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Photograph: ShutterstockPortobello Beach, Edinburgh

Six great beaches within easy reach of Edinburgh

Written by
Izzy Gray

There are many reasons why you should visit Edinburgh during the summer (particularly when, post-lockdown, it's looking likely that we'll be holidaying closer to home), yet perhaps most overlooked is the city's coastal location. 

Edinburgh has countless beautiful beaches on its doorstep, and whether its views across the Forth you're after or the rugged beauty of East Lothian, you don't have to look far to find the perfect spot to whittle away those long sunny days. Here's a round-up of the best beaches the area has to offer...

1. Cramond

A short ride on the number 41 bus will take you straight to the quaint hamlet of Cramond, where whitewashed houses overlook the Firth of Forth.  The beach at Cramond is vast, and can change dramatically as the tide comes and goes.  At certain times of the day, you can walk across the kilometre-long causeway to the mysterious Cramond Island, but just remember to check the tide times first - you don't want to end up marooned with the gulls! The village may be small but it's certainly endearing, and you'll be sure of a friendly welcome at the harbour-front inn.

Cramond Island

2. Portobello

'Porty Beach', as it is fondly known, is one of Edinburgh's nearest and most popular beaches. Just a 15 minute bus ride from the city centre, the traditional seaside town draws in huge crowds on a sunny day, and it's easy to see why; with over two kilometres of golden sands, a lengthy promenade, amusement arcades and even Turkish Baths to explore, there's definitely something to keep everyone happy if the water gets a little nippy. For great food and drink, head to The Espy.

Portobello Beachalljengi

3. North Berwick

Just half an hour by train from Edinburgh's Waverley Station lies the gorgeous town of North Berwick. With dramatic coastal walks, the imposing Law hill to climb, and an abundance of shops, restaurants and galleries to explore, it's the perfect place to spend a day escaping the rush of city life.  The town is home to two excellent beaches, Milsey Bay and West Beach, both of which offer long stretches of sand, great swimming conditions and views out towards Bass Rock.  

North BerwickJulia Gillen

4. Seacliff

A short drive from North Berwick lies Seacliff Beach, one of the East Coast's best kept secrets. The beach at Seacliff is privately owned but can be accessed for a small fee of £3, and is the perfect place to spend a quiet afternoon away from the crowds. With a picturesque redstone harbour and views out towards the ruins of Tantallon Castle, it's a great spot to set up for a picnic, or - if you're feeling brave - why not take part in a pony trek with the nearby Seacliff Stables?
Seacliff Beach

Seacliff BeachAlan Craigie

5. Belhaven Bay

A little further afield lies Belhaven Bay, part of the John Muir Country Park.  The beach is within easy walking distance from Dunbar train station (a 20 minute journey if you jump on the East Coast line from Waverley), and has won numerous awards for its pristine sands, rolling dunes and excellent views out towards the Forth Estuary.  It's a popular spot for surfing, and lessons can be booked through the nearby Coast to Coast Surf School.

Dunbar Harbour

6. Silver Sands

The beach at Aberdour, Fife, is as much famous for its silver sands as it is the views out over the Forth and its islands, Inchcolm and Inchmickery. The beach is small but picturesque, and particularly popular with families over the summer months, as its famous bouncy castle opens for business.  The beach is also renowned for its water sports, and is a great place to rent a kayak or try your hand at windsurfing.

Silver Sands

Silver SandsBarry Hall

Looking for more post-lockdown escapes? Check out these seven amazing day trips from Edinburgh.

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