Neighbourhood Watch: Leith, Edinburgh

Neighbourhood Watch: Leith, Edinburgh

A beginner's guide to the capital's port town

What’s it like? It’s Leith. If you’re an Edinburgh List reader, it’s very likely you live there. Glossy bars, Michelin-starred restaurants and warehouse conversions squaring off against cobbles, pint’n’pie pubs and Hibees. Vibrant, community-focused (it has its own radio station and a number of online community newspapers), utterly distinct and still not entirely sure that it’s really part of Edinburgh.

Where’s it, like? Technically, it’s the area around the port at the very north of Edinburgh to the top of Leith Walk, spreading up Easter Road to encompass Hibernian FC and all the way along to the Terence Conran-designed Ocean Terminal.

Am I right in thinking I can take a tram there? Oh, you prankster. Watch your mouth.

Who’s from there? Only the most internationally-famous Edinburghers in the last two decades: Renton, Sick Boy, Spud and Begbie (let’s just pretend that the film wasn’t actually shot in Glasgow) and of course, their creator, Irvine Welsh. You can still take Trainspotting tours during the festive months. Other notable Leithers include Eduardo Paolozzi, who created the Hand, Foot and, er, Ankle(?) sculptures at the top of Leith Walk, and The Proclaimers, obv.

Why would I go there? Because just about anyone can have a good night out in Leith: delicate flowers can get their cocktails-in-teacups fix at The Roseleaf, the hippy-to-arts-enthusiast scale is covered by the variety of events and activities at the Out of the Blue Drill Hall, off-beat families and singletons alike can find a home at Sofi’s or Joseph Pearce’s and upmarket foodies have a whole plethora of Michelin-starred establishments to choose from (Plumed Horse, The Kitchin, Restaurant Martin Wishart). Fortunately, you can still access the real Leith at legendary pub the Port O’Leith. Just don’t look at anyone’s pint funny.

Where should I start?
We’re big fans of the Edinburgh Murmur, a low-fi audio tour through Leith history, as told by its residents.

Elsewhere on the web

Dance Base @ Out of the Blue Drill Hall

30–36 Dalmeny Street, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 8RG

Joseph Pearce’s

23 Elm Row, Edinburgh, EH7 4AA

Casual bar at the top of the Walk with Scandi food and an intimate vibe.

The Kitchin

78 Commercial Quay, Edinburgh, EH6 6LX

Michelin-starred since 2007, The Kitchin remains loyal to its ethos of creating exceptional dishes using the finest Scottish seasonal produce.

Port O'Leith

58 Constitution Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6RS

Changed days for this Leith institution – summer 2017 saw new owners, a refurb and a change of direction towards craft beers and cocktails.

Restaurant Martin Wishart

54 The Shore, Edinburgh, EH6 6RA

Michelin-starred excellence combining top quality local ingredients with traditional French techniques.

The Roseleaf

23–24 Sandport Place, Edinburgh, EH6 6EW

Welcoming destination pub with a chintzy clutter of board games, beer, healthy juices, comfort food and cocktails.


65 Henderson Street, Edinburgh, EH6 6ED

A laid-back local with plenty of festivities on offer.


1. Killian10 May 2013, 11:33am Report

Bit slow off the mark but I like this guide. The Port O'Leith? I'm glad you agree: there are no words.

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