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SPS student voices and experiences
Melissa’s Top Five Free Things to do in Edinburgh

Melissa’s Top Five Free Things to do in Edinburgh

As a university student, Melissa is well-versed in finding the best ways to save money: here are her favourite free things to do in Edinburgh!

Visit the Scottish National Museum

It’s an obligatory first mention. As a student at Edinburgh, its proximity to campus is unbeatable. It borders Bristo Square, so it’s the perfect place for a stroll after class. Plus, it has loads of history associated with the University – if you go on any tour, you’ll hear everything about the naughty medical students who broke into the museum late one night and stole all the fancy food and drink for a party (the bridge has been closed since). The main attraction, Dolly the Sheep, was developed at the University of Edinburgh. The museum is massive, with a nice viewing roof deck, and enough exhibits that it takes multiple visits to fully explore.


Hike Arthur’s Seat

It’s the giant rock that shadows the southwest part of campus. Campus legend says that Arthur’s Seat is good luck to hike up before the start of term, which you might end up banking on during finals. Although it doesn’t look too fierce, it’s a tougher walk than you think! It’s also fun to hike up to watch the Burns Night fireworks, and sometimes a good bet to hike up for sunrise or sunset (always a gamble though, as the weather is quite volatile here).

Attend Events Hosted by the Uni

A not-so-well-kept secret about SPS book launches is that they have wine and cheese. If your professor is publishing a book, I highly recommend attending the event. I lucked out and attended the launch of Dr Jamie Allinson’s book The Age of Counter-revolution: States and Revolutions in the Middle East, in which he called upon his experience of attending protests during the Arab Spring to answer why they didn’t work out. It was an interesting presentation, the free wine was fantastic, and the cheese spread was absolutely delightful.

The Royal Botanic Garden

It’s a decent walk from campus, but absolutely worth it. Nothing beats a happy stroll on a sunny day with friends. It’s also a pleasant place to read in the springtime. If you have a hefty dense book that you think might inspire some tears, I’ve found everything is more palatable surrounded by fresh-smelling flours, cut grass, and exotic plants. Also, currently there’s an exhibit on prickly pears where someone hooked up some speakers to a prickly pear, which is crazy to listen to. And there’s a whole room of dried eucalyptus.

The Free Club Test Sessions During Welcome Week

During Welcome Week a lot of clubs will host free events to encourage membership. Most of the Societies, like the Philosophy Society, Amnesty International etc. usually offer free food, like sustainable chocolate or BBQ’s. The sports clubs, host free test sessions. I’m talking canoeing, trampolining, underwater hockey, and wakeboarding. While these events are designed to encourage you to join the club, I’ve found that if you want to spend an hour jumping around on a trampoline, or seeing what underwater hockey even is, Welcome Week is a great time to do that (for free)!

Honourable mention: Going to a concert at Usher Hall,

As a student, all the tickets are £10. While this isn’t free, it’s so much fun to get dressed up, take a walk, and sit next to super posh old people. I listened to the Icelandic Symphony on a Sunday classic, there were some contemporary Icelandic Composers who really did some bizarre stuff with percussion, and then Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov which was obviously melodramatic and fantastic.

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