The Perfect Summer's Day in Leith
27 July 2021
Summer is well and truly in the air and the historic port of Leith is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Read on to find out more...
The neighbourhood of Leith is an eclectic blend of old and new and has long been a favourite destination for locals and tourists visiting Edinburgh. Whether you’re a foodie looking 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 in Leith this summer.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
Find out what life was like on board Her Majesty's floating Royal residence and follow in the footsteps of guests such as Sir Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela and Rajiv Gandhi.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is a five-star visitor attraction and is now permanently berthed right in the heart of Leith, at Ocean Terminal.
Make your way round the five main decks with the 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.
If you fancy extending your stay and spending a few days on the shore, why not book at stay at their luxury floating hotel, Fingal. Situated close to Britannia, this former Northern Lighthouse Board ship has been transformed into a deluxe floating hotel, complete with unique luxury cabins, decks for stargazing and an exquisite restaurant.
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, The Kitchin 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. You’ll be truly 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 Teuchters Landing, Nobles Bar or The Ship on the Shore.
If a browse around a traditional farmers’ market is more to your liking, be sure to visit Leith Market on Dock Place. Open every Saturday from 10am to 4pm, it’s a feast for the eyes (and stomach) with a great selection of tasty treats. On the first Saturday of each month, it also plays host to the Vegan Quarter, as well as the usual traders.
While we’re on the subject of food, Mimi’s Bakehouse is a Leith staple. Delicious baking - both sweet and savoury – are made fresh on the premises every day. Sit in and enjoy an afternoon tea or buy some goodies to take away and eat outside in the summer sunshine.
After all that eating, if you’re in need of burning off some calories, the Leith-Portobello cycle path runs from Leith Links, through Seafield and onto the prom at Portobello and offers a scenic route to Edinburgh’s seaside resort.
With its beautiful stretch of golden sands, Portobello is well worth a visit at any time of the year. In the summer months this bustling suburb hosts buskers and volleyball events - and don’t forget to check out the magnificent Victorian swimming pool. There are bars and cafes on the prom, not to mention some great independent shops on the High Street. There’s also an outdoor market on the first Saturday of every month in nearby Brighton Park.
Water of Leith
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!
(Image Credit: Visit Scotland Kenny Lam)
To the west of Leith is Newhaven Harbour, the 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. The Fishmarket and Loch Fyne Restaurant & Bar both offer a range of delicious dishes, as well as delightful views across the harbour.
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.
With buses every 10 minutes to and from the city centre, you can shop till you drop and then refuel at one of 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!
For a true taste of one-of-a-kind art and culture, check out Coburg House - a thriving hub of artists, designers and makers in Leith. Find workshops and classes, studios and gifts – perfect if you’re looking for a special present for a loved one.
Or for a fascinating insight into Leith past and present, why not take time to explore more about the area and its people on a mural art trail.
For a unique insight into this historic port, why not book a walking tour with Invisible Edinburgh, an award-winning social enterprise that trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides of their own city. Fans of the cult 1990’s film, Trainspotting, should be sure to book History of the Trainspotting Generation, where you’ll follow in the footsteps of the books and films' character, as well as gaining a great insight into Leith.
How about some souvenirs for family and friends? With Royal Warrants of Appointment as Tailors and Kiltmakers to HM The Queen, you’ll be sure to find plenty of smart tartan treasures in Kinloch Anderson.
For a range of unique gifts for all the family, Destined for Home have a delightful range of bags, candles, jewellery and many special items that you won’t find elsewhere on the High Street. And if someone in the family has a sweet tooth, a trip to Canderson's Sweet Shop is a must. Take a trip down memory lane as you stock up on cola cubes, bon bons and violet cream fondants. Naughty, but nice!
So, as you’ll see, there’s plenty to keep you busy in this small corner of Edinburgh – why not visit today and discover it for yourself! Discover more about Leith >