Edinburgh’s position in the east of Scotland means that if you fancy a visit to the seaside there are lots of lovely beaches near Edinburgh to choose from. Choosing the BEST beaches near Edinburgh is pretty subjective, So I’ve decided to list some of my favourites with the disclaimer that of course there are plenty more beaches close to Edinburgh that you could visit too.
Some of these are easy to reach but others you’ll need a car to get to, and most and on the south of the Firth of Forth with just two over in Fife listed.
So let’s get started!
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“Porty” as it’s known to locals, is the closest beach at just three miles east of Edinburgh city centre and draws in crowds from the city on fine days (yes, they do exist in Scotland!). Portobello was originally a village that has now been absorbed into Edinburgh as a suburb but has managed to retain its seaside village feel.
There are around two miles of sand to sunbathe or have a picnic on, bordered by a lovely promenade that passes historic houses and some lovely little cafes and pubs too. The Beach Cafe or the Espy are two of our favourites and great thing for couples to do in Edinburgh.
Located to the northeast of the city where the River Almond meets the Firth of Forth, Cramond is easy to reach on the number 41 bus.
The main attraction is the tidal walkway to Cramond Island, it’s one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems! Visit two hours either side of low tide and you’ll be able to walk across to a kilometre long paved causeway to Cramond Island.
The island was originally used for grazing sheep and was home to a farmstead, then during World War II it was fortified with defensive guns and shelters. The remains of these can still be seen and explored today. Just make sure you don’t get stuck on the island!
North Berwick is one of my favourite seaside towns in East Lothian and a lovely day trip from Edinburgh. It’s so easy to reach on a 30-minute train. It has a lovely town centre with shops and independent cafes (the ice cream and fish and chips are so good!) as well as lovely coastal views and two beaches to choose from, Milsey Bay and West Beach. West Beach is the best for sunbathing and swimming.
If you tire of the seaside you can always head out on a boat to Bass Rock from the Scottish Seabird Centre or walk up North Berwick Law for stunning views across the countryside and out to sea.
Aberdour Silver Sands
The only beach in Fife to feature on this list, the popular Silver Sands is easy to reach by public transport and is also adjacent to the Fife Coastal Path walking route. The beach looks out across the Firth of Forth to Inchmickery and Inchcolm islands, and there are beach facilities like toilets, a cafe, and lifeguards in the summer. You can rent kayaks or even try windsurfing in summer, and it’s a popular spot for families.
Tyninghame Beach is also known as Ravensheugh Sands and has a wide expanse of sandy beach backed by sand dunes, and with views across to Bass Rock. It’s a little more difficult to get to, but you can park at “Limetree Walk” and then walk through the woods to get there. We actually looked at a wedding venue just near here once and the views were amazing!
Aberlady is a lovely East Lothian village with a small collection of shops and cafes. From there you can walk across a boardwalk and through the nature reserve to the beach. Thee are sand dunes, salt marshes, and mudflats all around to explore.
Silverknowes Beach stretches from Marine Drive along to Cramond Island and is partly sandy and partly pebbles. There’s a walkway running alongside the three mile long stretch of beach with facilities at either end.
Turn your back to the adjacent Torness power station and you have a lovely expanse of coastline to admire. The beach at Thorntonloch is only around 400 metres long but it’s a popular spot for swimming and fishing, and the caravan park just behind it.
There’s free parking and toilet facilities at the caravan park but you’ll need to head to nearby Dunbar for any other amenities.
Gullane Beach is popular with walkers all year round and sunbathers in the summer. It can be a breezy spot but the wide expanse of sand makes it one of the best beaches near Edinburgh. There are lots of different access points to the beach over the sand dunes. Be sure to take everything you want with you as it’s not a quick trip back to the car!
Yellowcraigs is one of the more remote beaches near Edinburgh on the list, as you need to drive down a small country lane near the village of Dirleton to get there. But the golden sands and large sand dunes make it well worth the trip! There are also lots of rock pools to explore, making it a fun family day out.
Seacliff is actually a privately owned beach, but for the princely sum of £2 the owners will let you drive through to visit it. It’s a short walk down to the beach and there are lovely views to Tantallon Castle further down the coast and Bass Rock out at sea.
Whitesands lives up to its name, as the white sands are in contrast to the many other golden bays along the coast near Dunbar. You travel down a single track road to reach the curving, secluded bay backed by grasslands. The bay is sheltered by rocks at either end and at low tide there are rock pools to explore.
Located near Longniddry, Gosford Sands is another East Lothian beach that you will need a car to reach. There’s lots of sand for sunbathing and the nearby cliffs make it an ideal spot to see sea birds in their natural habitat. Note there are no facilities nearby and you’ll need to find parking just off the main road.
Another lovely beach near Dunbar, but this one is within walking distance of the train station which means it’s a beach within easy reach from Edinburgh. Belhaven Bay is actually part of the John Muir Country Park and the stunning views and sand dunes have seen the beach featured on many lists of the best beaches in Scotland. There’s also a surf school nearby if you want to try!
Musselburgh is only a short distance from Edinburgh and easy to reach by public transport. It actually has two beaches but Fisherrow is my favourite.
It runs from the harbour to where the River Esk meets the Firth of Forth, alongside historic houses and drying greens. The walking path alongside the beach is also part of the John Muir Way that stretches from Helensburgh north of Glasgow to Dunbar on the east coast.
There are public facilities at the harbour and it’s a short walk to Musselburgh High Street where there are plenty of places to eat too.
Finding a beach near Edinburgh is actually really easy! These 15 beaches near Edinburgh are just a few of many. There are so many lovely little bays to explore, including those in the east but also over in Fife. Plenty of new places to find and explore!
Planning your Edinburgh trip? Check out these posts!
- Want to know what to see in Edinburgh? Check out Planning your Edinburgh trip – What to do!
- Taking a day trip? North Berwick: The Perfect Day Trip from Edinburgh
- Want to have an epic experience? Read The Edinburgh Tattoo
- Visiting in the winter? Read Edinburgh in Winter – Why to visit
- Harry Potter fan? Check out the Harry Potter in Edinburgh: Top locations and tour map
- Coming to Edinburgh in August? Check out Edinburgh Festivals Guide, everything you need to know!