5 days in Ayr Travel Itinerary

Written by Chris Thornton | 9th of January 2024
Ayr Travel Itinerary

Being from the north east of Scotland, south west Scotland was somewhere I hadn't explored much, so when my wife decided to book a holiday at Craig Tara Holiday Park, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to explore this beautiful area of our fantastic wee country, and I love any excuse get more content for this website!

My family and I undertook the travel itinerary below over five days in the Ayr area; we had a great time exploring the castles and learning about Robert Burns - Scotland's National Bard. This guide will assume you are also staying at Craig Tara; all map links will originate there.

Day 1 - Castle Ruins

Let's start our first day exploring some of the nearby castle ruins!

Dunure Castle

This 13th-century castle is only a short drive from Craig Tara and offers a fascinating glimpse into Scotland's medieval past at the historic seat of Clan Kennedy. Now just a shadow of its former glory, the castle ruin is steeped in history and local folklore.

Its dramatic coastal location overlooking the Firth of Clyde and out to the Isle of Arran, Dunure Castle, is a must for castle explorers and photographers. The ruin is also featured in the Outlander TV show as an island castle where the character Jamie Fraser discovers hidden Jacobite treasure.

Dunure Castle
At the foot of Dunure Castle.

The site itself has a lot to offer: a large car park, picnic facilities, toilets, a play park and many different vantage points to photograph the castle from both the south and the north. Dunure Labyrinth can be found just south of the castle, making for an interesting photo foreground. It's worth a walk to Dunure Harbour nearby for those old-worldy vibes!

The car park was open and free when we visited, but there could be seasonal charges of £2.50 per car.

Directions to Dunure Castle.

Dunure Castle on the Ayrshire Coast.
Dunure Castle with Dunure Labyrinth in the foreground.

Greenan Castle

One of the most famous sights near Ayr, Greenan Castle, can be seen across the bay from Ayr Beach Promenade. The castle is popular with photographers as it lends many foregrounds on the beach, particularly at sunset. The precarious positioning adds to the magic of this 17th-century ruin; it looks like it could fall into the sea at any moment!

It's possible to walk up to the Castle itself; however, the interior is sealed off from visitors for safety. It's best to access the castle from the rear by walking around a field from the south. It is possible to walk up the cliffside, but it is quite dangerous. See my Greenan Castle article for more information on getting to this awesome little castle.

Directions to Greenan Castle.

Greenan Castle on the west coast | Sandy beaches.
Greenan Castle.

Day 2 - Heads of Ayr Farm Park

Located directly west of Craig Tara Holiday Park, it only takes a few minutes to drive to Heads of Ayr Farm Park; we will spend the whole day here as there is so much to see and do!

Heads of Ayr is a fantastic place to visit with kids and might be the best farm park I've ever visited. The park offers:

  • Many play parks, including a huge pirate ship.

  • Many indoor soft play areas and outdoor jumping pillows.

  • A small train ride around the park.

  • Rubber ring slides and zip lines.

  • Many animal enclosures included meerkats, lemurs, guinea pigs, rats, snakes, and wallabies.

It was pretty expensive for the park - £75 for the day for two adults and three kids - but it's such a great place; I feel like the money was well spent. I've been to other attractions in Scotland that have cost double that and have not been as good as Heads of Ayr Farm Park. Just be aware that many rides inside the park have an additional charge.

My kids, 7, 11 and 13, loved the park; we stayed until closing. You should check it out while in Ayr.

Directions to Heads of Ayr Farm Park.

Heads of Ayr Farm Park playground.
Heads of Ayr Farm Park.

Day 3 - The Electric Brae, Girvan & Culzean Castle

Let's go on a little road trip on day three to Girvan and then to Culzean Castle!

The Electric Brae

A short drive from Ayr, along the A719 towards Dunure, lies a peculiar and intriguing natural spectacle known as the Electric Brae. This quirky stretch of road is famed for its mind-bending optical illusion – objects and vehicles appear to defy gravity by rolling uphill!

The Electric Brae has long been a source of fascination and folklore. Initially, it was thought to be a phenomenon caused by magnetic or supernatural forces – hence the name 'Electric'. However, this illusion is all down to the peculiar alignment of the surrounding landscape, which tricks the eye and alters our perception of gravity.

When you visit, try stopping your car at the marked point and put it in neutral. You'll be amazed as your vehicle seemingly rolls uphill! It's a fun experience that has puzzled and entertained locals and tourists for years.


Girvan is such a lovely wee seaside town found in south Ayrshire - about a 30-minute drive from Ayr. We parked at the beachfront, which has a great playpark and access to the beach and promenade. Ailsa Craig, a large island, dominates the horizon and makes for great photography.

