Launched in 1953, The Royal Yacht Britannia served the Royal Family for nearly 50 years, until it’s decommissioning in 1997. Aside from the Royal Family, the yacht also welcomed a number of high profile politicians and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.
Being based near Edinburgh, I was amazed when I discovered that Damon had never visited. I hadn’t been in nearly 10 years so one rainy weekend we decided to take the full tour and enjoy the tea room.
Location And Getting There
The Britannia is permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal, Leith just north of Edinburgh city centre.
By Car and Parking
The easiest way of getting there is by using Google Maps. Alternatively, use the postcode EH6 6JJ or follow signs for Leith, then the brown Royal Yacht Britannia signs.
Parking is free at Ocean Terminal if you’re taking a car. The blue car park, level E, is closest to the Visitor Centre.
You can find the Visitor Centre on the 2nd floor of the shopping centre, towards the Debenhams end.
The 11, 22 or 35 Lothian Bus services will take you to the Britannia from the city centre of Edinburgh. Tickets can be purchased with correct change on the bus (no contactless payment option), online, from the Lothian Buses m-tickets app or from a preloaded citysmart card.
UberX, UberXL and Exec are available in and around Edinburgh. Prices vary but use our Uber code: andrewy2730ue or sign up here to get a free ride.
The Britannia is open all year round, with the exception of the 25th of December and the 1st of January.
Admission Times are also dependent on the season:
*Last admission is 2:30pm on December 24th and 3pm on December 31st.
For updated opening times, check out this page on the official website.
The Royal Deck Tea Room
**The Royal Yacht Britannia is closed on December 25th and January 1st. Last admission to the Royal Deck Tea Room is 2:45pm on December 24th and 3pm on December 31st.
Ticket Types and Prices
Ticket prices remain the same all year round:
Your ticket will grant you access to the visitor centre, the yacht itself (self guided tour with included audio guide) and the Royal Deck Tea Room.
Groups of 15 or more get access to special rates which you can find more information about here.
Once you’ve purchased your ticket, you can apply for a free annual pass (just ask at the till), allowing you to visit during the following 12 months. The Annual Pass will also entitle you to a 15% discount at the tea room and the gift shop.
The Annual Pass is a great idea, especially if you’re considering a return visit to the tea room. We’ll talk in more detail about the Tea Room later on but for now I’ll just say a return visit might be likely.
After purchasing your ticket at the till, you’ll first take a walk through the Britannia Visitor centre where a short exhibition will tell you about the history of the ship.
After that, you’ll get given your audio guide, which is available in 30 languages:
English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian, Korean, Japanese, Urdu, Mandarin, Hindi, Arabic, Thai, Turkish, Cantonese, Punjabi, Portuguese-Brazilian, Welsh, Romanian and Gaelic.
There are also English audio guides available for children, visually impaired visitors and for those with learning disabilities. For those with hearing difficulties, a British Sign Language tablet or printed script can be provided.
The tour of the ship itself lasts approximately one hour.
You will get to see the full five decks of the ship.
Near the top of the ship, towards the stern you can find the teak-lined sun lounge. This was a private family room where The Queen would enjoy afternoon tea.
The state dining room, the largest room on board, hosted royalty, prime ministers and presidents. Sir Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were all entertained in this venue.
The room is still actively used as an events space and can accommodate up to 196 dinner guests.
One of the surprises on the tour was the freshly made fudge, which you could sample for free on one of the lower decks.
Royal Deck Tea Room
When Damon and I thought about going to tour the Britannia, we read that there was a tea room on board. We didn’t, in all honesty, expect much, based on our experience with most museum cafés. But this completely surprised us.
The Royal Deck Team Room sits in a beautiful glass box on Britannia’s top deck, with stunning views over the Forth and the bridges in the distance.
The menu offers a range of soups, sandwiches and cakes. You can also choose from a selection of teas, coffees, alcoholic (wine, champagne, whisky, cocktails etc.) and non-alcoholic soft drinks.
Damon and I both opted for the Britannia Special (a soup and sandwich platter). Everything on the plate was delicious, from the Cullen Skink soup to the chicken sandwich and the smoked paprika potato wedges.
The whole experience, from the view to the food and the silverware really surpassed our expectations.
A central lift makes the Britannia accessible on all levels and accommodates wheelchair users or those with specific access needs.
Ocean Terminal, where you gain entry to the Britannia, has disabled Parking on every level and lifts connect each floor.
Recognised assistance dogs are welcome on board.
For further information, check out this page on the official Royal Yacht Britannia website.
Take The Tour In The Morning
A morning tour will likely be quieter than an afternoon tour. Naturally, the ship has some close quarters so the less people the better.
Buy Tickets online To Skip The Queue
If you purchase your ticket online, you won’t have to wait at the till. On peak days, especially during summer, this can save you a lot of time. Tickets are priced exactly the same.
Don’t Miss It If your Cruise is Berthed Nearby
Cruise ships regularly dock in Leith. The Britannia Visitor Centre is likely only a 5 minutes walk from your cruise ship.
Take Advantage Of Free Parking At Ocean Terminal
You wouldn’t normally see ‘Edinburgh’ and ‘Free Parking’ in the same sentence so take full advantage if it’s the easiest way to get there for you. Ocean Terminal, Blue Car Park, Level E.
Take Advantage of The Free Annual Pass
We only discovered this was an option after our visit. When we ate in the tea room, we thought we’d like to go back but we didn’t want to have to pay full admission again for the privilege. This, for 12 months at least, solves that problem.
The Royal Yacht Britannia is consistently rated one of the top tourist attractions in Scotland and, after my return visit and Damon’s 1st visit, we could see why. Have you visited the Royal Yacht Britannia? Or do you have any questions before your trip? Let us know in the comments down below.