Leith has long been an iconic neighbourhood of Edinburgh. Once the historic maritime centre of the city, Leith might have left its shipping past behind, but the area still remains a bustling and popular area for restaurants, bars and shops aplenty.
With its unique charm and distinct, vibrant neighbourhood feel, Leith continues to grow in popularity. Having recently been named one of the world’s ‘coolest neighbourhoods’, Leith is home to an eclectic and exciting array of local haunts and its own unique, independent feel.
If you’re tired of the usual tourist destinations or just want to see a bit of a different side to the city, heading for a day out in Leith will serve you well.
Here’s how to spend an afternoon in Leith.
Stroll Along the Shore
Situated at the mouth of the Water of Leith, The Shore was once the beating heart of industry in Edinburgh. Fast-forward to the present day and you’ll now find an area bustling with great bars, restaurants, cafes and shops.
Not only is there tons going on in The Shore, it’s also a beautiful spot distinctly unique from the rest of the city.
Before indulging in the food and drink spots along the Shore, first soak up the feel of the area by enjoying a short stroll along its waters. You’ll likely find some feathered friends in the form of ducks and swans swimming by. On a still day you’ll also get some amazing reflections of the building fronts on the water’s face.
Stop off for some caffeine and culture at Custom Lane
On the Shore front you’ll find Custom Lane, a collaborative centre celebrating and supporting world-class design in Scotland.
Custom Lane comprises of a café, shop, gallery, event space, workshop space and collaborative office space – of which the coffee shop, Williams and Johnson, offers up some of the best coffee in Leith.
This is one of my favourite spots to stop off, enjoy a cup of something warm and have a little nosey around the exhibitions and shops.
Displaying some off the best and freshest creative talent in Scotland, you’ll easily whittle away an hour or so exploring the delights of Custom Lane.
Entry is completely free, so no need to book ahead!
Soak up more Scottish design at the Scottish Design Exchange
If art and design is your thing then you’ll feel right at home in Leith.
Just down the road from The Shore you’ll find the Scottish Design Exchange located at Ocean Terminal.
The Scottish Design Exchange is the perfect spot to scout out and shop for some gorgeous new trinkets and treasures. The Exchange is owned and run by a group of artists who aim to show off the diversity of local artistic Scottish talent. You’ll find everything from textiles, ceramics, musicians to jewellery.
Every penny made goes back to the artists who have made the work with the aim of boosting the local economy and bucking current retail trends making this a great spot for supporting local and independent artists.
Pick up a treat or two at Leith Market
Every Saturday between 10am-4pm the Leith Market opens for business. Here, you’ll find stalls full to the brim of everything from pastries, meats, speciality coffee, kid’s clothing, picture framers, candles to organic fruit and veg. You can certainly find a treat or two at Leith Market!
On the first Saturday of each month the market also plays host to its very own Vegan Quarter on top of its lot of usual traders.
Indulge in Leith’s local eateries
There are plenty of local gems for foodie fans to discover in Leith.
From The King’s Wark located on The Shore, which offers up classic British dishes with a modern twist, to renowned Scottish chef Tom Kitchin’s michelin starred ‘The Kitchin‘, a stylish converted former whisky warehouse, which offers up the best of Scottish produces with a French twist.
If a good steak is your dish of choice head to the Chop House on Constitution Street. Here, you’ll find a meat menu to be unrivalled served up in chic surroundings.
If you’re looking for something slightly more low key then why not try out East Pizzas? A newbie to the foodie scene in Leith, East Pizzas serve up delicious Scottish sourdough pizza.
Time for a tipple
If you’re making a night of it there are loads of great bars and taprooms to visit whilst in Leith.
Stewart’s Dockside Tap is a beer lover’s haven. With ten taps of rotating beer, there’s always something on offer to suit everyone’s tastes. Plus, with vintage video games on offer, what’s not to love?
Alternatively, situated unassumingly in the middle of an industrial estate, you’ll find Campervan Brewery. With all its craft beers brewed on site in the tap house, Campervan offers a wide range of top-notch beers at a reasonable price.
What’s more, Campervan usually has street food trucks parked up outside, meaning you can enjoy a bite to eat whilst sampling the beers. Expect the delights of everything from Neapolitan pizza to kebabs.
Sample some of Leith’s local Street Food
Leith’s pioneering street food venue The Pitt Market is open seasonally on Fridays and Saturdays.
After taking a break in the winter they have now returned with an amazing new space which includes a sizeable new inside space which is fully sheltered, as well as their original outside yard. The new space is great for the unpredictable Scottish weather.
Sample some of Scotland’s finest street food with the likes of Wanderers Kneaded who cook up Neapolitan wood fired pizza, Barnacles & Bones who serve up quality shellfish, plus everything from burgers to gelato.
If all that scoffing gets you thirsty you’ll find plenty of watering holes to hit the spot. Edinburgh based brewers, Barney’s Beer make an appearance every week to offer up a great selection of beer. You can also expect to see the likes of Edinburgh based wine merchants Smith & Gertrude bringing a selection of their best wines.
The Pitt Market is the perfect place to head and hang out on those sunny days to enjoy a great food, drink and live music. They even have their very own fire pits to keep you warm as the sun goes down!
Unwind in the Links
After sampling the delights of Leith’s local eating and drinking spots chances are you’re ready for a relax. Where better to sit and watch the world go by than Leith Links?
The Links are Leith’s largest open green space complete with charming tree-lined avenues and walkways.
A space enjoyed by the whole community, expect to find walkers, joggers, ball kickers, picnickers, and those just looking to soak up the beautiful surrounds. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy peace and quiet in the heart of a bustling neighbourhood.