The Ayrshire region of Scotland sits on the southwest coast and enjoys considerably better weather than most of the country. This is also Robert Burns country – you can’t miss him and his influence when exploring the area.
It is also home to some lovely beaches, fantastic castles, great food, stunning drives and much more.
Here are my top 12 Things to do in Ayrshire Scotland
- 1. Things to do in Ayrshire – Stay at Glenapp Castle
- 2. Ayrshire Things to do – Eat at Glenapp Castle
- 3. Places to Visit in Ayrshire – Culzean Castle
- 4. Have a Spa at Trump Turnberry
- 5. Play golf at Trump Turnberry
- 6. Visit the Brig o Doon
- 7. Immerse yourself in Robert Burns
- 8. Walk by the seaside in Troon
- 9. Drive the Coast road A77
- 10. Visit Dumfries House
- 11. Have a Wee Dram
- 12. Visit some Islands
- How to Get To Ayrshire
- When to Visit Ayrshire
- Where to Stay in Ayrshire
- Places to Eat in Ayrshire
- What to Pack for a Visit to Ayrshire
- Scotland National Trust
- Who Paid for What in this Post
1. Things to do in Ayrshire – Stay at Glenapp Castle
I had always wanted to stay at a Scottish castle. I think it goes back to when Madonna married Guy Ritchie at a Scottish castle. I had images of a brooding and mysterious castle with lots of men in kilts and wild Scottish weather.
If, like me, you have always had a desire to stay in a Scottish castle then look no further. Glenapp Castle is the place to stay. It absolutely is not dark and brooding – quite the opposite – but to me, it offered exactly the type of special castle experience I was seeking.
The grounds of Glenapp Castle are huge. It takes several minutes to drive up the winding path after you go through the gates to get to the actual castle. It covers 36 acres.
Glenapp castle itself is magnificent. The ground floor has several sitting rooms and a bar as well as the main areas for eating. There are seventeen guest rooms and suites.
My room at Glenapp Castle was huge. A giant four-poster bed, a dressing area, a stunning bathroom with a claw foot tub. If you like a castle as much as I do check out this 7 day Scotland Itinerary that focuses on castles and abbeys.
The grounds at Glenapp Castle Scotland are stunning and worth a lengthy walk. From the castle, it is easy to see the lovely pond which is Instagram heaven. Take a walk and wander through the extensive and beautiful grounds.
There are loads of activities on offer at Glenapp from archery to private boat tours. On the water, you can fish, check out birds or find a private beach. Staying on site there is croquet, quotis, french boules, clay pigeon shooting and pretty much everything you might think of.
Glenapp Castle also has a relationship with the lovely Pebbles Spa which is about a 10-minute drive away.
2. Ayrshire Things to do – Eat at Glenapp Castle
All the food at Glenapp castle is outstanding. As much of the menu as possible is locally sourced and you can taste the quality of the ingredients.
Their version of the full Scottish Breakfast is outstanding. When it comes to what to do in Ayrshire don’t miss having a Scottish breakfast.
The Castle offers lunch, afternoon tea and dinner for guests and visitors. Lunch is a three-course meal. Afternoon tea can be held either in the castle or on the grounds.
Dinner is a six-course extravaganza. Amazingly it changes every night. Dinner at Glenapp Castle is filled with treats including canapes and palate cleansers and petite fours and many other taste sensations.
The evening I was there I enjoyed an amazing white onion, leek and thyme veloute which was mostly sourced from the grounds of the castle. The local Girvan lamb was also delicious.
Glenapp Castle also has a charming tea shop. If you’re not able to make a full meal you can pop in and visit, have a look at the grounds and get a taste of castle life.
This is one of the loveliest places to go in Ayrshire.
3. Places to Visit in Ayrshire – Culzean Castle
Culzean Castle is big. The size of the grounds of this castle is quite staggering. It will take several minutes to drive through from the entrance to the parking area.
Once out of the parking area there is a large complex with the Home Farm Restaurant. There are 40 buildings across the Culzean Castle estate.
There are some fantastic UK City and Sightseeing passes which offer free entry to all must-see attractions & great deals.
There are then a couple of paths you can follow to Culzean castle itself. There are castle tours – don’t miss the knife collection.
Culzean Castle is one of the best days out in Ayrshire. There is a lovely little cafe just to the side of the castle with outdoor seating.
