Leith is the port district of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, located to the north of the city centre on the shoreline of the Firth of Forth. Traditionally a separate burgh, Leith and its inhabitants remain determinedly independent in nature and character, despite being absorbed by the larger City of Edinburgh.
Although possessing a somewhat exaggerated reputation for seediness and crime in recent decades, Leith has been undergoing a major revival since the 1980s with many of the district's problems gradually being resolved. It is now a vibrant community, with a wealth of shops, pubs, restaurants, parks and community events. The relatively low cost of buying or renting property compared to some other areas of Edinburgh, combined with excellent transport links, has led to Leith playing host to immigrants from all over the UK, Europe and the World and it is therefore one of Scotland's most cosmopolitan communities.
Leith is located to the North of Edinburgh. The two are most directly connected by Leith Walk, which runs from the East End of Princes Street into Leith.
Follow Leith Walk from the east end of Princes Street, enjoying the wide range of different shops along the route.
A more peaceful walk between Edinburgh and Leith follows the Water of Leith Walkway, which can be picked up at Dean Village (close to West End), Stockbridge or Canonmills (both on the north side of the New Town). The walkway is indicated by brown direction signs featuring a water wheel logo. For most of the route the river is flanked on one or both sides by woodland, and it's often hard to believe you're in a major city. There are brown trout in the river and birds including the Grey Heron and Kingfisher can be seen.
Leith is connected to the city by several bus services operated by Lothian Buses, the local operator.
Bus services 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 22, 25 and 49 travel down Leith walk from Edinburgh centre.
Service 35 connects the old town of Edinburgh to Ocean Terminal, the location of the Royal Yacht Britannia. Service 22 serves Ocean Terminal from Princes Street. Service 36 connects Holyrood (palace and parliament building) to Leith, via the West End and Stockbridge.
A tramline was planned to connect Leith to Central Edinburgh and the Airport from February 2012. The project has run into major problems and the line will not open until 2014 (if at all) and will almost certainly not go beyond the city centre any time in the near future.
The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley.
Lothian Buses service 35 provides a direct connection from Edinburgh Airport to the centre of Leith and Ocean Terminal. This takes around an hour so it's quicker (though more expensive) to use the Airlink Service 100 as far as the New Town and then switch to another service travelling down Leith Walk.
- The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, open daily, except Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec 10am-3.30pm, Apr-Jun, Oct 9.30am-4pm, Jul-Sep 10am-4pm. Admission prices: adults £10.50, seniors £9, children 5-17 yrs £6.75 and students with ID £9, children under 5 free. Decommissioned from Royal use in recent years and voted one of Edinburgh's best new attractions, Britannia offers visitors the chance to tour the royal apartments and view a selection of the many gifts offered to the royals by dignitaries worldwide.
- 6 Times. A new (June 2010) work by world-renowned artist Antony Gormley. Six life-sized human figures have been installed in and along the Water of Leith, between the National Gallery of Modern Art and the sea at Leith Docks.
- Take in a football game at Hibernian F.C.'s Easter Road Stadium. The team play in the Scottish Premier League and games are generally 3pm on a Saturday but check on line for fixture details.
- Walk or cycle along the Water of Leith Walkway. The route starts from the harbour and follows the river right through the City to the suburb of Balerno, on the edge of the Pentland Hills. The walkway is indicated by brown direction signs featuring a water wheel logo. For most of the route the river is flanked on one or both sides by woodland, and it's often hard to believe you're in the heart of a major city. There are brown trout plus a dozen other species of fish in the river and birds including the grey heron, goosander, dipper and kingfisher can be seen along the banks. If you're very lucky you may see badgers or otters.
- Fishing (Angling) is possible along most of the length of the Water of Leith. Permits are required, and can be obtained free of charge from the City Council offices at Waverley Market in the New Town and Cockburn Street in the Old Town. Most Fishing Tackle shops throughout the city can also provide permits.
- Leith Festival. Takes place in June every year at venues all around Leith. Art, Comedy, Dance, Drama, Film, Music and more.
