1. Chippy sauce.
London’s chippies might attract the rich and famous, but they lack Edinburgh’s iconic “soss”. It’s a mixture of vinegar and Gold Star brown sauce and it tastes like heaven.
2. New Year’s Eve celebrations that look like this.
Thousands of pounds worth of fireworks bursting in the sky above a dramatic, ancient castle perched on a rocky crag? Don’t mind if I do.
3. The Edinburgh Festivals.
Hosting about 20 separate festivals in a month isn’t easy but it’s a great thing that more cities should definitely do.
4. The Forth Bridge.
London Bridge and Tower Bridge are pretty cool. But are either of them made from solid steel? Are either of them over a mile and a half long? Exactly.
5. Affordable public transport.
In Edinburgh, it costs just £3.50 to travel anywhere in a 10-mile radius of the city centre within 24 hours. And it’s £1.50 for a single ticket with no restriction on how far you can go. Lothian buses are magical.
6. More ghosts.
London has its fair share of haunted pubs and ghost tours, but you really can’t beat Mary King’s Close, a series of buried streets beneath Edinburgh’s High Street. Rumour has it that plague victims were walled in there and left to die.
7. The Canny Man’s.
Sure, London has some great pubs, but it doesn’t have the Canny Man’s pub. This legendary haunt in Morningside is stuffed with moose heads, muskets, and stuffed animals. Plus, it sells salmanazars (nine-litre bottles) of champagne.
8. Edinburgh rock.
Edinburgh rock may look like chalk, but it tastes delicious.
9. Porty shore.
London is pretty good at creating fake beaches, but Edinburgh has a real one. The beach in Portobello is a gorgeous stretch of sand in the north of the city.
10. The Beltane Fire Festival.
What, you’ve never stripped off and painted yourself blue to climb a hill with about 10,000 people carrying burning torches?
11. Colony houses.
Edinburgh’s charming colony houses were built between 1850 and 1910 as homes for skilled working-class families. They’re effectively one house split in two, with the upper level accessed via an outdoor staircase.
12. A volcano.
Holyrood Park is dominated by Arthur’s Seat, the 251-metre-high remnant of an ancient volcano. Robert Louis Stevenson described it as “a hill for magnitude, a mountain in virtue of its bold design”.
13. Student union buildings that look like this.
The University of Edinburgh’s Teviot Row House was completed in 1889 and is the oldest purpose-built student union building in the UK.
14. Harry Potter’s birthplaces.
London may be home to the incredible Harry Potter Studio Tour, but Edinburgh was where J.K. Rowling brought her hero to life. Because she couldn’t afford heating while she wrote the first Harry Potter book, she took shelter in numerous cafés around the city.
15. I. J. Mellis.
London has a lot of swanky cheese shops, but Scotland’s most established cheesemonger beats them all. As well as a fine selection of Scottish cheeses, it also stocks local bread and bacon.
London’s art spaces are pretty special, but are any of them housed in an old veterinary college? No. Summerhall is also home to Pickering’s Gin: Edinburgh’s first gin distillery in 150 years. Art, strange veterinary relics, and booze: it’s basically heaven.
17. Bucket man.
London can keep its Covent Garden street performers. Our bucket man (aka Andy) has been entertaining crowds on Princes Street forever. He’s practically a local celebrity.
18. Accessible countryside.
As well as boasting hundreds of parks and green spaces, Edinburgh is pretty close to the Pentland Hills, a 20-mile-long stretch of wilderness with several peaks over 1,600 feet.
19. Streets that look like this.
There’s no denying that London is full of historic streets, but Edinburgh’s ancient closes also protect you from the rain. What a bonus.