A full view of the Royal Yacht Britannia berthed at Leith docks.

Royal Yacht Britannia

  • The Royal Yacht Britanniahas COVID-safety measures in place in response to the latest government advice.
  • The Britannia ship was rated the UK’s best attraction 2020 by Which? readers.
  • Experience life on board Her Majesty The Queen’s floating Royal residence!
  • Walk in the footsteps of world leaders who have visited the Britannia such as Nelson Mandela, Sir Winston Churchill and Rajiv Gandhi.
  • Visit Edinburgh and take a stroll down the Royal Mile and discover its fascinating history.


One of Edinburgh’s favourite tourist attractions, the Royal Yacht Britannia is permanently berthed in Leith, the old maritime centre just two miles from the city centre of Edinburgh. One of the most famous ships in the world, this royal yacht has been The Queen’s and the Royal Family’s ship for over 44 years. Throughout its years in service, it has travelled more than a million nautical miles and stopped at 600 ports and over 135 countries.

The Britannia has a long and fascinating life. The Queen's floating palace was launched on 16 April, 1953 by one of the most famous shipyards in the world, the John Brown & Co shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. The shipyard built the legendary liners, the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth.

The very first royal yacht built for ocean travel, it was commissioned to travel the world and also doubled as a hospital ship in time of war. Over the years, the 126-metre vessel has been a residence for official state visits, receptions and banquets, as well as royal honeymoons and family holidays. In 1986, the yacht helped British nationals and others trapped by the civil war urgently evacuate Aden in South Yemen.

A mother and daughter looking at some boating signage on the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The last royal yacht ever built, the Britannia was decommissioned on 11 December 1997 because the costs of a refit was too high, with estimates of some £17 million. Notice how all the clocks on board remain at 3.01pm, the exact time the Queen was piped ashore for the final time. The charity, the Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, now owns the ship and their sole purpose is to care and maintain the ship. Today, the Royal Yacht Britannia is a popular visitor attraction and floating museum in Edinburgh. It also holds exclusive evening events. Edinburgh was chosen as the home to the royal yacht after the government invited proposals from other cities in the UK.

The famous vessel is now visited by over 390,000 visitors each year and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city. From the Queen’s favourite room, the Sun Lounge, to the beautiful State Apartments, it’s possible to explore the Britannia’s five decks and see where Prince Harry and Prince William spent their holidays and where celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and Liz Taylor, were wined and dined. Whilst you tour the ship, younger children can enjoy searching for Clarence and friends in the Cuddly Corgi Treasure Hunt.

There’s a great variety of family-friendly attractions to keep you busy in Edinburgh, from taking a hike up to Arthur’s Seat to exploring the Royal Mile, which runs through the heart of the city and connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

What to know before you go

  • The Royal Yacht Britannia has put new safety measures in place, including a one-way social distancing system, a reduced capacity, timed tickets, regular hand sanitising stations, card payments only, free headphones for handsets, screens at reception desks and till points and an enhanced cleaning schedule. All visitors should bring a face mask to wear throughout the attraction.
  • From April until October, the yacht is open from 9.30am-4.30pm Monday to Sunday. From November until December, it’s open from 10am-3.30pm and from January to March, it’s open from 10am-3.30pm. The Royal Yacht Britannia is closed on 25 December and 1 January.
  • There is a free audio tour available in 30 languages and a braille script. There is also a separate children’s audio tour, an audio handset tour for the visually impaired and a tablet with the tour in British Sign Language available.
  • It’s not possible to store luggage on the yacht.
  • There is wheelchair access available throughout the attraction via a central lift and ramps.
  • It’s possible to take your buggy on board.
  • Baby-changing facilities are available in the Visitor Centre and on board.
  • Guide dogs are welcome on board.
  • Your visit to Britannia should last approximately two hours – longer if you visit the Royal Deck Tea Room.
  • Photographs are permitted.  
  • The on-board Royal Deck Tea Room serves freshly prepared homemade food, including soups, sandwiches, salads, cakes and scones. Leith is also a prime spot if you are looking for fantastic restaurants in Edinburgh, including Michelin-starred, fresh fish and steak establishments.
  • Looking to take home some souvenirs? The Britannia’s gift shop in the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre has a great range of royal gifts, children’s toys, food, chinaware, clothing, jewellery and nautical items.  

Getting there

  • The entrance is in the Visitor Centre, which is found on the second floor of the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre at EH6 6JJ.
  • Edinburgh Waverley train station is approximately two miles away.
  • From Edinburgh city centre, take the 11, 22 or 35 Lothian Bus service to Leith. The Majestic Tour bus departs from Waverley Bridge to Leith.
  • Please follow the latest government guidelines if travelling by public transport.
  • Leith is just a 20-minute drive from Edinburgh city centre. If you are driving to the royal yacht, follow signs for Leigh, Edinburgh or North Edinburgh. Follow the brown Britannia signs to the attraction.
  • There is a free car park at the Ocean Terminal car park. Level E of the blue car park takes you to the same level as the Britannia’s Visitor Centre. On this level, there are also disabled spaces and parent and child parking bays.

Images © Royal Yacht Britannia.

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