City Guide

Things to Do in Edinburgh

Ben Maples  · Jul 12th 2024

As the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh is one of the premiere attractions of Scotland and of the UK itself.

Here, we will give you an insight into the local culture, the nightlife, sporting culture, the various things to do in Edinburgh and the history of the city.

Things to do in Edinburgh


Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland is the seventh most populated city in the whole of the UK with a staggering 464,990 people living in Edinburgh according to the most recent figures. One of the most popular cities in Scotland to visit and considered to be one of the most well-known cities regarding university accomplishment.

Things to do in Edinburgh

First up we have, Cabaret Voltaire, a nightclub full of live music and DJ sets to whet your appetite. As well as a buzzing atmosphere and a reasonable price on drinks there’s also professional photography for you to be able to share on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which certainly helps your social presence!

Secondly, we have the nightclub known as The Liquid Rooms, which shows some of the very best in live music right now. One of the most popular places in Edinburgh to see the emerging Scottish music scene in it’s very purest form alive and kicking, chilled atmosphere and friendly patrons will have you coming back too.

The Jazz Bar is the last (but by no means least) on our list of popular places in Edinburgh that you should visit and experience. A live music venue and a bar, it’s at the forefront of the trends in Edinburgh right now, and it’s enticing atmosphere and will have you coming back again and again.

Edinburgh has long been known for its rich and diverse history. The history of the city is something that not just people from Edinburgh are proud of! The whole of Scotland celebrates the history of the city. And it’s all available tangibly as well through things like the Museum of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland and the HMY Britannia, all of which are accessible to the public and are affordable while operating on a student loan.

If you’re looking to enjoy some of the latest and greatest in film right now, then Edinburgh offers a wide array of different places to enjoy them, whether it be Cineworld (Who’s tiered seating has long been a favourite of filmgoers) or one of the many Vue Cinemas that litter the city. However, if you’re looking for more independent features, then we recommend going to one of the city’s many film societies.

As the capital of Scotland, there’s always somewhere to visit. Whether it be a chilled night out with your friends in a pub or dancing the night away in one of Edinburgh’s top nightclubs, we’ve got you covered and so too does Edinburgh. We’ve compiled a list of three places that we think could be useful for you.

Edinburgh has a host of things that you can do, whether it be climbing all the way up to Arthur’s Seat, where you can see the whole of the city with a beautiful visage of Edinburgh below you. Edinburgh runs its own festival called The Edinburgh Festival, featuring everything from live comedy and music all the way through the latest in independent feature films. Also, we have Edinburgh Fringe Festival, for those still looking to get into the festival but haven’t quite made it yet.

Things to do with kids in Edinburgh


As the capital city of Scotland, it's not too surprising that the city’s transportation routes are exceptional.

Lothian Buses is the most prominent bus service that operates in the city, although there are also other services provided by the likes of Stagecoach East Scotland, Scottish Citylink, National Express Coaches (who travel to a number of major cities in the UK) and Borders Buses.

The city also operates an impressive Park & Ride scheme, with six different sites in and around the city. The city did consider a congestion charge for the city, similar to London, but this was overwhelmingly rejected by the city’s inhabitants.

The city has an extensive railway system, with Edinburgh Waverley being the most well-known and also being the second busiest train station in Scotland, behind Glasgow Central in Glasgow. There is also Haymarket Station, that is a common commuter stop point, in addition to these two, there is also Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh Crossrail, Brunstane, Newcraighall and more.

Tram systems also operate in the city, as of May 2014. The line for the trams is just under 9 miles long and runs to the Edinburgh Airport from York Palace (its terminus).

There is an airport in the city as well, Edinburgh Airport, which travels internationally and nationally and flies commercially as well as privately.

Universities in the City

There are three universities in the city:

The University of Edinburgh is the sixth oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of the oldest universities in the whole of Scotland. It was formed in 1582 and is one of the leading members of the Russell Group of Universities.

The student body of the university is represented by the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA), which is a coalition of the student union and the Student Representative Council. There are over 250 societies in the university, which the EUSA represents and is affiliated with the National Union of Students (so yes, you do get to use your TOTUM Card).

The university has a weekly student newspaper called The Student (which is also the oldest student newspaper in the UK), there used to be an independent publication called The Journal, which is distributed to Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, Queen Margaret University (who used to be based in Edinburgh, before moving to Musselburgh in East Lothian in 2008) and the Edinburgh College of Art, before the publication stopped in 2015. The student radio station is Fresh Air and the Student TV station is EUTV.

There are over 60 different sports clubs at the university, which include association football, rugby, rowing and Judo and even Korfball. The university also takes part in The Scottish Varsity, which is also known colloquially as the world’s oldest varsity match, which is a rugby match against the University of St. Andrews.

