5 Things We Love To Do In Leith
One of the things we love so much about Edinburgh is all of the city’s different areas and how each one has its own identity and unique feel. No matter where you are in the city, there are certain characteristics that make each place feel special, which is one of the reasons why we think Edinburgh appeals to so many people. This week we share our favourite things about one of Edinburgh’s most popular areas; Leith.
The Best Things To Do In Leith
For centuries, Leith was one of Scotland’s premier ports and for nearly 100 years it was a burgh with its own Town Council. In 1920 Leith merged with the capital and officially became part of the City of Edinburgh.
Historically a place of industry, Leith was home to glass production, lead making and shipbuilding, among other things. The remnants of its industrious past still breaths life into the Leith of today, giving this unpolished and infinitely cool area a unique charm.
Now a hub for artisans and entrepreneurs, this culturally diverse and eclectic area has become one of Edinburgh’s most popular places to hang out. Not overrun by tourists, you’ll find a multitude of popular pubs and fantastic restaurants here along with some of the city’s best cultural hidden gems. If it’s not already, Leith should be on your Edinburgh bucket-list.
With so much to do in Leith, we could never fit everything into one post and did our best to narrow it down to some of our favourites. So without further ado, here are 5 things we love to do in Leith.
1. Brunch, Lunch & Coffee
We’ve already mentioned food so we thought it might be best to start this post with the most important meal of the day… brunch, of course!
When it comes to breakfast, brunch, lunch, and excellent places for coffee, Leith doesn’t disappoint. From delicious pastries and artisan coffee to award-winning street food, this area has it all.
You could spend days drinking and eating your way through some of Edinburgh’s best cafés in Leith. For inspiring decor and fresh-baked pastries, you can’t beat Twelve Triangles on Brunswick Street. Café Truva on the Shore serves Turkish food and coffee and The Hideout Café is a cosy spot for a traditional full Scottish. Also on the Shore is the classic Edinburgh favourite Mimi’s Bakehouse, for an unbeatable afternoon tea. Printworks Coffee and Artisan Coffee are great places to relax with a hot drink. At Leith’s new ‘record store cafe’, Café Greenhouse, there’s an impressive selection of vinyl, which you can purchase or just listen to while sipping a hot drink.
For a healthy start to the day, check out Kcal Kitchen on Henderson Street. This relaxed café serves protein-packed breakfasts, vegan dishes, and ‘buff burgers’, as well as juices and protein shakes.
The Pitt Market
Another one of Leith’s new gems is the Pitt Market. This weekly market first opened in 2015 and has since become one of the most popular places in Edinburgh for street food. The Pitt is open every Saturday from noon until 10pm, as well as on Sundays during the summer months. With both outdoor and covered indoor areas, it’s a great place to enjoy street food any time of the year. Kids are welcome here until 9pm and it’s dog-friendly too. Once inside the market, the smells of freshly-cooked food will tempt you amid the hubbub of friends chatting and live music playing. There’s plenty on offer here for meat-eaters and vegans alike and trust us, it’s worth the £2 entry fee.
This barely scratches the surface in Leith – you could drink coffee and eat treats all day and still not visit every location! If you’d like to discover some new places to enjoy that all-important first meal of the day, take a look at these 11 scrumptious breakfast & brunch spots in Edinburgh.
And we’re not done with food just yet. Keep reading to discover some of our favouite spots for drinks and dinner further down in this post.
2. Take in some Culture
Leith is home to some of Edinburgh’s best cultural hidden gems. Starting with what is perhaps the most famous Leith museum, the Royal Yacht Britannia belonged to Her Majesty The Queen for 44 years. The ship was decommissioned in 1997 and is now permanently moored in Leith. Not only can you tour this royal residence but you can even book a stay aboard in the new Fingal Hotel.
A couple of years ago the Dickins team visited the museum – you can read all about our Royal Yacht Britannia experience here.
The Custom House is one of Leith’s most distinctive Georgian buildings and a window into the city’s past. Evolving from its early life as a customs house for ships arriving into Leith, this historic building is now the home of Leith’s thriving creative scene. From the grandiose to the avant-garde, this repurposed building has hosted everything from workshops and weddings to concerts and exhibitions in its many spacious rooms. With events like the Scottish International Photography Festival and regular exhibitions taking place here, The Custom House is a must-visit for culture-vultures.
Another creative hub tucked away in Leith is Out of the Blue Drill Hall. This community arts centre is one of Edinburgh’s most lively creative hubs. Set in renovated Victorian army barracks, this airy space is home to a thriving arts community. Out of the Blue is dedicated to driving community spirit through the empowerment of artistic expression. Regular exhibitions and workshops take place here as well as fleamarkets, film screenings, and other community-driven events.
3. Shop for Independent Gifts
It can often be hard to know where you can find genuine independent goods or hand-crafted item to take home. When it comes to independent shopping, Edinburgh is about as good as it gets and Leith is home to some pretty cool stores. Here are three of our favourites!
