From museums to markets, castles and cafes, Edinburgh boasts a variety of cosmopolitan attractions for recent transplants and city residents alike. It also serves as a major transportation hub, providing easy access to other landmarks across the country.
Since I had a full week in Edinburgh before starting classes, I booked two day trips with some friends on my program through local tours companies. Although fast-paced and slightly cheesy, these bus tours are a great way to see the countryside given a pressed timeline and tight budget. For a fully immersive experience during your time in Scotland, these destinations cannot be overlooked!
For golf enthusiasts such as myself, St. Andrews is a must. Recognized worldwide as the official “home of golf,” the town attracts some of the wealthiest Brits. If you can’t manage to score a coveted tee time on the St. Andrews Links, there are still a variety of activities and eateries to occupy the day. We roamed the cathedral, palace, and university grounds before refueling at the famed Jannetta’s Gelateria for a creamy treat.
Depending on your level of interest, these destinations can be packed into a single tour or as separate day treks. My friends and I chose the former, opting for a 13-hour excursion across the highlands. We took a lunch cruise along Loch Ness, marveled at the natural beauty of Glen Coe, and met some hairy coos (highland cattle) at our final stop. Disclaimer: Glen Coe has several breath-taking hiking trails best suited for more experienced outdoorsmen.
Celebrated for its eclectic music scene and spirited nightlife, Glasgow plays host to both international icons and promising local acts. All major museums and galleries are free to the public, making this an attractive weekend jaunt for the budget-conscious tourist. Trains run frequently from Waverley Station in the heart of Edinburgh and high-speed lines get you downtown in about 50 minutes. Live as the Glaswegians do—if only for a quick visit to the largest city in Scotland.
Intimidated about planning your own excursion? Throughout the semester, Arcadia offers popular weekend programming such as the Scottish Borders Trip and a traditional Celidih dance in Stirling.