There are so many things to do in Ayrshire and Arran, but here are the top 10.
1. Keep cool with ice cream
Another one for foodies who hanker after a bit of seaside nostalgia – indulge in an ice cream at one of the many parlours Ayrshire has to offer. From Nardini’s to Geraldo’s, Renaldo’s, Mancini’s and Varani’s, there is a tasty gelato on every promenade.
2. Try the Electric Brae
The A719, south of the lovely fishing village of Dunure is home to the Electric Brae, a stretch of road where freewheeling vehicles appear to be drawn uphill by an unexplained, mysterious force. The brae is actually an optical illusion but the curious phenomenon attracts tourists in their droves and is a delight for children and adults.
3. Walk the Lang Scots Mile
Did you know the Scottish mile was once longer than the English mile? Starting at the Citadel, this lovely seaside walk in Ayr commemorates the “Lang Mile” and has informative signs that explain how the town’s various buildings and monuments have been built and often repurposed over the centuries.
4. Enjoy fish and chips on the beach
Reminiscent of the good old days of ‘doon-the-watter’ holidays, no trip to Ayrshire is complete without eating traditional fish and chips by the seaside. There are countless quality fish and chip shops that offer classic suppers or modern gourmet seafood suppers. Whatever your preference, enjoy Scotland’s favourite takeaway on the sand in Troon or Largs.
5. Climb Goatfell
A ramble up Arran’s highest peak is a must-do. Goatfell is one of four Corbetts on the island and offers hikers remarkable scenery, with stunning views of the surrounding landscapes from the summit. On a clear day even Ireland can be seen. Be sure to bring a picnic, plenty of water, midge repellant and your camera.
6. Cycle around Great Cumbrae
With just over 10 miles in circumference, the island of Great Cumbrae in the Firth of Clyde off the coast of North Ayrshire is easy to explore by bike and there are numerous cycle hire options on the island. From tandems to tricycles and even an eight-seater bike to ride with friends, a leisurely pedal around the island should be on every Ayrshire bucket list.
7. Be scared by Sawney Bean
The legend of Sawney Bean has delighted and horrified folklore lovers for centuries. According to the legend, Sawney and his 46 relatives were cannibals and terrorised innocent passers-by for 25 years, all from their cave at Bennane Head, between the villages of Ballantrae and Girvan. The cave is said to run a mile deep and is tricky to locate during hide tide – it should only be attempted by the physically fit.
8. Get out on the water
Ayrshire is deservedly famous for its watersports and a trip to some of the most beautiful coastline in the country isn’t complete without at least a paddle. Swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing… whatever your chosen aquatic adventure might be, Ayrshire is the place to get in at the deep end and try it out.
9. Be a time traveller
Arran is a paradise for history and archaeology lovers, with sites of national importance dotted around the island. All of them are free and just waiting to be discovered. The Machrie Moor standing stones give us clues to the island’s Neolithic history. On the west side, the 6,000-year-old King’s Cave is revered for its part in Scottish history as the spot where Robert the Bruce was reinvigorated for battle by watching a spider finally succeed in spinning its web. Grab a map and get exploring!
10. Savour the flavours
From chocolate to cheese, herbs to whisky and ales to meats, Arran is perfect for a gastronomic tour. Indulge in a day-long journey of sampling local fare, whether in the abundance of local eateries or by picnic. You’ll soon find there is no shortage of goodies on offer.
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