Top things to do in Ayrshire holiday cottages

Top things to do in Ayrshire

Ed Roberts 08 January 2024

From the Southern Uplands to the Firth of Clyde, this coastal county in the south-west of Scotland is a fantastic place to get to know. Easily accessible from Glasgow, Ayrshire is a joy to discover for visitors with its iconic historic landmarks, beautiful coastline, winding rivers, and cool visitor attractions.

A land of charming contrasts, if you love the great outdoors, Ayrshire has much to offer. Follow treetop trails, go paddleboarding, mountain biking, sailing, and golfing, and that’s just for starters. Some of Scotland’s best restaurants are here too, many of which source their ingredients from the countryside and the sea of Ayrshire. For more ideas of the best places to stay on the west coast of Scotland, why not read our handy guide?

How best to experience the wonders of Ayrshire then? Why not treat yourself and your loved ones to a holiday cottage break in Ayrshire? We have a large selection of self-catering accommodation all across Ayrshire for you. Click on the button below to browse our properties.

Skip to

Best for young families | Heads of Ayr Farm Park

Assorted cows await visitors in a shed at Heads of Ayr Farm Park

Many young children love meeting animals! At Heads of Ayr Farm Park, you and your kids can meet a menagerie of horses, donkeys, peacocks, rabbits, alpacas, llamas, turkeys, pigs, and all kinds of other animal lunatics. What’s more, there is an exotic animal section of the farm where you will encounter squirrel monkeys, tamarins, tapirs, emus, wallabies, camels, prairie dogs and so many more. You can enjoy lunch here too, so save a full day getting to know the creatures at this wonderful Ayrshire visitor attraction.

Good to know

  • Where is Heads of Ayr Farm Park? Dunure Road, Alloway by Ayr, KA7 4LD
  • When is Heads of Ayr Farm Park open? The farm is closed during the winter (November to the end of March)
  • How much does it cost to visit Heads of Ayr Farm Park? Prices vary depending on ticket type. Visit the website for details.  
  • What facilities does Heads of Ayr Farm Park have? Parking, WCs, wheelchair hire, guide dogs are permitted, restaurant, café, and education programme
  • Stay nearby: Cob Cottage | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs 

Best for literary fans | The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum 

Elevated view of the Brig o Doon in landscaped gardens in Ayr

Visit the birthplace of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns, perhaps most famous for Tam O’Shanter. At the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Burns Cottage, you can see over 5,000 artefacts about the life and works of Burns. The museum is managed by the National Trust of Scotland, and you can visit Auld Alloway Kirk, the Burns Monument, and the Brig o’ Doon as well. If you are feeling hungry during your visit, you can enjoy authentic Scottish meals at the on-site café.

Good to know

  • Where is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum? Murdoch’s Lane, Alloway by Ayr, KA7 4PQ
  • When is the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum open? Open all year round, times vary between the main attractions 
  • How much does it cost to visit the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum? Adults £11.50 | Family £27.00. Visit the website for more details
  • What facilities does the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum have? Parking, WCs, café, electric shuttle between the cottage and museum, baby changing, buggy access, bike parking, and children’s activities
  • Stay nearby: Swan Bothy | sleeps 7

Best for garden lovers | Culzean Castle

Dramatic view of Culzean Castle atop cliffs above the sea

Discover the history of beautiful Culzean Castle with its 260-hectare estate with woodlands, beaches, a deer park, cliff-top walks, and hidden follies. Once the home of the 10th Earl of Cassilis and designed by Robert Adams, the castle is an architectural wonder packed with historic artefacts relevant to the area, and some dramatic features such as Adams’ oval staircase. It’s also a superb place to visit with children as there are play parks and an ice cream parlour. You can easily spend a whole day at Culzean Castle and still not see everything.

Good to know

  • Where is Culzean Castle? Culzean, Maybole, KA19 8LE
  • When is Culzean Castle open? The estate is open all year round, times vary between the main attractions. The castle is closed during the winter.
  • How much does it cost to visit Culzean Castle? Prices vary depending on whether you wish to visit the castle, the estate, or both. Visit the website for more details
  • What facilities does Culzean Castle have? Parking, WCs, shop, café, ice cream parlour, baby changing, buggy access, bike parking, children’s activities, EVP charging points, and picnic areas
  • Stay nearby: Killochan Cottage | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Best for historians | Scottish Maritime Museum (Irvine)

Model of a cutter held up by an unseen man with a seascape backdrop

For all things to do with the seas and oceans around Scotland, add this all-weather visitor attraction to your must-see list of places to go in Ayrshire. Based in the former Linthouse shipyard building in Irvine, the Scottish Maritime Museum is known to some as the Cathedral of Engineering. It’s here that you can learn about Scotland’s place of importance in the world of marine engineering and shipbuilding. There are boats to see and interactive displays galore for visitors to discover; each telling the story of Scotland’s industrial past and its future.

