Scotland, as a travel destination, offers so much beauty and charm to its visitors. The west coast, in particular, is one of the country’s most popular destinations.
This area of Scotland offers adventure, quaint towns and stunning sea views. Visitors will also find beaches, historic sites, museums, renowned golf courses and wildlife.
If the west coast of Scotland seems like a destination you would like to explore, here is a guide to its best towns.
Located in Southern Ayrshire, this village is one of the most picturesque. There’s a tiny fishing harbor that functions as the central hub, and the Dunure castle is the main attraction.
While the harbor used to have a fleet of fishing boats, the number has been dramatically decreasing since the 1960s. Now, the boats that remain are mostly for leisure. While visiting, check out:
- Dunure Castle: The ruins are about 300 years old and most of them can be accessed by visitors. This castle used to be the primary seat of the Kennedy family which is part of the reason why it’s of interest. It’s also located close to Kennedy Park which is home to a butterfly garden.
- Croy Shore Beach: It’s only a few miles south of Dunure and has a sandy beach with a good climate for windsurfing.
- Culzean Castle: Six miles north is this castle, one of the most loved in Scotland.
This town is just slightly inward from the coast. It’s not visited often but it has a lot of history and great whisky. When visiting, check out:
- The Churchyard: It dates back to 1244 when it was built by monks. There are ruins and a graveyard still located on the site.
- Souter Johnnie’s Cottage: This classic cottage can be toured by anyone interested in a little history. The original architecture is what gives this place its charm.
- Whisky Tasting: The whiskies here are award-winning and guests can pop in for a tour to give them a try. You can even take some home with you as a souvenir.
This town is a seaside resort with a popular beach. It dates back to 1668 and is one of the area’s main attractions. When visiting, make sure to check out:
- Ailsa Craig: It’s an island and a nature reserve. Guests can visit by boat.
- Byne Hill: Visitors can take this seaside route that offers great views of Ailsa Craig. The trail reaches 200 meters above sea level.
This village is one of the smallest on the coast. However, the views are spectacular. In fact, this is one of the most popular spots for seal sightings.
It’s located right on the Ayrshire Coastal Footpath which makes it easy to visit while exploring the other towns.
There’s a small beach that offers great views of Ailsa Craig. And, just south of the village lies the ruins of Carleton Castle from the 15th century.
This village can be found on the Ayrshire Footpath. Visitors can stroll the path and get a look at the plaques which tell stories of the town’s history and nature.
While visiting, make sure to:
- Take a walk in the nearby Stinchar Valley which has eight different walking paths. Knockdolian Hill is one of the best as it offers stunning views and can be tackled in under an hour.
- Go bird watching along the north shore of the village. It’s an estuary and a popular breeding ground for various bird species.
- Go salmon and trout fishing.
- Play a game on the 18-hole links course or play tennis on the bowling green.
- Take a miniature train ride to the Craigiemains Garden Center on the weekends.
- Visit during the Ballantrae Food and Drink Festival for classic meals and whisky tasting.
This town can be found on Loch Ryan and has a long history as a ferry port. The Castle of St. John is the main attraction in the town. It was built back in 1500 and can be found right on the main street.
Visitors can also check out the artwork around town, go shopping, dine out, and visit the Stranraer Museum. Three miles east travelers can find the Castle Kennedy Gardens. And, thirteen miles south is the Logan Botanic Garden.
This seaside town is characterized by its pastel-colored homes. The scene is lovely, with these colorful houses surrounding the bay. To top it off are the mountain peaks in the background.
The town used to be a transportation port but now functions as a resort town for holidays. Popular activities here include sea fishing, the cliff walk, Dunskey Castle, and the shops and dining opportunities.
Guests also visit for the three-day folk festival that takes place in September.
This town can be found on the shores of Luce Bay. Its most loved characteristic is the shoreline that rises up above the village.
Many visitors come to stay in the chalets that offer great views of the bay and fantastic stargazing in the evening.
Visitors can check out:
- Ardwell Gardens
- The Ardwell House, including the walled garden and the pond walk.
- The fishing opportunities all around the village.
- The windsurfing and kayaking opportunities in the bay.
- The nearby RHS Logan Botanic Garden.
This small village is most well known for its appearance in BBC’s 2000 Acres of Sky series. Its harbor is one of the most interesting on the coast as it was designed by Thomas Telford, a well-known architect.
Visitors like to watch the boats take off from the shore or fish in the Logan Fish Pond. While visiting, make sure to check out:
- The Logan Botanic Garden.
- The Potting Shed Bistro for coffee and a light meal.
- Logan House Gardens
- The coastal walking path.
Visitors often come for the day to lounge by the beach, each fresh seafood, and do some shopping.
While visiting, make sure to:
- Look out for dolphins and whales near the harbor.
- Climb to the top of McCaig’s Tower, which was built in the late 1800s. The structure is quite unusual and offers stunning views of Oban Bay.
- Wander around Dunollie Castle. Visitors can also explore the Dunollie House Museum and the onsite café.
