Days Out: Beaches in Edinburgh

  • The Midgie
  • 1 June 2009


Life's A Beach

Long summer days mean that there is plenty time to escape the city and head for sandy beaches and salty shores. Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside… Here’s our guide to Edinburgh’s best beaches. 


Just four miles outside the city centre is Cramond beach, with scenic walkways and colourful moored boats. There is also the mysterious Cramond Island about a mile out from shore and only reachable via a stone pathway when the tide is out. Apparently there are occasional ‘Punx Picnics’ held on the island, where groups of punk rockers head out at low tide and allow themselves to be stranded until early evening, playing live music and moshing to the sway of the sea. Rock on.
Getting there: Lothian bus number 41 goes from Princes Street directly to Cramond, with a journey time of around half an hour.


A little further out is Gullane, a petite village in East Lothian. It has a long coastal beach edged with large sand dunes - perfect for hiding away and having a quiet picnic (just watch out for the swooping seagulls - they’ve got a taste for cheese sandwiches and an eagle eye for scotch eggs). The village is also worth a stroll, with its mix of shops, pubs and little restaurants. Treat yourself to a fish supper at The Gullane Super Fry - where chips are served ‘Edinburgh style’ with salt and sauce.
Getting there: First bus numbers X5 and 124 go from Edinburgh Haymarket and stop at Gullane, with a journey time of around an hour.


Yellowcraigs has it all: golden sand, long grassland and dense surrounding forest. Wandering between these three types of natural environment is pretty special and is the reason why Yellowcraigs has been marked as a Local Nature Reserve. From the beach you can look across to the island of Fidra, which was the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. And it’s as beautiful on a blustery grey day as it is when basked in sunshine.
Getting there: First bus numbers X5 and 124 go from Edinburgh to Dirleton - Yellowcraigs beach is then about a miles walk away. 


Less than three miles from the city centre, Portobello is a bit of a doorstep beach. The disused promenade is nice for a nostalgic stroll and the little rock pools are perfect for poking around for sea creatures. But even better is people-watching on the beach front: slide your sunglasses down and ogle away. It’s a fun and lively place - with plenty of amusement arcades, cafes and shops nearby. It feels very much like an extension of the city, just with more sand and cockle shells.
Getting there: Lothian bus numbers 12, 19 and 42 will all take you from the city centre to Portobello in about half an hour.  

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