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10 pretty coastal villages in Scotland holiday cottages

10 pretty coastal villages in Scotland

Elianne Reed 30 March 2022

We have put together some of our favourite coastal villages in Scotland to fuel some ideas for your next holiday.

We wanted to feature the more unusual places, the hidden gems of our rugged coastline, the hidden beauty which can be stumbled upon with a bit of adventure. Staying next to the sea can be good for the soul, listening to the sea lapping on the shore and the sound of sea birds going about their daily forage. You can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life, soaking up another culture, dining out on fresh seafood and meeting the locals. These coastal villages are lovely spots for a holiday at any time of year on Scotland's coast.




Here are ten of the prettiest coastal villages in Scotland to put on your list:

Plockton

Also known as 'The Jewel of the Highlands', Plockton is an idyllic village set on the shores of Loch Carron Bay in the Highlands. Traditional stone buildings that are dotted along the shoreline date back to the 19th century and look on peacefully as the former fishing town welcomes its annual visitors. Staying here will clear your head from all the stresses of daily life as the village's easy-going, slow pace helps you relax and unwind. There is so much to do here!

Highlights:

  • Boat trips, sailing, sea kayaking and beach days on the doorstep.
  • Plockton's beautiful harbour offers a nice place to sit and watch all the sailing boats come and go.
  • The visitor centre and arts and crafts galleries are open to all.
  • Biking - both road and mountain - can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

Plockton is all about quality, not quantity, and you will find some great food in the hotel restaurants, the local café and of course, the chippy!



Gardenstown

This beauty is one of three villages quietly existing below the cliffs, along the north facing Aberdeenshire coast at Gamrie Bay in east coast Scotland. To the east of Gardenstown, you will also find Crovie and Pennan, smaller in size. They are all beneath the cliff edge but Gardenstown is said to be the most stable. It was founded in 1720 by Alexander Garden and, originally known as ‘Gamrie’, it was specifically created as a fishing village with a lovely big harbour. It's a fascinating place.

Highlights:

  • Admire the layered up houses all the way up the cliff face.
  • Wildlife lovers out there will be thrilled with all of the surrounding sea life.
  • The seasonal heritage centre gives a great insight into the historic fishing industry here.
  • The coastal path linking neighbouring village Crovie with Gardenstown offers a perfect walk for spotting dolphins.

This is a lovely coastal spot and you can enjoy views out over the North Sea from every angle!



Rockcliffe

Rockcliffe is one of a number of small seaside villages spread along the stretch of the north shore of the Solway Firth, known as the Colvend Coast. To reach it, turn off the A710 in Colvend, 5 miles south of Dalbeattie, and travel just over a mile (passing Torbay en route) to the southern end of Rockcliffe itself. This is such a lovely quaint place and there is very little commercial activity here, which makes it a real hidden gem in the Scottish Borders.

Highlights:

  • The arc of white painted houses and cottages look far out over the beach.
  • Sea birds surround you calling out to each other as they dip and dive for their supper.
  • There is a beach offering hours of entertainment to both families and friends.

Hilly walks can be found further afield, and a few hotels and cafés in the area can fulfil those cravings for a much-needed shot of caffeine or some tasty Scottish grub! 



Corrie

It would almost be impossible not to include an Isle of Arran delight! You will find Corrie on the northeast side of the island, boasting two harbours that are about half a mile apart; one of them even has a small Viking longboat that is used by the Arran Viking Society. The village itself is made up of a number of small cottages and houses lining the inland side of the A841 main road. It is a tiny village complete with church, town hall, hotel and village shop.

Highlights:

  • Explore the Isle of Arran and all its attractions from the doorstep.
  • The village is close to Goat Fell, the island's mountain, perfect for keen walkers.
  • Unique, award-winning, seafood and cheese shops are just around the corner. 

This is a magical spot on the Isle of Arran and should definitely be on your to-see list.



Aberdour

Located in Fife, this beautiful seaside town is home to two picturesque beaches, a harbour, a castle, a golf course and much more. The castle is the village’s main attraction and tempts visitors from all over the globe with its gallery, finely painted ceiling and peaceful walled garden. Dating as far back as the 13th century, this is a historical marvel for many. 

