6 beaches near Glasgow: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

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Beaches near Glasgow

No one really plans a beach vacation in Glasgow. Scotland's second city isn't blessed with the kind of weather that lends itself to year-round beach activities. In fact, for many residents of Glasgow, taking a beach vacation means booking a cheap flight and heading south to mainland Europe or further afield to take advantage of warmer weather and calmer seas.

However, Glasgow is located close to the wild west coast of Scotland, and this region is home to some of the most stunning beaches in the UK. The best beaches near Glasgow may not offer the endless sun and warm water of the Mediterranean, but they do possess a rugged beauty that makes them fantastic places to explore. And if you can handle the weather, you can visit a beautiful Scottish beach at any time of year.

Some of the best beaches near Glasgow can be reached easily via public transit from Buchanan Bus Station or the city's rail stations. Others will require you to drive. But either way, there are some really spectacular beaches to explore in this area. Drop off your bags at a Glasgow suitcase storage and only bring what you need to enjoy some of Scotland's best beaches. The country offers thousands of miles of coastline, nearly all of it easy to reach from this major city, so there's no excuse for not checking out some of these gorgeous beaches.

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Irvine Beach near Glasgow

Irvine Beach

Located at the mouth of the River Irvine, this beautiful stretch of golden sand is one of the best beaches near Glasgow to explore. Offering beautiful views of the Ayrshire coast, this is a perfect place to get away from it all without going too far.

Travel distance from Glasgow

It's only a little more than 30 miles from the center of Glasgow to Irvine Beach — even if the seclusion will make it feel like it's a lot further than that. You can get there with a drive of only around 40 minutes, or you can take a train from Glasgow Central Station to Irvine and then walk a mile to the beach. That makes Irvine Beach one of the most accessible beaches near Glasgow, as well as one of the prettiest.

Activity recommendations

Irvine Beach Park: Located at one end of the beach, Irvine Beach Park is a protected area of sand dunes that offers some of the most beautiful views in the area. Take a walk through the trails that wind their way through this unique environment and enjoy the more natural side of Scotland. It's a great way to get some exercise and some fresh air while you take a break from the city.

Harbour Arts Centre: Located in the harbor of Irvine, this arts center is a cultural hub for the whole region. Offering art exhibitions along with theater, comedy, and musical performances, there's always something going on at this lively center, which makes it a great place to explore when you've had enough of the golden sand and crashing waves of Irvine Beach itself.

Scottish Maritime Museum: Irvine is home to two buildings that house branches of the Scottish Maritime Museum. At the Linthouse Shipyard, you can explore what was once called Scotland's Cathedral of Engineering, then enjoy a coffee at the nearby Boatshop. It's a great way to get to grips with the industrial history that made this area what it is today.

Scottish beaches aren't the best places for sun worshipers anyway. Summer here is brief, but with these cultural attractions in the area, there's plenty to do in Irvine at any time of year. Plus, the crashing waves of winter can make the beach even more beautiful than it is in the summer.

Wemyss Bay Ferry Terminal

Wemyss Bay Beach

Located on the Firth of Clyde, this rock and shingle beach has a rugged beauty that makes it a popular place to visit at any time of year. It's also home to a war memorial site that preserves the defenses installed here during World War II to protect the UK from invasion. That makes this a great beach to visit for history buffs as well as ocean lovers.

Travel distance from Glasgow

Only around 30 miles from the center of the city, you can reach Wemyss Bay with a drive of a little under an hour. It's also reachable in around the same amount of time by taking the train straight to Wemyss Bay Station because the beach is only a 10-minute walk from the station.

Activity recommendations

Beachcombing: The pebble beach here means the water has startling clarity, and it also makes this a great place for beachcombing. Look for interesting shells and sea glass, or explore the rock pools to encounter some of the fascinating creatures the tide leaves behind. The rugged beauty of Wemyss Bay is just waiting to be explored.

Wemyss Bay War Memorial: This moving war memorial is a tribute to the men of the region who fought in Europe during the Second World War. It's a testament to the global reach of the conflict that even in this remote-seeming village, the war had a huge effect, and it's good to remember how lucky we are to live in times of relative peace.

Close to a ferry terminal, this isn't one of the most popular beaches in the area for swimming, but the upside of that is that it's worth a visit at any time of year. With interesting scenery, wildlife, and history, Wemyss Bay Beach is an excellent place to explore in the winter as well as in the summer.

Best beaches near Glasgow

Largs Beach and Pencil Beach

You probably don't expect to find swaying palm trees in Scotland, but that's exactly what you'll find at Largs Beach. This lovely beach is as historical as it is beautiful, making it and the neighboring Pencil Beach well worth exploring from Glasgow.

Travel distance from Glasgow

Largs Beach's almost tropical appearance makes it feel much further from the city than it really is. You can get to Largs with a drive of only 50 minutes or a train ride from Glasgow Central of around the same amount of time. The train station is only a few hundred meters from the beach, so it's an easy walk as long as you're not carrying too much stuff with you.

