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A perfect summer's day in Leith

28 July 2016

Summer is well and truly in the air, so this week the team at Royal Yacht Britannia share with us their favourite things to do in Leith at this time of year. The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of Leith's most popular attractions, but there is lots to see and do in this vibrant part of town. Read on to find out more... 

Edinburgh’s historic port is a unique blend of old and new, and it’s fast becoming a favourite for locals and tourists visiting Edinburgh. Whether you’re a foodie wishing to dine in a Michelin starred restaurant, or prefer a gentle stroll along The Shore followed by a quiet drink, you’re sure to find something in this unique city quarter by the sea. Here's our roundup of top things to do this summer in Leith: 

The Royal Yacht Britannia

The Royal Yacht Brittania Fireworks

Find out what life was like on board Her Majesty's floating Royal residence and follow in the footsteps of world leaders such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi. Britannia is a five-star visitor attraction and it's right in the heart of Leith, at Ocean Terminal, where you'll find free parking.

Make your way round the five main decks with our free audio tour. You'll start at the Bridge, explore the State Apartments, Crew's Quarters and finish at the Engine Room. You can also visit the Royal Sailing exhibition and learn about Royal Racing Yacht Bloodhound.

Take a break in the Royal Deck Tea Room with some freshly prepared food and drink and stunning views. This is where the Royal Family would have enjoyed drinks receptions and played deck games. Finish off your tour with a visit to the Gift Shop where there are thousands of souvenirs to choose from. Don't forget, after you've purchased your ticket to Britannia, you are entitled to apply for a free Annual Pass to come back and visit for the following 12 months.

To find out more, visit the Royal Yacht Britannia's website or call 0131 555 5566.

Michelin-starred dining

There are not one but two Michelin-starred restaurants in Leith! Scottish chef Tom Kitchin is committed to showcasing the finest produce that Scotland has to offer in his eponymous restaurant on Commercial Quay and, over at Restaurant Martin Wishart on The Shore, you can eat in one of the country’s most highly acclaimed venues. Spoiled for choice.

If you’re looking for something slightly less grand but just as tasty, there are lots of great seafood restaurants on the shore as well as some cracking pubs serving wonderful food, such as The King’s Wark, the Leith Beer Co (great beer garden) or Malt & Hops.

Mimi’s Bakehouse

Mimis Bakehouse Afternoon Tea

While we’re on the subject of food, Mimi’s Bakehouse is a Leith staple. Delicious baking - both tasty treats and savoury delights - made on the premises. You can watch the bakers at work, sit in and enjoy an afternoon tea, or buy some goodies to take away and eat outside in the fresh air and summer sunshine.

Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach (1)

There’s a path that runs from Leith to Portobello - it takes just around 15-20 minutes to walk the route and is well worth it for the beautiful stretch of golden sands. Portobello is a bustling wee suburb and in summer the beach hosts buskers and volleyball events - and don’t forget to check out the magnificent Victorian swimming pool. There are bars and cafes on the promenade, not to mention some great independent shops on the High Street. There’s also a market on the first Saturday of every month in nearby Brighton Park.

Speaking of markets, don’t miss Pitt Street Market in Leith, a street food market with entertainment and music running almost every weekend through summer.

Water of Leith

Water Of Leith Path Sign

In the opposite direction from Portobello runs the Water of Leith walkway and cycle path. With 12¾ miles to explore, you can walk all the way through the heart of Edinburgh. You’ll see herons, otters and kingfishers, if you’re lucky!

Newhaven Harbour

To the west of Leith is Newhaven Harbour, site of a former fish market and where you can still get your hands on a fantastic range of delicious seafood, fresh off the boats, either for cooking at home or in one of the fish restaurants in the village. A step back in time.

Ocean Terminal

Ocean Terminal Dining

Situated in the Port is Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre where you can park for free and visit a wide range of shops, restaurants and a cinema. There are buses every 10 minutes to and from the city centre, too. You can shop till you drop and then refuel at the family-friendly restaurants before taking in a film or letting the kids run wild at the soft play. Perfect if the unpredictable Scottish summer weather takes a turn for the worse. 

Cultural highlights

If you’re looking for art and culture, check out Coburg House, a thriving hub of artists, designers and makers in Leith. Find workshops and classes, studios and gift ideas! Leith Theatre is also a hub for arts, education and events.

Scottish gifts

If you’re looking for some souvenirs for family and friends, check out Kinloch Anderson and The Edinburgh Woollen Mill outlet where you’ll find plenty tartan treasures to take home.

So, as you’ll see, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this small corner of Edinburgh, not to mention the rest of the beautiful city.

Love Leith? Read our guide >