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Amazing Attractions for Anyone Sailing into Edinburgh's Port



The port of Edinburgh is situated in the far north of the city in an area called Leith and, truth be told, it’s a short trip from the world famous Old Town and the hustle and bustle of the city center so all of the city center attractions are a short taxi or bus ride from the port. However, you don't need to travle so far to find some great places of interest.

The jewel in Leith's crown is the Royal Yacht Britannia. If you want a glimpse of the opulent life of royalty it is an unmissable treat. You can see the Queen's quarters,the royal drawing room, and you can even take afternoon tea on the royal deck.

There are numerous lovely parks and walks near to the port, but for a more active experience you could try your hand at rock climbing at Alien Rock. This purpose build attraction is great fun for beginners and experts alike and is only a short hop from the port.

Edinburgh has a wide selection of museums and art galleries for those looking for a more relaxed and cultured day out. The National Gallery of Modern Art houses a fascinating collection and the grounds are both beautiful and serene.


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National Gallery of Modern Art


You'll find the National Gallery of Modern Art housed in a stunning neo-classical building in the west of the New Town. It was originally a school, built in the 19th century. The sizable grounds are a perfect home for an interesting mixture of sculpture and the huge "Landform" landscaped front lawn is sure to catch your eye on the way in. Inside the gallery you'll find a stunning array of works by artists such as Picasso, Braque, Mondrian, Ben Nicholson, Matisse, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. There are also frequent international exhibitions. Entry to the permanent collection is free, special exhibitions sometimes have an entry fee.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The National Gallery of Modern Art houses an impressive collection that will tempt art lovers.

Simon's expert tip: This is a great place to sit outdoors on a sunny day and there are plenty of works to enjoy in the grounds of this grand building.

Read more about National Gallery of Modern Art →


Royal Botanic Gardens
Photo courtesy of Calum McRoberts


Any plant or flower, rare and common, can be seen and enjoyed at the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was originally developed as a learning conservatory for students, but it has grown to become an example to the world. The rock garden, arboretum, and over 70 acres of shrubs, blooming plants, and trees are great fun to explore. There is also a serene Chinese Garden and a duck pond. Some of the plants date all the way back to the dinosaur age. You will also find exhibitions and interactive activities for children in the main building and there is a shop, a restaurant and a couple of cafes. On a sunny day you'll enjoy the peace and beauty you'll find here. There are also some spectacular views of the city.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Royal Botanic Gardens cannot be beat for a gentle stroll and features some stunning views of the city.

Simon's expert tip: Make sure you visit the Terrace Cafe for gorgeous views of the castle, it's perfect for a picnic. You should also check out the John Hope Gateway where you'll find a great gift shop and sometimes events, displays or activities.

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Urban Paintball is Edinburgh's first and only indoor paintball experience. Since it first opened in it has been gaining a reputation for fast, frenetic yet friendly fun. Well aware that paintball courses can sometimes be rather off putting for those without military training or an excess of testosterone, Urban Paintball go out of their way to be professional and inclusive. They employ state of the art technology and equipment, and staff are attentive and supportive. The area is a warren of corridors and halls with numerous props to provide cover as you advance on the opposing team. This is a great active experience for anyone over the age of eleven, and a perfect venue for team building or those on a hen or stag day out.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Urban Paintball is great fun for newbies and paintball veterans alike

Simon's expert tip: You can just turn up and play, although on holiday weekends booking is advisable as the area can get busy.

Read more about Urban Paintball →


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A stone's throw from the center of Edinburgh lies the serene and beautiful Dean Village. Once separate from the city, Dean Village was the site of a series of water mills and remnants of this industry can still be seen today in the carved stone plaques decorated with images of pies and bread. The Water of Leith runs through the village and it is spanned by the fabulously ornate Dean Bridge which was designed by Thomas Telford. The nineteenth century workers building Well Court has been faithfully restored using only traditional methods even down to the correct pigments of paint and it is both fascinating and charming. Dean Cemetery is maintained as a not-for-profit trust and is the resting place of prominent Scots including the railway engineer Sir Thomas Bouch and painter David Octavius Hill. Dean Village is a great place to explore on foot.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Deav Village is a lovely place for a picnic or a short walk

Simon's expert tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the ornate carvings dotted around the village, many of which nestle behind lush green foliage

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Discover how the wealthy lived in 18th century Edinburgh. This stunning townhouse was designed by the supremely talented architect, Robert Adam, in 1791. Charlotte Square was an exclusive New Town address and it has been carefully restored by Scotland's National Trust. The home combines Greek and Roman influences in architecture, as was the trend at the time, and all the home furnishings mirror the Georgian period. In the bedroom, you will find a four-poster bed with an original 1700's canopy. The kitchen is adorned with Wedgwood china. You'll feel as though you've stepped back in time when you enter The Georgian House and it really does offer a fascinating insight into Edinburgh's past.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Georgian House is a fascinating and beautiful attraction

Simon's expert tip: This attraction offers something for the whole family and kids will enjoy the opportunity to dress up.

