From winding trails among the Galloway Highlands to the rugged bays and beaches of the Solway coast, the southwest of Scotland is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Come and explore the treasures of Galloway and plan your trip to Scotland’s corner off the beaten path. This inspiring list of things to do in Galloway will set you up for an epic adventure in the South.

This post was commissioned by the South of Scotland Destination Alliance. Find their travel guides for South Scotland here.

This post contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission. Find out more here. All opinions are my own.

Sam Heughan was born there, Belties are all over it, and The Wicker Man wouldn’t be the same without it – Galloway in the southwest of Scotland has left its mark on the world in many ways.

The rugged mountains of the Galloway Hills are framed by a belt of ancient forests and a rocky coastline dotted with shell-filled beaches and towering lighthouses. Galloway’s landscapes are awe-inspiring.

And yet, this southwestern coastal region is much lesser known than its counterparts further north.

I first fell in love with Galloway on a trip to the Mull of Galloway with my parents. I’ve since returned many times, exploring different parts of this large and varied region. I’ve explored the UNESCO Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere by e-bike, hiked the Mull of Galloway Trail and parts of the Southern Upland Way, learnt about the red kite rewilding programme and kayaked along the coast with foraging legend Mark Williams.

This Galloway travel guide is the product of multiple trips to, and my deep love for, the region. It contains:

  • A Galloway map containing all the places mentioned in this post
  • A detailed list of things to do in Galloway
  • Some of my favourite places to stay in Galloway
  • Great places to eat in Galloway, most of which are vegan-friendly
  • Tips for transport: getting to and around Galloway by car or public transport

In short, this guide will help you plan an epic trip to one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets!

My Galloway Map

Things to do in Galloway

Rhins of Galloway & around Stranraer

Let’s start on the west coast of Galloway. The Rhins of Galloway is the westernmost peninsula on the Galloway coast. Its name comes from the Gaelic word for ‘point’, but it looks more like a hammerhead projecting out into the Irish Sea. This is where I first fell in love with Scotland – there’s a lot to see & do!

Visit Portpatrick

Portpatrick is possibly the best-known town in this part of Galloway. Its colourful waterfront houses frame a sheltered bay with crystal-clear waters. On a clear day, you can see straight across the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland.

This pretty coastal village is a popular place to visit. Come here early, get an ice cream cone and walk along the coast for the best views of the harbour.

Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse walk

Go for a hike along the coast and follow signposts for the Southern Upland Way from Portpatrick to Killantringan Lighthouse. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the lighthouse and you’ll be crossing a handful of remote bays on your way there.

To return, take the same route back or follow minor roads for a bit of different scenery. Here is a full trail description for a longer route.

You can also drive to Killantringan Lighthouse if the path is too long for you.

Beach day at Sandhead Bay

The eastern side of the Rhins peninsula is framed by an endless string of sandy beaches. Sandhead at the top of Luce Bay is a wide sandy expanse. Out on the water, you can see the remnants of concrete towers that were used by the British military in target exercises. Much more quaint are the winding paths through the sand dunes, where you can spot all sorts of nesting birds.

Sandhead Bay in Galloway

Logan Botanic Garden

The west coast of Scotland benefits immensely from the warm waters carried across the Atlantic Ocean by the Gulf Stream. Logan Botanic Garden is one of the best examples of the coastal microclimate created by this global phenomenon. Tropical plants thrive in this part of Scotland, creating an unexpected oasis of palm trees, flowers and shrubs.

Follow the paths through the gardens and greenhouses, and pretend to be somewhere in a tropical paradise.

Flowers at Logan Botanic Garden in South Scotland

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

The Mull of Galloway Lighthouse marks the southernmost point of mainland Scotland. There is a small museum in the engine room and staff guide regular tours to the top of the lighthouse. From up there, enjoy the views of Ireland, the Isle of Man and the coast of the Lake District in the south.

The nature reserve surrounding the lighthouse is a prime spot for bird watching. The seas below are shrouded in legend and mystery – like the story of ‘The Nine Tides’. Legend has it that these opposing rip tides just off the coast were created by nice witches who tried to shipwreck a famous witchfinder on his way from Ireland.

