibrant population including writers, artists, comedians, scientists, students and the average Joe, you’re guaranteed to fall in love with the city’s architecture, lashings of art and culture, and the people (Scottish accent included).
You can start with Edinburgh Castle, located on one of the highest points of the city, a great fortress which has been occupied for the past 1000 years. The Camera Obscura gives you a magnificent 360 degree view of the city – surely not to be missed, by any means! The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to visit on a sunny afternoon, or to pitch up in to have a picnic. Rosslyn Chapel is worth a visit for its Hollywood appearance alone – having appeared in that age-old classic, the Da Vinci Code film... But really, this city is to be explored by foot to take in all its nooks and crannies, take a peek at its nearly-hidden side streets, stand by the Medieval door frames, and wandering about its windy cobbled streets.
Galleries abound, with the National Gallery of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art both offering an impressive collection of British, as well as foreign, art, in all its shapes and sizes. Registered charity, the Fruitmarket Gallery, gives the chance for artists and members of the public to experience and discuss the various pieces on display.
Walks are big news here, and if you’d like to get away for a wee few hours from city life, you can’t afford to miss out on a walk up Atrhur's Seat – don’t forget to bring some trainers and a camera, as it really is quite stunning.
Of course, as an international centre for the Arts, theatres and concerts regularly offer something new and tasty for any culture vulture visiting the capital. Bedlam Theatre is particularly popular with students, and has a good critic following. We couldn’t speak of Edinburgh without mentioning its place within the festival circuit; in summer, and particularly, in August, the city literally comes alive with the hustle and bustle of people, fireworks, sunshine and artistic troupes. Make sure you pencil in the diary the following gatherings, as you won’t want to miss them: the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo (worth it for the kilts alone), the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (talent-laden Arts festival), the Edinburgh Book Festival (there’s a film one too) and many more.
Such a popular place must have its own gastronomy we hear you cry... Well, it certainly does, try haggis to start with; made out of... well, we’ll let you try out first, before naming and shaming the ingredients! You can get pretty much any sort of food up here, but going to a chippy (that’s a fish and chip shop, to Southerners) and asking for deep-fried Mars Bars, or pizza, is something you ought to try at least once.
Edinburgh wouldn’t be Edinburgh if we didn’t mention its great old-man pubs, enough to make novelist Robert Louis Stevenson travel up here for a tipple or two. Too many to mention, but if you’re new to this city, you should head on down to Bennet’s Bar for the national drink – whiskey. Bert’s Bar is also quite cool, thanks to its 1930s art deco décor. Caves club is for the alternative amongst you, whilst Ego offers up dance classics, John Travolta style, straight through to hardcore House. Lulu club is for the... erm, peculiar amongst you, as the frivolous décor suggests... Either way, whether you fancy a quiet drink, a greasy spoon, shaking your booty to the latest tunes, or you’ve just come up for the amount of art on offer, you’d be hard pushed to find a more inspiring city in Europe!