The rough guide to Portobello, Edinburgh's seaside

Neighbourhood Watch: The best bits by the beach

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Neighbourhood Watch: Portobello

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.

Who’s from there? Gail Porter and Ewen Bremner were in the same year at Porty High School, and there’s still a memorial at Sir Harry Lauder’s birthplace on Bridge Street.

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.

The Beach House

57 Bath Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1HE

Bright and roomy family friendly beach front café serving up delicious breakfasts, soup, sandwiches and cakes, all using local ingredients.

Dalriada

77 Promenade, Portobello, Edinburgh, EH15 2EL

Dalriada currently operates as a bar and live music venue, with events mostly taking place towards the latter part of the week.

The Espy

62–64 Bath Street, Portobello, Edinburgh, EH15 1HF

Casual, friendly, family-oriented beachside bar/restaurant with a tiki theme.

Porto Café

25–25A Promenade, Portobello, Edinburgh, EH15 1HH

Portobello Promenade has a faded seaside charm that’s equally appealing for eating chips from a wrapper in the sun or watching rain stream down a window in grey winter light. With its traditional bay frontage looking out over the sea and now opening all…

Reds

254 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 2AT

The sign reading ‘Six buggy limit’ says it all. If you live in Portobello and have small children, chances are you’ll know Reds and its large, soft cage – sorry, play frame – in the back room, where your offspring can slide and scamper while you eat or…

Comments

1. Bob Jefferson25 Mar 2011, 4:38pm Report

A couple of links worth checking:

Community website - porty.org.uk

Local discussion forum - forum.talkporty.org

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