Mull of Galloway Lighthouse at the southernmost point of Scotland behind blooming heather.

Walk the Mull of Galloway Trail

The Mull of Galloway Trail begins at the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse and leads 37 miles to Glenapp, where it links up with the Ayrshire Coastal Path. You can hike the route in 3 days.

On day 1, organise a taxi to the lighthouse – unfortunately, there is no public transport to the start point. The closest bus stop is in Drummore, but it’s probably easier to take a taxi from Stranraer. The trail follows the coast closely with stunning views of the cliffs and beaches. Ardwell makes for a great stop overnight.

On day 2, follow the path from Ardwell to Stranraer. While this section begins with a lovely walk along the coast, there is quite a bit of road walking to Stranraer.

The final section of the trail follows the Loch Ryan Coastal Path. At first, the path sticks to the shoreline, but after Cairnryan, it climbs into the moorlands above the coast.

bench on the Mull of Galloway Trail

A night out in Stranraer

Stranraer is the largest town in the Rhins of Galloway area. One of my favourite places for a night out in Stranraer is The Grapes Bar – a pub with regular live music and a friendly community vibe.

Visit Castle Kennedy Gardens

Castle Kennedy Gardens are the sprawling grounds surrounding the ruin of Castle Kennedy, the seat of the Earls of Stair. The castle was destroyed in a fire in the early 17th century. But soon after this devastating loss, the Earl commissioned the creation of a garden surrounding the ruins.

Today, the ruins are still at the heart of the landscaped gardens that contain ponds and canals, formal areas and landscaped wilderness. It’s a pure joy to walk through the gardens and explore.

Castle Kennedy Gardens

A Farm Tour at Kitchen Coos & Ewes

Neale and Janet McQuistin and their respective families have been farming the rough and hilly grounds of the Luce Valley for generations. With Kitchen Coos & Ewes, Neale and Janet have opened their farm to the public to offer guided tours and top-notch farm animal experiences.

I tried their Hands-on Coo Tour which includes a drive to Highland coo pastures on the farm’s safari trailer and a hands-on session with some of the younger coos. You can scratch, pat and brush the cows, and learn a lot about this special Scottish cattle breed. The tour finishes with some lovely home-baked treats from the farm kitchen.

Other experiences include sheep shearing, sheep-dog demonstrations, learning about historic farming techniques in the valley and delightful cream teas. Find out more here.

Newton Stewart & Machars

The Machars peninsula is one of my favourite areas in Galloway. It’s the peninsula that lies south of the A75 main road between Glenluce and Newton Stewart. Other noteworthy towns in this area are Wigtown and Whithorn.

Visit Wigtown – Scotland’s National Book Town

Do you love browsing bookshops? Then Wigtown should be on your Scotland itinerary!

Wigtown is Scotland’s National Book Town. There are countless bookshops here, selling new and used books, but also an annual book festival every year in September.

One of the most unique things to do in Galloway is to spend a week at The Open Book, a bookshop / AirBnB where you get to run the bookshop during your stay!

Drumtroddan Standing Stones

The Drumtroddan Standing Stones have seen this landscape change for 4,000 to 5,000 years. The three stones were probably used as a site of celebration and observation of the sun and moon. Two of them have fallen to the ground, but one is still standing tall in the landscape.

To access the stones, park by the road and follow a farm track, then cross an at times muddy field.

A little further, you can find Neolithic cup and ring marks. They were possibly carved thousands of years after the stones were erected, indicating that this landscape has been significant to our ancestors for millennia.

Monreith Bay & Maxwell’s Otter

Monreith Bay is a long sandy beach with rockpools and caves to explore. It’s a popular swim spot too.

The famous naturalist and author Gavin Maxwell was from near Monreith. In his 1960 book Ring of Bright Water, he tells his story of rescuing an otter in Iraq and raising it back home in Scotland. It was turned into a film and sold over a million copies.