- Edinburgh Mela. The is a multi-cultural festival, largely based around South-Asian traditions. The festival takes place in the first week of August in Leith Links, a large park to the east of the foot of Leith Walk.
- Help to Clean Leith! . These guerrilla activists raise awareness of environmental issues in Leith and have a raft at The Shore where free entertainment happens every Friday afternoon.
- There is a huge undercover shopping centre at Ocean Terminal with many of the usual High Street chain shops (Debenhams, BHS, Gap, Top Shop, Waterstones, etc.) and one or two more unusual options, plus bars, restaurants and a multi-screen cinema.
- Leith Walk joins Edinburgh to Leith, so the top half is in the New Town, and the bottom half is in Leith. Despite having been invaded by an array of Polish Grocers (Polski Sklep) of late, and the reduction in trade caused by works on the tram project, Leith Walk still has an amazing variety of independent shops. Locals claim there is nothing you can't buy somewhere on Leith Walk (even if it's illegal!). Have fun trying to prove this wrong!
- Leith Cycles, 276 Leith Walk, ☎ . 7 days 8.30am - 5.30pm. Thursdays until 7pm. Sundays 12noon - 5pm. Excellent local bike shop with a range of bikes, spares and accessories. Repair shop in the back and a hire service starting at as little as £7 for a half-day hire.
- Gamesmaster, 287 Leith Walk, ☎ . Second-hand video games. All the recent titles but it's the retro games that will really excite gaming fans in this good-value box of delights.
- Hing Sing (Chinese Supermarket), 310 Leith Walk, Edinburgh EH6 5BU, ☎ . Food items from across South-east Asia, as well as some crockery and cooking utensils. Great for those hard-to-find ingredients but even items also stocked by the mainstream supermarkets are usually significantly better value here.
Leith has become the top foodie destination in Edinburgh and among the best in the UK. In 2010, The Shore was voted as runner-up in the "Best Foodie Street" category in the UK Google Street View awards . Include the adjacent Bernard Street, Commercial Street and Henderson Street and you will find an enormous choice of places to eat within a very small area. Fish and chip shops, Italian trattoria, curry-houses and traditional pub grub rub shoulders with some of the best seafood in the UK, some unusual ethnic cuisines and there's even a couple of Michelin-starred fine-dining establishments for good measure.
- Word of Mouth Bistro, 3a Albert Street (Just off Leith Walk), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Mon–Sat 9am–8.30pm; Sun 10am–8.30pm. Not quite a restaurant but definitely more than a cafe, Word of Mouth offers breakfasts, coffees and sandwiches, along with some more substantial hot options. The deal where you pick 5 options from the Mezze menu for £15 and get a bowl of chips thrown in is a great option for a value lunch for two. You might find it hard to resist spending another couple of pounds on one of the broad range of home baked cakes to follow it though - if you can fit one in. Free WiFi and even the gent’s toilets have interesting decor. It's probably a good thing they don't have rooms or you'd never want to leave!
- The Waterline, The Shore. Wide range of food for all tastes as well as an extensive wine list and beers from around the world. Quiz nights on Thursday!
- A Room in Leith, 1c Dock Place, Leith, ☎ . Leith outpost of the popular local "a room in..." chain. Lovely waterside location and a focus on good quality Scottish produce and friendly service. The chefs can sometimes take experimentation too far but usually the Scottish Fusion cuisine is spot on.
- e:s:i (Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman), 46 Queen Charlotte Street (Just off Constitution Street, opposite Leith police station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tue-Sun 1200-1500 and 1800-2200. As suggested by the gimmicky name this restaurant is owned by 3 guys from different parts of the British and Irish Isles. The open kitchen might also feel like a bit of a gimmick but in fact it adds to the atmosphere of the place and the food it produces really is excellent. The e:s:i theme extends to the menu which draws on the culinary traditions of the three countries. Probably the best steaks in Leith.