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Water of Leith Walkway


The Water of Leith Walkway is an idyllic and tranquil path and cycle track which snakes its way through the heart of Edinburgh. The walkway passes numerous beauty spots and places of interest including Saughton Winter Gardens, Colinton Village and Dell, the Union Canal, the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village and Stockbridge, and the Royal Botanic Garden. As part of your walk or cycle why not pop into the Water of Leith Visitor Center? This free attraction features video and interactive presentations and includes a lovely café and gift shop. There are also numerous events held throughout the year including guided walks, family events and an annual plant sale which has proved very popular.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The Water of Leith Walkway gives you a different perspective on the vibrant city of Edinburgh

Simon's expert tip: Practical Action Days allow members of the public to get involved. Why not join them for some exercise, fresh air and the knowledge that you have helped preserve this beautiful natural asset?

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Trinity House was built in 1816 (on the site of a medieval mariners hospital dating to the 1500's) as the home of the Incorporation of Shipowners and Shipmasters, a charity dedicated to supporting injured and retired seamen and their families. It is a beautiful building which has been restored to a high standard by Historic Scotland and which is furnished with antiques and period pieces throughout. It also features intricate stained glass windows (in particular the War Memorial Window dedicated to sailors who lost their lives in the First World War) and a fascinating collection paintings and maritime memorabilia. Tours are by appointment only.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Trinity House is a beautiful building with a fascinating maritime collection

Simon's expert tip: Look out for the unique collection of chairs in the main entrance hall inscribed with the Trinity House emblem "Pervia Virtvti Sydera Terra Mare" ("The earth, the sea and the stars are conquerable by men of courage")

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The ceramic experience is an award-winning visitor attraction located on Ocean Drive, close to Ocean Terminal in Leith. The attraction combines a ceramic painting workshop with a delightful cafe and a soft play area. Visitors can select from a huge range of black ceramics and make use of their stencils or design their own totally unique art works. Ceramics are then fired in their kilns overnight and a ready to pick up the following day. There is no entrance fee and the soft play facilities and ball crawl are free to patrons of the ceramic workshop and cafe making this attraction very popular with families.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: To indulge your artistic side or let the kids run off some steam in the soft play head to the Ceramic Experience

Simon's expert tip: The Ceramic Experience can also cater for groups and is a great place for a child's birthday party, hen activity or corporate event.

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Alien Rock was the first dedicated indoor climbing arena in Scotland and remains a very popular attraction with expert and novice climbers. Built into the shell of the former church building, Alien One is a an intricate climbing space with sections for beginners as well as seasoned climbers including a spectacular roof overhang section which will delight expert climbers. Sections are color coded so that every climber can choose their perfect route. Alien Two is a dedicated bouldering area which is great for beginners. There is a great kids club and training is available for climbers of all levels. They also take group bookings making this a fun activity for youth clubs, corporate events and even stag or hen events.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Alien Rock is great fun, and exercise, for all the family

Simon's expert tip: If you want to make contact with a climbing partner you can use their face book page to meet other enthusiasts.

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The Royal Family used this yacht as a means of transportation to places all over the world. After 968 royal journeys, ownership changed hands. The boat now belongs to and is maintained by The Royal Yacht "Britannia" Trust. Today visitors can tour the quarters in the yacht, which is permanently anchored in Leith at Ocean Terminal. The Queen's room and the Captain's Cabin are as they were when the Royal Family used them so you can get a real flavor of the luxury they enjoyed. The Royal Deck Tea Room offers fresh baked scones and cakes, as well as soup and sandwiches that can be enjoyed with a glass of bubbly or a cold beer.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: You'll see the Royal Yacht Britannia as you sail in to the port and it offers a fascinating glimpse into luxury sailing.

Simon's expert tip: The Ocean Terminal shopping mall in Leith offers plenty of free parking and entrance to the yacht. Audio guides are provided and you can easily spend a couple of hours exploring. The Tea Room is expensive but there are plenty of reasonable cafes and restaurants in the mall.

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Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

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