You can find a memorial to Maxwell just outside Monreith – a bronze otter standing on a rock, overlooking this beautiful stretch of coastline.

Iron Age Roundhouse in Whithorn

Whithorn in the Machars peninsula was home to the earliest known Christian community in Scotland. The Whithorn Trust museum houses an exhibition about the town’s history and archaeology.

You can also see some of the oldest Christian monuments at the Priory Museum around the corner and the ruins of the priory in the kirkyard.

But the archaeological excavations in the area have revealed much older settlements too. One of the finds was an Iron Age Roundhouse. You can visit a full-scale replica of this roundhouse on a guided tour. The tour is included in the Whithorn Trust ticket, which also includes the two museums mentioned above.

Iron Age Roundhouse in Whithorn

St Ninian’s Cave

In the 8th century, Whithorn became associated with St Ninian, an early missionary of the Pictish people of Scotland. He stayed at the Priory but stole away to pray in solitude at a nearby sea cave.

St Ninian’s Cave lies near the bottom of the Machars peninsula. The trail to the cave leads through a lush ancient woodland and then along a pebble beach. You will see the cave long before you reach it, but the interior is actually very small. Just enough to sit, enjoy the view and meditate.

Isle of Whithorn

The Isle of Whithorn is not technically an island anymore. The picturesque village in the southeast of the Machars peninsula sprawls out onto a headland, with houses covering up what at some point might have been a causeway. Today, it’s barely noticeable.

The Isle of Whithorn (locally also called ‘The Isle’) is one of the most southerly ports of Scotland and as such has a long-standing history of seafaring and pilgrimage. The ruined St Ninian’s Chapel dates back to the 13th century and was linked to the Priory in Whithorn.

Isle of Whithorn

Foraging walk with Way of the Wild

Way of the Wild is run by passionate forager, certified mountain leader and overall outdoor enthusiast Christy Miles. Christy offers experiences to connect with nature, from forest bathing and willow weaving to foraging walks, fireside cooking, guided hikes and navigation training.

I met Christy for a foraging walk to St Ninian’s Cave and a fire experience at her woodland kitchen near Sorbie Tower. We gathered plants, spoke about sustainable foraging techniques and made delicious pizzas with the ingredients we foraged. Who knew sea kale tasted so good?!

Visit Sorbie Tower

Sorbie Tower is a fortified tower house from the 16th century and the seat of the Clan Hannay. This style of building is characteristic for the south of Scotland and can be found all over Galloway. Unfortunately, the tower has fallen into disrepair, but the Clan society is working hard to restore the building to its former glory.

You can tour the tower with Steve Hanna, the Convenor of Clan Hannay, and listen to his passionate tales about the tower’s past and future. Donations welcome!

Tour at The Crafty Distillery

The Crafty Distillery is no ordinary distillery. Since its founding in 2017, the team here have worked hard to do things a little differently. Most other gin distilleries buy grain spirit to distil into gin, but here at Crafty they produce their own base spirit for distillation. Crafty produces the acclaimed Hills & Harbour Gin, as well as a fruity distilled gin cocktail and vodka.

They have even started laying down their whisky casks, but it will be a few more years before this Galloway whisky is ready for tasting.

I joined a gin tour and tasting to learn about the full process of gin making from barley to bottle. The passion, skill and expertise that goes into every sip of the gin produced here is undeniable. My favourite edition is the annual special release of the Galloway Gin. This limited edition gin only uses locally foraged botanicals and is different every year, depending on what’s available in abundance.

Gin tasting at Crafty Distillery in Galloway

Galloway Highlands

Explore the UNESCO Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere

The UNESCO Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere stretches across a large part of southwest Scotland, including the hills of the Galloway Highlands. At its heart lie valuable conservation areas with wetlands, blanket bogs and incredible biodiversity. But the Biosphere is also home to thousands of people, rich in historic industries like farming, fishing and forestry, and full of thriving communities.

The key idea of the Biosphere is that the growth and development of communities doesn’t have to negatively affect nature. Sustainable communities can exist side by side – even cooperate – with nature conservation and ecological research. It’s about living with nature – not separate from it.

