Dumfries and Galloway is the least visited area of Scotland – I have no idea why. The region is absolutely stunning, tends much more towards good weather relative to the rest of Scotland and there are some fantastic things to do in Dumfries and Galloway.
From the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse to Wigtown Scotland to Drumlanrig Castle the West Coast Scotland has so much to offer.
11 Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
Table of Contents
- 11 Things to do in Dumfries and Galloway
- 1. Stay at Knockinaam Lodge
- 2. Visit the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse
- 3. Have lunch at Campbells Portpatrick
- 4. Buy a book in Wigtown
- 5. Drive through the Galloway Forest Park
- 6. Visit Logan Botanic Gardens
- 7. Eat seafood
- 8. Take the Southwest coastal drive 300 route
- 9. New Galloway Tea Rooms
- 10. Drive Loch Ken and visit Threave Gardens
- 11. Drumlanrig Castle
- Getting to Dumfries and Galloway and Getting around
- When to Visit Dumfries and Galloway
- What to Pack for a Visit to Dumfries and Galloway
- Who Paid for What in this Post?
1. Stay at Knockinaam Lodge
I fell in love with Knockinaam Lodge. It is located very near the most southwestern tip of Scotland (see below) and has a very magical, hidden away feel. This Scotland luxury hotel is tucked away behind a cliff next to the sea.
The small cove and beach at Knockinaam Lodge Scotland are absolutely gorgeous. And then there are the 30 acres of gorgeous gardens – and a walking path to super cute Portpatrick.
Knockinaam Lodge has 10 gorgeous bedrooms and half have sea views. I had a lovely big comfortable bed tucked under the eaves and a great sea view.
The main house of this hotel in Scotland is extremely welcoming with a great big living area and bar on the ground floor. And the food.
The menu at Knockinaam Lodge Scotland features fresh, local produce such as Ayrshire Tubot and Galloway Lamb on the night I ate there.
Knockinaam breakfast was another highlight. Go the full Scottish with sausage, black pudding, haggis and all the rest or go modern with salmon and a poached egg on brioche with Hollandaise.
When it comes to fun things to do in Dumfries and Galloway enjoying over the top Scottish breakfasts has to be high on the list.
⇒ If you enjoy some luxury on your travels don’t miss my post on 9 Fantastic Spa Breaks Scotland.
Knockinaam Lodge is steeped in history. Sir Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower met here during the Second World War. John Buchan visited Knockinaam Lodge and based some of his famous novel The 39 Steps around the area.
This Scottish hotel is a well-known spot for artists and writers to be able to escape and explore their creativity. I can completely see why. There is something very peaceful yet magical about this special area on the West Coast Scotland.
Top Tip: A car will be a huge help to find and explore around Knockinaam Lodge.
⇒ Read more reviews on TripAdvisor ⇒ Book Now
2. Visit the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse
The Mull of Galloway is the most southerly point of Scotland’s mainland and one of the best things to do in Dumfries and Galloway. The Mull of Galloway Scotland Lighthouse was built by Robert Stevenson in 1830 and stands 99 metres above sea level.
It is possible to climb to the top of this Scotttish lighthouse and see the view from the balcony. There is also an exhibition on the ground floor of the Mull of Galloway.
It is possible to do a nice almost circular walk around this Scotland lighthouse from the parking area. Don’t miss the view from the Lagvag viewpoint – this was my favourite.
There is also a cute coffee house Gallie Craig which sits right on the cliff and provides stunning views. The easiest way to get to the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse is by car along the A716 – follow the brown tourist signs from Drummore.
If you are taking the train the closest station is Stranraer which is 35km away. The nearest bus stop is at Drummore which is 8km away. A car is definitely the best option.
3. Have lunch at Campbells Portpatrick
Portpatrick Scotland is a picture-perfect town set on a small bay on the west coast of Scotland. Pastel coloured houses and buildings line the bay. Once a port, Portpatrick is now a seaside resort.
There are some great options when it comes to Portpatrick restaurant choices. I chose to have a delicious seafood lunch at Campbells Portpatrick and can highly recommend their seafood tempura.
The Crown Hotel and the Port Pantry in Portpatrick also come with good reviews. Don’t miss visiting this lovely little town in Scotland – it is extremely photogenic.
There are some fantastic UK City and Sightseeing passes which offer free entry to all must-see attractions & great deals.
4. Buy a book in Wigtown
One of the more unusual things to do in Dumfries and Galloway is to buy a book. Wigtown was declared Scotland’s National Book Town in 1998.
This very cute Scottish town is now filled with bookshops and all businesses book related. Many of them sit around Wigtown’s charming main square.
Every year in September the town hosts the Wigtown Book Festival. This festival is one of the key events in Dumfries and Galloway. The Wigtown Book Festival runs for 10 days and features more than 200 events.
Wigtown is absolutely worth a visit outside of Festival time. It is very photogenic and in addition to books, you can buy prints, cards and paintings as well.
5. Drive through the Galloway Forest Park
I stumbled upon Galloway Forest Park by accident. I was working my way down to Wigtown and didn’t even realise I was taking a particularly scenic inner route.
If you are tight on time I highly recommend driving through this beautiful Scottish park. If you do have more time Galloway Forest Park is filled with walking and cycling trails.
