Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh stands as a testament to modern architecture and urban design. This iconic waterfront shopping and leisure complex is an unmissable destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a unique blend of retail therapy, entertainment, and fine dining experiences.
With its eclectic mix of high-street brands and independent boutiques, cinema, gym, and the impressive Royal Yacht Britannia (one of Scotland’s highest-rated tourist attractions), Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal is guaranteed to keep all members of the family entertained for hours on end.
In this article, we’ll step into the world of Ocean Terminal and uncover the treasures that await within its striking glass and steel facade.
|74 Ocean Drive,
|There are free multi-storey car parks with spaces for 1,600 cars at each end of Ocean Terminal.
|Tel: 0131 475 9400
|Shops, restaurants, cinema, gym, terrace, toilets, disabled toilets, disabled access, car parks, disabled parking, WiFi, dog creche.
The Ocean Terminal shopping and leisure complex is situated on the northern shores of Edinburgh near the historic harbour of Leith (read this article to learn more about this often-overlooked area of the city).
Traditionally a dockyard and industrial site, Leith was given a major redevelopment in the 1990s and it has now become a highly desirable place to live, especially at the Shore – a trendy district that centres around the tranquil Water of Leith and is home to some of the best bars and restaurants in the city.
Ocean Terminal lies 1/3 of a mile to the west of the Shore where it overlooks Newhaven and the Firth of Forth. This location is easily reached from the city centre by a number of bus services courtesy of Lothian Buses and it’s also on the tram line that runs to Edinburgh Airport, making it an ideal base for weekend getaways.
While I wouldn’t normally include a shopping centre in Out About Scotland, Ocean Terminal pretty much has to be included for a couple of reasons.
First, it’s a great place to head to for a meal with friends or family as there are several big-name restaurants in the centre and a couple of them have fantastic views across the Firth of Forth from the central hall’s enormous panoramic windows.
Second, Ocean Terminal is the home of the famous Royal Yacht Britannia which is one of Scotland’s highest-rated tourist attractions and is an absolute must-visit for anyone with an interest in ships or the royal family.
The complex is also home to quite a few shops, but sadly as of 2023 these are somewhat in decline, possibly because Ocean Terminal is earmarked for a complete refurbishment in the near future which will change its layout.
Although there are quite a few decent shops left in the shopping centre, if retail therapy is the order of the day I’d personally recommend heading to the excellent St. James Quarter in the city centre instead.
That being said, the entertainment options are pretty good, especially if you visit with family as there’s a multi-screen Vue cinema on the top floor along with a revolving assortment of activity venues.
Previous years have seen everything from virtual reality experiences to table tennis sessions, so if you’re wondering what to do with the kids on a rainy afternoon it might be worth popping into Ocean Terminal to see what’s currently available.
The centre also has a large toddler play centre complete with a cafe, a gymnasium, frequent art displays, temporary museums, and the Ocean Terminal market which is a great place to pick up locally-made arts and crafts at the weekend.
Coupled with the fact that Ocean Terminal is close to some highly-recommend restaurants in both Newhaven and Leith, it’s safe to say that visitors aren’t exactly going to get bored by taking a short bus ride (approx 30 minutes from Princes Street) to explore this underappreciated corner of Edinburgh.
1: The main highlight of Ocean Terminal is, of course, the Royal Yacht Britannia. This former floating palace is one of Scotland’s highest-rated tourist attractions and is a must-visit for all sightseers.
Everything from the audio guide to the shop at the exit is absolutely top-notch, though a special mention has to go to the onboard restaurant which serves delicious food with stupendous views of the waterfront.
2: Ocean Terminal is a good destination for families as there are a variety of restaurants in the leisure complex as well as a cinema, a children’s play centre, and plenty of baby-changing facilities.
3: The main hall features enormous windows with lovely views across the Firth of Forth and there’s also a terraced area where it’s possible to sit outside and enjoy a drink while enjoying the sea view.
1: If you’re heading to Ocean Terminal specifically for the Royal Yacht Britannia, you might consider upgrading your entrance ticket to allow free re-entry for one year from the date of purchase. It’s a great way to make return visits to Britannia’s superb restaurant.
2: Getting to Ocean Terminal is a breeze thanks to the many services operated by Lothian Buses. As well as the frequent trams that run to and from the city centre there are also multiple buses that will take you to Princes Street and back. Look for numbers 11, 34, 35, and 36. The 200 airport bus also runs to Ocean Terminal, and bus numbers 10 and 16 will take you to nearby Lindsay Road.
3: It’s not widely advertised but there’s a dog creche at the front of the Ocean Terminal shopping centre where you can safely leave your furry friend while you head inside for a spot of retail therapy. Prices are around £5 per hour or £25 for the day.
If you’re planning to arrive by car you’ll find two large multi-storey car parks at either end of the main building, both of which are free to use.