A great Instagram opportunity is the little boat launch. There are also several other walks etc throughout the grounds of Culzean Castle.
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4. Have a Spa at Trump Turnberry
Such a luxe spa. The chandelier in reception is a bit of a giveaway. The Trump Turnberry Spa offers both Espa and Ishga treatments.
Ishga is actually Scottish Seaweed. Apparently, that is a thing. This is a great place if you are after spa days out Ayrshire.
There is also a lovely 20m pool with indoor and outdoor seating at the spa at Turnberry. Sauna and steam rooms are on offer as is a state of the art gym.
Visitors can often get some great deals on full-day packages at the Turnberry spa. Check on the website.
⇒ Find more fantastic spa options with my post on 9 Brilliant Scottish Spa Breaks
5. Play golf at Trump Turnberry
Scotland home of golf – think of St Andrews. But Trump Turnberry is one of the top 100 golf courses in the world – and its location on the Ayrshire coast is quite spectacular.
The legendary Ailsa course has hosted some of the biggest names in golf over the years.
Trump invested a considerable amount in the course and it is now ranked number one in the UK and Ireland.
6. Visit the Brig o Doon
The Brig O Doon is the most photogenic of the Robert Burns activities – and one of the free things to do in Ayrshire. This iconic bridge is thought to have been built in the 15th century.
It was made famous by its appearance in classic local boy Robert Burn’s poem Tam o’ Shanter. The Brig O Doon now appears on the Scottish five-pound note.
When you walk down to the bridge on the Alloway side of the water you will walk past a lovely pub called the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel. The pub has a lovely garden with amazing trimmed trees that are also worth a look and a photograph.
7. Immerse yourself in Robert Burns
The town of Ayr is all about Robert Burns! Start off by parking in the Robert Burns museum car park. It is a very modern museum and quite interactive and digitally friendly.
The Burns monument and gardens are walking distance nearby. A focus on Robert Burns makes for one of the great days out Ayrshire.
Then across the road is the graveyard where Robert Burn’s father is buried. Robert Burns is buried at St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries. The road that this is on has been called the Poet’s Path. This road leading down to Burns Cottage.
8. Walk by the seaside in Troon
Troon is a very cute little town on the seaside and one of the prettiest places to visit in Ayrshire. Have a walk along its long seafront. There is a beach in Troon with some lovely sand.
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If Troon seaside appeals you may also want to check out the seafront at nearby Prestwick (where the airport is).
A little further north is the town of Largs. It is known for some great cafes, Scott’s restaurant at the marina and some great sunset views – one of the most photogenic things to do in Ayrshire at night.
9. Drive the Coast road A77
When it comes to scenic drives in Scotland most people think of the highlands. However, southwest Scotland has some absolutely stunning roads. The key road is the Southwest 300. This circular road covers over 300 beautiful miles.
The key section of the route through Ayrshire is the A77 road. This road starts in Glasgow and then runs all the way to Portpatrick on the Irish Sea.
Along the way are Prestwick, Ayr, Girvan and Stranraer and most of the main towns of this area. Once the road hits Givran (if you’ve started in Glasgow) it follows the sea down to lovely Portpatrick.
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10. Visit Dumfries House
Dumfries House is a stunning yet little known stately home in Ayrshire. It was saved by the Prince of Wales himself in 2007 as it features the architecture of Robert Adam and the furniture of Thomas Chippendale.
The estate is open free to visitors and walkers from dawn to dusk. The main gates for cars close at 6 pm.
The only way to see inside the estate is a guided tour. Click here to find out tour options and to make a booking.
Despite the name, Dumfries House is located in Ayrshire, not Dumfries and Galloway.
⇒ If you’re interested in Dumfries and Galloway check out my post on the Top 11 Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway for Grown Ups.
11. Have a Wee Dram
AD Rattray has been making whiskey since 1868. The company is family-owned and still independent. Their focus is single malt whiskey. Their Whisky experience is located in an old village school.
There is no cost and no need to book. Just drop in and the team will take care of you with a tasting and everything you could possibly want to know about Whisky. This is one of the more unusual things to do in Ayrshire.
British Rail Passes for Overseas Visitors
Rail is a brilliant way to get around Scotland. The BritRail Central Scotland Pass covers the key central cities in Scotland – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and Fife Station. If you’re planning on exploring the Highlands and the islands of Scotland then a better option is the BritRail Scottish Freedom Pass.