I spent a weekend exploring the Biosphere by e-bike, tried low-impact activities like stargazing and kayaking, and learnt about the unique landscapes and communities of this area. You can read more about my trip to the Biosphere here and follow my itinerary.

Stargazing at the Galloway International Dark Sky Park

The Galloway Highlands is one of the best places for stargazing in Scotland. The area is covered by a vast expanse of forestry and just a few villages. As such, there is little light pollution here and the area has been recognised as an International Dark Sky Park. Galloway is a fantastic place to observe the night skies.

On a clear night, thousands of stars and planets are visible to the naked eye and the bright band of the Milky Way stretches across the sky. There are countless great locations for stargazing. Dark Sky Ranger Elizabeth Tindal took me to Glentrool for a night of stargazing, storytelling and toasted marshmallows.

Canoeing at Loch Trool

Loch Trool is a large freshwater loch in the Galloway Hills. Above it, towers the Merrick, the highest mountain in southern Scotland – and almost a Munro. Girvan-based outdoor company Adventure Carrick offer canoeing trips on Loch Trool to take in the vastness of this beautiful loch and its surroundings.

Glentrool Trails & Bruce’s Stone

If paddling isn’t your thing, follow one of the trails at Glentrool Forest. The trails are waymarked and range from a short circular wander through the woodland to a 6-mile loop around Loch Trool.

One of the highlights on the Loch Trool Loop is the viewpoint at Bruce’s Stone. The huge boulder overlooking Loch Trool commemorates the victory of King Robert the Bruce at the Battle of Glen Trool. You can also drive to the memorial if you just want to see the stone and the view.

Climb the Merrick

The Merrick is the highest mountain in the South of Scotland. It’s about 2,766 ft tall, which means it’s just short of being classed as a Munro – a mountain over 3,000 ft. It’s still a formidable peak with grand views of the surrounding forest and hills.

The most popular trail starts at the car park for Bruce’s Stone. The climb is steep in parts and takes 4 to 5 hours. You can find a detailed route description here.

Hike the Southern Upland Way

A very different, but equally challenging hike through Galloway is the Southern Upland Way. This long-distance trail starts in Portpatrick on the southwest coast and leads to Cockburnspath on the eastern Berwickshire coast. Some people walk the 214-mile route in one go, but you can also pick a section to hike for 2-3 days.

I chose to hike from Castle Kennedy near Stranraer to Bargrennan near Glentrool, using the beautiful Beehive Bothy as a (free) overnight stop. Originally, I had planned to continue onwards past Loch Trool and Loch Dee to Dalry, but changed my mind due to a lingering heatwave.

Luckily, the Southern Upland Way is well connected by local buses, making it easy for me to return one day and pick up the trail where I left it.

Beehive Bothy, Southern Upland Way

Walk at Wood of Cree

For a smaller adventure, head to the Wood of Cree Nature Reserve. Owned by the RSBP, this ancient woodland is a fantastic place for birdwatching, to see red squirrels and listen to songbirds. In late April and May, the woodland floor is covered by a carpet of purple bluebells.

There are two waymarked trails through the woods which offer views of the tumbling burns and waterfalls, an otter viewing platform and a high viewpoint over the Cree valley.

Cycle along the Raider’s Road Forest Drive

The Raider’s Road is a Forest Drive through the Galloway Hills near Clatteringshaws Loch. Access for cars is seasonal and incurs a small fee. Cyclists however can explore the gravel tracks all year round. Hire a bike from Galloway Cycling Holidays to explore the forest on two wheels.

One of the highlights along the Raider’s Road is the scenic Otter Pool. While you may not be able to see otters here on a busy day, it’s a lovely place for a picnic and dip in the river.

Dee Valley & the Glenkens

Follow the River Dee from its source deep in the Galloway Hills to the sea at Kirkcudbright. Along the way in the Glenkens, it joins with the Water of Ken to form Loch Ken, a haven for wildlife and water sports enthusiasts.