- Fishers Bistro, 1 The Shore. Traditional and unassuming restaurant that consistently delivers quality food specialising in food from the sea. Exceeding expectations, the Fishers Bistro rarely disappoints
- Giuliano's, Commercial Street, corner of Ronaldson's Wharf. Family-friendly Italian restaurant. Huge menu—you can't fail to find something to tickle your fancy. The staff is very friendly and accommodating. Popular for all kinds of occasions from kids birthday parties to hen nights or just a good old get-together with friends. Consequently can sometimes be a wee bit noisy on occasion.
- Osteria Di Domenico, 30 Sandport Street (Just off Commercial Street), ☎ . Lovely little family-run Italian restaurant. Seasonally changing menu so you can always be sure of the freshest of ingredients here
- Mya - See Thai
- The Raj, The Shore. One of Edinburgh's longest-established Indian Restaurants and still maintaining very high standards. For a new experience try the hookahs in the back room.
- Suruchi Too, 121 Constitution Street. Suruchi's second restaurant also serving Traditional Indian cuisine.
- Golden Bridge, 16 Henderson St., Leith EH6 6BS (Henderson St. runs from Great Junction St. to The Shore. The 36 and 22 buses both stop outside.), ☎ . This small (only 30 covers), unassuming restaurant lies on the southern edge of Leith's foodie quarter. What it lacks in fancy decor or opulent furnishings, it more than makes up for with a varied menu, all freshly-prepared to order, and all of the highest quality. Edinburgh is not short of Chinese restaurants, but few can compete with Golden Bridge in the area that really matters - what's on your plate. Not licensed, BYOB.
- Mya, Commercial Quay. Interesting concept offering both Indian and Thai menus (on facing pages). The owners say it helps to avoid arguments between groups of friends about what type of food to go out for. Actually works as both cuisines are executed pretty well, and the service is always excellent
- ThaiPadThaiPod, 20 Leopold Place (follow London Rd down from the Omni Centre, it is on the left hand side), ☎ . Tu-Su. Healthy portions of delectable Thai food cooked by chefs that once catered for the Thai Royal Family themselves. Eating food fit for Kings (and Queens) seems good for the many people that seem to fill it most nights. Nicely presented dishes in a cosy atmosphere and they definitely impress having only just opened their doors. Around £10-13 main course.
- La Cantina, Commercial Quay (facing the Scottish Government). Mexican eatery. Decent food at reasonable prices. Service sometimes slips at busy times.
- Khublai Khan's Mongolian Restaurant, 43 Assembly Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 7BQ, ☎ . A slightly unusual eating experience. Take a bowl and help yourself to a base (rice or noodles), and then add your own concoction of the available herbs and spices, oil and sauces, and veg (or follow one of their own suggestions). Next add you meat or seafood from a wide selection including some usual options such as chicken, or choose something more unusual like wild boar or even zebra. Then you hand this bowl over to the chef who cooks it for you (don't mix meat as they cook at different speeds - mixing seafood is OK though!) and it is then brought to you at your table.
- Restaurant Martin Wishart, 54 The Shore, ☎ . One for a (very) special occasion. Leith's first Michelin Star. The food and service are both outstanding.
- The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, ☎ . Just a couple of hundred yards from Leith's first Michelin star, here is its 2nd. Only established in 2006 and has already racked up several awards.
Leith has a huge number of places to drink, from traditional pubs to modern style bars. The list below is just a selection.
- The Kings Wark, 36 The Shore. +44 131 5549260. One of the oldest buildings in the whole city. Check out the walls which are literally feet thick. Excellent traditional pub by the water. Good range of real ales and whiskys. The food is good too, as is the staff’s banter.
- Cameo Bar, 23 Commercial Street, ☎ . One of the longest established of Leith's many "Style Bars". Manages to combine trendy decor with a friendly, neighbourhood feel.
- Teuchters Landing, Dock Place. +44 131 5547427. Recent addition to the popular aroomin/Teuchters mini-chain. Located in a former cruise liner waiting room. Lots of outside tables by the water so a great choice for a sunny afternoon.
