Leith is the port district of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, north of the city centre on the shoreline of the Firth of Forth. Traditionally a separate burgh, Leith and its 50,000 inhabitants (2011) remain determinedly independent in nature and character, despite having been absorbed by the larger City of Edinburgh.
Although possessing a somewhat exaggerated reputation for seediness and crime, 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 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 22 serves Ocean Terminal (the location of the Royal Yacht Britannia) from Princes Street. Service 36 connects the Weat End to Leith, via Stockbridge.
Connecting with the airport
The Lothian Buses Skylink 200 provides a fast direct link between the airport and Ocean Terminal via the northern parts of Edinburgh. The complete journey takes slightly less than 1 hour.
The Lothian Buses Skylink 300 replaced the Lothian Buses 35. Its destination is also the Ocean Terminal in Leith via the southern parts of Edinburgh and the Royal Mile/High Street (city center), but the complete journey takes much longer than the Skylink 200 (around 100 min for the complete journey).
Prices are identical for both Skylink 200 and 300. From the airport, one-way tickets cost £4.50 and an open return tickets costs £7.50. Regular city fares apply (£1.60 for a single ticket) if your final destination or starting point is not the airport. In any case, you have to pay the driver with the exact fare.
The Lothian Buses Airlink (Service 100) is also an option that takes you as far as the New Town, but from there you have to switch to another service travelling down Leith Walk. The prices are the same as with the Skylink, but you have to pay extra for the second bus. This service, however, runs 24 hours, so might be the only option if you arrive or leave at night. See the main Edinburgh page for more details on this service.
The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley. Leith's own station became derelict in the 1970s & 80s, and a notorious haven for drug addicts, and this inspired the title and a key scene in Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh.
- 1 Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal. Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec 10AM-5PM; Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct 10AM-5:30PM; Jul 9:30AM-5:30PM; Aug 9:30AM-6PM. Last entry 1½ hr before closing, closed 1 Jan and 25 Dec. Decommissioned from royal use 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. Adults £14, Under 17s £8.50, Under 5s free, over 60 £12.50.
- 2 6 Times. Six life-sized human figures by world-renowned artist Antony Gormley have been installed in 2010 in and along the Water of Leith, between the National Gallery of Modern Art and the sea at Leith Docks.
- 3 Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop, 21 Hawthornvale, EH6 4JT (on the Newhaven cycle path). M – Sa 11AM – 5PM. Workshops, exhibitions and a cafe in an old fire station,
- Watch football ie soccer at 1 Easter Road Stadium, Albion Place EH7 5QG (off Easter Road). Hibernian FC ("Hibs") play in the Scottish Premiership, the top tier of Scottish football. The all-seater stadium, capacity 20,000, is at the south edge of Leith, a mile or so east from Edinburgh Waverley station. Buses 1 & 35 run down Easter Road but there are more down Leith Walk just west or along London Road (A1) just south.
- 2 Water of Leith Walkway. Walk or cycle along the Water of Leith. 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.
- 3 Vue, Ocean Terminal, Leith. Large multiplex cinema.
- Leith Festival. Takes place in June every year at venues all around Leith. Art, comedy, dance, drama, film, and music.
- 4 Edinburgh Mela. A weekend in late August. The is a multi-cultural festival, largely based around South-Asian traditions. The festival takes place on Leith Links, a large park to the east of the foot of Leith Walk.
- Leith Late Festival. Annual arts and music festival (in June) in venues along Leith Walk and in Leith.
- 1 Leith Market, Dock Place, EH6 6LU. Sa 10AM-5PM. A variety of producers sell their local products all year round.
- 2 Ocean Terminal, Ocean Drive. A huge undercover shopping centre at with many of the usual High Street chain shops (Debenhams, 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. Leith Walk 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!
- 3 Leith Cycle Co, 276 Leith Walk, ☏ . M Tu Th F 8:30AM-5:45PM; W 8:30AM-7PM; Sa 9AM-5:30PM; Su noon-5PM. Excellent local bike shop with a range of bikes, spares and accessories. Repair shop in the back and a hire service starting at £12 for a half-day hire or £17 for a full day.
- 4 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.
- 5 Hing Sing (Chinese Supermarket), 310 Leith Walk, 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.
- 1 Word of Mouth Bistro, 3a Albert Street (Just off Leith Walk), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M–Sa 9AM–8:30PM; Su 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!
- 2 A Room in Leith, 1a Dock Place, ☏ . 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.
- 3 Fishers Bistro, 1 The Shore, ☏ . Traditional and unassuming restaurant that consistently delivers quality food specialising in seafood. Exceeding expectations, the Fishers Bistro rarely disappoints.
- 4 Café 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.
- 5 Alplings, 16 Henderson Street, EH6 6BS (Henderson St. runs from Great Junction St. to The Shore. The 36 and 22 buses both stop outside.), ☏ . M-F 8AM-3PM. The chef prepares food from South Tyrol such as dumplings and apple strudel.
- 6 Restaurant Martin Wishart, 54 The Shore, ☏ . One for a (very) special occasion. Leith's first Michelin Star. The food and service are both outstanding.
- 7 The Kitchin, 78 Commercial Quay, ☏ . A couple of hundred yards from Leith's first Michelin star, here is its 2nd. Established in 2006, it has 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.
- 1 The Kings Wark, 36 The Shore, ☏ . 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. Mains £14 - £24.
- 2 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.
- 3 Teuchters Landing, 1c Dock Place, ☏ . 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.
- 4 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.
- 5 The Bonnington (formerly: Guilty Lily), 284 Bonnington Road, 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).
- 6 Sofi's Bar, 65 Henderson Street, EH6 6ED, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. One of a chain of trendy Swedish bars to appear in Edinburgh. Sofi's is situated close to the Water of Leith near the Shore.
- Try beers from Leith's Pilot brewery.
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. The number 11 bus travels the length of both streets and on via Leith Walk into the New Town. There are also larger hotels along the waterfront, mostly in modern buildings.
- 1 A-Haven Townhouse Hotel, 180 Ferry Road (Junction of Ferry Road and Newhaven Road), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Family-run B&B with 14 rooms, all en-suite. Evening meals available. Free secure car parking. £37-£85 per person inclusive full Scottish breakfast.
- 2 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.
- 3 Malmaison, 1 Tower Place, ☏ . Boutique waterfront hotel, in the centre of the old part of Leith.
- 4 Ocean Apartments, 2 Western Harbour, Midway, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Modern, stylish contemporary serviced apartments 4 miles for Edinburgh's city Centre. From £70.
- 5 Premier Inn (Edinburgh Leith Waterfront), 51-53 Newhaven Place, ☏ . Everything you'd expect from this chain. Located a wee bit to the west of Leith, but still handy enough and on plenty of bus routes.
- 6 Containers Hostel, 97 Ocean Drive, ☏ . Only open in summer (around end of June till end of August). Beds available in 12 bed mixed dorms. Linen, WiFi and lockers included. £21-24 per person per night during the festivals in August, £7-14 before that.
- 7 Fingal. Moored in Alexandra Dock, it was the supply ship to the Hebridean lighthouses, and is now a chic small hotel. No dogs.
- 1 Leith Library, 28-30 Ferry Road, ☏ . M-W 10AM-8PM; Th-Sa 10AM-5PM. PCs with free broadband internet access.
- 2 McDonald Road Library, 2 McDonald Road (Just off Leith Walk), ☏ . M-W 10AM-8PM; Th-Sa 10AM-5PM. Over 20 PCs with free internet access.
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.
- 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.