Things to do in Ayrshire
Ayrshire is situated in the west of Scotland on the Firth of Clyde. Along the coast, holiday towns and villages enjoy the mild climate created by the Gulf Stream. While inland, hills, wooded valleys and rivers create the landscape which inspired Scotland's bard Robert Burns.
Ayrshire is famous for its fine golf courses at Turnberry, Royal Troon, Prestwick and many more.
Largs is in the north of the county - its name comes from the Gaelic for hillside - and hills rising over 1,700 feet shelter this popular resort.
There is a shingle beach, a yacht haven, putting green, parks and gardens in the town.
Just north of the town centre is Vikingar, where costumed 'Vikings' tell the tale of the Vikings in Scotland. This is a good rainy day outing, as there are leisure facilities on site.
Great Cumbrae Island
A short ferry trip from Largs pier takes you to Great Cumbrae Island - good walking or cycling country.
The Island's main town is Millport, which has a good beach and has been a popular resort since Victorian times.
Millport's main attraction is the Cathedral of The Isles, a tiny beautiful church built as part of a theological college by George Boyle (6th Lord Glasgow), completed in 1851, it was consecrated as Cathedral of The Isles in 1876.
South of Largs in the village of Fairley families can enjoy a visit to Kelburn Castle and Country Centre, home of the Earls of Glasgow.
Kelburn's romantic Glen is regarded as one of Scotland's most beautiful natural woodlands. Children will enjoy the adventure playground and the Secret Forest!
A few miles inland between Kilwinning and Dalry is the Museum of Ayrshire Country Life and Costume, with an extensive collection of Ayrshire farming memorabilia and costume. Set in unspoiled landscape, visitors can walk through meadow-land or sit by the River Garnock.
Irvine is the home of the Scottish Maritime Museum. Irvine's residents and visitors alike enjoy the Irvine Magnum, one of Scotland's largest leisure centres, and the Rivergate shopping complex and retail park.
The town of Kilmarnock is a busy shopping centre for the area and is the home of Johnnie Walker whisky and the oldest professional football club in Scotland - Kilmarnock F.C. which was founded in 1869.
The Dick Institute in the town houses two Art Galleries and three Museum Galleries of local industrial history and natural sciences. A visit to Dean Castle and Country Park in Kilmarnock makes a great day out for families.
South of Kilmarnock at Mauchline is Burns House Museum, it was here in 1788 Robert Burns and Jean Armour began married life. Batchelors Club lies east of Mauchline at Tarbolton. Robert Burns formed a debating club here in 1780. It's now a museum where you can learn about the poet's life.
Ayr is the County town of Ayrshire and has much to offer visitors, with fine architecture stretching back many centuries.
Once the main port on the west coast, Ayr still has a busy harbour and a good beach, which has been enjoyed by holidaymakers since the early 1800s.
Its racecourse is the oldest in Scotland, offering both National Hunt and Flat Racing.
Rozelle House Galleries and Maclaurin Art Galleries, is a major display venue, with an extensive collection of art on show.
Children will enjoy a visit to Heads of Ayr Farm Park, four miles south of Ayr. There are lots of animals to get to know and indoor and outdoor areas, packed with fun activities.
The village of Alloway on the River Doon, today a suburb of Ayr, is the birthplace of Robert Burns, Scotland's National Poet. Today devotees of the Bard can visit Burns National Heritage Park, which gives visitors an insight into his life and the part of the world that inspired his works.
South of Ayr you will find Maybole, which has an ancient history and fine buildings - from Maybole Castle, dating from the mid 16th century to the late 19th century Town Hall .
Two miles south west of the town is Crossraguel Abbey, founded in the early 13th century.
Four miles west of Maybole, overlooking Culzean Bay is Culzean Castle and Country Park, the castle was designed by Robert Adam for David, 10th Earl of Cassillis. The Country Park is Scotland's first and offers interesting pursuits for all ages.
The attractive little village Kirkoswald is where Robert Burns met John Davidson the souter (shoe maker), who was the inspiration for 'Souter Johnnie'. Souter Johnnie's Cottage in Kirkoswald is now a museum in the care of the National Trust for Scotland.
In the south of the county, you will find the attractive seaside town of Girvan. The town has clean beaches, fine views across the Firth, shopping facilities, a boating lake and amusements. The busy harbour is home to an active fishing fleet and from here boat trips leave for the island of Ailsa Craig.
Ailsa Craig is an RSPB nature reserve, lying 10 miles off the Ayrshire coast in the Firth of Clyde. It is one of the premier gannet colonies in Britain. Also nesting on the island are kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and gulls. Puffins are now breeding there after an absence of over a century.
Ailsa Craig is also known for its high quality granite, which is used for curling stones some of which are used in winter Olympic competitions.
