Portobello in Edinburgh, or ‘Porty’, is where the locals go when they want some beach time (maybe not sunbathing beach time, this is Scotland after all!), but walks along the beach, fish n chips, ice cream and perhaps some mini doughnuts.
It’s a great place to go if you want to get away from the nosier city centre of Edinburgh and soak up some fresh sea air.
But, it isn’t just the beach that’s the main thing to do in Portobello. Portobello near Edinburgh has other attractions too.
From cosy cafes with tempting treats to delicious bagels, cute shops and more, this seaside escape from Edinburgh has plenty to offer and there are more things to do in Portobello than you’d first think.
So, if you’re planning to visit Portobello during your trip to Edinburgh, be sure to check out this guide to this cute seaside town.
How to get to Portobello from Edinburgh
There are several ways to get from central Edinburgh to Portobello and they’re all pretty easy.
To get the bus from Edinburgh to Portobello, take route number 26 from Edinburgh city centre towards Portobello. This takes about 20 minutes depending on traffic and buses running throughout the day.
Alternatively, you can drive which takes around 15-20 minutes too.
Or, if you want a more active option, you can cycle on the cycle path from Edinburgh to Portobello in about 30 minutes, or walk through Edinburgh’s park and the cycle route to Portobello in about an hour.
Best things to do in Portobello, Edinburgh
If you don’t want to travel as far as North Berwick for a beach day then Portobello has everything you need for a fun day out from Edinburgh.
1. Enjoy Portobello beach
Portobello Beach offers several miles of golden sand, and a promenade full of shops, restaurants, and some arcades. There’s truly something for everyone at Portobello Beach.
No matter the weather during your trip to Portobello Beach you can enjoy the beach itself. In the winter and colder days, enjoy a walk along the promenade and bravely dip your toes into the refreshing water.
On a warm day, pack a blanket or a towel and soak up the sun on the beach, cooling off in the sea when you get too hot.
Visiting Portobello Beach is an excellent way to spend a day in Edinburgh!
2. Get bagels from Bross Bagels
Bross Bagels is a popular Edinburgh bagel chain with several locations throughout the city. We first tried it in Portobello and ended up going back several times during our stay in Edinburgh.
Their bagels are absolutely delicious and packed full of filling that makes for a very satisfying lunch.
We tried their haggis bagel, their BLT and some of their veggie options too and all were delicious.
3. Indulge in sweet treats at Twelve Triangles
Twelve Triangles is a much-loved bakery chain with several locations across Edinburgh, including one in Portobello.
This bakery is a must-visit spot for anyone with a sweet tooth looking for a delicious start to their morning, or a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
All of their bread, croissants, and doughnuts are made and shaped by hand by their skilled bakers. The bakery is open daily from 8:30 am until 2 pm, or until they sell out.
4. Visit the Portobello swim centre
The Portobello Swim Centre is a leisure centre in the heart of Portobello.
It has a gym, fitness studio, swimming pools, and Edinburgh’s only authentic and publicly available Turkish bath. This bath is one of only three remaining in Scotland and adds a unique touch to your trip to Portobello.
The swim centre originally opened in 1901, and today it is a much-loved local building with category A listed building status.
It’s a great place to visit if the beach is a little bit too cold for swimming or sunbathing!
5. Attend the Portobello farmer’s market
The Portobello Market is held in Brighton Park on the first Saturday of every month and is a popular attraction in Portobello.
This market is a great place to find local and organic fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, and baked goods and you can also find locally made and upcycled crafts and gifts too.
As you wander around the market you’ll really get a sense of the strong community in Portobello and it’s a great place to pick up some trees for a seaside picnic or some unique souvenirs.
6. Watch some beach volleyball
Portobello Beach in Edinburgh is a popular spot for beach volleyball lovers.
The beach is home to several permanent volleyball courts run by the Edinburgh beach volleyball club, making Portobello Beach makes it the perfect place to try out beach volleyball if you never have before.
We used to play casual beach volleyball in Vancouver and we loved it, it’s always fun to play with friends if you’re not taking it too seriously.
If you’d rather watch, you can see local clubs and teams playing fairly regularly throughout the summer.
7. Wander Figgate Park
Figgate Park is a stunning park near Portobello that is known for its variety of birds and aquatic wildlife living in the pretty pond.
It’s a popular spot with families who come to feed the ducks and it’s a great place for a walk too with views of Arthur’s Seat along the way.
8. Dine on the waterfront at The Esplanade
If you’re looking for a spot to grab a bite to eat in Portobello, The Esplanade Bar & Restaurant is a great choice.
Located right on the waterfront, the pub serves classic pub food with a view making it the perfect spot for dinner or lunch during your trip to Portobello.
9. Warm up with tea at The Beach House
The Beach House is the perfect place for a slice of cake or a warm drink on a cold day walking along the promenade at Portobello.
10. Grab a drink at Portobello Tap
Portobello Tap is a cool pub that has a great selection of beers from some of Scotland’s best independent breweries. They’ve also got a great selection of whisky too!
It’s the best place in Portobello to hang out with friends in a beer garden on a nice sunny weekend afternoon.
11. Attend one of the events on the promenade
Portobello’s promenade hosts plenty of events throughout the year.
One of the most popular events is Edinburgh’s annual Big Beach Busk, a festival that celebrates music and art while raising funds for local charities. Another worth checking out is Art Walk Porty Festival, a two-week event showcasing contemporary art from local and international artists.
12. Shop for gifts in Portobello
Portobello is home to several independent stores selling everything from fashion to home decor and unique gifts and souvenirs.
For book lovers, The Portobello Bookshop is a must-visit to browse their shelves full of a huge variety of genres.
Two Sisters is a great gift shop with homeware, gifts and more, while Cove is another shop with unique and handmade gifts, including natural shampoo bars and jewellery from local artists.
13. Enjoy the amusement arcades near the promenade
No trip to Portobello Beach is complete without a visit to the amusement arcades near the promenade.
Nobles Amusements is a popular spot for visitors of all ages and has plenty of classic arcade games inside that’ll keep you entertained whatever the weather but especially when it rains!
Final thoughts on the best things to do in Portobello
Portobello is a cute seaside town in Edinburgh that offers plenty of things to see and do whatever time of year you visit.
While it’s best in the summer since you can enjoy the beautiful sandy beach, attend an even or watch the beach volleyball players, the shops, restaurants cafes and bars will keep you entertained in the winter and colder months too.
FAQs about the best things to do in Portobello
Is Portobello Edinburgh worth visiting?
Yes, Portobello Edinburgh is definitely worth visiting. It is a charming seaside town with plenty of things to see and do!
What is Portobello Edinburgh famous for?
Portobello Edinburgh is famous for its long sandy beach which is popular year-round, whatever the weather.
Is it worth visiting Portobello Beach?
Yes, it is definitely worth visiting Portobello Beach you’ll get stunning views, and a long sandy beach, and find plenty of things to do in Portobello.
How far is Portobello from Edinburgh?
Portobello is approximately 4 miles from the centre of Edinburgh, which takes about 20 minutes by car or bus.
How long is Portobello Beach Walk?
The Portobello Beach Walk promenade is 2.2 miles long making it perfect for a gentle walk.
Hannah started That Adventurer after graduating back in 2013 and has documented all of her adventures since then. From backpacking South America to city breaks in Europe, a 3 month road trip across the USA in a self-converted van and 6 years living in Canada, you’ll find posts on all of this.
Hannah specialises in active travel and on That Adventurer you’ll find hiking, walking, biking, skiing and all sorts of active travel guides to allow you to see a destination in an adventurous way.