8 places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Carrick Bay: a secret beach in Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

There are so many gorgeous places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, from cute towns and villages to good old National Trust places to stunning beaches.

I may be biased, because all my childhood holidays were there so I know it really well, but Scotland’s most southerly area really is an underrated part of bonny Scotland. Dumfries and Galloway is often overlooked and I don’t know many people who have visited. Yeah, it might not have the dramatic landscape of the Highlands or the bustle of the big Scottish cities, but it has some of the prettiest towns and coastlines I’ve ever seen.

Obvs I’m only including places I know well and can definitely recommend personally in this list, but there are loads more if you want to do some research – try Visit Scotland or Visit South West Scotland. In fact, writing about all my favourite Dumfries and Galloway places that I know so well has only made me realise how much other stuff there is in the area that I’ve never even been to. Plenty for next time I suppose.

Anyway, here’s eight places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway…

1. Kirkcudbright: for a longer visit to the artists’ town

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland| PACK THE SUITCASES

Kirkcudbright is my personal favourite, I think. It’s got everything you could ask for in a town: a harbour, a ridiculous amount of art and art galleries, loads of amazing places to eat and drink, and most importantly, so many cute cottages that will take your Instagram to a whole new level. It’s the perfect place to stay in the area – a brilliant base for day trips everywhere else. You can’t really do it all in a day, so if you don’t stay there, make sure you plan plenty of time there. You’ll need it, if only to fit in all the eating potentials.

Read my Kirkcudbright travel guide for more on this absolute gem. I’d like to say I’m a bit of a Kirkcudbright connoisseur so there are lots of restaurant/pub and shop tips in there.

2. Kippford and Rockcliffe: for the best coastal walk in Scotland

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

The two lovely villages of Kippford and Rockcliffe are joined by what can only be described as the best coastal walk in Scotland. Since I first blogged about this, I’ve not had a single person disagree with that statement. So it must be true, right?! And even if you don’t like walking, you’ll like this walk because it has a whole stretch of road where you can spot little beasts made of driftwood and stones with eyes. And if that isn’t your idea of a good day out, we can’t be friends.

Intrigued? Read my post on a coastal walk from Rockcliffe to Kippford for more.

3. Castle Douglas: for a day of eating and drinking in the foodie town of Dumfries and Galloway

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

The whole point of a holiday is to overeat, right? Right. Well the food capital of Dumfries and Galloway is this little number, Castle Douglas. Not just local food either, but also local beer. You can have a freshly brewed pint at the local brewery after stuffing your face at one of the many eateries. Oh and spending all your holiday spends on beautiful homewares in all the local independent boutiques. Because shopping is the second most important thing after food.

Thirsty and/or hungry? Read my post on a day in Castle Douglas for more.

4. Gatehouse of Fleet: for a relaxing day in a tranquil mill town

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

If you’re the kind of person who likes a nice sit down with some cake and a cup of tea (aka anyone over 60, or me), a visit to the former mill town of Gatehouse of Fleet is going to be right up your street. It has an award-winning visitor centre (yes, that is a thing) that has a cafe looking out onto this view. And it serves amazing cake.

Read my post on a day in Gatehouse of Fleet for more.

5. Carrick Bay: for discovering a secret, deserted beach

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

There are so many good beaches round Dumfries and Galloway. My personal favourites are Rockcliffe and Kippford because they’re my childhood memories and I’m all about living in the past. However, from an unbiased perspective, you’re not going to be able to beat Carrick Bay. Not only is it an absolute beaut, it’s also usually completely deserted so you can have the whole place to yourself. What’s better than a beautiful beach? A beautiful beach with no other people on it. Other people are horrendous.

Fancy it? Read my post on Carrick Bay: a hidden beach for more.

6. Sweetheart Abbey, New Abbey: for some macabre romantic history

Have you heard the one about the 13th century woman who carried her dead husband’s embalmed heart around with her in a small box and then took gothic romance to a whole new level by building an actual abbey in his memory? If you go to Sweetheart Abbey, you’ll be able to say you’ve not only heard about that extreme behaviour, but you’ve witnessed the result of it. You can do this while eating a 10/10 scone and looking at the very beautiful red ruin set in a stunning landscape.

Read my post on Sweetheart Abbey for more.

7. Threave Gardens: for straddling a Belted Galloway cow, obviously

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Did you read that title? You can straddle a local Belted Galloway cow model. There’s me doing it as proof. I mean, I’ll just leave it at that because what more could you possibly want to know? You’re probably already booking your trip as we speak. There are also lovely gardens for when you’ve finished with the cows.

