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If you want some peace and quiet but still a whole lot of exploring, there are lots of idyllic coastal towns worth visiting in Scotland. With their sandy beaches, natural harbours and lovely scenery, heading to any of these towns is a breath of fresh air.
Here are our favourite coastal towns in Scotland that we think are worth visiting. Don’t blame us if you end up wanting to move to any of these gorgeous places!
Oban, which means ‘little bay’ in Gaelic, is known as the Gateway to the Isles since it’s near various islands like Lismore, Kerrera, Mull and Iona. It boasts stunning views of the glistening ocean and lush Scottish Highlands.
Apart from having a busy working port, this coastal town is home to various seafood restaurants, earning its reputation as‘the seafood capital of Scotland’.
Visit Oban Seafood Hut near the ferry terminal for the freshest and most budget-friendly seafood meal in town. It’s a tiny green shack that’s often hidden from plain view so make sure to keep an eye out for it..
Known as the capital town of the Isle of Mull, Tobermory has one of the prettiest ports in Scotland since it’s lined with colourful and quirky houses by its coastline.
This was built as a fishing port in 1788 but has become a popular tourist destination because of its picturesque locations. Some of its most famous spots include the Tobermory Distillery, Mull Aquarium and Aros Park.
Visit the Isle of Mull Ice Cream which has various delicious and unique flavours like peach and coconut, whiskey marmalade, raspberry ripple, lemon meringue pie and more.
Situated along the Aberdeenshire coast at Gamrie Bay, Gardenstown is a lovely town founded in 1720 by Alexander Garden. This fishing village has a large and beautiful harbour with houses layered up to the cliff face.
It has majestic views of the North Sea from every angle of the town. There’s also a coastal path that connects Crovie with Gardenstown, which is a great place to watch dolphins from a distance.
Gardenstown Beach, aka Gamrie Beach, is one of the best places to visit in town. With its stretch of sandy and rocky pathways with sandstones, it’s a great place to witness the sunset.
Millport is the only town found in the Isle of Cumbrae which is popularly known as the home of Britain’s smallest cathedral, The Cathedral of the Isles. It’s open daily for visits and showcases free concerts at 3 PM weekly during summer.
This coastal destination is often visited by families since it offers various activities fit for all ages, such as the Museum of the Cumbraes and Crocodile Rock.
The Crocodile Rock is found on the beachfront with a nearby parking space and public toilets. You can take photos near its teeth or on its back. You’ll need to climb a little to get on its back, so be careful of its uneven surfaces.
Portree is both the capital and largest town in the Isle of Skye, featuring a big harbour with dozens of fishing boats and surrounded by hills. This cultural hub overlooks a sheltered bay with everything you need, from restaurants to a tourist information centre.
Our favourite activities include hiking up the Quiraing, exploring the Lealt Falls and visiting the Skyeworks Gallery.
If you want to get a closer look at Lealt Falls, you can take the hillside path down towards the drop of water. It can be a wee slippery during the rainy season but it’s manageable as long as you’re careful.
Located in the Scottish Borders, Eyemouth is a small coastal town in Scotland with a lovely beachfront that’s popular among tourists. Since it’s around a natural harbour, fishing is the main source of income for residents.
Fun fact: its name was derived from its location since it’s situated at the mouth of the Eye Water River. Must-visit sights in this picture-perfect town are the Eyemouth Museum, Widows and Bairns, Gunsgreen House, and Eyemouth Beach.
If you’re going to the town’s beach, check the water quality sign in front of the car park before taking a dip to be sure
North Berwick is a coastal town in East Lothian that’s known for its busy port, pristine beaches and the Scottish Seabird Centre. They also have various spots from seafood restaurants to hippy coffee shops.
Since this is found on the shores of the Firth of Forth, you can see the famous Bass Rock from a distance while you’re here. You can get closer to this wee island by taking a boat from North Berwick.
Tesco vouchers can be used at the Scottish Seabird Centre for cheaper admission fees. You can also get lower rates if you become a member of the centre for a monthly fee of £1.50.
Found near the Isle of Cumbrae, Largs is a small town that has unique pebbled beaches and a yacht marina. This popular seaside resort was once the battleground between Norway and Scotland in 1263.
Since the Scots won against the Norwegian Vikings, the town celebrates this feat through a festival yearly in September with various displays, stalls and parades for an entire week.
If you want to learn more about Vikings, you can spot Magnus the Viking by the seafront with his evident blue beard – yup, not kidding.
This statue stands at 16 feet tall and was erected in 2013 to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the Battle of Largs where we won against a Viking raid.
Situated in the East Neuk of Fife, Crail is a lovely fishing town filled with lots of historic cobbled streets and a small harbour. The area is surrounded by picturesque cliffs and quaint fishing cottages.
Since this is found north of the capital city, many tend to overlook this charming town but this is a peaceful location that’s perfect for a getaway from the hustle and bustle.
Climb up the top of the harbour wall to get a breathtaking view of your surroundings.
Stonehaven is described as Aberdeenshire’s gem with its bustling sheltered harbour and iconic Dunnottar Castle in the area. The town’s also popular for its beautiful coastline and lavish Hogmanay celebrations.
Hogmanay is done on the eve of January 1st with a fire-burning ceremony which is to ‘burn off’ the bad spirits from the previous year to start the new one with a fresh and clean slate.
Apart from that, this lovely town has a museum, safari and beach worth visiting.
If you’re going to Dunnottar Castle, don’t forget to download their free app so you can learn more about the different items you see inside the edifice.
Dunbar is a popular coastal town on the North Sea that has long stretches of sandy beaches suitable for surfers, swimmers and water sports enthusiasts. It’s in East Lothian, around 30 miles east of Edinburgh.
Plus, this place’s world-renowned for its high sunshine record with various family-friendly attractions such as East Links Family Park, Belhaven Beach (Best Surfing in Scotland) and Dunbar Castle.
For some adult-only fun, visit the local’s favourite spot: Station Yard Micropub. It has a beer garden and offers brews from Winton Brewery along with other beverages such as gins, whiskies and wines.
Anstruther is a small coastal resort town located south of St Andrews (Do you need a car in St Andrews?). It has several historic fishing villages lined up along the Fife Coast.
Anstruther Fish Bar is a popular shop in town with several awards under its belt, including UK Fish and Chip Shop of the Year. You can also observe different wildlife species like puffins and seals on a boat ride from the town.
The best time to visit Anstruther is around early July to late August for the best cool weather which reaches up to 15 degrees Celsius on average.
With three beautiful beaches and two championship golf courses, Nairn is a well-visited coastal town in the Scottish Highlands. It’s frequented by families because it has various activities fit for everyone such as walking, cycling and wildlife watching.
Apart from the beaches, you can also visit Cawdor Castle, Nairn Museum, Dulsie Bridge and more while you’re here.
If you’re on the Dulsie Bridge, you can walk down to the riverbanks for a closer look – but be careful since it can be a wee slippery and has no maintained path.