2 Leith Edinburgh

Hip Culture Outpost
Creative Capital
Traveller Value
Hip Hangout Score 27

Best spots for a caffeine hit

Pet-friendly Printworks Coffee dazzles in two departments: the artisanal coffee and the devilishly scrumptious selection of cakes.

Most instagrammable places to visit

Visit The Shore on a crisp winter morning to get a shot of Leith’s historic buildings reflected in the canal – you’ll might find yourself wondering whether you’ve accidentally gone too far south and ended up in Amsterdam.

Mouth-watering must-eats/drinks

The Ship on The Shore serves up fish-focused masterpieces in elegant surroundings. The Fruits de Mer showpiece fits over a two-tiered stand ready for two people to dive into and comes with a side of champagne.

Key facts

  1. Transport links: Several bus services connect Leith to Edinburgh centre, and Edinburgh airport. The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley, a 20 minute bus ride away
  2. Famous for: Berthing the Royal Yacht Britannia previously owned by the royal family
  3. Avg cost of hotel room per night: £69

While tourists will be familiar with the city of Edinburgh, they’ll probably be less aware of the district of Leith, located on the banks of the Firth of Forth just two miles away from the capital. In the 14th century, the area held much importance as the port of Edinburgh but, today, it’s primarily a vibrant meeting place for creatives, full to the brim with award-winning restaurants, achingly-cool cafes and galleries. Interview Room 11 in a not-for-profit organisation which aims to collaborate with emerging Edinburgh artists, where architects, sculptors and painters are encouraged to showcase their wares in a public space. Another similar organisation is Out of the Blue & Drill Hall Arts Cafe, which offers opportunities for creatives to mix, learn and develop, while the homely Swedish-themed Boda Bar hosts vegan nights and vintage pop-ups.

The unassuming Roseleaf bar and cafe packs a punch, blending together florals with retro features such as typewriters and Baroque-style chairs for a regal, yet cosy vibe. Chefs use local, sustainable ingredients wherever possible, rustling up meals from scratch – the spiced halloumi cheese served upon lentils, spinach and a caramelised balsamic beetroot salad is a particular star of the menu. For somewhere a little different and to treat yourself, head to Michelin-starred restaurant The Kitchin. Far from pretentious, the restaurant focuses on bringing seasonal natural ingredients to the plate, in surroundings that look like a stylish ski lodge. Afterwards, there’s always The King’s Wark, a much-loved 15th century pub which in the past has had turns as an old smuggler’s haunt and a plague hospital. Thankfully, what you’ll find there now is hearty Scottish cuisine and an enviable display of cask ales and malt whiskies.      

As well as year-round creative ventures, Leith is renowned for its annual events. Leith Festival is an amalgamation of community events from a family fair to live music, a photography exhibition, tours, demonstrations and displays. The Leith Late Festival, however, takes things to a further level, with electric installations, on-street interventions and panel talks; it’s basically a more low-key, alternative version of the Edinburgh Festival. Throughout the year, Leith Late has two ongoing public art initiatives: The Shutter Project and Mural Project. These focus on transforming Leith’s streets and shop shutters with new artworks, including poignant wall murals by international street artist Guido van Helten.

Emily Ray, The Cosy Traveller

With a fantastic range of cool bars and innovative restaurants, Leith has become one of the trendiest places in Scotland. And, thanks to the likes of Trainspotting, Sunshine on Leith and the MTV Europe Music Awards, which were held here in 2003, Leith has also become intrinsically linked with pop culture. This part of Edinburgh boasts a proud history and, with more and more visitors from all over the world falling for its charms, Leith faces an exciting future.Manuela Calchini, Regional Director for Edinburgh and the Lothians from Visit Scotland 
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