Traveler’s Destination: Edinburgh, Scotland- Sierra S.

Sierra S. studied abroad for four weeks during the summer of 2016 in Stirling, Scotland. She is currently a senior Psychology major with minors in Gender Studies and Counseling. During her four weeks spent in Scotland, she took advantage of the train transportation system in the UK by taking a trip to the capital of Scotland— Edinburgh! Read all about her favorite traveler’s destination below:

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever had the opportunity to visit. It’s a conglomerate of old and new, with the old on the more ancient side. Being the capital of Scotland, it houses huge attractions like the Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyrood, and the National Museum of Scotland. I had the privilege of visiting each of these sites—and many more—during the several trips I made to Edinburgh from Stirling.

Just an hour train ride away, Edinburgh was by far my favorite destination in Scotland. The Royal Mile, a stretch of road leading from the Palace to the Castle, is a popular tourist location and itself full of history.

Royal Mile

One of the leaders of Stirling’s study abroad office gave us a short tour of the city. She pointed out gold bricks in the ground near a cathedral that marked where stands used to be when it was used as a marketplace. There was a brick heart inlayed in another place where people spit for good luck. A statue of a dog marked another corner, and people rub his nose as they walk by for more luck. The city is full of incredibly old landmarks like these, and it was amazing to walk around and be able to see and participate in all of it. Branching off from the Royal Mile are tiny closes that make me think of Harry Potter and classic literature novels like Jekyll and Hyde. One of the main roads leading off the Mile is Victoria Street, which was JK Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley. On the street is the Elephant House, a café where she wrote parts of her books.

Edinburgh Castle is a historical site, with each internal building made into museum pieces. The site was home to local royalty since the 12th Century, but the modern castle was mostly built in the 16th Century.

Built on an ancient volcanic hill, the castle sits above the rest of the city. The Palace of Holyrood is clearly visible above the busy Mile from most places in the Castle. In the castle, a free audio tour can lead you through some of the most important parts of Scottish history. I was able to be in rooms where kings and queens were born or murdered. It was a very surreal and fascinating experience.

Ceiling of the chamber where James IV was born

Holyrood Palace, on the other side of the Royal Mile, is where the Queen of the United Kingdom stays during her visits to Scotland. It is kept in pristine condition, unchanged from how it is during her stays except for the fact that rugs are rolled out of the way so they aren’t torn by the thousands of visitors walking through. It was beautiful and also full of rich history.

Cameras weren’t allowed inside, unfortunately, but I have a picture of a grand staircase leading up into the main part of the palace:


There is so much more to Edinburgh that just the main attractions. From dungeon tours to pubs fashioned to look like 19th Century science labs to illusion museums to street performers, Edinburgh is a place you could explore for weeks. Bagpipers playing traditional songs are stationed around the city to greet shoppers, and every tiny nook and cranny of the town is crammed full of shops, teahouses, and local pubs. If you’re looking for a city that has a ton to offer, but don’t want to worry about a language barrier or getting lost, Edinburgh is the perfect city. Countless tours depart from the town, but there is enough there to entertain anyone. I hope others can explore and fall in love with Edinburgh like I did!

View of St. Giles Cathedral from the Camera Obscura Museum terrace

Sierra enjoyed visiting Edinburgh as much as she enjoyed living in Stirling! She took classes over the summer for four weeks at one of our partner universities, University of Stirling. Are you interested in learning more about Stirling’s summer or semester programs? Read more about University of Stirling’s programs and make an appointment with a Study Abroad Advisor today by visiting our website!

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and can easily be visited from Stirling as well as other cities in the UK. Studying abroad in Scotland, England, or Ireland? Make sure to take the trip to Edinburgh!


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