Kestin Hare | Customs Wharf
One of the most noteworthy names in menswear, this Scottish brand is designed by Edinburgh native, Kestin Hare. His line of clothing ‘Common People’ is a range of casual, contemporary men’s clothing with a focus on quality craftsmanship and tasteful detail. Hare’s printed shirts and stylish outerwear hang from the rails in his minimally decorated and airy Leith shop of the same name.
The Scottish Design Exchange
The Scottish Design Exchange | Ocean Terminal
Located in Ocean Terminal shopping centre, this independent art shops is anything but commercial. Owned and operated by the artists themselves, The Scottish Design Exchange is a concept store selling an extraordinary range of beautiful art and design products all made in Scotland. From jewellery and illustration to works by writers and musicians, it’s the ideal place to find a unique and homegrown item.
Flux | 55 Bernard Street
You’ll find this quirky and individual gift and lifestyle shop in two locations – Leith and Dunbar. Established in 1997, Flux believes in supporting local and ethical trade, with a strong sustainability ethos at the heart of their business. Their charming Leith shop is a treasure trove of items – from eco-homeware and quirky gifts to adorable children’s books and accessories, you’ll find an ever-changing world of wonderfulness each time you visit!
4. Relax by the Shore
Though it may be obvious, one of our favourite things to do in Leith is relaxing by the Shore.
This part of Edinburgh has a famously undeniable charm about it and a very different vibe from the rest of the city. It’s not till you’re in Leith that you really remember Edinburgh is a coastal city. Relaxing by the waters’ edge or enjoying fish & chips by the seaside, the salty air and sea breezes will transport you to another place.
You’ll also find the end of The Water of Leith Walkway here. This tree-lined path feels like a world away from the hectic bustle of the city and is the perfect place to escape to when you need some quiet time.
5. Drinks & Fine Dining
There’s a multitude of great pubs and restaurants to try here, many located by the Shore. Leith has also become home to some of Edinburgh’s finest restaurants, making it the ideal place to enjoy a luxurious meal out. Even HRM The Queen thinks so, who recently enjoyed a meal at The Fingal!
With everything from traditional pub grub to Michelin star haute cuisine, you’ll be spoilt for choice here. We’ve listed just a few of our many favourite places to eat and drink in Leith.
Toast | 65 Shore
Toast is Edinburgh’s first wine café, located on the Shore. It’s a busy but casual spot serving coffee and delicious cakes as well as some fantastic food, wine and cocktails. The snug and cosy brick-lined space with relaxing pavement seats make Toast the perfect place to catch up with a friend.
Roseleaf | 23-24 Sandport Place
This unique and playful family-run place is the ideal spot for a low-key but delicious drink with friends. With a colourful and quirky decor and an informal bistro feel, Roseleaf serves inventive cocktails in teapots alongside delicious food and fresh-baked goods. With everything else on the menu, from wine and real ales to loose-leaf teas and strong cups of coffee, it’s not hard to see why Roseleaf is such a popular hangout.
Teuchter’s Landing | 1c Dock Place
A popular spot among locals is this quaint dock-side pub. Teuchter’s boasts a beautiful waterside setting with a quaint pontoon-terrace that sits right on the canal, making it a unique place in Edinburgh to relax in the sunshine. They also have one of the city’s best whisky selections with over 100 malts to choose from. And for the hottest summer days, there’s even complimentary sun cream at the bar, so it really is the ideal place to enjoy a drink outdoors.
For more places to enjoy a drink in the sun, here are 8 of the best beer gardens in Edinburgh.
The Fishmarket at Newhaven
The Fishmarket | 23A Pier Place
This modern addition to the Edinburgh fish & chips scene is serving some of the freshest in town, caught daily from the waters just a few feet away. Cooked to order, you can choose from a range of fish from lemon sole to haddock. If you’re in the mood for something a little different, try the fish burger with harissa mayo or the oysters with a chilled glass of white wine. Take your meal to go or sit back and relax in their stylish and airy dining room.
If you’re a fan of this quintessentially British dish, this is where you’ll find Edinburgh’s best fish & chips.
The Kitchin | Commercial Quay, Commercial Street
Celebrity chef Tom Kitchin and wife Michaela opened their popular Leith-based restaurant in 2006. The following year they were awarded a Michelin Star after winning numerous prestigious awards including ‘Best UK Restaurant’ and ‘Best Restaurant in Scotland’.
In a chic converted whisky warehouse, you can sample some of the most refined food Edinburgh has to offer. Kitchin’s philosophy is ‘from nature to plate’ and he uses French techniques on the freshest Scottish produce to create his renowned cuisine. You may have to wait to get a reservation here but it’s well worth it.
Visiting Edinburgh with family this year?
We have a home away from home waiting for you!
With a wide range of family-friendly homes available to let, Dickins has the perfect holiday home for family’s travelling with small children. We also wrote a blog post recently on what makes Edinburgh such a brilliant city to visit with children, with suggestions for places to stay and things to do. You can read it here.