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Posted Nov. 15, 2013

Student City Guide: Edinburgh

Moving to Edinburgh to study can be a daunting, yet exciting, proposition. On the one hand, the idea of moving to a new city and making new friends can be exhilarating, but on the other, the idea of moving to a city where you don’t know anyone and you don’t know your way around can be quite unnerving. Thankfully, Edinburgh is one of the best places in the world to study.

The city itself is stunning. It effortlessly combines the old with the new, with exquisitely designed rustic buildings sitting side by side with modern architectural wonders. Edinburgh’s locals are also incredibly friendly. They’re welcoming of all new people to the city, and they’re always happy to help.

And, of course, Edinburgh’s universities are amongst the best in the world, with Edinburgh University, in particular, regularly topping university league tables.

Getting around Edinburgh is a well connected city with an extensive bus network. Single bus tickets start at £1.30 with day passes available for £3.20. Night buses run regularly throughout the night, providing a cheap (and safe) way to get home after a night out. A monthly bus pass, called the ‘Student Ridacard’, is also available. At a monthly cost of £40 (or £36 if paid by direct debit), it can help save a lot of money on transport.

Edinburgh is also one of the most cyclist friendly cities in the UK, with cycle lanes running through most of the inner city. Cycling can be a great way to save money on transport while keeping fit and active.

Fresh Student Living Accommodation As a postgrad student, staying in the student halls is not advised as they're full of undergraduates! Most postgrad students choose to stay in areas like Morningside, Marchmont, and Bruntsfield. These areas have great public transport links and reasonably priced accommodation with house shares, flat shares, and studio/1 bedroom flats all available. There are also some great accommodation options from private accommodation provider Fresh Student Living - click here to find out more.

Shopping and entertainment Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town are sights in of themselves. Both UNESCO World Heritage sites, they’re both home to dozens of beautiful buildings, some of which are hundreds of years old. These areas also contain a number of museums and art galleries, many of which are free.

Some of Edinburgh’s best shopping areas include Princes Street, the Grassmarket, and Princes Mall. Each of these shopping areas have the usual shops like H&M, Next, TopShop, Zara, etc., as well as smaller boutique shops selling locally produced goods.

If you’re shopping on a budget, you’ll want to head out to the Livingston Designer Outlet Park, a huge outlet park with more than 90 shops selling designer clothes at discounts of up to 80%; a multiscreen cinema; and a number of bars and restaurants.

Also, Edinburgh plays host to a number of festivals and events throughout the year. These festivals and events are usually inexpensive and a ton of fun.

Budget bites Edinburgh is home to dozens of restaurants selling tasty food at reasonable prices. All types of cuisine are well represented in Edinburgh, too. Whether you fancy some Indian, some Chinese, some Mexican, or some classic pub grub, you’ll be well catered for in Edinburgh.

Most of the best restaurants in Edinburgh can be found on George Street. These restaurants can be rather pricey, though. The restaurants around Edinburgh Castle and the Grassmarket area should be avoided at all costs. Most of these restaurants are tourist traps selling below average food at above average prices.

Tasty budget bites can be found throughout the city. Five of the best student approved budget restaurants include Kebab Mahal (7 Nicholson Street), a curry house selling kebabs and curries at reasonably prices; Tempting Tattie (18 Jeffrey Street), arguably the best baked potato shop in Edinburgh; Oink (34 Victoria Street), a small restaurant selling delicious pulled pork sandwiches for less than a fiver; The Three Sisters (139 Cowgate), a pub offering two-for-one meal deals all week long; and Elephant and Bagels (37 Marshall Street), arguably the best bagel shop in town.

Nightlife Edinburgh’s nightlife has a bit of something for everyone. Most of the city’s major nightclubs can be found on George Street, with student nights running from Sunday to Thursday. Pubs and bars can be found on Lothian Road and the Cowgate. Most of the pubs, clubs, and bars get busy around 9pm and close at 1am.

Health and Fitness It’s easy to keep fit and active while studying in Edinburgh. CSE, Edinburgh University’s main gym, is a bargain at only £100 for a year, and many of the local gyms offer cut rate student memberships, too.

Unilife Card Make sure to sign up to Edinburgh’s Unilife Student Card scheme when you arrive in Edinburgh. It can help save you a lot of money during your stay. In addition to getting you discounts at shops and restaurants, your Unilife card will get you discounted entry into clubs, cheaper taxi fares, and cheaper cinema tickets.

Unlife cards are available for £3 from the Le Monde Hotel and Shanghai Nightclub on George Street.

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