6. Visit Logan Botanic Gardens
The wonderful microclimate of this area of Scotland means that plants can be grown here that would not thrive in other areas of Scotland. Logan Botanic Garden is known as Scotland’s Most Exotic Garden and is one of the key attractions in Dumfries and Galloway.
Logan Botanic Garden features plants from South and Central America, Southern africa and Australasia that are rarely seen in the United Kingdom.
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There are some lovely walks, a Walled Garden, fish pond and the award-winning Potting Shed Bistro for some lunch. If you’re heading to Logan Botanic Gardens in west Scotland in May have a look at this post about Visiting the Garden of Cosmic Speculation – it is only open one day of the year.
7. Eat seafood
Dumfries and Galloway are full of fabulous seafood. Enjoy seafood at Knockinaam Lodge or head at several Portpatrick Restaurants – perhaps the centre of great seafood eating in Dumfries and Galloway.
Moores Fish and Chip shop at Castle Douglas also comes with good reviews.
8. Take the Southwest coastal drive 300 route
Any stories about driving around Scotland normally focus on the justifiably wonderful North Coast 500 road which runs through the jaw-droppingly beautiful Scottish Highlands
The Southwest Coast Drive 300 Scotland route is considerably less well known – but in many ways just as beautiful.
The route is just over 300 miles and is circular so you can start it in many different spots. A good place to start the South West Coast Drive 300 is Lockerbie.
The South West Scotland 300 can then be followed to Dumfries and then all along the coast to the Mull of Galloway and back up through Girvan.
9. New Galloway Tea Rooms
On the edge of Galloway Forest Park and Loch Ken is the very cute town of New Galloway. The town dates back to 1633 and is the perfect spot to explore Loch Ken and Galloway Forest Park.
New Galloway Scotland is known for having great tea rooms.
10. Drive Loch Ken and visit Threave Gardens
Threave has a stunning garden filled with water sculptures and heathers. Threave Garden also brags that it has the UK’s only bat reserve.
There is a cafe, shop, picnic area etc etc and Threave Castle is also nearby but a boat is needed to gain access. Loch Ken runs for 9 miles with the village of Glenlochar at the south end.
⇒ If you’re a fan of Robert Burns don’t miss my post on Things to do in Ayrshire.
11. Drumlanrig Castle
It goes to show how many amazing Scottish castles there are that I had never heard of Drumlanrig Castle. Anywhere else in the world this castle in Scotland would be a major tourist attraction.
Drumlanrig is an absolutely stunning Castle – its pinky-red bricks look amazing in the sunlight. This 17th-century Scottish castle sits on the 120,000 acres Queensberry Estate.
There are several trails around Drumlanrig Castle – from 1.5 to 7km. They can be explored on foot or by bike. The Drumlanrig estate also has a tea room and gift shop for snacks and browsing.
Getting to Dumfries and Galloway and Getting around
The closest airports are Glasgow and Prestwick. 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 in South West Scotland the easiest way to get around is to hire a car. I would highly recommend doing this.
Not only is driving 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.
There are local bus services and trains between Gretna Green through Annan, Dumfries, Sanquhar and Kirkconnell or Stranraer from Glasgow.
⇒ If you’re flying into Glasgow don’t miss my post on the 19 Best Glasgow Tours & Day Trips
When to Visit Dumfries and Galloway
The Dumfries and Galloway region has a maritime climate so it never gets extremely hot or cold. July is the warmest month of the year and January the coldest. Snow is rare. Rainfall is quite even throughout the year.
However, there are plenty of things to do on a rainy day in Dumfries and Galloway as you will read. Dumfries and Galloway 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 south west Scotland (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.
What to Pack for a Visit to Dumfries and Galloway
As the weather does vary quite a bit no matter what time of year you visit pack layers and bring some waterproofs if you have lots of days out in Dumfries and Galloway planned. This part of Scotland does not tend to be terribly fancy.
However, the high-end hotels in the area (like Knockinaam Lodge and Trump Turnberry – more on them later) do have a bit of a dress for dinner thing going on so good to pack one more dressed up option.
⇒ Looking for an adventure while you’re in Scotland? Check out my post on Climbing Ben Nevis.
And here’s a Dumfries and Galloway map with everywhere I have mentioned to help you plan your trip.
Don’t miss Dumfries Castle – I couldn’t get there so if you hit Dumfries UK and get to the castle please drop me an email and tell me what it is like.
Who Paid for What in this Post?
Thanks to Luxury Scotland for hosting my stay at Knockinaam Lodge and covering the cost of my car hire. I covered the cost of my flights to Scotland and of the attractions that I visited. As always, my opinions are my own.
This post contains affiliate links. That means if you click through on the links and end up making a purchase I will receive small commission. Just wanted to make sure that you knew this.
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Wednesday 20th of June 2018
Dumfries and Galloway is such a beautiful part of the world. I loved the little museum at Sanquhar which shows off traditional knitting techniques. As well as the landscapes (rain permitting!) of course :)
The Boutique Adventurer
Thursday 21st of June 2018
thanks Julie - I didn't get to that museum - I will next time! and yes such stunning landscapes if the weather allows!