12. Visit some Islands
There are several Island options in Ayrshire. From Largs, there is a 15-minute ferry that goes to Cumbrae and the small town of Millport. There are beautiful sunset views over Arran island from Cumbrae.
There’s also the one-hour ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Arran is definitely worth visiting if you get the chance.
It has a castle, a distillery, a brewery, a cheese, a chocolate shop, standing stones, a mountain to climb…. they call it ‘Scotland in miniature’ because of the variety of landscape and flora & fauna all over the island.
It’s absolutely beautiful. In the summer a ferry runs from Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula to Lochranza in the north of the island.
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BritRail Passes for Overseas Visitors
If you’re planning on travelling around England and Scotland then the best option is to buy the BritRail GB Pass. This covers all train journeys across all of the United Kingdom. There is a BritRail MPass which has an e-ticket that can be downloaded onto a mobile. However, it has one key restriction which is that the travel must be taken on consecutive days so make sure you check if this suits your plans before purchasing.
How to Get To Ayrshire
The closest airports are Glasgow and Prestwick.
⇒ Click here for Flights.
It is also possible to fly into Edinburgh Airport – especially if you are more interested in the eastern side of Dumfries and Galloway. Once you have arrived the easiest way to get around is to hire a car.
I would highly recommend doing this. Not only is it the most convenient option the weather changes frequently in Scotland so it is great to be able to rearrange your day as you need it.
When to Visit Ayrshire
The Ayrshire region has a maritime climate so it never gets extremely hot or cold. July is the warmest month of the year in Ayrshire and January the coldest.
Snow is rare. Rainfall is quite even throughout the year. Ayrshire is a good destination to visit all year round. Summer is peak time. Personally, I think Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit (I visited in May) as there are fewer people but quite long days.
Autumn is also good for colourful leaves. Like the rest of the UK, the weather changes often during the day no matter what time of year you visit.
Where to Stay in Ayrshire
It is so luxe – well worth it for something special. Finally, I heard excellent things about Highgrove House Hotel.
Places to Eat in Ayrshire
In Ayr, check out the Fox & Willow on Carrick Rd which is known for its fantastic cocktail list. The Waterfront on South Harbour has a comfortable patio overlooking the water leading out to the sea, try Ruby 7 Days in the Sandgate if you like Chinese, and if you’re in the mood for a curry try Ayr India.
There are also several lovely pubs to check out in Ayr. The Ayrshire & Galloway friendly and comfortable. They serve Caledonian 80 on tap and are known for their pizza and savory crepes.
The Tam O’Shanter in the High Street is small, but a great spot to wind down for the day or hideout from a spat of rain.
The Twa Dugs in Killoch (just a couple doors from the Ayrshire & Galloway) has a good latte and a range of whiskies plus blues on a Sunday night.
Some other cafes worth visiting are Cafe Monza in the High Street, Nova Coffeehouse & Juicebar in the Lorne Arcade, The Book & Bun in Newmarket Street and Pandora in the Sandgate.
The Bhaile Craft Bakery is in an unusual spot north of the river, in the North Harbour Industrial Estate but has an excellent reputation.
For dessert check out either Renaldo’s & Lori’s Delights for ice cream. They are conveniently located about a minute away from each other so you can review both before deciding on your flavour!
What to Pack for a Visit to Ayrshire
As the weather does vary quite a bit no matter what time of year you visit Ayrshire, pack layers and bring some waterproofs if you have a more outdoor itinerary planned.
This part of Scotland does not tend to be terribly fancy. However, the high-end hotels in the Ayrshire area (like GlenApp Castle and Trump Turnberry ) do have a bit of a dress for dinner thing going on so good to pack one more dressed up option.
Scotland National Trust
If you’re spending a bit of time in Scotland and love a historic site it makes financial sense to buy a National Trust for Scotland Pass – much cheaper than paying for a load of separate entries.
⇒ Save time & money – Buy a Scotland National Trust Pass
Who Paid for What in this Post
Thanks very much to Luxury Scotland for helping me to plan and sponsoring my trip to fabulous Scotland. They covered the cost of my stays at GlenApp Castle and Trump Turnberry as well as my car hire.
I paid for my flights and visiting the attractions in this post. As always, my opinions are my own. If you click through on some of the links in this post and make a purchase I will receive a small commission. Just wanted to make sure you knew.
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