Three Prime Ministers of the UK have come from the University of Edinburgh: John Russell, Henry Temple and Gordon Brown, as well as Heads of State and Government from other countries as well, such as William Walker (President of Nicaragua), Charles Tupper (Prime Minister of Canada), Jang Taek-sang (Prime Minister of South Korea), Yun Bo-seon (President of South Korea), Julius Nyerere (President of Tanzania) and Hastings Banda (President of Malawi).

Heriot-Watt University was established in 1821 as the School of Arts of Edinburgh, but was given university status in 1966, which prompted a name change.

Heriot-Watt University has its own student union, simply called The Student Union. The union is a part of the NUS and the Edinburgh Students’ Forum. The union represents over 50 societies and organises a number of events, such as the annual charity beer festival, which is also supported by the Brewing Society, that the union also runs.

Edinburgh Napier University started in 1964 as the Napier Technical College, but after receiving university status in 1992, the university rebranded.

The student body at Edinburgh Napier University is represented by the Edinburgh Napier Students’ Association (ENSA), having previously changed its name from the Napier Students’ Association (NSA).

The union used to offer a student newspaper, similar to the University of Edinburgh, called Vertias, however, this was brought to a close, with students now receiving monthly newsletters instead.

Edinburgh Napier students are also presented with the unique opportunity to work as a student ambassador for the university, on a zero-hours contract, however, the student must be in the final year of their degree, in order to apply.

Things to do with family in Edinburgh


It’s widely been disputed about when the city itself was actually formed, but it is widely believed that the city itself dates back as far as 8500 BC, with elements of the Bronze Age and even the Iron Age being found in the city as well.

The city was later discovered by the Romans, upon their invasion of what would later be known as the United kingdom, but the city was already inhabited by the Votadini, a Celtic tribe (which you will learn about extensively, if you are doing a Celtic Studies degree course or a History degree).

Edinburgh’s inhabitants changed over the course of the decades and centuries and as the internal and external politics of the English and the Scots raged on, the city of Edinburgh continued to be at the forefront of innovation. As the city’s boundaries were only defined by the town’s defensive walls, the inhabitants began to build taller buildings, some as high as 11 storeys! These became the forerunners of the skyscrapers we see today. The city was given its city status in 1633.

As the Industrial Revolution rumbled into view, Edinburgh began to expand its primary exports from brewing, distilling and printing by also adding in engineering and rubber works. Despite this, the city didn’t see as much industrialisation as the rest of Britain and eventually, in 1821, Glasgow overtook Edinburgh as the largest city in the country.


As the capital of the country, it’s maybe not all that surprising to think that Edinburgh has a number of different sports clubs in the city.

Edinburgh has three football teams in the city, Heart of Midlothian , Hibernian and Edinburgh City who all play in various tiers of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian (both known as Hearts and Hibs respectively) are the two oldest city rivals in the country and play in the hotly contested Edinburgh Derby, which is one fo the oldest derby matches in the world. Both have won the Scottish League Championship four times in their respective histories and have had varying degrees of success in other Scottish competitions as well. There are also four Professional Women’s Teams as well, which are Hearts, Hibs, Spartans (all of whom play in the SWPL 1) and Hutchison Vale (who play in SWPL 2).

Edinburgh is also known for its rugby as well, with the Scotland national Rugby Union team and the Edinburgh Rugby team, who both play their home games at Murrayfield Stadium. There are also Scottish Premiership teams in the city as well, such as Boroughmuir RFC, Currie RFC, the Edinburgh Academicals, Heriot's Rugby Club and Watsonians RFC, who all compete in the Scottish Premiership. Rugby League is also a big and well supported sport in the city as well, with the Edinburgh Eagles representing the city in the Rugby League Conference Scotland Division.

Cricket is not as big in Scotland as other countries, however, the Scotland National Cricket Team play their home matches in Edinburgh at the Grange Cricket Club.

The city also has a professional basketball team as well, Caledonia Pride, who play their home matches in Edinburgh at the Oriam National Performance Centre and are the country’s only professional basketball team. They are a fairly recent addition to the city, having been formed in 2016, they compete in the Women’s British Basketball League. There are also men’s basketball teams in the city as well, such as Boroughmuir Blaze, City of Edinburgh Kings, Pleasance BC and the Edinburgh Lions as well as Edinburgh University.

Who’s from Edinburgh?

Many famous people come from Edinburgh including; Sean Connery, Ronnie Corbett, Rory Bremner, Alexander Johnston, Adam Anderson and Madeleine of Valois.

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