Good to know

  • Where is the Scottish Maritime Museum? Harbour Road, Irvine, KA12 8BT
  • When is the Scottish Maritime Museum open? Open all year round, daily 10am–5pm (except for Christmas and New Year public holidays)
  • How much does it cost to visit the Scottish Maritime Museum? Adults £12.00 | Children £7.50. For more details visit the website
  • What facilities does the Scottish Maritime Museum have? Parking, WC and a shop
  • Stay nearby: Castle Wing | sleeps 16 + 2 dogs

Best for horse riding holidaymakers | Ayrshire Equitation Centre

Two children grooming a brown horse in a stable yard

If you love horses and want to go riding on your holiday, then a morning or afternoon at Ayrshire Equitation Centre should be on your itinerary. There are short courses available for everybody from 5-year-olds and upwards, including hacking and specific training. The location is great, as you can enjoy a ride along the beach or through the stunning Ayrshire countryside. It’s a real treat for visitors to the area.

Good to know

  • Where is Ayrshire Equitation Centre? South Mains, Corton Road, Ayr, KA6 6BY
  • When is Ayrshire Equitation Centre open? Open all year round, opening times vary depending on the day of the week
  • How much does it cost to visit Ayrshire Equitation Centre? There is a host of courses to choose from so prices vary
  • What facilities does Ayrshire Equitation Centre have? Indoor and outdoor menages, shop, parking, WCs, vending machines. Please note, dogs are prohibited on site – even in parked cars.
  • Stay nearby: Coalhill Farm Byre | sleeps 4 

Best for cyclists | Mountain biking in Ayr

Mountain biker traversing a stony byway in Ayrshire with a backdrop of distant hills

Ayr is one of the very best places to go mountain biking in Southern Scotland besides the 7Stanes courses of neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway. There are several trails in Ayrshire that will satisfy everyone, from hardcore MTB fanatics to novices, with miles of tracks covering all kinds of woodland terrain as well as hiking trails.

Top three MTB trails in Ayrshire

Best for outdoor adventure | Adventure Carrick 

Lone athlete kayaking offshore on the Ayr coast

In love with outdoor activities? Adventure Carrick offers a high number of adventures for you to get involved with, whether it’s paddleboarding, kayaking, canoeing, coasteering, archery, axe-throwing, abseiling, mountain biking, or bushcraft and survival courses. Enjoy any one of these courses all year round in the beautiful Ayrshire countryside and coast. There is also a range of holistic and wellbeing-themed activities available at Adventure Carrick.   

Good to know

  • Where is Adventure Carrick? Instructors meet you at many different locations around Ayrshire. Their office is based in Kirvan.
  • What activities are available at Adventure Carrick? The large choice of activities and their bookable times are available on their website
  • How much do the activities at Adventure Carrick cost? Costs vary depending on the activity you choose
  • Stay nearby: Bridge Cottage – Killochan | sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Best for gamers | Ayr Outdoor Escape Game

The Burns Monument in Ayr as seen from the Brig o' Doon

This game doubles as a walking tour of Ayr. On the trail you will be given ten different challenges to solve; you will also learn of stories and the history of Ayr from the point of view of the poet Robert Burns. In the game, you will encounter a series of landmarks that would have been known to Burns. The game is downloadable as an app to your phone via Questo so that it can be enjoyed by groups and individuals.

Good to know

  • Where is the Ayr Outdoor Escape Game? Central Ayr. The exact starting point will be emailed to you once payment has been received. 
  • How much does it cost to play the Ayr Outdoor Escape Game? £6.94 per person
  • How long does it take to complete the Ayr Outdoor Escape Game? 1 hour (plus)
  • Stay nearby: Killochan Castle | sleeps 18 + 2 dogs

Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage in Ayrshire

Visit beautiful Ayrshire; we have a large collection of self-catering holiday cottages for you to pick from. Spend the day touring this lovely area of Southern Scotland and then retire to your home from home to relax and rejuvenate for another day of exploration. View our range of Ayrshire cottages and all across Southern Scotland today.

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.

Like it? Share it...

Read more like this

Dog-friendly places to eat in Edinburgh

Our guide to the best places to eat in Edinburgh if you are a dog owner. We have included cool dog-friendly cafes, cosy pubs, restaurants and more.

Guide to the Isle of Skye’s Fairy Pools

Discover all you need to know about the Fairy Pools of the Isle of Skye in this guide.

Conquer the Inverness to John O'Groats Trail

Read our guide to one of the Scottish Highlands most beautiful walks, the Inverness to John O'Groats Trail
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cottages & Castles is an appointed representative of ITC Compliance Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (their registration number is 313486) and which is permitted to advise on and arrange general insurance contracts as an intermediary.
The Travel Chapter Limited trading as Cottages & Castles | The Travel Chapter Limited is registered in England and Wales. | Registered office Travel Chapter House Gammaton Road Bideford EX39 4DF Company No. 02431506 | VAT reg: 143053210.