Beach breaks in Scotland

Scotland is most famous for its mountainous landscape, lush glens and deep, shimmering lochs, but it is also home to sensational beaches. Whether you’re a seasoned beachgoer or an enthusiastic outdoor adventurer, Scotland’s exquisite sandy coastlines make it an ideal year-round destination for a fabulous beach break.

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Aberdeen Beach

Renowned for winning the Resort Seaside Award in 2013, this recreational golden sand beach is just a short walk from Aberdeen city centre. Trailing between the city’s harbour and the River Don, the beach has regular visitors, whatever the weather. Many groynes run down the sand to prevent erosion, making for a picturesque beach view. The coast is ideal for sporting convenience, with ocean waves perfect for recreational wind sailing and surfers. You can also access several attractions nearby, such as the Codonas Amusement Park and Linx Ice Arena, both just a 15-minute stroll away and perfect for families and young ones.

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Ayr Beach

Located on the west coastline of Ayrshire is one of the best beaches in Scotland. Ayr Beach is a great location for picnics and sandcastles, with plenty of sand and grass paired with beautiful views of the adjacent islands. As well as miles of sandy shore running next to the sea, there is also a rock island just in front of the shore, made even more visible during low tide seasons. There are plenty of local beach amenities such as accessible access down to the beach, local toilets and great public transport links. The beach also features as part of the Sustrans National Cycle Route 7, making the beach an excellent spot for cyclists. There is also plenty to do in the local area, including a crazy golf course, a children’s play area and a café perfect for refreshments. Why not visit Pirate Pete’s Family Entertainment Centre, located just on the seafront, offering indoor soft play, mini golf and laser tag games.

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Croy Shore Beach

This charming rural beach lies on the Ayrshire coast between Maidens and Dunure. Found next to the small town of Maybole, Croy Beach is a mix of sand and rocky outcrops and is an excellent area for walking as the Ayrshire Coastal Path passes close by. The mile-long beach is backed by grassy areas, with low-rise cliffs at one end, where behind you can see the rolling hills of Ayrshire. There are views from the beach out and admiring views of Culzean Castle over the Firth of Clyde towards the Isle of Arran. This delightful beach is particularly popular on sunny days, especially for those looking to pursue surfing and yachting activities. Toilets can be found here but no shops so it might be a good idea to bring a picnic. Some visitors get portable barbecues. Just watch out for those sneaky seagulls!

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Gullane Bents Beach

This stunning sandy beach is located in Gullane, not far from Edinburgh. With stunning views of the Firth of Forth, the river running through this part of Scotland, there is no doubt that this beach is worth a visit. The beach is often filled with windsurfers and kite flyers, especially when the weather is windy. It is also a great place for families, with picnic benches and sand ideal for castles. There are also plenty of paths to explore, including one leading behind the beach to the stunning sand dunes. The beach is also well-populated with facilities, including local parking, a shop and toilets. The nearby town of Gullane has a lot to offer, including numerous pubs, shops, restaurants and especially golf courses. This area is known for its popularity in golfing, home to the famous Muirfield Golf Club.

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Loch Morlich Beach

This unique freshwater beach located in Glenmore Forest Park is not located by the coast but is instead on the bay of Loch Morlich. As well as being able to enjoy the beach itself with the family, they also host a whole range of excellent activities for both experienced swimmers and beginners. As well as a range of walking trails, they also offer activities such as canoeing, boating, and windsurfing at the nearby Lock Morlich Watersports facility. Famous for being the highest recorded beach in Britain, it is also the only freshwater beach in Scotland to win the Rural Beach Award. The location also has excellent local amenities, including a picnic area, disabled access, parking nearby and toilet facilities. Enjoy stunning views of this peaceful loch and the mountains beyond the water.

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Lunan Bay Beach

Sitting in the quaint cove of Montrose and Arbroath is Lunan Bay, a beach dating back to the Viking ages. Backed by stunning sand dunes and rocky mountainside cliffs on both edges, this secluded bay holds a lot of historical value. The ruins of Red Castle stand overlooking the bay dating back to the 12th century. Originally built for King William of Scotland, all that remains now is a small portion of the tower and one wall. The beach itself is also popular among budding sportspeople, with tides and winds perfect for surfers, horse riding, and net fishing. The beach has excellent accessibility with a close car park and plenty of wooden walking paths dotted around the cove.

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Nairn Beach

Located right next to the River Nairn running all the way through north mainland Scotland, this sandy beach is perfect for sports and for a visit with the family. The bay is backed by low sand dunes and a grassy plain area, with a promenade running down the expanse of the beach. The coastline is home to a resident school of dolphins, making it well worth the visit just for the wildlife alone. The sunsets on the beach are magical all year round, but what makes it spectacular is the opportunity to spot the Northern Lights around the skies of the Firth during the winter. There is also a good range of coastal walks available, with many ending at the Kingsteps Nature Reserve perfect for an educational day out. The beach also has plenty of great entertainment facilities nearby, including the Nairn Museum with interactive exhibits, the local swimming pool and the beach playground and splash pad.

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Portobello Beach

When you think of Edinburgh, beaches might not be the first thing that comes to mind – but there are actually lots of seaside resorts within easy reach of the city. Portobello Beach is the cream of the crop, an hour’s walk or 20 minutes by car from the centre of town. There’s about a mile of sandy beach to stroll along, and lots of charming seaside buildings and attractions to explore. You could try your hand at kayaking at the Portobello Kayaking and Sailing Club, or take a dip at the Victorian swimming baths (if the sea is too chilly!). Afterwards, the little cafes along the seafront are a great place to stop for tea and cakes.

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Silver Sands Beach, Aberdour

Right on the Fife coast, opposite Edinburgh is this secluded cove beach brimming with wildlife. With a sand-covered beach backed by trees and shrubbery, this beach might be perfect if you’re looking for an adventurous stay. With clear waters full of plant life and sand flowing into the grass, this beach is perfect for a family day out with a golf course and bouncy castle available by the shore in the summer. Nearby shore facilities include a beachfront café, toilets, and a dog exercise area. The Fife coastal path passes through this beach, making for a stunning walk around the coast. Why not visit the local islands of Inchmickery and Inchcolm, famous for their abbey, which can also be seen from the shore.

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