Birdwatching on the Galloway Kite Trail

The sparsely populated Galloway Hills were the perfect landscape to reintroduce a species that was long extinct in Scotland. The Red Kite is a bird of prey, easily identified by its V-shaped tail feathers. It’s primarily a scavenger, but due to its sheer size it is often seen as a dangerous predator – and as such was hunted to extinction by farmers and estate owners to “protect” their livestock.

There have been several re-introduction programmes since the 1980s and 1990s. In 2001, a group of Red Kites were rewilded in the Galloway Hills near Loch Ken. The programme was a great success and today, you’ll see Red Kites hovering in the air throughout your road trip around Galloway.

Follow the Galloway Kite Trail to find spots where these birds like to gather. One of the best places to visit to see Red Kites in Galloway is the feeding station at Bellymack Hill Farm. The daily feeding allows visitors a closer look at these magnificent birds who gather in huge numbers for this easy snack.

Watersports on Loch Ken

Loch Ken is a large loch framed by farms, forestry and the hills of Galloway. With its intricate shoreline and littered with little islands, it’s a great place for water sports. Galloway Activity Centre offers guided excursions by canoe and paddleboard. You can also try sailing and wind surfing, or book a session at the wobbly waterpark.

I enjoyed a paddleboarding lesson with one of the centre’s expert instructors. We paddled to one of the islands near the centre, explored the little bays on the shore and watched out for wildlife in the water and the air.

A bike tour round Kirkcudbright

Kirkcudbright is a charming coastal town on the mouth of the River Dee. It’s best known for its creative population of artists, craftspeople and makers. All over the town centre, there are galleries, workshops and studios, picturesque courtyards and colourful houses. It’s a lovely town for a wander!

But Kirkcudbright is also a great place for a bike ride!

Local cycling guide Esther took me on a big loop from Kirkcudbright to beautiful Carrick Beach, where we combed the beach for shells and sea glass. On our way back, we stopped at Cream o’ Galloway for ice cream. I loved exploring the gentle hills and beautiful coastline near Kirkcudbright on two wheels.

We cycled for about 20 miles, but you can also do shorter or longer tours in the area. Most cycling in this part of Galloway is done on roads, but there is very little traffic away from the main roads. We virtually had the coastal roads to ourselves.

To organise a cycling holiday in Galloway and get expert guidance, get in touch with Esther from Galloway Cycling Holidays. Hire bikes are also available from William Laws Kirkcudbright.

Walk at Carstramon Woods

In Spring the forest floor of Carstramon Woods is covered in a purple carpet of blooming bluebells. There are several marked trails through this ancient woodland. At other times of the year, you can spot nesting birds, roe deer and red squirrels.

Carstramon Woods is on my list of things to do in Galloway in the future. The best time to visit is in late April and early May when the bluebells are in bloom.

Foraging course with Mark Williams

Mark Williams is one of the top foraging experts in the UK. And he lives in Galloway!

Mark’s website Galloway Wild Foods is a treasure trove of information about sustainable foraging in Scotland, but if you want to learn from the master himself, join one of his foraging events.

Listen to my story about a foraging trip with Mark by sea kayak on the Wild for Scotland podcast.

Dumfries & the Nith Valley

Dumfries is the largest town in Galloway. It has been a Royal Burgh since 1186 and looks back on a long and significant history. It’s also closely associated with Robert Burns, the Scottish national poet who lived in Dumfries in the 1790s.

Dumfries in the footsteps of Robert Burns

Learn about Robert Burns’ life in Dumfries at the Robert Burns Centre, which is located in an 18th-century watermill by the river. Afterwards, follow the Town Centre Trail and explore the centre of Dumfries like Burns might have done in his days.

Highlights on the trail include:

  • the central Robert Burns Statue,
  • the Hole I’ The Wa’ Inn, one of Burns’ favourite pubs,
  • the Midsteeple where Burns’ body lay in state before his funeral,
  • the Globe Inn, another much-loved pub by Burns,
  • the Theatre Royal, where he went to see plays,
  • and his house on Burns Street where he lived and died.

