Welcome to North Ayrshire…
Isle of Cumbrae
Known as Scotland’s most accessible island – just a 10-minute ferry journey from Largs. You can walk or cycle around the whole island in less than half a day, covering 10 miles of beautiful coastal scenery. There is an abundance of wildlife and birdlife around the coast with over 120 species of birds – look out for Buzzards, Cormorants, Redshank, Kestrels and more en-route. Cumbrae is also home to the smallest cathedral in Europe, the National Watersports Centre, Millport Golf Course, Museums, Cafes and Shops.
We have featured the Sensory Trail on our Isle of Cumbrae map, for those looking for the best spots from which to just stop and stare and take in the beauty of the island and beyond. On our map, you will also find some of the island’s little-known gems, as featured in the book ‘Papa John’ penned by local man John Burtt, for his Grandson Conor. The book provides a wonderful insight into their adventures when Conor was a young boy and is available from the newsagents on the island for other families to discover the little treasures that are hiding in nooks and crannies around the island.
Largs is Ayrshire’s most northern seaside town, less than an hour from Glasgow by car or train. The town has strong historical links with the Vikings, which you can learn more about at the Vikingar Experience and the Viking Festival, held in September each year. The town’s popularity grew significantly after the railway made its connection there in 1895 and now attracts thousands of visitors all year round for its 3 golf courses, marina, abundance of high quality restaurants, unique boutique style shops, parks, a swimming pool, ten-pin bowling centre, scenic walks, museums and places of historical and natural interest.
Largs and Millport Information Bureau, situated on Main Street is run by volunteers all year round who will be happy to help you make the most of your stay. When heading south from Largs to discover more picturesque towns along the Ayrshire coastline, you will come across Kelburn Castle and Country Park with its famous graffiti-covered tower and gastronomical delights that await at Fencebay in Fairlie.
The Three Towns (Ardrossan, Stevenston and Saltcoats)
Ardrossan harbour is home to Clyde Marina, which has successfully transformed this area of the town – recent benefits include additional sea view housing developments and a new Italian restaurant. Ardrossan harbour is also the site of Caledonian McBrayne’s Ferry Terminal to the Isle of Arran.
Ardrossan Castle sits in a prominent position on castle hill above the town and is fabled with many ghost stories and legends.
Ardrossan has a variety of shops and bars, two beautiful beaches (South and North Beach), open spaces and recreation grounds.
Saltcoats was once the main destination for holidaymakers from the city during the summer holiday season. With a small harbour and beach front promenade, attractive open and recreational spaces, retail and leisure facilities, Saltcoats is still popular today as a day-tripper destination.
Together the towns offer an optimum product mix for tourism. Click here for more information on business opportunities surrounding sailing in North Ayrshire
Irvine was the site of Scotland’s 12th century Military Capital and former headquarters of the Lord High Constable of Scotland, Hugh de Morville. It also served as the Capital of Cunninghame. The town was once a haunt of Robert Burns, after whom two streets in the town are named: Burns Street and Burns Crescent. Burns enthusiasts can learn more about his connections with the town from the Irvine Burns Club, located in Eglinton Street (open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday afternoons in the Summer and Saturday afternoons in the Winter) Irvine has had a long history stretching back many centuries and was classed as a Royal Burgh.
In 1966 after major redevelopment, Irvine was officially designated a ‘new town’, the fifth and last ‘new town’ to be built in Scotland, and the only ‘new town’ to be located on the west coast. Today, Irvine offers an attractive mix of town centre shopping and restaurants, with its excellent rail and bus links, along with the slightly out-of-town Harbourside area which had a long and fruitful connection with the shipping industry. Irvine Harbour is now officially closed as a commercial port but is a bustling area for locals and visitors to enjoy the beaches and views across to Arran and is home to the Scottish Maritime Museum, with numerous vessels on display, including the ‘Spartan’, one of the last surviving Clyde Puffers. You will also find the Harbour Arts Centre, Magnum Leisure Centre and a nice selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy. Just a short drive from Irvine, Eglinton Country Park and Dalgarven Mill in nearby Kilwinning are great family attractions.