In the past two months studying abroad in Cambridge I have probably been on more guided tours than the rest of my life put together. Touring often goes hand-in-hand with visiting new places, especially when traveling in groups of people. In my first two weeks in Cambridge I think our group did three or four walking tours only of Cambridge, not including tours of various churches and London. However, these tours have been some of best learning experiences of my time abroad so far. It is so fun to learn from locals, especially when they are passionate and add their own personality and funny comments into the tour. Another great plus is there are lots of free walking tours or audio tours that are covered in the price of admission.

I spent the last weekend in February in Edinburgh with a group of students from my study abroad program. I instantly fell in love with Edinburgh and went on the two best tours of my time abroad so far! On Friday our group did the free Potter Trails Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh. Our guide was so knowledgeable not only about Harry Potter, but also about J.K. Rowling’s life and the history of Edinburgh. She also gave us all wands, kept us entertained with spells and Harry Potter trivia along the way, and gave us some advice for other great places to visit in Edinburgh! On Sunday I was hoping to do a tour of the Scottish Highlands but discouraged by the prices of all the tours I was finding. Somehow, I stumbled across a free tour given by Hairy Coo Tours, a wordplay on the traditional Scottish Hairy Cows. I got some friends to sign up for the tour for me just to be safe and read many reviews online to verify this free tour was not a scam. The tour turned out to be such a fun experience and we learned so much about the Highlands and Scottish history along the way. It was such a fun way to experience the beautiful scenery of the Highlands and definitely fit my student budget!

For anyone traveling or studying abroad I would highly recommend looking at tours in the areas you are visiting. While tours are not everyone’s favorite thing, in my experience so far it has been a great way to see the highlights of a city while learning about its history and quirks from a local. Do some research in advance (TripAdvisor and Pinterest are my most visited websites at this point) and be open-minded to some unique experiences! You will learn a lot along the way and hopefully create some fun memories!

Last modified: March 7, 2019