Anson’s Edinburgh

Anson Clark was born in northern Scotland, but has been living in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh since 2000. His job takes him around the world, but he’s always happy to be back in his home city, even if it’s raining (again). For Anson, Edinburgh, “a city surrounding a castle built centuries ago on an extinct volcano,” is a place of contrast. “Choose the New Town or the Old Town, parks or parties,” he says. “It’s all things to all people.”

Always on the hunt for new things to love about Edinburgh, Anson shares his insider intel on Spotted by Locals. Here are a few of his favorite things about Scotland’s venerable—and often irreverent—capital city.

Edinburgh Is My City

When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is to the top of Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park to survey Edinburgh in all its grandeur.

The last week in August is the best time to visit my city because you can catch the tail end of Edinburgh’s celebrated festival season and then stay to enjoy the city after the crowds have left.

You can see my city best from the window of the plane as you’re coming in for a landing at Edinburgh Airport.

Locals know to skip Edinburgh Castle and check out the New Town instead.

Any shop located off the Royal Mile is the place to buy authentic, local souvenirs.

In the past, notable people like Mary Queen of Scots and the mass murderers (or “body snatchers”) William Burke and William Hare have called my city home.

My city’s best museum can be found at Surgeons’ Hall, headquarters of the Royal College of Surgeons of EdinburghTip: Check out the gruesome display of preserved body parts.

If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s to bring your walking shoes. Compact Edinburgh is made for strolling.

The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is Holyrood Park.

My city really knows how to celebrate New Year’s Eve. It even has its own name for it—Hogmanay!

You can tell if someone is from my city if they ask what school you went to.

For a fancy night out, I go to George Street in the heart of New Town.

Just outside my city, you can visit Newhailes, a 17th-century country house located in Musselburgh (a 20-minute drive from downtown Edinburgh) that has been carefully conserved to age gracefully.

My city is known for being Scotland’s capital city, but it’s really just a big friendly town.

The best outdoor market in my city is the Edinburgh Farmers Market, which takes place each Saturday on Castle Terrace near Edinburgh Castle.

Urban Angel, located on Hanover Street, is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and any fish-and-chips shop is the spot for late-night eats.

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

When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go for a walk in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

To escape the crowds, I walk to Cramond Island, one of several tidal islands in the Firth of Forth.

The dish that represents my city best is haggis bon bons (traditional Scottish fare with a modern twist!) and whisky is my city’s signature drink. Sample them at the Devil’s Advocate off the Royal Mile and at Teuchters Landing in Leith, respectively.

Sneaky Pete’s is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out Liquid Room on Victoria Street.

In the spring you should wear a warm coat.

In the summer you should hit up one of the city’s great festivals, such as the Edinburgh Art Festival, the Jazz and Blues Festival, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

In the fall you should take a walk in the Pentland Hills Regional Park to the south of the Edinburgh.

In the winter you should celebrate Hogmanay on Princes Street.

If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss Dynamic Earth, home to Scotland’s only 360-degree full dome film theater.

The best book about my city is Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, because it explores the gritty side of the city that tourists aren’t likely to see.