Great Ayrshire Road Trips

Ayrshire road trips have it all – spectacular scenery, incredible attractions; and more than a little magic. Whether you’re exploring by car, camper, bike or anything else with wheels, the Salt Lodge Hotel at Troon Yacht Haven is the perfect base to discover Ayrshire’s incredible driving routes!

From salt-sprayed coastal drives to idyllic island-hopping adventures, however long you’re visiting there’s an array of open road and attractions to suit you. Check out a few of the the Ayrshire road trips that await you below!

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The Coig

Named for the Gaelic word for ‘five,’ The Coig is Ayrshire’s answer to the North Coast 500 that invites you to delve into a fusion of contrasting landscapes, charming locals and colourful communities of the Clyde Coast and Islands. Check out the five routes and start your engines for the road trip of a lifetime!

The Cumbrae

A wee island that’s home to big adventures, Great Cumbrae is only four miles in length and two miles wide but a road trip around it is one of the most action-packed in Scotland. Make your way to the island via the ferry crossing from Largs and head for marvellous Millport, its only town, on an incredible Ayrshire road trip.

Park up and explore the cheerful, bustling and beautiful wee town, which is home to an array of seaside-themed boutiques, pubs, ice cream parlours and eateries – and a giant crocodile… Thankfully, this croc is made of stone rather than a tonne of teeth and muscle! Crocodile Rock dominates Millport’s shoreline and its roguish grin is re-painted annually by local heritage groups.

If you’d like to leave the car behind, Cumbrae is perfect for testing your pedal power thanks to a safe 10 mile, mostly flat, circular loop around the island. It’s the perfect way to take in the many appeals of the island at a slower pace. Head for the western side of the island, where spectacular beaches offer gorgeous views over to Arran and Bute – and the chance to glimpse the birds, seal colonies, porpoises and basking sharks that call Cumbrae’s coasts and skies home.

Crocodile Rock is one of Ayrshire's most iconic art installations

The Bute

In the not-so-distant past, Bute was the beach resort of choice of the Glaswegian jet set. While it might not be the Barbados of the north today, it remains a popular seaside destination, with visitors still entranced by its authentic Victorian promenade. Take a tour of Bute’s main town, Rothesay, and explore the waterfront’s glorious gardens and grand architecture – not least the masterpiece that is Mount Stuart House and Gardens.

That’s not to say Bute’s stuck in the past. Victorian shops have been turned into stylish boutiques and upcycled furniture emporiums; ethical, vegetarian cafés sit alongside sea-front ice-cream parlours; and trendy bars complement traditional old-style pubs.

If you’re looking for a more active adventure, the West Island Way runs the length of the island, providing waymarked footpaths through the hills. Keep an eye out for relics of Bute’s Neolithic heritage hidden in its rolling green fields! Make no mistake, this is one of the greatest Ayrshire road trips.

A boat cruises around the Isle of Bute in Scotland

The Arran

There’s a reason Arran is known as ‘Scotland in miniature.’ Whether you’re hiking over the rough beauty of its hills, marvelling at the scenery of its spectacular coastal road, or diving into adventure at the marine-protected area on the island’s southern coast, this is one of the best road trips in Scotland – if not the world!

Leave mainland Ardossan by ferry and disembark on the stunning shores of Brodick Bay, where you could glimpse everything from otters to basking sharks and dolphins, golden eagles and white deer. For something a little less wild, immerse yourself in the island’s vibrant music, arts and culture scene while enjoying a wee refreshment fresh from the Arran Brewery, or from one of the distilleries at Lochranza , Lagg, or Arran Gin. Don’t forget to sample some locally-sourced culinary excellence in one of the island’s many acclaimed restaurants!

It might be ‘Scotland in miniature,’ but there’s nothing small about what Arran has to offer. Wonderful wildlife, spectacular scenery, and scrumptious food and drink – this is a road trip with more magic-per-mile than you’ll find anywhere else in the world!

Boats sit in the shadow of the Isle of Arran at dusk

 

The Shiel

Salt-specked and spectacular, The Shiel takes in the west coast’s seaside towns, the wild and romantic landscape of Clyde Muirsheil, and is often known as the gateway to the islands of Bute, Arran and Cumbrae.

Taking in rolling hills, thundering waterfalls, beautiful moorlands, towering forests, stunning lochs and an abundance of wildlife, this is a road trip to savour. With such an assortment of landscapes and habitats, it’s no surprise the area is home to a huge array of wildlife. Head for Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park for the wildest road trip you’ll ever undertake.

The Shiel is also home to one of the strangest castles you’ll ever see. At Kelburn Country Park, you’ll find a castle transformed into a canvas, with the estate’s titular fortification painted with vibrant, unforgettable murals.

A cyclist rides past palm trees on Troon Promenade at sunset

The Shire

The Shire is a road trip of contradictions. The route celebrates the industrial legacy of the towns and villages of south-west Scotland alongside romance, history and culture.

Explore stately homes and ancestral castles; wander over rolling hills, plunging glens, and formidable cliff-tops; discover the tales of Scottish heroes such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce; or trace the steps of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns. With much of Burns’ poetry inspired by the people and places of the area, the Burns Birthplace Museum celebrates the role of The Shire in shaping the great poet’s work.

If you’d prefer a more modern adventure, The Shire also features the globally-renowned golf courses of Royal Troon and Turnberry. For those more suited to shops than sand traps, quirky independent boutiques and bars can be found all along The Shire’s route.

Whatever you’re looking for, you won’t find a road trip in Ayrshire – or Scotland – that offers such an incredible mix of experiences and attractions.

The isle of Ailsa Craig stands in silhouette at sunset

Other adventures

Looking for more adventures to undertake on your next trip to Ayrshire? Check out our guides to the incredible walking and cycling routes, fantastic food and drink, and legendary golf courses on the doorstep of the Salt Lodge Hotel in Troon!