Public transport users, meanwhile, can step straight onto Ocean Drive which runs along the front of the shopping centre thanks to both tram and bus stops located outside the main entrance doors.
As far as disabled and pushchair access goes, Ocean Terminal is fairly well designed with plenty of open space and lifts at either end to take visitors from the ground floor to the two levels above, as well as more lifts at each end which go to all levels of the car parks.
There are escalators on the southern end of the central boulevard while the northern end has lifts only (strange design choice in my opinion), but on the whole, the shopping centre is easy enough to get around for all abilities.
With regards to toilets, there are disabled ones on the ground floor and standard male and female blocks on all others along with baby changing facilities, as well as more toilets in the restaurants, and from my visits I can confirm they’re all kept clean and tidy – as is the rest of shopping centre.
If food is the main focus of a visit I personally recommend checking out Zizzi on the ground floor as it has the best views of the Firth of Forth (and the food’s good too), while for drinks I recommend the Ocean Bar which has great views overlooking the water as well as an outdoor terrace area.
Most people, though, will head to Ocean Terminal to see Britannia which is moored alongside the centre on Whisky Quay.
Access to the ship is through the ticket office on the 2nd floor where you’ll then take steps or a lift back down to the ground level to board the vessel before returning back up and exiting through a gift shop.
You can, of course, purchase tickets from the on-site ticket office, but you might also consider buying the all-in-one sightseeing ticket below which includes entry to Britannia, Edinburgh Castle, and Holyrood Palace (three of the best sights in Edinburgh) as well as a hop-on hop-off bus tour to see all of the other highlights the city has to offer.
Things to Do
Shopping Spree: Ocean Terminal is a great place to go shopping with over 70 stores catering to diverse tastes. Whether you’re looking for fashion, electronics, or home furnishings, you’re bound to find something inside this mall.
Dining Out: The shopping complex houses numerous restaurants and cafes offering a wide range of cuisines. From pizzas to coffee and cake, there’s something to satiate everyone’s palate. The highlight has to be enjoying a meal while overlooking the stunning waterfront of Leith docks.
Royal Yacht Britannia: Docked right next to Ocean Terminal is the Royal Yacht Britannia which served the British Royal Family for over 40 years. A tour of this historic ship is a fascinating peek into the life of royalty at sea.
Cinema Experience: Ocean Terminal boasts a state-of-the-art Vue Cinema where you can catch the latest releases. With over 2,000 comfortable seats and top-quality audio systems for 12 screens, it’s the perfect place for movie lovers.
Keep Fit: For those seeking wellness and relaxation, the PureGym within Ocean Terminal is definitely worth a visit. Work out in a well-equipped gym that’s open 24/7.
Things to Do Nearby
Royal Yacht Britannia. Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ. 12-minute walk.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is one of Scotland’s highest-rated tourist attractions.
Britannia served the nation as the royal family’s yacht and was sent on diplomatic missions to every corner of the globe. Today, she is open to the public as a paid attraction and is moored alongside Ocean Terminal.
Leith. Shore, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6QN. 12-minute walk.
Leith is a historic district in Edinburgh that centres around the Water of Leith, Leith Harbour, and the restaurant-packed Shore.
As well as being home to a collection of historic buildings that are worth seeing for their architecture, Leith is also a vibrant hub for artists, it has a popular weekend food market, and it is home to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society.
The Water of Leith. Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6HE. 6-minute walk.
This famous river runs for 12 miles from the Colzium Hills outside of Edinburgh to Leith. The majority of the river has a wide footpath that is popular with locals for walking and cycling. The Water of Leith has many sections that are bordered by woodlands and the river itself is a haven for wildlife.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The Vaults, 87 Giles St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6BZ. 5-minute walk.
The Vaults is the main site for the Scottish Malt Whisky Society in Edinburgh.
Set in a historic warehouse in the centre of Leith, The Vaults houses a vast collection of single malt whisky from across Scotland and is highly regarded for its fine dining and whisky-tasting experiences.
Leith Links. 4 Links Gardens, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 8AA. 12-minute walk.
This is an informal garden and play park that was historically a golf course but has now been revamped into a recreational area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have to pay for parking at Ocean Terminal?
Parking at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Edinburgh is free for customers. The shopping centre has two large multi-storey car parks with over 1,600 spaces, including disabled and family spaces.
How many floors does Ocean Terminal have?
Ocean Terminal is a single, straight boulevard on three levels. It features a variety of shops and restaurants on the ground floor and the first floor. The second floor has more dining options and a cinema. There are additional levels for parking.
How old is Ocean Terminal Edinburgh?
Ocean Terminal first opened in 2001. The retail and leisure complex currently occupies three floors and covers 420,000 square feet.
Is Ocean Terminal being demolished?
As of 2023, there are plans to demolish around one-third of the building on the north end and install a new front, cycle and walkways, and commercial units.