Cultural Experience | Scotland

A Weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland

Grab your favorite kilt and travel to Edinburgh, Scotland!

By Rarione Maniece, Old Dominion University

During my time abroad in Leicester, England I took a weekend trip to what many consider as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, Edinburgh, Scotland. Throughout the year individuals from all walks of life travel to Edinburgh to experience the city’s rich history. The Scottish town is very rich in culture, art and literature and also philosophy and science.

This is a very unique city located on rocky hills with a wonderful view of the sea. Great thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment consider Edinburgh “Athens of the North”. It is one of the most popular destinations for tourist in Europe, providing a mixture of both past and present sights. The city has been established as the capital of Scotland since the beginning of the fifteenth century. Edinburgh is also the birthplace of the popular Harry Potter Series. J.K. Rowling begin writing the series in a well known coffee shop right in Edinburgh.

Weekend trips can be a bit difficult at times to plan, from finding great hostels to searching for the best method to get to your destination. Thanks to IS Traveler, a travel organization at my university, the entire trip was planned and organized the only thing I was required to do was pay. This made my travels rather easy; both travel and accommodation were provided at a great price.

Our trip from Leicester, England to Edinburgh, Scotland began on a very early Saturday morning. We all piled in two tiny vans for about six hours. This is not the most ideal form of travel but it did the job! Traveling within the United Kingdom is very easy. Many cities are quite accessible by many different forms of transportation such as buses and trains.

Bagpiper in Scotland

Being that the city is a popular tourist attraction it’s not hard to find a place to stay. A number of affordable hostels and hotels are located in prime areas. During my weekend trip we stayed at Cowgate Hostels. This is a great place for young travelers. The location is also great; it is located in the center of the city’s party and cultural district. The hostel also provides free wifi; we all know how important wifi is, and also free tea and coffee.

We chose the perfect weekend to travel to Scotland; it was St. Andrews Day. Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, this day also serves as Scotland’s national day. This was a grand weekend, a number of parties and festivals took place all throughout the city. In honor of St. Andrew’s Day Historic Scotland, an organization in charge of preserving numerous historic sites in Scotland, hosted an open door day to many heritage sites throughout Edinburgh. Great sites such as Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace offered free admission to many visitors.

Edinburgh Castle was by far my favorite of the entire trip! The castle is a must see when traveling to Scotland. Some of the best views of Scotland can be seen from the castle. There are a number of attractions and museums located inside. The Scottish Crown Jewels can also be found within the walls of the castle. There is so much history throughout Edinburgh’s most popular attraction.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle


Another popular thing to do while visiting Edinburgh are ghost tours! There are a number of companies that offer visitors tours around some of the most haunted locations within the city. Once the sun sets in Edinburgh it becomes the perfect setting for spine chilling ghost tours.

Mercat Tours is a favorite among tourist. Not only does the tour show you around some of the most haunted and creepiest locations throughout the town but the tour guide also shares great stories of the towns gruesome past. If you are brave Mercat Tours gives you the chance to tour Blair Street Vaults. These vaults run beneath the city and are considered one of the most haunted locations in the city.

If Blair Street Vaults aren’t spooky enough for you try taking a walk through Greyfriars Kirkland, a famous graveyard of Edinburgh. Many notable citizens of Edinburgh are buried here. This graveyard has been around since the late 16th century. Many sites within the graveyard served as inspiration to J.K. Rowling while she was in the process of writing the Harry Potter Series. A number visitors have reported being cut, bruised, scratched, and even collapsing during their visit of Edinburgh’s spooky graveyard.

blair street vaults scotlans image

Underground inside the spooky Blair Street Vaults

Sandemans New Eupore tour is great for students on the budget. This tour group provides quality tours around the city beginning at the Royal Mile taking tourists to some of the most famous sites for free! I learned so much about the city of Edinburgh in such a short amount of time. I recommended Sandemans New Europe tours to anyone visiting this historically rich city!

While in Scotland make sure you check out the National Museum of Scotland. Some of the coolest things things can be found within the museum. A personal favorite of mine was Dolly, the first cloned mammal. Another great thing about this museum is that it’s free. Great collections of natural science, world culture, and Scottish history are all inside.

Dolly the sheep located inside the National Museum of Scotland

Dolly the sheep located inside the National Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland is filled with much history and culture. My weekend in Scotland was one of the best! In such a short amount of time I learned a great deal about the history and culture of Scotland’s capital. Edinburgh is a true Jekyll and Hyde, by day its a beautiful town by the sea and by night it turns into a spooky town crawling of great ghost tales. This city is a must see during your visit to the United Kingdom.

Rarione Maniece

Old Dominon University | 6 stories

I am a Senior at Old Dominion University studying Communications and Information Technology in Norfolk, VA. New Orleans, Louisiana is where I was born and raised. I am an apsiring news reporter that loves all things Beyonce and Orpah. This Fall term I had the wonderful opportunity of traveling to Leicester, England to complete my semester abroad at the University of Leicester. I look forward to following the foot steps of the wonderful Ron Burgundy, "Stay classy, San Diego!"

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