The Royal Yacht Britannia Visitor Guide

By Craig Neil. This post includes affiliate links.

The Royal Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of HM Queen Elizabeth II which is located in the Ocean Terminal shopping centre at Leith in Edinburgh.

The yacht is one of Scotland’s premier tourist attractions and visitors can explore it on a self-guided tour that takes them through the main dining hall, the royal family’s private quarters, and the engine room.

Royal Yacht Britannia
Address:Ocean Terminal,
Opening Hours:January - March: 10:00 to 17:00
April - August: 09:30 to 18:00
September - October: 10:00 to 18:00
November - December: 10:00 to 17:00
Admission Price:Adult: £18.00
Student (with ID): £16.00
Child (aged 5-17): £9.00
Child (under 5): Free
Family (2 adults and up to 3 children): £49.00
Parking:Free car parking in Ocean Terminal multi-storey
Contact:0131 555 5566
Facilities:Restaurant, gift shop, toilets, audio guides, private tours
BUY TICKETSClick here to purchase



The Royal Yacht Britannia is the former royal yacht of the British royal family which is now a major visitor attraction located at the Ocean Terminal shopping centre in Leith, Edinburgh.

Over the course of her working life, this floating palace was the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II during her overseas tours and the ship sailed over one million miles around the world while promoting British interests abroad.

The vessel is now kept in immaculate condition by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust and is open year-round for visitors to follow in the footsteps of world leaders as they walk through it from the royal’s private quarters to the below-deck engine rooms.

Royal Yacht Britannia

You can explore every nook and cranny of the enormous ship from the state dining room to the engine room, and throughout your tour you’ll find interesting information panels that will give you a glimpse into what life would have been like on board this iconic example of British maritime history.

There’s also an excellent restaurant onboard the ship and a first-class shop in the visitor centre, and as Britannia is moored alongside Ocean Terminal you can easily visit the restaurants, shops and cinema that the waterfront shopping complex has to offer.

This is an absolutely first-class attraction and although it’s a little outside of Edinburgh’s city centre it’s definitely worth visiting, especially if you’re a fan of the Royal Family or have a love of ships and history.

Royal Yacht Britannia

The highlights

1: The ship is a fascinating insight into the life of royalty. Imagine a stately home but at sea.

2: The audio guide is interesting and the visitor centre is first class. No wonder HMY Britannia is one of Scotland’s top-rated tourist attractions.

3: There’s more to see and do than you might think, from visiting the bridge to the engine room by way of the galley, the bedrooms and the dining room. You’ll spend a good 2-3 hours on Britannia.

Visiting tips

1: Royal Yacht Britannia tickets are expensive if you only make one visit but they allow unlimited re-entry for one year, so keep hold of them after your visit.

2: Ocean Terminal is a nice wee shopping centre with a cinema and several cafes and restaurants. You could easily stretch your Britannia visit to last a full day if you use those facilities.

3: If you want to explore the city centre after a visit to Britannia take Lothian Buses services 11, 22, 34, 35 and 36. Highlights of Edinburgh include Edinburgh Castle (obviously), Calton Hill, The Scott Monument, Holyrood Park and Holyrood Palace.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Tourist information

The ship is entered via the visitor centre in Ocean Terminal which is situated on the top floor of the shopping mall.

As you walk around Britannia’s five main decks on a self-guided tour you can listen to an audio guide that explains what life was like on board not only for the royal inhabitants but also for the Royal Navy crew that manned her during her voyages.

Starting at the bridge you pass through the state apartments, the crew quarters, and the engine room before finally reaching the racing yacht Bloodhound which is part of a fascinating royal sailing exhibition.

There are some genuinely interesting sections of this ship that all members of the family will enjoy exploring – including the huge state banquet room with its massive dining table and the gleaming Rolls Royce Phantom that used to travel on the ship along with the Royal Family.

Royal Yacht Britannia

If you fancy a little treat for yourself as you walk around Britannia you can pick up delicious homemade fudge in the NAAFI sweet shop.

There’s also a highly recommended restaurant in the Royal Deck Tea Room where you can sample top-notch Scottish cuisine as well as coffee and sandwiches if you just want a snack.

The entry ticket includes free re-admittance for a year so if you ever come back to Ocean Terminal and fancy treating yourself to some quality food you could always take another visit just for the restaurant.

Britannia hosts events throughout the year with two or three different themes running each month so I recommend you return before your annual pass runs out.

Just be aware that in the summer months it gets very busy, although that’s not surprising seeing as the attraction is frequently voted as one of the top five in Scotland.

Royal Yacht Britannia


Britannia was built at the Clydebank shipyards near Glasgow and successfully launched in 1953, with her maiden voyage to Malta beginning in 1954.

During her time at sea Britannia was manned by volunteers from the Royal Navy, some of whom liked it so much they served on her for over 20 years.

Whenever royalty was on board the vessel a full troop of Royal Marines accompanied them and during this time they would have sailed around the globe several times as the royal family undertook their ambassadorial duties in almost every nation on earth.

Britannia also performed services as an aid ship when she evacuated over 1000 refugees from the civil war in Aden in 1986, and she was ready to be converted into a hospital ship at a moment’s notice.

Britannia was eventually decommissioned in 1997 after mounting political pressure regarding the cost of maintenance made her continued use impossible.

