Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Top things every student should do at least once in Edinburgh

06 September 2016

Edinburgh welcomes thousands of students from near and far every year. If you're new to the city we know it can be daunting but rest assured you have chosen a fantastic place to spend your student years! There's lots to see and do in Edinburgh, so read on to discover our favourite experiences that every student should squeeze in at least once before Graduation Day...

Eat a hearty breakfast at Spoon


[Image credit: Spoon]

One of Edinburgh students' favourite cafes to hang out in the city, Spoon offers beautiful home comfort grub in a delightfully cosy cottage-like space. The café is just up the stairs across from the Old Collage Quad on Nicholson Street, making it super handy for running to your next lecture at The University of Edinburgh - just a stone's throw away.

Spoon offers a small but quality breakfast menu from 10am Monday to Saturday, and from noon on Sunday. Treat yourself to a croissant and fruits salad, or go for the full grill available in both meaty and vegetarian versions.

While you're there, crack open your laptop and get some work done. Rumour has it that J.K. Rowling wrote the first pages of Harry Potter in this very establishment, so if it's good enough for her - it's good enough for us! 

Discover even more top foodie spots in our hidden gems section > 

Take a stroll down the Water of Leith

Water Of Leith Walkway

Escape the hustle and bustle of student life by taking a leisurely walk along the Water of Leith. The 13 mile route starts from Balerno through to Juniper Green, the old Colinton railway, Edinburgh and Leith until the river meets at the Firth of Forth. Of course you don't have to do the whole route in one go - you can pop on and off wherever you wish!

If you only do one part of the walk, we do recommend a stop by the beautiful picturesque Dean Village. Here, the river flourishes with wildlife such as eels and otters as well as kingfishers, herons and roe deer. It's a perfect oasis of calm if you need to take a break from the stresses of impending assignment deadlines...

Read more about Edinburgh's gorgeous outdoor spaces >

Admire the work at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art

[Image credit: National Gallery of Modern Art]

Fancy yourself a bit of a culture vulture? Whether you are an art student or not, The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will certainly appeal, especially if modern and contemporary art is your passion. Split between two buildings on either side of Belford Road, the Modern One and Modern Two galleries house some of the nation's best modern and contemporary art. Best of all, most of the gallery's displays are free to enter. 

If you can't get enough of art, be sure to also check out the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in the New Town, and the National Gallery of Scotland in the city centre. Again, both are free to enter, so you don't have to be flash with the cash to enjoy a cultured day out!

Find even more great ideas for free things to do >

Grab some bargains in Edinburgh's vibrant shops


Students always enjoy organising a good dress up party. Where else to look for your costumes than the Grassmarket area? From vintage shops like Armstrongs to the A-Ha-Ha joke shop, there are unlimited choices to guarantee a creative choice.

Charity shops can also provide hours of simple and wholesome entertainment, not to mention a near-endless supply of essential items such as clothing, paperback books, and hard-to-find kitchen utensils. The studenty Newington area right next to The University of Edinburgh is a haven of bargain finds, with the highest concentration of charity shops in the city. Stockbridge is a great area for charity shopping too, with a good variety of quirky independent boutiques thrown in for good measure! 

Read more about Edinburgh's fabulous shopping scene >

Dance the night away at Sneaky Petes

Sneaky Petes

[Image credit: Sneaky Petes]

Don’t let the small size of this club fool you - this is one of the hottest places for a student night out on the town. Tucked away in the Cowgate, the venue regularly hosts gigs played by artists from the UK and beyond.  The programming at the club is student-friendly, with guest DJs playing throughout the week as well as at weekends.

If you're new to Edinburgh, be sure to check out our Things to Do guide for even more ways to get your bearings in the city. 

Find out more about Edinburgh's must see attractions >