Ayrshire & Arran
From Glasgow you’re less than an hour away from miles of sandy beaches.
The train from Glasgow lets you explore the length of Ayrshire’s coast, from the Victorian promenade of Largs in the north, to Girvan’s sandy beach in the south. It’s a haven for golf fans too, with links courses that include the historic Troon and Turnberry. Take in the dramatic landscape of Arran’s Goatfell or the birthplace of Scotland’s most celebrated poet.
Travelling by train is one of the easiest ways to enjoy all that Ayrshire has to offer, with great views of the rolling hills to the east, and fabulous vistas across the Firth of Clyde towards Arran and the Mull of Kintyre. There are historic sites to visit along the way, including Robert Burns’ cottage at Alloway, and plenty to keep the kids occupied as well.
If you want to mix your train journey with a bit of sailing, head towards Ardrossan Harbour and catch the ferry to Arran. You’ll be able to spot Brodick Castle as you approach by boat, and if you’re feeling energetic, why not bag yourself a Corbett with a climb up Goatfell?
Getting to the Ayrshire coast by train
- Glasgow to Ayr – approx 50 minutes
- Glasgow to Girvan – approx 1 hour 25 minutes
- Glasgow to Ardrossan Harbour – approx 45 minutes
One or two days in Ayrshire
Beach and seaside
You’re spoiled for choice. Girvan, Ayr, Prestwick, Troon and Irvine all have beautiful sandy beaches. If you prefer a rocky beach with opportunities to explore, you’ll find that too. At Ayr there’s plenty of space to keep the kids occupied. There are free entry activity parks for children of all ages, and a monster grass park right opposite the seafront.
Art and history
On your journey from Glasgow, stop of at the artist town of West Kilbride for craft exhibitions and events all year round in the town’s barony centre.
Visit the Vikingar! exhibition in Largs for a taste of the Viking invasion in the thirteenth century, and don’t forget to taste the famous Nardini’s ice-cream when you’re in the town. South of Ayr you can soak up some history at Culzean Castle, and enjoy its stunning gardens and country walks. Don’t miss a visit to Rabbie Burns birthplace and museum in Alloway, or a walk across Brig o’ Doon, made famous in his poem, Tam O’Shanter.
Ayrshire has no shortage of great courses. Royal Troon is a regular on the Open circuit, and you’ll find courses all the way from Girvan in the south to Largs in the north, including a number of links courses.
Nature and adventure
Break your journey from Glasgow to the coast with a stop at Lochwinnoch. You’re just a few minutes’ walk to Castle Semple Visitor Centre while you’ll find lots of outdoor activities. There, you’re on the edge of Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park – 108 square miles of parkland to explore.
Got the kids with you? Have a great day exploring the secret forest at Kelburn Castle, or taking part in the many activities at Heads of Ayr Farm Park.
Days out in Arran
Step off the train at Ardrossan harbour and you’re just a few minutes’ walk to the ferry terminal where you can enjoy a leisurely sail across the Firth of Forth to Brodick on Arran. The journey takes just under one hour – time enough for a cup of tea while you enjoy the scenery.
Arran is like Scotland in miniature – there’s a mix of sandy and rocky beaches, rolling hills to the south, and a more dramatic landscape in the north. It also has its own brewery and distillery – both offering visitors a tour and a chance to taste their products.
It’s a great place to get your adrenalin pumping with lots of outdoor activities on offer. If you have enough energy left, the 874 metre climb to the top of Goatfell will give you the best view of the whole island, and beyond.
Brodick Castle features the only island country park in Britain – a ‘quintessential Victorian Highland estate’ according to the National Trust for Scotland. And despite its size – it’s just 19 miles long by ten miles wide – Arran has seven golf courses, with stunning scenery on every fairway.
Find out more
Travelling on from Ayrshire?
Head inland and then south towards Dumfries, and begin your exploration of the Scottish Borders.
From Ayr, take the rail and sail coach link to Cairnryan for the Stena Line ferry to Belfast. There are up to six sailings a day and you can buy a ticket through from any station in Scotland to Belfast.
Ways to save...
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass: 1-2 weeks of train, ferry and coach travel covering the whole country
- Rail & Sail: combine train and ferry travel into one ticket for more convenience and better value
- Kids for a Quid: travel off-peak and for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards: see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard