I Heart My City: Andy’s Edinburgh

618580957_a5f8c47022_b.jpgHello city lovers! Andy Hayes, author of the Edinburgh Walking Guides, takes us on a stroll through his favorite city.

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Edinburgh, Scotland is My City
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The first place I take a visitor from out of town is a walk down the Royal Mile.  It’s the heart of the city and where most of the popular attractions are.

When I crave fish and chips I always go to Bene’s on the Royal Mile – if it’s fit for royalty then it works for me.

To escape the city I head for the Water of Leith Walkway. It’s 12 miles long but you can do any number of sections, or the whole thing if you feel like.

If I want to have good coffee I go to Artisan Roast.

For complete quiet, I can hide away with a stroll down the Innocent Railway Tunnel bike path. It’s so easy to reach from the city centre, yet miles away from the world.

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with a bagpiper. I suppose it’s just what is done.

If you have to order one thing off the menu from any pub it has to be haggis! Don’t ask what it is, just try it.

Locals know to skip Princes Street and check out the boutiques on Cockburn Street as well as hidden alleyways across the city.

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I go for a nice pub meal. Greyfriars Bobbys Bar does a mean steak and ale pie.

Photo ops in my city include anywhere in Holyrood Park and the best vantage points are anywhere near the castle.

432873066_1aa94a126c_o.jpgThe most random thing about my city is all of the old medieval things that are still around and sometimes in use.  We used the medieval wells up until 1992, and of course Holyrood Palace is still the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

In my city, an active day outdoors involves hiking outside the city.

My city’s best museum is the National Museum of Scotland (below). Don’t miss the current “all about Scotland” exhibit upstairs.

My favorite jogging/walking route is around Queens Drive in Holyrood Park.  It’s not quite as high as Arthur’s Seat, but the views are just as good (but you’ll work for ’em!).

For a night of dancing or live music, go to the Cowgate.  Everyone will be there!

Negociants is the spot for late-night eats.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read The List or The Skinny.

You can tell if someone is from my city if they have a Scottish accent but you can still understand them.  Barely.

In the spring you should check out Cramond Beach and Cramond Island to clear out the cobwebs and gear up for better weather.

In the summer you should enjoy our great parks and sunny spots while it is warm–don’t forget the picnic.

In the fall you should make the most of the Edinburgh Festival while it’s here.  In late autumn you can even go bramble picking, which is a lot of fun.

In the winter you should enjoy a warm drink in a cosy pub.  The days are short and the nights are long, but Edinburgh is gorgeous after dark.

For a great breakfast joint try Clarinda’s Tearoom at the bottom of the Royal Mile.  Best scones in Scotland.

1181836844_4df5027c00_o.jpgJust outside my city, you can visit the Pentlands, for great hillwalking and views.

The best way to see my city is on foot. Without a doubt.

If my city were a pet it would be puppy.  Cute and lovable, but a bit messy on occasion.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live back in Amsterdam, where I was before living here.  Edinburgh doesn’t have canals, and Amsterdam doesn’t have steep hills, but otherwise the two cities have similar character and charm.

The best book about my city is mine, of course–The Historic Walking Guide to Edinburgh.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is Auld Lang Syne–that funny song people sing at New Year’s Eve and don’t know the words.  (That’s because it is written in Scots.)

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss Edinburgh Castle–doesn’t everyone like climbing around on cannons?

Going for a walk yet feeling like you’re out in the countryside could only happen in my city.

On New Year’s Eve, the best place to be is Hogmanay, Edinburgh’s large-than-life street festival.

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it’s one of Europe’s most charming and beautiful cities. Friendly and fun, it is a must-visit.

Photos: Gstei, SplodgusMaximus, and drgillybean via Flickr


  1. Eve
    March 7, 2012, 10:58 am

    Can’t agree more re. the renovated National Museum. Visited a few months ago and not only was it absolutely stunning, it was incredibly fun for kids (and big kids like me)!

  2. thomas sabo charm
    August 30, 2010, 1:33 am

    The Meadows and a hundred other places that are not so predictable. I’m now off to put my kilt on and eat some haggis – because that’s clearly the view you have of people living in Edinburgh.thomas sabo

  3. Mark Thomson
    November 23, 2009, 10:34 am

    Agree with comment #1. I do belive that Mr Hayes is English and not a local. And although you can have good knowledge of a place you live in, Andy doesn’t. There are no hidden gems mentioned here or REAL reasons to love Edinburgh. Surely this article should be written by a REAL local who knows waht they’re talking about

  4. The Antiques Diva
    November 9, 2009, 6:43 am

    Great article! It’ been nearly 20 years since I was last in Edinburgh and reading this reminded me that it’s been way too long! I’m itching to go back!

  5. Del Sneddon
    November 8, 2009, 11:52 am

    With respect, this article is nonsense. I have lived in Edinburgh for 20 years and this tourist-centric view of the city is just not reflective of the city’s diverse culture. Bagpipes? Haggis? So many cliches. “You can tell if someone is from my city if they have a Scottish accent but you can still understand them. Barely.” – what a revelation – people from Scotland sound Scottish. “Edinburgh doesn’t have canals…” Ever heard of the Union Canal? May I suggest you go look for it. If I were visiting Edinburgh, I’d want to hear about some of the hidden gems… Kay’s Bar in Stockbridge, Inverleith Park, The Meadows and a hundred other places that are not so predictable. I’m now off to put my kilt on and eat some haggis – because that’s clearly the view you have of people living in Edinburgh.