She was finally tied up at Ocean Terminal where The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust was set up to look after her, and today over 300,000 visitors make the journey each year to experience her fascinating role in British history.

Ocean Terminal is a 15-minute drive from Edinburgh city centre, and the Royal Yacht Britannia Visitor Centre is on the second floor.

Royal Yacht Britannia

Things to do

Check out the Britannia Visitor Centre: Start your visit at the Britannia Visitor Centre located in Ocean Terminal. There, you can discover Britannia’s fascinating history through exhibits and photographs before you step aboard the yacht itself.

Explore the Royal Yacht Britannia: Step aboard the British monarch’s former floating palace and explore the state apartments, crew’s quarters, and engine room. This magnificent ship offers a unique glimpse into royal life at sea thanks to audio guides which are included in the ticket price.

Tea at The Royal Deck Tea Room: After your tour, unwind at the Royal Deck Tea Room. Enjoy traditional teas, delicious cakes, sandwiches, and spectacular views of the docks and the Firth of Forth. It’s a great way to reflect on your visit to Britannia before deciding where to go next.

Attend a Special Event: The Royal Yacht Britannia hosts a variety of events throughout the year, from Hogmanay celebrations to Burn’s Night suppers. To see which events are coming up next, head to the official Royal Yacht Britannia website.

Visit The Gift Shop: You cannot miss Britannia’s gift shop in Ocean Terminal which offers a wide range of exclusive gifts and souvenirs. From royal memorabilia to nautical-themed toys, you’re bound to find the perfect memento for your visit.

Discover more places to visit in Edinburgh with: The Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh – Ultimate Visitor Guide.

Ocean Terminal


Longest Serving Royal Yacht: The Royal Yacht Britannia served the British monarchy for an incredible 44 years, from 1954 to 1997, longer than any other royal yacht in history. Over this time, it sailed over one million miles worldwide.

Secret Escape Plan for the Royal Family: During the Cold War, the Britannia was part of a secret plan in case of a nuclear attack on the UK. The yacht was designated to retrieve the Queen and Prince Philip and sail them to a safe location.

A Floating Royal Residence: The Britannia was not just a yacht; it was a floating royal residence. The onboard accommodations were designed by Sir Hugh Casson, the director of architecture for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

No Royal Standard on Maiden Voyage: On its maiden voyage to Grand Harbour, Malta, in April 1954, Britannia did not fly the Royal Standard as the Queen was not onboard.

Impressive Guest List: The Britannia hosted numerous famous figures during its service, from Winston Churchill and Nelson Mandela to Bill Clinton. It also welcomed royalty from around the world including Emperor Akihito of Japan and King Hussein of Jordan.

Venue for Royal Honeymoons: The Britannia was the honeymoon venue for four royal couples, including Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones in 1960, Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips in 1973, Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson in 1986.

No Permanent Home Port: Unlike many royal yachts, Britannia did not have a permanent home port and was instead docked at whichever naval base was convenient.

Crew of Royal Yachtsmen: The Britannia was crewed by the Royal Yachtsmen, who were volunteers from the general service of the Royal Navy. At any given time, there were about 220 yachtsmen serving aboard.

Things to do nearby

Ocean Terminal. 74 Ocean Dr, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ. 2-minute walk.
A large shopping centre that’s one of the first arrival points for ships sailing into the Firth of Forth. Ocean Terminal contains a collection of restaurants, coffee shops and department stores.

Ocean Terminal

Leith. 8-minute walk.
A vibrant and historic area of Edinburgh that is renowned for its trendy bars and restaurants. Leith is architecturally significant for the number of restored Victorian warehouses that line Commercial Street and Bernard Street. Some of Scotland’s best restaurants are located in Leith, including The Kitchin and Wishart.

The Water of Leith. Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6HE. 11-minute walk.
A walkway that runs for 12 miles from the Colzium Hills outside of Edinburgh to Leith. The majority of the path is set on quiet pavement that runs alongside the river. Much loved by locals for its wildlife.

Leith Links. 4 Links Gardens, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 8AA. 18-minute walk.
Informal gardens and play park that was historically a golf course but has been revamped into a recreation area.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society. The Vaults, 87 Giles St, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6BZ. 13-minute walk.
The Vaults is the main site for the SMWS in Edinburgh. Visitors can sample a range of quality single malt whiskies as well as gins and rums, along with optional expert-led tasting sessions.

Frequently asked questions

Where is the Royal Yacht Britannia berthed?

The Royal Yacht Britannia is berthed at Leith Port in Edinburgh, next to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre.
Address: Ocean Terminal, Leith, Edinburgh, EH6 6JJ

Directions map: Google Maps

How much does it cost to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia?

Prices vary depending on visitor age. Under 5’s go free. Visit the official website for the latest entry prices.

Who owns Royal Yacht Britannia?

The Royal Yacht Britannia is owned and managed by the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust.

Why did they decommission the Royal Yacht Britannia?

The Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 due to maintenance costs and changing politics which meant the yacht was considered unnecessary.
It was estimated in 1996 that a refit would cost £17 million and would only prolong the ship’s life for an additional 5 years.

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By Craig Neil

Craig Neil is a travel writer from Edinburgh with a passion for visiting Scotland's tourist attractions. Over the last 15 years he has explored Scotland from the Shetland Islands to the Scottish Borders, and he shares his travel experiences in Out About Scotland.