This is our itinerary for Scotland and a week-long road trip through Ayrshire. We took this trip with children but it could easily be an adult only itinerary and is based on our winter week in Ayrshire. This post contains further reviews you can click in to so you can read more about the specifics like restaurants or attractions. We love this route as it features so many of the best things to see in Ayrshire from the Robert Burns Museum through to the beaches and islands. It would be easy to turn this into a two-week trip by spreading out some of the attractions and having more time to relax, or indeed to cut some of them out if you have less time.
Itinerary for Scotland – a week in Ayrshire: Schedule
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DAY 1 – Fly in to Glasgow Airport
Pick up a car at Glasgow airport (A) and head west into Ayrshire.
Along this route is the wonderful Auchengree Farm Shop in Glengarnock which is full of lovely local products including Arran cheeses and Ayrshire potatoes. It’s the perfect place to stock up if you’re going self catering or to take a break in their cafe. Then head to Irvine and the Scottish Maritime Museum (B) which is packed full of the history of the area and has my favourite, a restored tenement building from pre-1920s so you can see how people in the area really lived. It’s an amazing insight into the past. Stop for some coffee and cake in the museum’s cafe and watch the sun set over the harbour and the mountain tops of the Isle of Arran beyond. Then drive on to Ayr, (C) the perfect base for a trip to Ayrshire.
DAY 2 – Beaches and Burns
Spend the morning on the beach in Ayr. This beautiful stretch of sand has been inviting tourists since the Victorian age and earlier and it’s easy to see why. In winter bundle up and join the dog walkers and in summer relax on the sand with the beautiful views across the sea. Spend the afternoon getting cultural at the Robert Burns cottage (D). Head here early to have traditional Scottish fayre (or just hot jacket potatoes) in the cafe. This whole museum and cottage complex is somewhere to spend an afternoon. After lunch start in the visitor’s centre with the fantastic museum packed full of curated items and wonderfully interactive. If you have kids there’s an amazing playground outside all set around Burns’ works. Then make it up to the cottage itself which is just so evocative and brought to life by the amazing volunteers (try and catch Allan who will have you spellbound with his stories of life in the eighteenth century).
DAY 3 – A day on the islands
Drive up to Largs on day three to take the car and passenger ferry on the ten minute trip over to the Isle of Cumbrae (E). This beautiful little island is so picturesque. If you’re travelling by foot then the bus meets the ferry to take you straight to the main town of Millport. Hire bicycles at Mapes of Millport and cycle around the whole island in around two hours. Stop for lunch at the cafe halfway round if it’s summer or on winter stock up on your own winter picnic in Millport before heading off. Look out for otters and seals on the rocks as you go. Don’t miss crocodile rock just off shore at Millport and also Cathedral of the Isles, Britain’s smallest cathedral. This is a lovely island and one to really enjoy. When you head off and back to Largs then stop at Nardini’s ice cream parlour for delicious sundaes. If there’s time head to nearby Kilmarnock and Dean Castle (a filming location for Outlander) and with a new visitor centre and beautiful grounds. There’s a lovely playground if you’re visiting with kids.
DAY 4 – Castles and stars
Head about 30 minutes outside of Ayr to the dramatic Culzean Castle (F).This is a huge estate and in the summer months you can visit the castle itself which is absolutely full of wonderful treasures with stories to tell of the people who have lived here. In all seasons the beaches here are gorgeous and perfect for a walk and if you have children the castle themed play area is one of the best we’ve come across. When the sun sets head to the Dark Sky Observatory for a night of stargazing at one of the best places in the UK to do so.
DAY 5 – Beautiful ruins
Dundonald Castle (G) is majestic and full of history. Although it lies in ruins there’s still much to explore. Home of the grandson of Robert the Bruce this 14th century building is everything you’d want from a Scottish castle. There’s a great visitors centre, museum and cafe for some coffee and cake. Then head back to Ayr for a walk along the beach as the sun sets and a meal at one of the town’s great restaurants.
DAY 6 – Unique horses
The Clydesdale Horses (H) are a unique breed and absolutely beautiful horses. They are probably best known for the Budweiser Clydesdales and they are gentle giants and gorgeous to be around. Blackstone Cyldesdales offer rides for all levels of experience and even on rainy days you can help out feeding these lovely animals. Boswells Coach House nearby is perfect for lunch and then if you want some retail therapy Cumnock Factory Outlet nearby has some good bargains. Then head to Dumfries House (I) which has wonderful grounds and one of Britain’s most elegant stately homes. There’s also a fantastic little farmer’s market on during the weekend where you can pick up local produce including pies, cheeses and honey.
DAY 7 – Heading home
On your way back to Glasgow Airport head to your final castle, Kelburn Castle, (J) a quirky 13th century building with gorgeous grounds including a secret forest, an indoor play barn for little legs to burn off some energy and a chance to have a tour of what is still the Earl of Glasgow’s private residence.
Itinerary for Scotland – a week in Ayrshire: Map
Please let me know if our ‘Itinerary for Scotland – a week in Ayrshire (Ayr, Isle of Cumbrae, Robert Burns and more)’ helps you with your journey…we’d love to know anything you did differently or something that worked particularly well. Read all about our week in Ayrshire for more of what we did and thought.
Thank you to Visit Scotland for helping with this itinerary.