Top things to do in Ayrshire

Top Choice Palace in South Ayrshire

Culzean Castle & Country Park

The Scottish National Trust's flagship property, magnificent Culzean (kull-ane) is one of the most impressive of Scotland's stately homes. On approach the castle floats into view like a mirage. Designed by Robert Ad…
Top Choice Museum in Alloway

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

This impressive museum has collected a solid range of Burns memorabilia, including manuscripts and possessions of the poet, like the pistols he packed for his work as a taxman. There's good biographical information,…
Top Choice Historic Building in South Ayrshire

Dumfries House

A Palladian mansion designed in the 1750s by the Adam brothers, Dumfries House is an architectural jewel: such is its preservation that Prince Charles personally intervened to ensure its protection. It contains an e…
Top Choice Seafood in Troon


Right at the end of the harbour road, where yachts have given way to fishing boats, this set-up has two parts, both worthwhile. The Oyster Bar offers excellent fresh seafood in a smart, uncluttered setting. Next doo…
Castle in Troon

Dundonald Castle

Dundonald Castle commands impressive views and, in its main hall, has one of the finest barrel-vaulted ceilings preserved in Scotland. It was the first home of the Stuart kings, built by Robert II in 1371, and recko…
Museum in Irvine

Scottish Maritime Museum

Boat lovers should check out Irvine's Scottish Maritime Museum. In the massive Linthouse Engine Shop – an old hangar with a cast-iron framework – is an absorbing collection of boats and machinery. Displays cover rop…
Pub Food in Irvine

Ship Inn

Further along the harbour road from the maritime museum, make sure to drop into this wonderful pub. It's the oldest in Irvine (built in 1597, licensed in 1754), serves tasty bar meals and has bucket loads of charact…
Cafe in Great Cumbrae

Dancing Midge

The Dancing Midge is a hugely cheerful cafe on the waterfront, offering fine views and excellent breakfast options as well as sandwiches, daily soups, tasty cakes and good coffee.
Castle in Ayrshire

Dean Castle

In Kilmarnock, a 15-minute walk from bus and train stations, this castle, restored in the 20th century, has a virtually windowless keep (dating from 1350) and an adjacent palace (1468), with a superb collection of m…
Ruins in South Ayrshire

Crossraguel Abbey

Between the towns of Maybole and Kirkoswald, by the A77, Crossraguel Abbey is a substantial ruin dating back to the 13th century that’s good fun to explore. The renovated 16th-century gatehouse is the best part – yo…