Activity recommendations

Vikingar! Leisure Centre and Visitor Attraction: This unusual attraction combines swimming pools and steam rooms with Viking history to provide something truly unique. Costumed storytellers explain the history of Viking Scotland, and you'll also get to dress up in Viking clothing and weapons yourself. If you're really lucky, you may even receive a message from Odin himself.

Pencil Beach: A beautiful beach in its own right, Pencil Beach takes its name from the pencil-shaped monument to the Battle of Largs that ended Viking supremacy in Scotland. Along with its historic interest, the beach here is a mix of sand and pebbles, and the bay is small and shallow, making it a great place to swim.

Newhaylie Trout Fishery: Located just on the edge of Largs, this beautiful lake is the perfect place to do some fishing. Scotland is famous around the world for its fisheries, and you can fish for beautiful trout in this lake and maybe catch something for dinner. Just don't forget to bring your fishing license with you before you go.

Cumbrae Island near Glasgow

Newton Beach

If you really want to get away from it all, head to beautiful Cumbrae Island and explore this beautiful beach. Just outside the island's main town of Millport, Newton Beach offers a stretch of inviting white sand and some of the best views you'll find anywhere.

Travel distance from Glasgow

This beach is only around 35 miles from Glasgow, but you will need to take a ferry to get there, meaning a journey time of around an hour and 20 minutes. Still, the 30-minute boat crossing helps to make this feel like a real getaway from the city, even though it's not that far away.

Activity recommendations

The beach: Glasgow isn't known for its white sand beaches, but beautiful Newton Beach bucks that trend. The perfect place to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine, it's also a great beach for swimming and for walking, with truly magnificent views of the surrounding coastline.

Robertson Museum and Aquarium: Located in Millport, this attraction packs a two-for-one punch. You can learn more about the local history of this charming island, then dive beneath the waves to encounter the wildlife that calls the coastal waters of Scotland home. That makes this a very educational place as well as an entertaining one.

Seamill Beach near Glasgow

Seamill Beach

This area was popular with Victorian holidaymakers, who came here to take advantage of the reputed healing properties of the local mineral waters. However, Seamill Beach nowadays is a bit of a hidden gem and an ideal place to take a break from the crowds while you soak up the beautiful scenery of Ayrshire.

Travel distance from Glasgow

It's around 35 miles from the heart of Glasgow to Seamill Beach. That means a drive of a little under an hour. You can also get to one of the best beaches near Glasgow by taking the train to West Kilbride Station and walking a mile to the beach from there or taking a taxi. Getting to the beach this way only takes around an hour.

Activity recommendations

Seamill Hydro: The healing waters so prized by Victorian travelers find their modern equivalent at this hotel and spa. With a lovely on-site restaurant and a range of spa treatments available, including soaking in the mineral baths and enjoying a range of massages and beauty treatments, this is the perfect place to pamper yourself while enjoying this rugged coastline.

Hiking: The coastal path that winds along this beach and into the hills beyond is one of the main attractions of the area. Keep your eyes peeled for seals lounging on the rocks as you enjoy the crashing waves and the bracing sea air while exploring this incredible location.

Like many of the beaches in this area, Seamill Beach is an excellent place to visit at any time of year. The worse the weather is outside, the more you'll enjoy lounging in the warm waters at the spa, so don't let a little rain and wind put you off.

Beaches close to Glasgow

Helensburgh Beach

The scenic beauty of this beach has made it a haven for artists. Enjoy the stunning sunset at Helensburgh Beach from the seafront promenade, and you may start to feel inspired yourself.

Travel distance from Glasgow

Helensburgh Beach is around 30 miles from Glasgow, meaning a drive of around 50 minutes. You can also take the train to Helensburgh Central and walk for around six minutes to reach Helensburgh Beach.

Activity recommendations

Scottish Submarine Centre: Helensburgh is the home of the UK's submarine fleet, including its nuclear deterrent. At the Scottish Submarine Centre, you can learn more about how submarines work, their development as weapons of war and exploration, and the continued advances in the state-of-the-art vessels still being made today. This is a fantastic place to come for anyone with an interest in history or engineering.

Helensburgh Arts Hub: Helensburgh and its beautiful natural environment have been the inspiration for dozens of artists through the years. That history is celebrated at this arts center, where you can also take classes and polish your own artistic skills in this beautiful environment.


The West Coast of Scotland isn't exactly celebrated as a place for beach resorts. But the beautiful beaches of the area are full of coastal charm, historical significance, and friendly hospitality. These beautiful coastal towns make for some of the best weekend trips from Glasgow, but most are close enough for satisfying day trips too.

Plus, visiting the beach can be a great way to save some money while visiting Glasgow on a budget. These gorgeous beaches are some of the best free things to do in the city. Leave the bags behind and get ready for an encounter with coastal Scotland. You'll be glad you did.

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