The rough guide to Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside
- Kirstin Innes
- 24 March 2011
Neighbourhood Watch: The best bits by the beach
What’s it like? An utterly charming, slightly wonky area of Edinburgh, characterised by the city’s only beach and a very distinct, anti-corporate local community ethos. Formerly the holiday destination of most Central Belters, a lack of investment in recent years has left its famous prom with a slight air of faded glamour, but not unpleasantly so. And by the way, it’s called Porty, alright?
Where’s it, like? Three miles to the east of the city centre. Catch a 15 or 26 bus from Princes Street and get off when you see the sea.
Why would I go there? Just for a day out at the beach! It’s clean, and kinda gorgeous even when the weather ain’t. That community ethos we mentioned extends to a locally-run monthly organic market, and plans are underway to make the area into a self-sustaining transition town. There are always community-run activities on the go: Edinburgh’s Big Busk, where hundreds of musicians sit all along the prom and play anything they like, is on Saturday 27 August this year. And you can’t miss the Victorian grandeur of Portobello Baths, crowned with one of the only original and still-functioning Turkish baths in the country.
What about shopping and going out? Portobello High Street is excellent for fishmongers, butchers and cute oddities like jewellery and coffee shop Mei Li. Cosily hip pub-on-the-prom The Espy has done a lot to reinvigorate the area’s eating and drinking culture and runs regular events; other goodies include the Beach House Café, kiddy-friendly Reds, daily-caught haddock at the Porto Café, and the cavernous Dalriada bar.
Where can I find out more? pedal-porty.org.uk, a community-orientated site about the transition town scheme, is a good source of local info.