The Island of Arran
Brodick is the Island of Arran's main town. Overlooking Brodick Bay is Brodick Castle, the castle was built on the site of a Viking fortress and part dates from the 13th century.
Arran is often referred to as 'Scotland in Miniature', with mountains, hills, glens and streams making up the landscape.
The island is popular for climbing Goatfell, which at 2,366 feet is the highest peak on the island. Keen walkers should explore the Isle of Arran Coastal Way - made up of good coastal paths and forest tracks through Arran's countryside. Arran has several sheltered sandy bays, suitable for water sports and there are golf courses at Brodick, Blackwaterfoot and Lamlash.
In the north of the Island is Lochranza Castle, a tower house, probably a 16th century reconstruction of an earlier building, in a picturesque setting overlooking Loch Ranza.
From Lamlash or Whiting Bay, boat trips sail to Holy Island, just off Arran's east coast. Holy Island has a long spiritual history, stretching back to the 6th century.
It is currently a retreat for the Samye Ling Buddhist community, who carry out extensive conservation work.
Holy Island has an ancient healing spring, the hermit cave of St Molaise, a 6th century monk, and evidence of a 13th century Christian Monastery.
A walk around its coast can be enjoyed, or climb to the summit of Mullach Mor for fine views.
Days out in Ayrshire
Follow in the steps of Robert Burns when you visit this fascinating 17th-century thatched house where he and his friends formed a debating club in 1780.
The remains of Crossraguel Abbey, which are remarkably complete and of a very high quality, include the church, cloister, chapter house and much of the domestic premises.
Culzean Castle & Country Park
The range of interests and activities at Culzean provides a perfect day out for the family.
Dalgarven Mill Museum of Country Life And Costume
There has been a mill on the site since the 14th century, set up by the monks of Killwinning Abbey. The Present mill was erected in 1640 and rebuilt in 1880 after being damaged by fire.
Kelburn Castle & Country Centre
Kelburn Castle provides an impressive background to exotic gardens, famous trees and many features of historical interest.
Rozelle House Galleries and Maclaurin Art Galleries
Rozelle House is now a major display venue, currently showing the significant collection, 'Tam O' Shanter' - a series of 54 paintings, by Alexander Goudie. The Maclaurin collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints.
Scottish Maritime Museum
Irvine was once one of Glasgow's main trading ports. Now it is the home of the Scottish Maritime Museum. The Museum was set up in 1983 and continues to expand with new displays, exhibits and facilities.
Souter Johnnie's Cottage
The inspiration for the character Souter Johnnie, Tam's 'ancient, trusty, drouthy crony' in Burns' poem Tam O'Shanter, was John Davidson, the real-life souter (shoemaker) who lived and worked in this cottage.
The award winning Vikingar! is situated in the beautiful coastal town of Largs, and has views over the Firth of Clyde, the Isles of Cumbrae and beyond.
Places to Visit in Ayrshire
The North Ayrshire coastal town of Ardrossan is an affluent town in southwest Scotland. Its name well describes its situation as it is derived from Ard meaning height and Ros meaning promontory.
Ayr lies 32 miles southwest of Glasgow overlooking the Firth of Clyde with splendid views of the nearby Isle of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre.
Kites, birdlife, windsurfing or just walks by the sea, Barassie has it all. It nestles on the edge of the west coast of Ayrshire, with the most tremendous views of the Isle of Arran and Ailsa Craig.
Kilmarnock is a sizeable town in East Ayrshire, midway between Glasgow and Ayr.
Welcome to Kilmaurs, a conservation village in North Ayrshire with a rich and interesting history.
The popular seaside resort of Largs is on the Firth of Clyde, about 33 miles west of Glasgow. Sloping down the rolling hills to the waterfront, the name Largs originates from learg meaning hillside in Gaelic.
Lendalfoot a tiny village on the beautiful Ayrshire coast, with breathtaking views of Ireland, the Mull of Kintyre, Arran and of course the world famous Ailsa Craig.
Millport is the main town on Great Cumbrae, which sits in the Firth of Clyde off the Ayrshire coast. The small island is less than 4 km in length and only 127 meters above sea level at its peak.
The small town of New Cumnock sits on the A76 main road between Dumfries and Kilmarnock with the connecting B741 road going west to Dalmellington and Loch Doon.
Prestwick is situated on the southwest coast of Scotland, about 30 miles south west of Glasgow. It is close to the town of Ayr.
Welcome to Rankinston, Small Village Big Heart. Rankinston village is situated on the B730, approximately 12 miles south east of the town of Ayr.
Car drivers, making their way north on the A78, may perhaps think of Seamill as somewhere you just drive through. But there are extremely worthwhile things to see and enjoy there, if you take the time to find out...
Troon sits on the Firth of Clyde on the west coast of Scotland in South Ayrshire. It is three miles north west of Glasgow Airport at Prestwick.