- The Vaults, 87 Giles Street, ☎ . The home of the Scottish Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) and only open to members and their guests. Located on the first floor of Edinburgh's oldest commercial building, the main members room manages to be opulent and impressive, while still remaining relaxing and in no way snooty. The SMWS bottle single malt whiskys at cask strength. Each bottling is from a single cask and is therefore unique. If you like whisky then its well worth befriending a member and getting signed in! Also serves a range of quality bottled beers, a small wine list, and complementary tea and coffee, plus good food. Live music last Sunday of every month.
- The Village, ☎ . South Fort Street. Plays host to Leith Folk Club every Tuesday evening, with performers from all over the British Isles and sometimes further afield.
- Guilty Lily, 284 Bonnington Road, Edinburgh, EH6 5BE (At the crossroads of Broughton, Rd., Bonnington Rd., Newhaven Rd. and Pilrig St.), ☎ . A wee bit off the beaten path, but very handy for those staying at one of the many B&Bs along Pilrig Street and Newhaven Road. Guilty Lily is a friendly neighbourhood pub with a penchant for dressing up and a sideline in great quality food. Live music every Friday (Free) and on the last Thursday evening of every month (Sapphire Music Club  - £5).
Pilrig Street and its northern extension Newhaven Road are home to a number of B&Bs. This is a convenient location in which to base yourself as it's an easy walk to the centre of Leith in one direction, and Edinburgh city centre in the other. Pilrig Street intersects with Leith Walk so there are plentiful buses nearby plus the tram line once it is completed. The number 11 bus actually travels the length of both streets and on via Leith Walk into the New Town. There are also a number of larger hotels along the waterfront, mostly in modern buildings.
- A-Haven Townhouse Hotel, 180 Ferry Road, Edinburgh EH6 4NS (Junction of Ferry Road and Newhaven Road), ☎ , fax: +44-131-554-5252, e-mail: email@example.com. Family run B&B with 14 rooms, all en-suite. Evening meals available. Free secure car parking.
- Malmaison, 1 Tower Place, ☎ . Boutique waterfront hotel, in the centre of the old part of Leith.
- Premier Inn Edinburgh (Leith), 51/53 Newhaven Place, ☎ . Everything you'd expect from this chain. Located a wee bit to the west of Leith itself, but still handy enough and on plenty of bus routes (and the tram line, when they finish building it).
- Holiday Inn Express Edinburgh Waterfront, ☎ . Britannia Way, Ocean Drive. Modern and comfortable. Friendly service with free hot breakfast every day and free public area WiFi. Good location next to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.
- Hot-el-Apartments, ☎ . Leith waterfront serviced apartments. Beautifully located with good transport links to city centre. Brand new apartments.
- Ocean Apartments (Serviced Apartments), 2 Western Harbour Midway, ☎ . Check-in: 15H00, check-out: 10H00. Modern, stylish contemporary serviced apartments 4 miles for Edinburgh's city Centre. from £70.
- Leith Lets, PO Box 24032, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 9BG, ☎ . Leith Lets is a professional Edinburgh Letting Agent who provide a fresh and personal approach to those looking for Flats and Houses to rent and guests requiring Holiday and Short Term Accommodation.
The dialling code for the whole of the Edinburgh area is 0131. To call from overseas, dial +44 131 XXX XXXX.
- Leith Library, 28-30 Ferry Road, +44 131 529 5517. PCs with free broadband internet access. Opens Mo - Thu 10AM- 8PM, Fri 10AM - 5PM, Sa 9AM- 1PM.
- McDonald Road Library, 2 McDonald Road (Just off Leith Walk), +44 131 529 5636. Over 20 PCs with free internet access. Opens Mo & We 1AM-8PM, Tu, Th, Fri 10AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM/
Post Offices are available at the following locations
- 119 Ferry Road.
- 135 Great Junction Street.
- 6b Constitution Street.
- 207a Leith Walk.
- 210 Newhaven Road.
- BBC Leith Microsite.
- Leith FM 98.8 FM. Community radio station serving the Leith area.
- The Leither. Slightly irreverent (like its catchment area!) Leith-centric magazine with news, listings, articles, reviews etc. Free. Pick up the latest edition from shops, bars and cafes throughout Leith, or read it online before your visit to get a flavour of what will be happening when you get here.