The Perfect Summer's Day in Leith
01 February 2023
- food and drink
- things to do
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 the top things to do in Leith this summer.
The Royal Yacht Britannia
(Image Credit: Helen Pugh)
Now permanently berthed on the Shore at Leith, The Royal Yacht Britannia was Queen Elizabeth II's floating palace.
Step onboard this five-star attraction and experience what life was like at sea, both above and below deck. Make your way around the five main decks with the help of an audio tour (available in 30 languages, as well as in Basic English, English Braille and British & American Sign Language) and explore the state apartments, crew’s quarters, engine room and the Royal Sailing exhibition where you can see the Bloodhound yacht.
Afterwards, take a break and enjoy stunning views in the Royal Deck Tea Room, which serves an array of freshly prepared food and drink.
If you fancy extending your stay, why not book a stay at the luxury floating hotel, Fingal. Situated close to Britannia, this former Northern Lighthouse Board ship has been transformed into a deluxe floating hotel, complete with luxury cabins, decks for stargazing and an exquisite restaurant.
There are not one but two Michelin-starred restaurants in Leith. Chef Tom Kitchin is committed to showcasing the finest produce that Scotland has to offer in his eponymous restaurant, The Kitchin. At Restaurant Martin Wishart you can dine in one of the country’s most highly acclaimed restaurants. 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 and The Ship on the Shore.
If a browse around a traditional farmers’ market is more to your liking, be sure to visit Leith Market. Running every Saturday from 10am to 4pm, it’s a feast for the eyes (and stomach) with a great selection of food & drink, as well as locally made crafts. On the first Saturday of each month, it also plays host to the Vegan Quarter, as well as the usual traders.
For more suggestions on dining in Leith, see our guide to Food & Drink in Leith >
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 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 an array of beach-based activities, such as volleyball and paddle boarding. If you don’t fancy a dip in the coastal water, there’s Portobello Swim Centre, housed in a magnificent Victorian building. Bars and cafes line the prom, as well as some great independent shops on the nearby High Street. Portobello Local Market, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month is a great spot for stocking up on fresh produce from local traders.
From food & drink to things to do, discover more about Portobello >
Water of Leith Walkway
In the opposite direction from Portobello runs the Water of Leith Walkway. Suitable for walking and cycling, this 12¾ mile route runs through the heart of Edinburgh. Keep an eye open for herons, otters and kingfishers.
To the west of Leith is Newhaven Harbour, the site of a former fish market where you can still get your hands on a fantastic range of delicious fish and seafood, either for cooking at home or enjoying in one of the several 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.
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Situated on the shore is Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre where you can park for free and visit a wide range of shops, restaurants and multi-screen 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 unique collection of arts and crafts, check out Coburg House. This thriving hub of artists, designers and makers host a variety of exhibitions, workshops and classes – perfect if you’re looking for a special present for a loved one.
For a fascinating insight into Leith past and present, why not book a place on either The Alternative Story of Leith run by Invisible Cities or Leith Taproom Tour. If you fancy exploring the area’s artistic side, don’t miss the self-guided Street Murals.
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How about some souvenirs for family and friends? Granted Royal Warrants of Appointment as Tailors and Kiltmakers to the British Royal Family, 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 and jewellery, while Flux Leith stock everything from luxury skincare to children's clothes 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!
From bakeries to bookshops, discover more about Leith’s diverse range of shops in our guide to Shopping in Leith >
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 >