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  • Mara Seitan

Where Should I Travel To Improve My Mental Health?

Travelling is necessary to get away from academic stress, deadlines, midterms and any other issues that may put pressure on ourselves. While they say getting away from your problems won’t solve them, travelling can definitely put most issues on hold.

Illustration by Kate Granholm (IG: @katesartthings)

Edinburgh during February is just awful – that’s a fact. It is undeniable that the rainy, windy, grey and muddy environment will easily trigger your SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or just generally put anyone in a bad mood. Luckily for you, there is a solution for that: travelling! Travelling can improve your spirit by introducing you to new experiences, cultures and people in a relaxed environment. Also, as nice as Edinburgh can be, leaving the little university-bubble can prove to be amazing to anyone’s mental health. Travelling is necessary to get away from academic stress, deadlines, midterms and any other issues that may put pressure on ourselves. While they say getting away from your problems won’t solve them, travelling can definitely put most issues on hold.

No matter your budget, Edinburgh is a great hub for travelling, especially around Europe. Low-cost airlines like EasyJet, Ryanair, WizzAir or Vueling offer very good offers for quick getaways, especially off-season.

LISBON, Portugal

3 hours away from Edinburgh lies Lisbon, the capital of steep streets, colourful houses and delicious food. Take a tram ride, eat a warm pastel de nata (aka the best dessert ever), visit the mind blowing Oceanario de Lisboa and try some local wines. Even better, if you’re a wine connoisseur or just interested in trying some local selections for good prices, take a train to Porto, a city which is internationally renowned as a Wine Capital! Lisbon is also perfect for fans of architecture: in addition to the unique buildings, the MAAT Museum is known for its quirky shape and its even quirkier pieces. EasyJet offers very affordable direct flights from Edinburgh every Tuesday, Thursday and and Sunday.


Another 3 hours away–but in a different direction–is Bucharest. This is an ideal destination for budget travelling, as Bucharest is known for great parties and amazing prices. However, the Romanian capital is so much more than just that. Nicknamed ‘little Paris’, Bucharest has a certain bohemian atmosphere to it. The MARe museum and the Insta-famous Carturesti Carusel are must-sees and the Ceausescu House is an incredible sight for both history and luxury (or kitsch!)  lovers. However, bar hopping is a must: take a scroll through the Old Town or Calea Victoriei bars, and make sure to end the night at one of Bucharest’s hip clubs, like Apollo 111 or Platforma Wolf. If you still have a day or two to spare, catch a train or a domestic flight to Brasov, a gorgeous historical city in the heart of Transylvania and make sure to also see Bran Castle, the original Dracula castle. Ryanair operates affordable direct flights to Bucharest every Wednesday and Sunday.


Bologna has THE BEST food in Europe…there, I said it. Despite being the birthplace of Bolognese pasta (obviously!) and many other famous dishes, Bologna has so much more to offer than delicious scran. The breathtaking colour palette seen in the rose, orange and red buildings is something you likely won’t find anywhere else, especially combined with the gorgeous porticoes which nest fantastic bars, hip galleries and cool shops. You could go people watching in Piazza Maggiore, look at the beautiful art in Pinacoteca Nazionale or get some fresh fruit in the Quadrilatero market. You will obviously also need to try the amazing food: Sfoglia Rina is a place you can NOT miss, but, if you are not a fan of queues, it is unlikely that you will find any bad Ragu pasta or Tortellini, which is something that makes Bologna famous. While no direct flights operate from Edinburgh to Bologna right now, Ryanair will resume their four direct flights every week on April 1st.

UTRECHT, Netherlands

Utrecht is a gorgeous city in the Netherlands, known for its mediaeval architecture, canals and lively streets. Amsterdam is cool, but is also surely overhyped, overpriced and always overcrowded. If you want to be better than all your friends who can not stop talking about that one crazy trip they had there, then you need to visit this city. Take a boat trip on the canals, visit the Botanic Gardens and get some gorgeous tulips at the Bloemenmarkt, or take a moment to sit at a cafe or terrace and people watch.BBC travel named Utrecht the happiest place in the world, so if getting out of the Edinburgh sadness bubble is your reason for travelling, Utrecht is the best place to go. While there are no direct flights, Amsterdam is 1h30 away by plane and Utrecht can be reached via Amsterdam Centraal on a 30 min train.

NICE, France

Nice is NICE. The French Riviera is a gorgeous gem at any time of the year, offering a picturesque landscape with its colourful buildings amongst the lush scenery. While March / February may not really be the greatest time for visiting the beach, Nice has amazing views at all times: a cocktail overlooking the Mediterranean WILL cure winter blues. The Old Town is a must visit for both local and tourist bars, and the restaurants will satisfy any foodie with a refined palette (as a bonus, you may want to try Ratatouille and Nicoise salad here, as this is their birth place!). Modern art lovers need to visit Musee National Marc Chagall and Musee Matisse. If you have a day to spare, Monaco is a gorgeous destination for a quick trip, and if you have another day to spare on top of that, Grasse is the perfume capital of France which is, yet again, a must do if going to Nice. Starting April, Nice can be reached directly with EasyJet daily.



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