- Lounge on Ganavan Sands beach. Visitors here can play in the water or take their bikes onto the cycle path.
- Do a tasting at the Oban distillery. Take a tour and try samples from the cask.
- Have lunch in one of the tearooms.
- Come in and say hello to us at Bonawe House!
This is Scotland’s most southern village. It is home to a central harbor and just a few, small cafes, bars, restaurants, and shops.
The bowling green is a great place for visitors to mingle and look out over the coastal scene. Nearby, the Kirkmaiden Cemetery dates back to the 1800s and is a popular place to explore during the afternoon.
Located on Wigtown Bay, this village is situated on one of the quaint harbors. During the 1940s, this area served as a testing ground for the ‘Mulberry Harbors’ which were built off of Normandy following D-day. Visitors can still see some of the wreckage and remains when the tide is low.
While visiting, make sure to check out:
- The Galloway House which was built in the 1700s. Its main attraction is the woodland garden that stretches all the way down to the shoreline.
- The coastal walk to the Cruggleton Castle remains.
- The various cycle routes that go into and out of the town.
This village is known as the ‘Artists Town.’ It can be found on the estuary of River Dee. The houses and shops are painted bright colors and the wide streets feature plenty of little shops and eateries.
The fishing industry here is still active, so the harbor is in constant use and is bustling. The area has been considered an Artist’s Colony since the early 1800s. Many art galleries still line the streets today. In fact, there are quite a few working artists still living here today.
While visiting, also check out:
- The ruins of Maclennan’s Castle, which dates back to the 1500s.
- The Dhoon Beach where there is a shipwreck and views of the lighthouse.
- Cocoa Bean, a chocolate factory that has a café, samplings, workshops, and play areas for the kids.
- The Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park. It’s about a mile from Kirkcudbright and has 150 animals from all around the world.
Known for its large ferry port, this village looks out over Loch Ryan. It was established during the 18th century and quickly became a significant post for coaches.
While many visitors pass right by Cairnryan, it actually makes a nice stop. Especially for its maritime history. In fact, it was one of the locations where the Mulberry Harbors were used on D-day at the Normandy beaches.
This is another tiny, Scottish village with a sandy beach. The harbor was originally used for fishing but now functions as a port for those who love to sail.
It’s a popular spot for day trippers and it’s home to two caravan parks to accommodate travelers.
The village is also close to Turnberry golf course which is one of Scotland’s best.
Maybole is considered a market town and is well known for its beautiful architecture.
High Street is one of the top attractions here. It was built in the 1800s and shows off beautiful and historic buildings. When visiting, make sure to see:
- The town hall.
- Maybole Castle which was built in the 1500s.
- Cassillis Street which has some of the finest buildings.
- Parish Church.
- Culzean County Park.
- Culzean Castle.
- The 9-hole golf course.
Ayr is a resort town that is located just 37 miles from Glasgow. The beach is long and there is plenty of room for a lengthy walk or sunbathing.
It’s quite famous for its Racecourse which dates back to the 16th century and has held many prestigious events over the years.
There are three public golf courses here as well as ample opportunities for dining out and shopping.
This town is the oldest baronial burgh in Scotland. It dates back more than 1,000 years.
The area is most famous for its golf courses which include Old Prestwick Golf Course (the venue for the first British Golf Open Championship.)
It has become a hub in Scotland due to its airport. And, the town itself has restaurants, accommodation, clubs, and places to shop.
This seaside town overlooks the Island of Arran and is close to the Prestwick airport.
It has sandy beaches and a long walking path that overlooks the coastline.
When visiting, make sure to check out:
- Ayrshire’s Fish Market. The nearby restaurants usually serve the fresh catches that come from this market.
- The unique shops, boutiques, and cafes.
- The famous, Royal Troon golf course.
- The windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities.
- The Yacht Haven.
This is one of the west coast’s industrial towns. It became a Royal Burgh during the 1300s and is now a bustling town with a maritime history.
While visiting, make sure to check out:
- The Scottish Maritime Museum. Guests can explore recreations of the ships and practice Morse code.
- Eglington Country Park. This park has miles of pathways, cycling paths, and horse riding trails. It also hosts nature-themed events.
- The several links golf courses.
- The shopping centers and retail stores.
This town boasts a historic port and gorgeous views over the water. With 250 full-serviced berths, Adrossan is a hub for those who love to sail.
The marina is also home to popular restaurants so that those who don’t sail can watch the boats over a good meal.
The town also has two beaches that offer tearooms, cafes, coastal walks and picnic areas.
This town is both historic and industrial. It used to be a large fishing community and has a long maritime history.
When visiting, make sure to check out:
- The Victorian architecture.
- The Greenock Cut aqueduct.
- The Oak Mall shopping center.
The views are stunning from nearly everywhere on the coast and the opportunities for outdoor activities and great dining are endless. The journey along the coast is long. So, if you’d like a hub for your travels, consider staying in lovely Oban. With fantastic food, cozy accommodation, and seaside views, you’ll feel right at home.