Highlights:

  • Silver Sands beach is Aberdour's pride and joy and overlooks the Firth of Forth towards Edinburgh.
  • Water sports, rock pooling, and watching the boats at the harbour.
  • For keen golfers, the Aberdour Golf Club boasts an 18-hole, par 67 parkland course which enables you to drink in stunning coastal views.

This charming village is definitely worth a visit!



Gairloch

Gairloch is a small seaside village set on the shores of Loch Gairloch amongst the impressive wild scenery of Wester Ross. By the time you arrive in the idyllic village you will have been spoiled by magical scenery already, but to stay a period of time here means you will be smiling all week. The name Gairloch comes from the Gaelic "ghearr loch", meaning short loch - referring to the relatively short sea loch that runs along the coast here. There is a safe, sheltered sandy beach with good parking, and not too far from that is the secluded beach ‘Big Sand’ which is a lovely spot for beach days and picnics. 

Highlights:

  • The coastline is superb, lined with hotels, holiday cottages and quaint eateries.
  • There are lots of walking routes surrounding the village, perfect for lovely walks.
  •  Water sports, pony trekking and whale watching are among the many activities here.

This is one of the finest locations on the west coast of Scotland.



Tobermory

This is the main town on the Isle of Mull which has become iconic due to its colourful and characterful houses which line the harbour town. Built as a fishing port in 1788, the town curves around the harbour, rising into the hillside beyond, making it both picturesque and quirky – and who doesn’t love to photograph that? Tobermory has lots to offer its visitors and the locals being charming and welcoming, want to help you enjoy it to the full. 

Highlights:

  • You can book a guided tour at the Tobermory Distillery.
  • The Marine Centre is a great place to learn all about the area's marine heritage.
  • Boat trips leave the island regularly helping you spot sea eagles, dolphins, seals and whales. 
  • Enjoy a round of golf, set on clifftops with views out to the sea.

This is a magical island set off the west coast and you can explore its interesting land in just a few days.



North Berwick

Heading further South, nearby Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh, North Berwick is an idyllic seaside town with everything you could want. From hotel spas and smart restaurants to long sandy beaches and trendy coffee shops, there is much to keep everyone occupied here. With views out across the sea to Bass Rock, a famous rock homing the largest gannet colony, it is a pretty town just waiting for your visit.

Highlights:

  • You can learn all about the different species at the 5-star Scottish Seabird Centre.
  • Take boat trips out to Bass Rock and other surrounding islands and learn all about their history.
  • There are putting greens, playgrounds, tennis courts and other sporting activities on offer here so the kids will never be bored.

Treat the family to an ice cream from the local parlour or take a dip in the sea! Being close to Edinburgh you have the best of both worlds in North Berwick!



Portree

Portree is a magical village set on the coastline of the Isle of Skye. Anyone lucky enough to visit this ancient island will tell you that it is not one to miss. Set round its natural harbour and fringed by high ground, cliffs and trees, the town is both picturesque and characterful. This is one of the main attractions on the island as many visitors flock to experience the setting and culture of the village.

Highlights:

  • Live music, live theatre and concerts are a big pull to the area and the village is well known for hosting events throughout the year.
  • Explore the likes of the Fairy Glens, Cuillin Mountains and Uig in the north.
  • Boat cruises, pony-trekking, mountain biking and guided tours of the islands are all available from Portree.

The village awaits with eateries and pubs to refuel you after days out exploring and you will be able to pick yourself up a treat from any of the arts and crafts gift shops.



Crail

Crail is a glorious seaside town located north of Edinburgh in the pretty East Neuk of Fife. This area is quite often forgotten due to its humble position across the sea from the capital, but it is a hidden gem for those who come to visit for the first time. The mini harbour can be reached by downwards cobbled steps and here you soak up some sun with an ice cream admiring all the fishing boats.

Highlights:

  • The Fife Coastal Route takes you on a drive around the north east coast of the Kingdom of Fife.
  • The Crail Pottery offers up a special visit to kit your house out with some local crafts.
  • Bike and cycle until your heart is content around the network of peaceful country roads.

This is a peaceful place for a relaxing break and you will love being so close to the sea and all the beaches in this amazing region.



Hopefully, we have managed to surprise you with some villages you may not have heard of before! We hope that you have enjoyed reading about them and manage to include one or two during your next holiday to Scotland. If you are looking for a base for your upcoming adventures, have a peek at our collection of coastal cottages in Scotland to find the perfect place to return to at night.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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