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Blog - A day out in Edinburgh: visiting Leith

Posted on 29/10/2013

Situated to the north of the centre of Edinburgh, Leith harbour is a vibrant and cosmopolitan area, with plenty to see and do. The Ocean Terminal, with its bustling shopping centre, and its magnificent centrepiece, the Royal Yacht Britannia, are evidence of the transformation of the former docklands into a desirable residential, retail and leisure complex. The entire area now boasts stylish and desirable accommodation, alongside some of the best restaurants and bars, shops and leisure facilities. Leith boasts the best dining that Edinburgh can offer.



Leith has been regarded as the port of Edinburgh for hundreds of years, with harbour facilities for shipping in existence since at least the fourteenth century. As Edinburgh expanded during the eighteenth century, the port at Leith became a shipbuilding area, with extensive docklands along the Firth of Forth. Although Leith had always historically been a separate town from Edinburgh, in 1920 it became subsumed into the City of Edinburgh. Sadly, when the last remaining shipyard closed in 1983, Leith’s port and harbour area went into a decline. During the early 1990s, the original harbour area underwent a transformation as regeneration took place. The Western Docks area was in-filled to create the land on which the huge Ocean Terminal now stands. Today, many of the old industrial buildings in the docklands area have been restored or transformed into modern residential developments.

The Ocean Terminal and the Royal Yacht Britannia

The Ocean Terminal was designed by Sir Terence Conran and opened in 2001. With a vast range of retail outlets, restaurants, cafés and bars, the terminal also offers a trendy fitness centre and a luxurious spa in which to pamper yourself after a long day. The Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed alongside the Ocean Terminal. Launched in 1953, the royal yacht has toured the world, being used on many state visits and global celebrations. Britannia was eventually decommissioned and brought to Leith to occupy a permanent berth as a tourist attraction for the city of Edinburgh.

Other attractions

The Waters of Leith rise in the Pentland Hills and flow through Edinburgh to emerge in the harbour of Leith. A path runs alongside the river for almost thirteen miles. The world renowned artist, Antony Gormley, was commissioned to produce six life-sized humans figures, which are sited between the National Gallery of Modern Art and the docks at Leith.