Oh we do like to be beside the seaside! Oh we do like to be beside the sea!
Nothing screams out ‘British Summertime’ quite like sandcastles, ice cream and beach side cafes. So many childhood memories. So many embarrassing photos… Sigh…If only there was a place like that somewhere within the Edinburgh vicinity.
Oh wait! There is! A sunny seaside slice of joy called Portobello!
Originally an independent town up until 1896, Portobello is now a residential suburb of our fine city and a splendid way to spend a day out or, if you are a particular fan of the salty ocean air, set up a permanent base.
With miles of award winning sandy beaches and all of the additions you’d expect to find in any classic seaside setting, you’ll feel completely separate from the city centre whilst being within easy reach of all of that Auld Reekie goodness.
Sound like something you’d like to investigate?
Well, slap on that sun cream and slip on those sexy flip flops! We’re taking a trip down to the coast. Portobello, here we come!… Oh, and make sure to read to the end. There might just be a secret tip hiding for you there.
We know that the centre of town has a mind blowing array of things to do, see and admire, but Portobello really is a different beast altogether and really worth checking out. Whether summer or winter, this increasingly fashionable side of Edinburgh smiles all the year around and we think that it really could put a beam on your face.
Portobello Beach is undoubtedly the big attraction of the area and understandably so. With two miles of golden sandy fun right there for you to enjoy, this easily accessible and clean little beach offers free deckchairs and plenty of opportunities to relax or have a kick around with the kids. Have a dog? Enjoy a stroll with a coffee? Then this is the place for you.
Portobello Swim Centre has just what you need if a dip in the ocean isn’t quite your thing. Opening way back in 1901, we’re not talking about your average leisure venue here. In fact, this category A listed building has one of only three remaining publicly available Turkish baths in all of Scotland. Now that’s worth getting steamed up about!
Figgate Park lives just between Portobello and Duddingston and is a feast for the eyes, ears and soul. Gloriously green and with s stunning pond at its centre, if this place doesn’t stir something deep inside you then it may be time to visit the doctor. With wildlife around every corner and the scent of nature in the air, this is what living is all about. Glorious.
Bellfield was a Parish Church back in the day, but has since been transformed into a vibrant space for the community to explore their creativity. A great spot to meet local people, talk and explore, this welcoming space is just where you want to go if you want to get stuck in with all sorts of fun and sociable activities. Take a look! Get involved!
Coffee & Cake
So, you’ve had a gorgeous morning stroll across the beach. The sea breeze blowing through your hair. The 7am sun kissing your face. It’s glorious. So glorious, in fact, that nothing could possibly make any of this any better…Well except, perhaps, a good old brew! A cake, maybe? Oooh, a classic bacon butty!…Wait, what were we talking about?… Let’s get some breakfast.
The Beach House is the perfect seaside establishment. Sitting right there on Portobello Promenade, the views and the food make for one tasty combination. Providing simple and locally sourced food, delicious coffee and homemade ice cream that will blow your mind, this popular choice is one that never disappoints. A first-rate experience.
Twelve Triangles believes in simple things done well. And, ladies and gentlemen, have they nailed that one down. There are a few of these dotted around town and they’re all definitely worth visiting, but this one just might be our favourite. Amazing pasties, proper coffee and absolutely perfect staff. This is the real deal
Passey’s Café Bar & Bistro offers a little bit of something for everybody and we absolutely love it! Priding itself on being inclusive and delivering the very best of what they do, the loving culture of the place shines through in its loving atmosphere. The coffee is spectacular and the food as comforting as they come. A very pleasant experience and a business worthy of your support.
Go Go Beets may just be the finest vegetarian/vegan eatery in the area. Based in the heart of Portobello, if you are after a non-meat selection, then this is most definitely the place. The food looks and tastes utterly divine and you simply could not get nicer people than the staff who work here. Utterly fantastic.
Reading what you’ve read so far, you’d be forgiven for thinking that being at this end of town is all about kicking back and chilling out. But, whilst this is most certainly an option free and available to you, it should be noted that there is also another side to this sunny little neighbourhood that you are encouraged and welcomed to explore. That’s right people. It’s time to go shopping!
The Portobello Bookshop needs no explanation as to why we’ve included it to this list. It is, after all, a bookshop. And who doesn’t like a bookshop? This one, in particular, is a truly fantastic addition to the Edinburgh collection and bound to keep you entertained and educated for many hours at a time. Essential reading.
239 High Street takes Scottish style and then turns it up to eleven. If tweed is your thing (and, let’s face it, why wouldn’t it be), then this iconic Portobello shop is going to absolutely rock your world. It’s all about style, style, style here on 239 High Street. Gone are the days of looking dishevelled and unconfident, plodding down the road. You’re going to make this life look good!
Cove is the very best of local shopping. With a great range of independent and locally sourced gifts, you may have just found your Christmas shopping goldmine. Because, when it comes to Portobello shops, this really is the bee’s knees. Great customer service and always fully stocked with goodies. Welcome to the cove!
Bars & Restaurants
All of that fresh air and retail therapy can royally take it out of you. What you need now is to kick back, have some good food and maybe a cheeky wee drink or two. Sound like a plan? Well, worry not a jot! Portobello has got plenty of options for you if wining and dining is your sort of pass time. Cheers!
The Esplanade Bar & Restaurant is one of the most popular places to chill out in the area…and it’s not difficult to see why. With charming and quirky décor complimenting those stunning window views, this place is all about great food, great drinks and great staff. A local favourite.
Boathouse has ‘sunny day hang out’ written all over it. Seriously, if the sun is out and you fancy treating yourself to some top notch grub, then you need look no further than this fantastic bar and grill. The super location and buzzing atmosphere would be enough in itself, but throw in everything else that they have to offer and you’ve got yourself a sure fire winner. Sure to float your boat.
Foresters Guild could not be more trendy if it tried. And, yes, that is a compliment. The bar is stunning to look at and that’s before you notice the beverages that they have to offer. The whole establishment is nicely decorated and serves up some delicious bites to keep the grumbles away. A modern masterpiece.
Portobello Tap won Scotland’s Craft Beer Bar Of The Year in 2020/21, which alone should convince you to pop in to have a look. And once you’re in, you’ll never want to leave. Providing unbelievable street food and a broad variety of liquid pleasure, there’s really nowhere quite like it in this part of the world. Put it in your diary. Things are about to get tasty.
And our secret tip?
Portobello Market lands on the first Saturday of every month at Brighton Park and certainly worth a gander. Fresh food, drinks and crafts are always a delight to behold and you’ll find no shortage of that here. And who doesn’t like a market?