Edinburgh is the perfect city. Almost.

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From independent coffee shops to student-friendly pubs, cultural delights to the great outdoors, as far as undergraduate student Maria from Norway is concerned, Edinburgh is the perfect city. Almost!

Coffee in a cup.
Great coffee at Lovecrumbs.

Coming from the Norwegian countryside and into Scotland’s capital, it was a change of surroundings. There is definitely more than just one coffee shop, and there is no such thing as boredom in Edinburgh, as there is always something happening or something to explore. In short, Edinburgh is the perfect city. Not too big, not too small, lots of green space, and also all you could ever need in a city. Or, so I thought until I started exploring. But I’ll get back to that, first I will share with you all the great things I have discovered while living in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is the perfect city

Princes Street, Edinburgh shops

Tea and cake at Lovecrumbs.

Independent coffee shops

There is no need to keep going to Costa or Starbucks for your caffeine fix, as there is an abundance of coffee shops with great tasting coffee. They also have great places to get some work done if you don’t feel like locking yourself in your room or spending all day in the library. A few of my favourites are Lovecrumbs (they also have great cake), Odds and Ends, Artisan Roast and The Early Bird. 


There’s a museum for everything, so if you’re looking for a great day out just take your pick. Most of the museums and art galleries are free, so very friendly towards your student budget. The most popular is without a doubt the National Museum of Scotland, make sure to head up to the rooftop terrace for great views of the city. My personal favourite is the Museum of Childhood on the Royal Mile. Who doesn’t love five floors of various childhood artifacts?

View of Edinburgh from rooftop terrace at National Museum.

There are great views from the rooftop at the National Museum.

Princes Street, Edinburgh shops

There's something for everyone in the shops around Princes Street.

Great shopping

There is no need to go anywhere else for shopping, no matter your needs or budget. Most of what you need, you will find on Princes Street or not far away from it. Whether you’re in desperate need of new clothes or just want some retail therapy there will be a shop for you.


What I love the most about Edinburgh is that even though it is a capital city, it has great outdoor areas that sometimes make you forget that you’re living in a busy city. Even if you just spend an afternoon in Princes Street Gardens or hike up Arthur’s Seat, the green surroundings will always pick you up. My favourite for walks and views is Blackford Hill, as it has a great view of the city and paths going around the hill should you just want a peaceful walk. If you feel tired of city life, just jump on a bus to the Pentland Hills Regional Park and spend a day away from it all.


Edinburgh has great venues for both big and small bands, and lots of good local bands. With gigs on almost every night in different pubs and venues there is something out there for everyone if you’re looking for some new influences on your music taste.

Local band playing gig

Local band The Motion Poets at Sneaky Pete's.

Two students in Edinburgh bar.

Student bars like The Three Sisters won't break your budget.

Student-friendly pubs

On that note, there are also many pubs that don’t completely break your student budget. You can definitely go out for a pint or three with your friends without feeling bad about it.

Great architecture

The Edinburgh cityscape is by far one of the prettiest I have ever seen. In the mix of old and new there is always something beautiful to look at, and lots of features I’ve never noticed before, even if I’ve gone past the building hundreds of times before. Some of my favourite streets to walk down are Victoria Street, Rose Street, William Street, Cockburn Street and along the Union Canal.

Edinburgh's architecture on Victoria Street.

One of my favourite streets, Victoria Street.

If Edinburgh is the perfect city, what's missing?

Now, despite all this, I have found that there is one thing missing from Edinburgh. You can still find it in Scotland, but it does require a trip to Glasgow. The thing I’m talking about is of course a Lego store. This magic land of all the Lego you could ever dream of is unfortunately not located in Edinburgh, but I feel like everything else in the city makes up for it anyway. So really, Edinburgh is still a great city to live in, even if it doesn’t have everything you could ever want.

Get in touch with Maria or our helpful International Team to find out about student life, our courses or how to apply.

Maria is from Norway and is in her third year or a BA (Honours) in Journalism at Edinburgh Napier University.

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