Read my post on a day in Castle Douglas and Threave Gardens for more.

8. Mossyard beach: for more beautiful beach scenery

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland | PACK THE SUITCASES

Another beach? Oh go on then. You can never have too many beaches, especially when they’re as good as the beaches in Dumfries and Galloway are. Mossyard is an absolute stunner and quite literally off the beaten track.

Read my post on a day in Gatehouse of Fleet and Mossyard beach for more about Mossyard.

Places to visit in Dumfries and Galloway, south-west Scotland: useful information

How to get there (and away)

Sadly, we break our no-driving rule when it comes to a trip to Dumfies and Galloway. It can be done by train to Dumfries, but to get the most out of it, you’ll be best off with a car. Especially if you want to whiz round all these places with ease.

Where to stay

We always stay in Kirkcudbright, which is an ideal base for days out.

When to go

As I’ve said in my other posts in my little Dumfries and Galloway series, nowhere gets too heaving with tourists. You can have entire beaches to yourself sometimes. But if you want a bit more hustle and bustle, there are the towns of Kirkcudbright and Castle Douglas where you can have food and drink with an acceptable number of other people around.

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  1. I think you have covered the Solway pretty well but what about the Rhines of Galloway?

    Castle Kennedy gardens; Port Logan gardens and fish pond; Port Patrick for food and shopping; Sandhead beach; the Mull of Galloway RSPB reserve and most southerly point in Scotland. Knockingham lodge. Port William. etc etc.

    Just my thoughts on what I agree with you is an much over looked part of Scotland.

    1. I think I did pretty well for 4 days there! But yes there’s loads of places I need to see – it’s too big to cover in one go. Especially want to go to the Mull of Galloway because you can see it from the Isle of Man which is somewhere else we know well and I like the connection!

  2. Please come east in Dumfries and Galloway next time you are here. Experience the beautiful countryside, arty shops and galleries, Common Riding or Muckle Toon Adventure Festival in Langholm, have a spiritual visit to Samye Ling or wander round the lovely park and shops in Moffat. We have lots to offer too.

  3. Love this post! I went to Dumfries & Galloway for the first time in August to hike Grey Mare’s Tail (highly recommended) but definitely want to explore more! Thanks for sharing!!

  4. Wonderful photos! Once my hubby paases his driving test we are planning a Scotland road trip (all part of my dastardly plan to get him to agree to move there!) So I’m saving this for future reference!

  5. Hi Caroline,

    Each spot looks so darn cool. I’d have to stop by each of these places to genuinely enjoy the region.

    So awesome you vacationed there as a child. I vacationed at the less prestigious and charming NJ shore but made up for it over the past 6 years.

    I still need to get to Scotland, or Europe for that matter. For the authentic feel of the place and for these brilliant sites.

    Thanks for sharing.


  6. You should call it Galloway not Dumfries and Galloway as once again the East of the region has been forgotten about. I live in Langholm and we feel so neglected as every guide that comes about on D & G stops at Dumfries. This area has its own attractions but we really should be in The Borders region as the A75 route from Gretna to Stranraer is promoted for tourism and Eskdale is of no interest.

    1. This isn’t a ‘guide’. It’s a summary of four days I spent staying in Kirkcudbright. I didn’t have time to go anywhere else, East or West. It’s rather a large area.

      I mention that these are the places I know well and visited this time and that there are loads of other places I’ve been before and haven’t mentioned and even more that I’ve not visited yet – but I’m sure you didn’t bother to read that before venting your bitchy comment eh? 😀


      1. Funny isn’t it that those of us who live in the west of the region think that the east gets all the promotion and everything is Dumfries-centric, but that really is an issue to take up elsewhere isn’t it?! Great blog – thanks for highlighting the area – I have live in Wigtown for 15 years now and I love it here, so much to see and do and the region as a whole is so often overlooked in the mad rush north!

  7. My wife and I loved dalbeattie (where we had a static) we actually packed up our suitcases and everything else and moved from Leyland Lancashire and are now living permanently in Ecclefechan which is another place to visit for your followers which is Carlyles birth place and famous for its “ECCLEFECHAN TARTS” I’ll leave that to your imagination.

  8. it’s my dream tour and very soon it would be in reality. My husband planning for us to go Scotland together. the experiencing you mentioned that would be very helpful for us.

  9. We are planning to go to Dumfries & Galloway for the first time in September so it was great to stumble across your blog on the internet. Lovely photos and really helpful for putting together an itinerary – especially the tips about cafes, always my priority! Thank you

  10. Just booked a weeks holiday in Port O’Warren after reading your blog. Hoping to visit all your recommendations. Great blog. x

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