A Picnic by Devorgilla Bridge

Devorgilla Bridge is one of the oldest standing bridges in Scotland. The bridge is named after Lady Devorgilla who ordered it to be built around 1270. Initially, it was made from wood, but over the centuries it was replaced by a stone bridge. The bridge you see today is mostly from 1794 and made from locally sourced, red sandstone.

The shore of the River Nith by the bridge is a lovely place for a picnic – especially on a sunny day.

Bridge in Dumfries

Sweetheart Abbey

Lady Devorgilla was one of the most powerful Scottish women of her time. When her husband, Lord John Balliol, died, she founded an abbey on the western side of the River Nith in his memory. The monks called it Dulce Cor, which is Latin for ‘Sweet Heart’ – and so the abbey became known as Sweetheart Abbey.

Lady Devorgilla buried Lord Balliol’s body there, but she had his heart embalmed and kept it with her until she passed away herself. She was then buried at the abbey with his heart by her side.

Today, the abbey lies in ruins, but you can still visit and get a sense of its grandeur.

Caerlaverock Castle

Caerlaverock Castle lies on the other side of the River Nith. It’s best known for its wide moat that is still filled with water to this day. With its tall twin-towered gatehouse and triangular shape surrounded by water, the castle is an imposing sight.

It’s also a great example of the kind of stronghold required to stay safe in mediaeval times. The castle was last besieged and captured in 1640. After that, it was stripped of any available fittings and destroyed so it could never be used as a defensive structure again.

Visit Drumlanrig Castle

The story of Drumlanrig Castle couldn’t be more different. This pink fairytale castle on the grounds of the Queensberry Estate was built in the 17th century as the majestic home of the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch.

Its rooms are filled with spectacular collections of silver, porcelain, French furniture and art, and the sprawling grounds offer waymarked trails to immerse yourself in nature. There is a tearoom at the castle, a cafe in the gardens and small local businesses have taken over the old Stableyard.

Hike to Grey Mare’s Tail near Moffat

Even though Moffat isn’t technically in the Nith Valley, the village is in east Galloway, so I’ve added it to this section.

The hike up Grey Mare’s Tail near Moffat was one of my first things to do in Galloway. You can enjoy views of the waterfall from below the falls – there are two viewpoints just a short walk from the car park. It pays off, however, to climb the initially steep trail alongside the waterfall for magnificent views of the rolling hills. You can read more about this hike and the route in my detailed hiking guide.

Grey Mare's Tail waterfall in Dumfries & Galloway.

Stargazing in Moffat

Moffat is a Dark Sky Town, which means it’s been recognised for its exceptionally dark night skies. Special street lighting keeps light pollution from the town to a minimum and preserves the great starry skies above.

Check out the calendar at the Moffat Community Observatory for astronomical events.

Galloway Travel Guide

Getting to Galloway

Galloway is a big region, so depending on where exactly you’re planning to go it’s easy to do by public transport or better by car.

From Glasgow, it’s about a 2-hour drive to places like Stranraer, Newton Stewart or Kirkcudbright. To Dumfries, it’s only 1.5 hours. From Edinburgh, the drive is longer – 2 hours to Dumfries and about 3 hours to the coastal towns.

There are two useful train lines to Galloway. One runs along the west coast from Glasgow to Stranraer. This also links up with the ferry from Cairnryan to Northern Ireland. The other train route runs between Glasgow and Carlisle and stops in Dumfries.

Getting around Galloway

Since Galloway is quite big, the easiest way to cover the area is to drive by car.

That said, the bus network covers many parts of Galloway which makes it a great area to visit on public transport.

Stranraer, Newton Stewart and Dumfries are great public transport hubs. Buses go down the Rhins of Galloway peninsula, to Whithorn in the Machars, Glentrool in the Galloway Hills, along the A75 coastal main road, up the Nith Valley and to Moffat.

Where to stay in Galloway

Eco-Bothies on Loch Ken

Stay at the Galloway Activity Centre on Loch Ken. There are several options, from glamping domes and safari tents, to yurts, lochside cabins and luxurious eco bothies. I stayed at the Otter Eco Bothy, a beautiful cabin with a fireplace, a private terrace overlooking the loch and a wood-fired hot tub. The bothy is constructed with sustainable materials, uses solar panels for power and has a green sedum roof. There’s also an en-suite bathroom with rain shower.