Ailsa Craig from Girvan Beach. Ayrshire is full of natural beauty.
Ailsa Craig as seen from Girvan Beach.

Things to do in Girvan:

  • Walk on the beach/promenade.

  • Stare out in amazement at Ailsa Craig or even charter a boat to take you on tour there.

  • Visit Quay Zone swimming pool/soft play/cafe.

  • Explore Girvan's town centre with its excellent restaurants, shops, and historical buildings, including the Stumpy Tower.

Girvan is a lovely place to spend a few hours. Why not check it out while in South Ayrshire? We grabbed a picnic at ASDA before heading off to Culzean Castle.

Directions to Girvan.

Girvan Harbour

Culzean Castle & Country Park

From Girvan, it takes about 20 minutes to get to Culzean Castle, travelling north on the A719. As National Trust for Scotland members, we received free entry to the castle and country park, a significant saving!

Culzean Castle must be in my top 5 castles I've visited in Scotland; there is so much to see here, maybe even too much for a single day! Unlike Greenan Castle and Dunure Castle, Culzean is still a grand, fully furnished castle. The tour is fantastic, and the tour guides are some of the best I've met in Scotland.

Here are a few highlights of our visit:

  • The faux ancient gatehouse to access the castle grounds.

  • The castle tour.

  • The huge selection of flintlock pistols.

  • The extensive forest walks.

  • The best adventure playground and wooden fort I've ever seen.

  • Walled gardens and greenhouses.

After visiting Girvan, we didn't have much time to see everything at Culzean Castle, so I would recommend an entire day here if you don't fancy Girvan.

Directions to Culzean Castle.

Culzean Castle gatehouse
Culzean Castle behind its gated, artificially aged to look older.

Day 4 - Alloway and Robert Burns Attractions

Day four will be dedicated to Robert Burns, Scotland's National Bard. Born in Alloway in Ayr itself, there is much here to learn about Robert Burns, including his birthplace, poetry and life.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum

Nestled in the picturesque village of Alloway, a mere stone's throw from Ayr and Craig Tara, the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum offers a captivating journey through the life of Scotland's most famous poet, Robert Burns.

Our visit began at the modern museum building, which houses an impressive collection of original manuscripts, letters, and personal items belonging to Burns. The interactive exhibits bring his story and the rich Scottish culture he was a part of to life. Whether you're a Burns aficionado or new to his work, the museum is designed to engage and inspire.

The museum building also has a brilliant cafe, gift shop and a Burns-themed adventure playground.

Directions to Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, flowers at the entrance.
Beautiful wildflowers outside Robert Burns Birthplace Museum.

Burns Cottage

Robert Burns Birthplace Museum actually has two sites in Alloway: the main museum in a modern building, and nearby, an 18th-century cottage - the actual place where Burns was born in 1759.

The Burns Cottage is accessed by taking the Poet's Path (it's possible to drive to the cottage, too), which is adorned with statues and artwork inspired by his poems. Stepping inside, we were transported back to the 18th century, experiencing the modest living conditions of his early years. The cottage, preserved in its original state, contrasts the fame and influence Burns would later achieve after his death.

There is another well-kept garden here with willow sculptures, a meadow, a wildlife pond and an education centre, including a toilet block. A dedicated car park is also available if you don't want to take the Poet's Path.

Your entry price to the museum will grant you access to both the main museum and the cottage. This is a must-do while in Ayr and can be enjoyed by the whole family. My seven-year-old daughter loved listening to the Burn's poetry on the headsets.

Directions to Burns Cottage.

Robert Burns Birthplace Cottage. Robert Burns life.
The Burns Cottage.

Burns Monument and Burns Memorial Gardens

You can find the Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens a short distance from both parts of the Burns Museum. We had a picnic here on one of the many park benches in the tranquil surroundings. There are many hidden little features around the gardens with links to Burns and a little hut with statues and audio playing.

The monument was built in 1823, less than 20 years after Burns's death. It's possible to climb a short set of steps to gain access to the second level, which gives 360-degree views of the gardens, Alloway, and over to the Brig O' Doon.

It's free to visit the monument and the lovely gardens; donations are accepted.

Directions to Burns Monument.

Burns Monument and Memorial Gardens.
The Burns Monument and immaculate gardens.

Brig O' Doon

Brig O' Doon is an old bridge (built in 1460!) found directly next to the memorial gardens and features in the poem "Tam o' Shanter". Burn's Father, William Burns, crossed the River Doon daily to work at Doonside Estate.

Considering its age, it's a fascinating bridge to explore, and Robert Burns himself would have crossed it many times. You can feel the history all around you.

The whole trip to the museum, cottage, learning about Robert Burns's life, the monument/gardens, and the bridge was quite enchanting; I highly recommend it.

