Things To Do In Leith, Edinburgh

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The coastal district of Leith is one of Edinburgh's fastest developing culture hubs, and not to mention of its most important historical centres. Its centuries old port remains one of the country's busiest, meaning that for those arriving by cruise ship it's potentially their first point of landfall in Scotland.

We'd suggest making your way to Leith either by following Water of Leith Walkway to its terminus, or taking the Majestic Bus Tour from the city centre.

Things To Do In Leith

Looking up the Water of Leith | Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


1) Peruse The Shore:

Once you arrive make for the 'Shore', a riverside street that serves as the heart of district. This area brims with top class bars, restaurants and independent emporiums. If you're a fan of brownies, cupcakes and a whole manner of other baked goods then check out Mimi's Bakehouse at the southern end of the Shore.

Mimi's Bakehouse Leith

Mimi's Bakehouse signature 'Rainbow Cake' | Credit: Gillian Dustan.

A traditional bar worth checking out is the warm and rustic King’s Wark along Water of Leith. It does a wide variety of hearty Scottish pub grub, has an outdoor seating area, and is chock-full of classic real ales.

The King's Wark Leith

Inside King’s Wark bar in Leith | Credit: Kings Wark.

Leith even hosts its own Michelin star dining experience. The Kitchin on Commercial Street opened in 2006 and within a year had earned this coveted dining hallmark, as well as other awards such as 'Best UK Restaurant', and 'Best Restaurant Experience' 2015.

Its menu varies by season, as all ingredients are purchased fresh from sources throughout Scotland. Seafood is the restaurant's speciality. You can never go wrong ordering something from the chef's 'Celebration of the Season' menu. We highly recommend the razor clams and salmon.

The Kitchin Leith

Inside The Kitchin | Credit: Marc Millar.


2) The Biscuit Factory:

The artistically minded might like to check out the recently established 'Biscuit Factory' on Anderson Place, an upcoming venue for arts and fashion that's sure to play host to a great deal of exhibitions and festival instalments in the coming months.

The Biscuit Factory Leith

Outside the Biscuit Factory in Leith | Credit: Beatrice Eyales.


3) Board The Royal Yacht Britannia:

One highlight that nobody can afford to miss while in Leith is Royal Yacht Britannia, the former official sailing vessel of the British Royal Family. After being decommissioned in 1997 it was brought to rest at Ocean Terminal and adapted for its new roll as a museum ship. Today visitors have the freedom to explore all of the yacht's main decks, learning about the events and exploits that took place onboard as they go.

Royal Yacht Britannia In Leith

Royal Yacht Britannia docked at Ocean Terminal | Credit: Marc Millar.


4) Snap A Pic By Harpoon Gun:

From the Merchant Navy Memorial near Malmaison Hotel to its 19th century Custom House, evidence of Leith's maritime past and present is never far away. A more curious example this heritage can be found embedded in the cobbles along The Shore. An authentic harpoon gun, albeit a deactivated one, designed for whaling alludes to a bygone industry that was once very important in Leith. As much as it's viewed with distaste nowadays, whaling once offered a vital source food, oil and manufacturing material.

Leith Harpoon Gun

Harpoon gun at the The Shore in Leith | Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


5) Explore Trinity House:

Once the headquarters of the Incorporation of Mariners and Shipmasters, Trinity House today harbours a little-known maritime museum. Owned and administered by Historic Scotland, it's free to enter but can only be accessed by appointment. To do this call +44 0131 554 3289 (Monday to Friday). Collection highlights include a vast assortment of navigational equipment, old sketches and records, and a portrait of Admiral Duncan by Sir Henry Raeburn (painter of the famous 'Skating Minister' and Sir Walter Scott).

Trinity House Maritime Museum Leith

Trinity House Maritime Museum | Credit: Wikimedia Commons.


6) Stick Around For The Festivals:

What's the best time to visit Leith? For all of its year-round attractions we'd still highly recommend visiting Leith during the summer. These months see Leith Festival bring the entire district to life (10 to 18 June, 2017), and the Edinburgh Mela Festival take place on Leith Links (26 August to 3 September, 2017).

Edinburgh Mela Festival Leith

Edinburgh Mela Festival at Leith Links | Credit: Festivals Edinburgh.