Whenever there is a glimmer of sunshine in Edinburgh, all the locals make a beeline for Portobello (aka Porty), our very own two mile stretch of golden sand. The area used to be a popular seaside holiday destination, and there is still reflections of that golden era on the promenade today, with an eclectic selection amusements, fish and chips, ice cream and retro sweet shops.
The history of Porty Beach
Portobello has been a popular seaside resort for at least a century. In 1876, the promenade was built between the town and the beach, and the stretch remains a well-loved part of the city up until this day.
In 1871 a pier was erected at the seaside, and remained operational until the early twentieth century. Eventually the structure started to rust and it was demolished, as it would have cost more to fix it than to just tear it down.
Like most seaside towns, Portobello doesn’t attract the same number of holidaymakers like it did in its heyday, but it is still a popular spot with people from all over Edinburgh and beyond for a nice little day trip by the sea.
Fancy a bite?
The promenade is strewn with fish and chip shops (most are open during peak season, unlike the shop above!) and ice cream vendors. Did you know that the famous 99 cone (with the flake jammed in the top) originated from Porty? True story.
If you find yourself getting peckish, you can grab one of Scotland’s favourite seaside treats, or head to The Espy for a warm seat, a pint and something more substantial.
There’s also lots of places to eat on the High Street nearby, with lots of nice little cafes and food shops. Here you’ll also find quirky vintage shops that sell sweets and knick-knacks. It’s a cracking spot for charity shops, too.
Things to do
Like many British seasides, there are a couple of amusements on Portobello Beach. There, you can try your luck on the 2p machines or play one of the games in the video arcade. A lot of these machines also issue prize tickets, which can be swapped for all sorts of cheesy stuff, like stuffed teddies, sweets and the like.
If video games or gambling with coppers isn’t your thing, you can also go for a swim in the Portobello swimming pool. There used to be a heated open air swimming pool where Sean Connery was a lifeguard, but no such luck nowadays. Having said that, the baths are still a good place to do a couple of laps, if you don’t fancy your chances taking a dip in the ocean.
Portobello beach is lovely for a day out, especially when the weather is good. Be wary though, on sunny weekends during the summer, you’ll probably have to fight for space on that gorgeous golden sand!
The best way to get to Portobello Beach is to get the bus 15, 21, 26, 40, 42, 45 or 49 to the High Street and just walk down one of the side streets. Remember to stop off at the sweet shops first!