The Best Beaches Near Glasgow, Scotland

Many take advantage of the unusually hot weather and take to the beach to cool off, sunbathe or take a swim in the sea
Many take advantage of the unusually hot weather and take to the beach to cool off, sunbathe or take a swim in the sea | Findlay/Alamy Live News
Gleaming white sands framed by towering mountains and gently sloping hills may sound a world away from Glasgow’s industrial metropolis, but the Scottish city is only a quick jaunt from some of the prettiest beaches in Scotland. We’ve gathered some local tips on the best places to hit the coast when the sun shines – from pebbly straits to sand-swept coves.

Troon Beach

Natural Feature

To get to this popular spot, hop on the ScotRail train heading towards Ayr, arriving at Troon Beach just 40 minutes later. The long, sweeping beach is a popular day out for Glaswegians and holiday-makers alike, and so a sunny day sees its soft sands peppered with optimistic sun worshippers. It’s also a popular windsurfing spot; bring your own board or borrow one from TryKiteSurfing on the seafront before hitting the waves. Recommended by local insider Austin Yuill

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Helensburgh Beach

Natural Feature

Helensburgh’s sparkling, salt-scented air and brooding, watercolour-like landscape has long made it a draw for artists. Head up to Hill House, designed by artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, to survey this peaceful village before taking a blustery walk along the promenade at sunset. Feeling inspired yet? The Helensburgh Art Hub offers classes for beginners and novices, and has a fantastic gallery showcasing works from local artists. Recommended by local insider Austin Yuill

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Ayr Beach

Natural Feature

Expansive (almost) white sands, ice-cream-coloured kiosks and a slew of excellent fish and chip shops? There are many reasons why Ayr Beach is one of the most popular day trips in west Scotland. Look out for a volcanic outcrop and puffin nesting spot. Ailsa Craig is just off the shore; on a clear day you can see all the way out to the Isle of Arran and sometimes even Ireland in the distance. Just don’t forget your bucket and spade. Recommended by local insider Austin Yuill

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Largs Beach

Natural Feature

If you’re brave enough to take a dook (swim) in the Scottish sea, do it at Largs Beach. Don’t be deceived by the palm trees lining the sheltered cove; you’re still only an hour drive from Glasgow. You can either spend the whole day fuelled by Nardini’s ice cream on the shingly stretch in Largs proper, or head slightly further south to Pencil Beach – so named for the tall monument commemorating the Battle of Largs. Recommended by local insider Austin Yuill

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Seamill Beach

Natural Feature

Hemmed in by picnic-ready grasses, this sandy shore is quieter than others along the western coast, but that only adds to the sense that this is one of Ayrshire’s best-kept secrets. Victorians would come here for the water’s healing properties and the modern incarnation of this trend is hotel and spa the Seamill Hydro – a good choice for an upscale lunch. Alternatively, load up on snacks and wander along the seafront’s coastal path, making sure to look out for sunbathing seals. Recommended by local insider Austin Yuill

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These recommendations were updated on July 24, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.