The original version of this article can be viewed here

The Ayrshire region of Scotland sits on the southwest coast and enjoys considerably better weather than most of the country! This is also Robert Burns country – you can’t miss him and his influence when exploring the area. It is also home to some lovely beaches, fantastic castles, great food, stunning drives and much more! Here are my top 11 Things to do in Ayrshire Scotland

1. Stay at Glenapp Castle

I had always wanted to stay at a Scottish castle. I think it goes back to when Madonna married Guy Ritchie at a Scottish castle. I had images of a brooding and mysterious castle with lots of men in kilts and wild Scottish weather.

If, like me, you have always had a desire to stay in a Scottish castle then look no further. Glenapp Castle is the place to stay. It absolutely is not dark and brooding – quite the opposite – but to me it offered exactly the type of special castle experience I was seeking.

The Herald: Glenapp Castle Glenapp Castle

The grounds are huge. It takes several minutes to drive up the winding path after you go through the gates to get to the actual castle. It covers 36 acres. The castle itself is magnificent. The ground floor has several sitting rooms and a bar as well as the main areas for eating.

There are seventeen guest rooms and suites. My room was huge! A giant four poster bed, a dressing area, stunning bathroom with a claw foot tub.

The Herald: Glenapp Castle Bathroom Glenapp Castle Bathroom

The grounds are stunning and worth a lengthy walk. From the castle, it is easy to see the lovely xxx pond which is Instagram heaven. Take a walk and wander through the extensive and beautiful grounds.

There are loads of activities on offer from archery to private boat tours. On the water, you can fish, check out birds or find a private beach. Staying on site there is croquet, quotis, french boules, clay pigeon shooting and pretty much everything you might think of!

Glenapp Castle also has a relationship with the lovely Pebbles Spa which is about a 10-minute drive away.

2. Eat at Glenapp Castle

All the food at Glenapp castle is outstanding! As much of the menu as possible is locally sourced and you can taste the quality of the ingredients. Their version of the full Scottish Breakfast is outstanding!

The Castle offers lunch, afternoon tea and dinner for guests and visitors. Lunch is a three-course meal. Afternoon tea can be held either in the castle or on the grounds.

The Herald: Glenapp Castle FoodGlenapp Castle Food

Dinner is a six-course extravaganza! Amazingly it changes every night. It is filled with treats including canapes and palate cleansers and petite fours and many other taste sensations. The evening I was there I enjoyed an amazing white onion, leek and thyme veloute which was mostly sourced from the grounds of the castle. The local Girvan lamb was also delicious.

The castle also has a charming tea shop. If you’re not able to make a full meal you can pop in and visit, have a look at the grounds and get a taste of castle life.

The Herald: Glenapp Castle BoatGlenapp Castle Boat

3. Visit Culzean Castle

Culzean Castle is big! Again, the size of the grounds of this castle is quite staggering. It will take several minutes to drive through from the entrance to the parking area. Once out of the parking area there is a large complex with the Home Farm Restaurant. There are 40 buildings across the estate!

The Herald: Culzean Castle Culzean Castle

There are then a couple of paths you can follow to the castle itself. There are castle tours – don’t miss the knife collection!

There is a lovely little cafe just to the side of the castle with outdoor seating.

The Herald: Culzean Castle Gun CollectionCulzean Castle Gun Collection

4. Have a Spa at Trump Turnberry

Such a luxe spa! The chandelier in reception is a bit of a giveaway! The Trump Turnberry Spa offers both Espa and Ishga treatments. Ishga is actually Scottish Seaweed! Apparently, that is a thing!

The Herald: Trump Turnberry Spa Trump Turnberry Spa

There is also a lovely 20m pool with indoor and outdoor seating. Sauna and steam rooms are on offer as is a state of the art gym.

Visitors can often get some great deals on full day packages. Check on the website.

The Herald: Trump Turnberry Spa Trump Turnberry Spa

5. Play golf at Trump Turnberry

Scotland home of golf – think of St Andrews. But Trump Turnberry is one of the top 100 golf courses in the world – and its location on the Scottish West coast is quite spectacular. The legendary Ailsa course has hosted some of the biggest names in golf over the years.

The Herald: Trump Turnberry ClubhouseTrump Turnberry Clubhouse

Trump invested a considerable amount in the course and it is now ranked number one in the UK and Ireland.

6. Visit the Brig o' Doon

This is the most photogenic of the Robert Burns activities! This iconic bridge is thought to have been built in the 15th century. It was made famous by its appearance in classic local boy Robert Burn’s poem Tam o’ Shanter. It now appears on the Scottish five-pound note.

The Herald: Brig o' DoonBrig o' Doon

When you walk down to the bridge on the Alloway side of the water you will walk past a lovely pub called the Brig o’ Doon House Hotel. The pub has a lovely garden with amazing trimmed trees that are also worth a look and a photograph.

7. Immerse yourself in Robert Burns

The town of Ayr is all about Robert Burns! Start off by parking in the museum car park. It is a very modern museum and quite interactive and digitally friendly. The Burns monument and gardens are walking distance nearby.

