Long stretches of golden white sands, crystal clear waters or the roar of the surf on pebble beaches … Scotland’s coastline has it all.
There are hundreds of beaches around Scotland’s coastline from large ones popular with day-trippers, to secluded bays where you might not see another soul, to picturesque seaside towns waiting to welcome you with the allure of fish and chips and ice cream on hot, sunny days. Scotland’s beaches make for the perfect day trip by train, whatever the weather.
Getting to Scotland's beaches by train
It’s surprisingly easy to get to a lot of beaches across Scotland by train. In the past, many a Glaswegian would’ve taken the train to the coast as they headed ‘doon the watter’ for their summer holidays. Nowadays, people flock to our beaches to relax, soak up a bit of vitamin D, indulge in ice cream and savour the fantastic views. And there’s plenty to choose from.
- Glasgow to Ayr – approx. 55 minutes
- Edinburgh to North Berwick – approx. 30 minutes
- Dundee to Arbroath – approx. 20 minutes
- Perth to Aberdour – approx. one hour
Why choose to take the train to the beach?
Taking the train to the beach means you can enjoy the journey as well as the destination to really make it a special day out. You won’t be stuck in traffic jams or spend hours driving around trying to find a parking space.
Plus, you won’t have to clean the pesky sand from your car when you get home!
Beaches on the east coast
The Fife coastline
Fife has an abundance of fantastic well-kept beaches which are perfect for a fun day out on the sand. A lot of the beaches are well connected by the Fife Coastal Path so you don’t even need to limit yourself to just the one beach. You can walk between them then hop on the train home from a different station.
Kinghorn Harbour Beach - Credit: VisitScotland / Kenny Lam
There are two gorgeous beaches close to Kinghorn station – Kinghorn Harbour Beach and Pettycur beach. Both are sandy beaches with fantastic views over the Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh.
Kinghorn Harbour Beach
This pretty beach is a popular choice with families due to its proximity to the town and is a lovely spot to see the boats in the harbour too. The surrounding cliffs have paths through them to give walkers the chance to enjoy the gorgeous views.
Closest station: Kinghorn – 5 minutes’ walk
When the tide goes out at Pettycur beach, it leaves a massive expanse of sand and mud flats stretching all the way out to the Black Rocks. This sheltered, sandy bay is the perfect spot for a picnic accompanied by fantastic views over the Firth of Forth.
Closest station: Kinghorn – 15 minutes’ walk
St Andrew’s West Sands Beach
While St Andrew’s doesn’t have its own train station, it’s only a short bus ride from Leuchars station to get to the town. St Andrew’s famous West Sands Beach is huge, and even on the sunniest of days, there’s plenty of space for everyone. The beach picked up an award at the Scottish Beach Awards in 2021, celebrating clean, well-managed beaches.
Closest station: Leuchars – book your train ticket to St Andrews Bus to include the bus ride in your train ticket.
Black Sands & Silver Sands
With a trip to Aberdour you’re spoiled because there are two great beaches to choose from, both less than 15 minutes’ walk from the station. Aberdour’s Black Sands Beach is the closer of the two, providing a peaceful spot in a beautiful sandy bay. A short walk down the coast brings you to Silver Sands, a larger but equally pretty white sandy beach. During the summer lifeguards patrol the beach making it a great place for a family day out.
Closest station: Aberdour
Burntisland’s sandy beach is a favourite with kids – there are lots of rockpools to explore! As well as having a lovely beach, there are lots of other activities nearby to keep everyone happy such as crazy golf, a swimming pool and a fantastic play park at the Links, just behind the beach.
Closest station: Burntisland – less than 10 minutes’ walk
Beaches in East Lothian
Did you know that East Lothian has over 40 miles of truly outstanding coastline? The white sandy beaches, charming seaside towns and epic views make for a memorable day out by the sea wherever you choose to visit.
North Berwick is always a popular choice for a day by the sea and for very good reason. This picturesque seaside town has a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere and so much charm. There are two lovely beaches to choose from here.
North Berwick West Beach
This wonderfully long, sandy beach is a favourite for locals and visitors. It’s perfect for paddling, picnics and sunbathing. During the summer the putting green is open if you fancy tee-ing off?
North Berwick Milsey Bay Beach
A popular choice for families, Milsey Bay is perfect for sunbathing, paddling and bird watching – the beach looks towards Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth. For youngsters, the little boating pond, is the perfect place to paddle and play safely.
