This past autumn, I travelled to Edinburgh via train to visit one of my friends who recently graduated from LSE. Surprisingly, I had never ventured there before during my time as an undergraduate despite it being the perfect candidate for a weekend getaway. Given my recent experience there, if you have time this term and would like to travel somewhere for the weekend, I highly recommend Edinburgh for the following reasons:
- It doesn’t require too much planning or logistics
- It’s easy to get to
- You can see a lot in a weekend, but there’s always more to explore
First, getting there depends on your personal preference. I personally love to travel by train when it’s possible: even though it may take longer, it’s more comfortable and you can see more on the journey there. I especially prefer train over discount airlines because you often end up paying for extras like luggage or spend the same amount of time travelling because of extra travel to airports like Stansted, going through security and dealing with delayed flights. When I went to Edinburgh, I took the train from King’s Cross to Waverly. There were no delays, and I was able to see the lovely English countryside. So easy! Depending on what time you’re travelling, you may also be able to obtain a train discount via Unidays or Student Beans, but make sure you check that the route you’re taking is eligible.
View of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens
Once I arrived, I was able to stay with my friend, but there are many affordable hotel rooms for a night or two. Over the course of the weekend, we walked everywhere from her flat, so regardless of where you are staying in the city, everything is accessible for the most part. For the first day, we walked up Calton Hill and saw Edinburgh sprawling below us. We could even see the Highlands across the little channel connecting to the ocean. From there, we could also see the unfinished National Monument of Scotland and Arthur’s Seat, a 2 hour hike we decided to save for next time. We proceeded along the Royal Mile into the heart of Edinburgh. Along the way, I saw statues of significant Scottish figures like Adam Smith and David Hume. Calling all economists and philosophers at LSE to go on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh! We saw cathedrals and the castle, which, no matter where you are in the city, you can’t help but see. Post-castle, I recommend walking in the Princes Street Gardens.
Adam Smith statue
In between must-see sights like the castle, we spent our time walking through the city. Many buskers on the street played the bagpipes and wore the traditional kilt. For lunch, I tried haggis, which is an assortment of sheep organs. It sounds totally unappealing, but I’m not one to shy away from new experiences, so I had to try it. It’s not bad. If you want the full experience, you should find a pub which serves haggis which won’t be difficult. However, if sheep’s innards aren’t your taste, Edinburgh has a diverse offering of restaurants, Scottish and otherwise.
On the second and last day of my flash visit to Scotland, my friend brought me to one of her favourite parks: Inverleith Park. There, we ate pastries we got from a local market open on Sundays and enjoyed the Botanical Garden. We also spent some time exploring the National Museums Scotland. You could easily spend two days in there if the weather is no good. It’s like the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum combined.
National Museums Scotland
After just two days, I felt I got to see a lot of the city, enjoy a lot of new experiences, and reset myself while having a break from the hustle and bustle of London. I actually came back from the weekend even more energised for the week of study ahead. Coming at the end of January is Burns Night (Jan 25) to celebrate Scottish poet Robert Burns. It’s a big celebration in Scotland. So if you want to join the celebrations, end of January is your opportunity to do so. Otherwise, Edinburgh is a great option for a quick trip out of London any other time as well. I look forward to visiting my friend again, hiking Arthur’s Seat, and seeing what else there is still to discover.