The Herald: Robert Burns MuseumRobert Burns Museum

Then across the road is the graveyard where Robert Burn’s father is buried. Robert Burns is buried at St Michael’s Churchyard in Dumfries. The road that this is on has been called the Poet’s Path. This road leading down to Burns Cottage.

The Herald: Robert Burns BirthplaceRobert Burns Birthplace

8. Walk by the seaside in Troon

Troon is a very cute little town on the seaside in the north of Ayrshire. Have a walk along its long seafront. There is a beach here with some lovely sand.

The Herald: Troon Beach Troon Beach

If this appeals you may also want to check out the seafront at nearby Prestwick (where the airport is). A little further north is the town of Largs. It is known for some great cafes, Scott’s restaurant at the marina and some great sunset views.

The Herald: Troon Town Centre Troon Town Centre

9. Drive the Coast road A77

When it comes to scenic drives in Scotland most people think of the highlands. However, southwest Scotland has some absolutely stunning roads. The key road is the Southwest 300. This circular road covers over 300 beautiful miles.

The Herald: South West 300 South West 300

The key section of the route through Ayrshire is the A77 road. This road starts in Glasgow and then runs all the way to Portpatrick on the Irish Sea. Along the way are Prestwick, Ayr, Girvan and Stranraer and most of the main towns of this area. Once the road hits Givran (if you’ve started in Glasgow) it follows the sea down to lovely Portpatrick.

10. Visit Dumfries House

Dumfries House is a stunning yet little known stately home in Ayrshire. It was saved by the Prince of Wales himself in 2007 as it features the architecture of Robert Adam and the furniture of Thomas Chippendale.

The estate is open free to visitors and walkers from dawn to dusk. The main gates for cars closes at 6pm.

The Herald: Dumfries House Dumfries House

The only way to see inside the estate is a guided tour. Click here to find out tour options and to make a booking.

Despite the name, Dumfries House is located in Ayrshire not Dumfries and Galloway.

11. Have a Wee Dram

AD Rattray has been making whisky since 1868. The company is family owned and still independent. Their focus is single malt whisky. Their Whisky experience is located in an old village school. There is no cost and no need to book. Just drop in and the team will take care of you with a tasting and everything you could possibly want to know about Whisky!

The Herald: AD Ratray Whisky ExperienceAD Ratray Whisky Experience

12. Visit some Islands

There are several Island options in Ayrshire. From Largs, there is a 15-minute ferry that goes to Cumbrae and the small town of Millport. There are beautiful sunset views over Arran island from Cumbrae.

The Herald: Islands Ayrshire Islands Ayrshire

There’s also the one-hour ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland to Brodick on the Isle of Arran. Arran is definitely worth visiting if you get the chance. It has a castle, a distillery, a brewery, a cheese, a chocolate shop, standing stones, a mountain to climb…. they call it ‘Scotland in miniature’ because of the variety of landscape and flora & fauna all over the island. It’s absolutely beautiful.

In the summer a ferry runs from Claonaig on the Kintyre Peninsula to Lochranza in the north of the island.

How to Get To Ayrshire

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 the easiest way to get around is to hire a car. I would highly recommend doing this. Not only is it 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.

The Herald: Visit AyrshireVisit Ayrshire

Where to Stay in Ayrshire

I loved my stay at Glenapp Castle – as you can tell by its number one position in this post! I also enjoyed two nights at the very decadent Trump Turnberry. It is so luxe – well worth it for something special. Finally, I heard excellent things about Highgrove House Hotel.

The Herald:

Places to Eat in Ayrshire

In Ayr, check out the Fox & Willow on Carrick Rd which is known for its fantastic cocktail list. The Waterfront on South Harbour has a comfortable patio overlooking the water leading out to the sea, try Ruby 7 Days in the Sandgate if you like Chinese, and if you’re in the mood for a curry try Ayr India.

There are also several lovely pubs to check out in Ayr. The Ayrshire & Galloway friendly and comfortable. They serve Caledonian 80 on tap and are known for their pizza and savoury crepes. The Tam O’Shanter in the High Street is small, but a great spot to wind down for the day or hide out from a spat of rain.

The Herald:

The Twa Dugs in Killoch (just a couple doors from the Ayrshire & Galloway) has a good latte and a range of whiskies plus blues on a Sunday night. Some other cafes worth visiting are  Cafe Monza in the High Street, Nova Coffeehouse & Juicebar in the Lorne Arcade, The Book & Bun in Newmarket Street and Pandora in the Sandgate. The Bhaile Craft Bakery is in an unusual spot north of the river, in the North Harbour Industrial Estate but has an excellent reputation.

For dessert check out either Renaldo’s & Lori’s Delights for ice cream. They are conveniently located about a minute away from each other so you can review both before deciding on your flavour!

What to Pack for a Visit to Ayrshire

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 a more outdoor itinerary planned. This part of Scotland does not tend to be terribly fancy. However, the high-end hotels in the area (like GlenApp Castle and Trump Turnberry ) do have a bit of a dress for dinner thing going on so good to pack one more dressed up option.

The Herald: Ayrshire GardenAyrshire Garden