Closest station: North Berwick – 15 minutes’ walk
The town’s sand and shingle East Beach is a lovely spot to soak up the fresh sea air while enjoying the views over the water. A surf school operates here so it’s a popular place for watersports like paddle boarding, kayaking and surfing. On the beach, when the tide goes out, kids can have fun exploring the rock pools.
Closest station: Dunbar – five minutes’ walk
Beaches on the northeast coast
Scotland’s northeast coast has an abundance of beaches ranging from the wild and secluded to developed and brilliant fun for a day out.
A day out at Aberdeen beach always guarantees a day of fun! From playing in the clean white sand (the beach was a winner in the Scotland Beach Awards 2021) to enjoying a stroll along the two-mile esplanade and stopping off for ice cream, there’s loads to keep you entertained here. Codona’s is always a huge hit with families or couples enjoying a day out with rides, bowling, karting and a brilliant soft play. Look out for Advance fares and spend a couple of days here to make the most of it.
Closest station: Aberdeen – 20 minutes’ walk.
The southern end of Stonehaven beach is the place to go if you fancy relaxing on the sand and enjoying a paddle. The water quality is displayed in real time during the summer so you can make an informed decision whether to swim or not. And if you don’t fancy the sea, Stonehaven Open Air Pool is the perfect place to have a dip. The heated, saltwater, Olympic-sized pool also has a paddling pool, a chute, inflatables and live music at certain times. Take a look at their website to plan your visit .
Closest station: Stonehaven – 15 minutes’ walk
The beachfront in Arbroath is fantastic for families. Not only is there the huge sandy beach, but also a brilliant indoor funfair at Pleasureland. Next to the beach, you’ll find West Links Park which has play areas for kids of all ages, a paddling pool, crazy golf, go-karts and trampolines plus lots more. Perhaps have a look for Advance train fares and make a staycation of your trip to Arbroath.
Closest station: Arbroath – 15 minutes’ walk
Beaches on the west coast
Scotland’s west coast has lots of beaches and seaside towns which are really easy to reach by train. These routes to the coast played a big part in the past when Glaswegians would flock to the coast for their annual summer holiday. Nowadays, people still love to head out to the coast to soak up the sunshine and the great views. There are frequent services from Glasgow to all the popular towns with Advance fares available on some routes.
The huge expanse of Ayr’s white sandy beach is loved by locals and visitors alike and on a hot summer’s day, it really is a fantastic place to be. It’s particularly popular with families building sandcastles, enjoying a paddle and having a great time playing the big playpark. There’s a bit expanse of grass behind the beach which is perfect for picnics and ball games. Ayr can be reached in less than an hour from Glasgow Central.
Closest station: Ayr – 20 minutes’ walk
The huge white sandy beach at Troon is a great place to while away a hot sunny afternoon. There’s plenty of space to build sandcastles, play ball games and have a dip in the water. You’ll quite often see kite surfers here too. There’s a great kid’s playpark next to the beach and it’s a really short walk into the town if you fancy a bite to eat at one of the lovely local cafes.
Closest station: Troon – 5 minutes’ walk
Largs and the Isle of Cumbrae
Largs is one of the most popular seaside towns to visit by train. From Glasgow Central, it takes just under one hour to get there. The promenade is perfect for taking a stroll along before tucking into some fresh fish and chips or indulging in a famous Nardini’s ice cream. From Largs, you can take the ferry to the Isle of Cumbrae which takes just ten minutes. A bus meets the ferry to take you to Millport where there’s a lovely beach with gorgeous views. Hiring a bike is a really popular way to explore the island.
Closest station: Largs – five minutes’ walk to waterfront and ferry terminal
Irvine beach is ginormous so even on a busy day you’ll be able to get a nice patch of sand to yourself. The white sandy beach is great for families and when the tide goes out, big ‘puddles’ get left on the beach which are perfect for little ones to splash around in. The walk from the station to the beach takes you along the harbour with great views over the water and surrounding countryside. Plus, there are some great places to get ice cream en route too.
Closest station: Irvine – 20 minutes’ walk
These are just some of the beaches that you can reach by train easily in Scotland, and is by no means an extensive list. If you’ve got a favourite beach that you go to by train, we’d love to hear about it. Get in touch with our social media team on Twitter – they’re a friendly bunch!
Our blog has more articles to help you make the most of sunny days in Scotland:
Images at top of page: Credit Visit Scotland, Kenny Lam, and Grant Paterson.
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