Language course in Edinburgh: ESL tips

Free things to do in Edinburgh

To get the lay of the land in Edinburgh, why not try a free walking tour? Departing daily at 11am and 2pm from outside the Starbucks on the Royal Mile, you can go on a free tour of the old town and get to know the city a bit better.
 
There are plenty of free museums to visit in Edinburgh as well. Start with the National Museum of Scotland (open daily 10am-5pm), a treasure trove of artefacts including the stuffed body of Dolly the sheep (the first cloned mammal), the mysterious miniature coffins of Arthur’s Seat and the Maiden, a precursor to the guillotine.
 
Other freebies include the Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two, as well as the free gallery bus which travels between the two. Free outdoors activities include the Royal Botanic Garden and of course, the beautiful Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat with sweeping city views.
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Edinburgh for Harry Potter fans

Potterheads know that author J.K. Rowling famously lived in Edinburgh while penning some of the series. Visit The Elephant House, a cosy café where Rowling would write, and take in the views that inspired Harry Potter. You can also go on a free tour of “The Potter Trail” which includes the café as well as the spooky cemetery that the fictional one where Voldemort is buried is based on.

Edinburgh off the beaten track

Fancy hitting the beach in Edinburgh? Well, you can! Take bus 124 or X15 from the centre of Edinburgh to get to Portobello Beach in less than half an hour’s time, where you can soak up the sun, stroll along the promenade, or indulge in some seaside fish and chips or an ice cream.
 
Offbeat art gallery, anyone? Head to the Dovecot Studios with a hundred years of history as a tapestry-weaving studio. This diaphanous space now hosts a café and art gallery, and you can even sneak a peek of the weavers practising their craft from the tapestry studio viewing balcony on Thursdays and Fridays from 12-3pm and Saturdays from 10:30am-5:30pm.
 
When you think of Scotland, you think of whisky, but did you know that Edinburgh is also known for gin? The Edinburgh Gin Distillery offers all types of tours including tastings and even a workshop on how to make gin. What’s the secret of Edinburgh gin? Local ingredients like heather and milk thistle add Scottish flavours. 
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Getting around Edinburgh and Scotland

With a handy tram and a 24-hour bus service, getting to and from the Edinburgh Airport is a breeze. Although Edinburgh is a very walkable city, if you need to use the bus or tram often, you should invest in a Ridacard. You can purchase a card for one week, one month or one year, and it’s valid for the bus, tram, night bus and airlink bus.
 
Interested in travelling around Scotland? Catch a train from Waverley Station and arrive to Glasgow in less than an hour, or ride to Inverness in just over 3 hours, which you can use as a departure point to search for Nessie in the fabled Loch Ness or to explore the breathtaking Highlands.  

Watch, Read, Listen

Watch
Trainspotting (1996) Director: Danny Boyle
Festival (2005) Director: Annie Griffin
One Day (2011) Director: Lone Scherfig
 
Edinburgh cinemas
The gorgeous art house Cameo Cinema, just a 10-minute walk from Grassmarket, is a must. With its traditional red velvet seats, beautiful theatre setting and a cosy bar, you’ll be in for a real treat here. Vue Cinema, located in the popular Ocean Terminal shopping centre, offers discounted tickets on Tuesdays as well as student discounts with a valid ID.
 
Read
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark
The Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith
One Good Turn by Kate Atkinson
 
Edinburgh bookshops
Bookworms, delight! Edinburgh is packed with some of the world’s most charming bookshops where you can browse antique tomes alongside modern bestsellers. Standouts include Elvis Shakespeare, Golden Hare Books, Armchair Books and Word Power Books.
 
Listen
Auld Lang Syne version by Mairi Campbell
Another Sunny Day by Belle and Sebastian
Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
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Live music
If you’re looking for authentic Scottish folk music, head to Sandy Bell’s right in the centre of Edinburgh, which boasts live music every day. Other options for traditional music include The Royal Oak, The Black Cat and Captain’s Bar, or try Whistle Binkie’s for more modern live music and open mic nights. 

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