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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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