Directions to Brig O' Doon.

Brig O' Doon.
The Brig O' Doon.

Day 5 - Ayr

Our final day in Ayr is about enjoying the town's coastal charm and exploring additional local attractions. Ayr Beach and its promenade are the perfect starting points for a relaxed day, with their stunning views and inviting atmosphere.

Ayr as seen from the beach.

Ayr Beach & promenade

We started our day at Ayr Beach, known for its long sandy stretches and picturesque views of the Isle of Arran. There is a large car park here with free parking. The beach is ideal for a leisurely morning walk or for those who fancy a dip in the sea. Families will enjoy the play areas; there's plenty of space for beach games or just lounging with a good book.

The promenade is equally inviting, with its various cafes and ice cream parlours where you can indulge in local treats. It's a great place to rent a bike and cycle along the coastline or enjoy a stroll while taking in the sea air. Greenan Castle from Day 1 of this itinerary can be seen across the bay.

As you wander, don't miss the chance to visit the historic Ayr Pavilion, a beautiful example of Edwardian architecture. Though it's no longer used for its original purpose, it is a charming reminder of Ayr's past.

If you have younger children with you, Pirate Pete's Play Centre is a fantastic centre that includes soft play, crazy golf, and laser tag.

We spent some time at the nearby Beach Park, which has an extensive playground, then got ice cream at the nearby vendor before heading back to our apartment at Craig Tara.

Ayr Beach
Ayr Beach.

Other locations worth visiting in Ayr:

  • Ayr Town Hall

  • Carnegie Library

  • Bellisle Park and Belleisle Conservatory

  • Ayr Racecourse

  • The Wallace Tower

  • The Auld Brig

  • John's Tower

  • Ayr Gaiety Theatre

  • Rozelle Estate

  • Ayrshire Coastal Path

Directions to Ayr Beach.

Other suggestions for places to visit in Ayrshire

  • Scottish Maritime Museum

  • Galloway Forest Park

  • Dalquharran Castle

  • Crawick Multiverse

  • Barassie Beach

FAQs on the Inverness travel itinerary

Here are a few frequently asked questions about travelling in Ayrshire.

Is Ayr Scotland worth visiting?

Yes! Ayr and the area around it have much to offer visitors, including historic castles, scenic beauty, and cultural experiences.

What are the best attractions in Ayr?

From our visit, I would say the Robert Burn's Museum and Culzean Castle were the highlights of our trip.

Is Ayr a big town?

Ayr is not considered a big town, especially when compared to major cities like Glasgow or Edinburgh. It's more accurately described as a medium-sized town. Ayr is the largest town in Scotland's South Ayrshire council area, but it still retains a more intimate, community-oriented atmosphere characteristic of smaller towns.

Does Ayr have a beach?

Yes, a beautiful beach and promenade, which is very popular in good weather!

What island can you see from Ayr Beach?

The Isle of Arran can be seen clearly from Ayr Beach, but if you go to the lighthouse pier, it's also possible to see Ailsa Craig, a large volcanic plug.

Is it possible to visit the Isle of Arran from Ayr?

If you travel north to Ardrossan (45 minutes by car), you can catch a ferry across the Firth of Clyde to Arran. It's best to book in advance; check out the Calmac Website for more information.

Where to stay in Ayr?

We stayed at the Craig Tara Holiday Park in one of their on-site apartments. Honestly, it wasn't the best of experiences, with the apartment being unclean. However, walking the park grounds, there were lovely caravans towards the beach - so I wouldn't rule it out. The facilities were excellent, with a large indoor swimming pool with water slides (Splashaway Bay) and many outdoor activities for kids.

Here are some other accommodation suggestions:

Ayr also has a Travelodge and Premier Inn, which can be booked cheaply months in advance.

Key information on the Ayr travel itinerary

  • There are many great castles near Ayr, including Dunure Castle, Greenan Castle and Culzean Castle.

  • If you love animals, Heads of Ayr Farm Park is a must.

  • If you're a fan of Robert Burns, you are spoiled for locations in Ayr, with a dedicated museum, birthplace museum, Poet's Path, monument and memorial gardens and the historic Brig O' Doon.

  • The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum and Culzean Castle are my favourite places in this itinerary.

  • Craig Tara was okay to stay at but go for one of the nicer caravans, not the apartments.


My family and I really enjoyed exploring the Ayrshire area, the castles, beautiful beaches, rolling hills, walks, and cycle routes. There is so much to see and do.

From historical sites to beautiful natural landscapes, Ayr and its surroundings cater to all interests, leaving visitors with lasting memories of Scotland's enchanting southwest coast. I hope this suggested itinerary gives you some ideas for your own trip!

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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