You can charge your devices via USB, but there is no WiFi or TV. The bothy is the perfect place to disconnect for a few days and enjoy a relaxing getaway in nature – with all the comforts you need.

New Town Hall Bunkhouse, Whithorn

The New Town Hall bunkhouse in Whithorn is a community-owned hostel in the heart of this scenic village in the Machars peninsula. The front of the building is home to several community halls, a gym and boxing club which all benefit the local community. In a modern extension at the back, the hostel offers accommodation for up to 18 people in en-suite rooms with bunkbeds sleeping two, four or six.

The beautiful kitchen-lounge offers tranquil views of a sheep field, and yet, the hostel is right in the middle of the village with its charming Georgian high street. I love that your stay here supports the local community in its efforts to keep Whithorn as a great place to live.

Creeside Escape near Bargrennan

One of my favourite places to stay in Galloway is the shepherd’s hut at Creeside Escape near Bargrennan. I’ve stayed here on my trip with the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere and have since returned on my own as well.

The shepherd’s hut offers basic accommodation. There is a composting toilet, but no shower. You’ll be looking far and wide for mobile reception and instead of a fridge, host Sarah provides a cooler box. But honestly – all of this is perfect. The hut is a great escape from the hustle and bustle at home.

Enjoy waking up to views of the Galloway Hills and order a breakfast basket from the farm. In summer, you can swim at a nearby river to cool off, or book a guided swim session with Sarah who is an open-water swim instructor.

Steam Packet Inn, Isle of Whithorn

Looking for hotel accommodation? The Steam Packet Inn in Isle of Whithorn is a fantastic place to stay in the Machars. All five rooms offer views of the harbour and there is an excellent restaurant on-site.

Great restaurants in Galloway

Galloway is a larder of delicious Scottish foods. The coastal regions are abundant in farmland and local fishermen land their catch of the day in the harbour villages. It’s not always the easiest to find vegan options, but with a bit of research and calling ahead, it’s no problem to find vegan-friendly restaurants in Galloway. Here are some of my favourites:

  • Henry’s Bay Restaurant, Stranraer – a lovely restaurant overlooking the stunning waters of Loch Ryan, with a focus on locally sourced seafood and meat, run by husband and wife team John and Jane Henry
  • Papa Rab’s Restaurant, Stranraer – a family-run Italian restaurant in the heart of Stranraer, vegan cheese is available for pizzas
  • The Pheasant, Sorbie – an authentic Italian restaurant in a tiny, unassuming village, Andrea Cuomo cooks dishes inspired by his Italian childhood, his wife Morag whips up delicious desserts
  • Brew Ha Ha, Newton Stewart – a small cafe with lunch options on the High Street in Newton Stewart
  • The House o’ Hill, Bargrennan – an inn at the heart of the Galloway Forest Park, the opening times are a bit sporadic, but the food is delicious and vegan options can be accommodated
  • The Clachan Inn, Dalry – an award-winning pub and restaurant near Loch Ken, a bit sparse on vegan options, but they can adapt dishes
  • The Garret, Kirkcudbright – a small hotel with a restaurant in Kirkcudbright, passionate for locally sourced ingredients, but very flexible for dietary requirements
  • Skipper’s Scran Van, Kirkcudbright – a seafood takeaway van by the harbour of Kirkcudbright, everything is fresh and locally sourced
  • Gather at Laggan – a beautiful glass-fronted bistro on the Galloway coast with stunning views and even better food
  • The Buccleuch & Queensberry Arms Hotel, Thornhill – a pub, hotel and restaurant in Thornhill with a separate veggie and vegan menu

And that’s it, my complete travel guide for the southwest of Scotland with a detailed list of things to do in Galloway. Use it to plan your own trip!

I hope you feel inspired to swim against the stream and give southern Scotland a chance. Also check out my Scottish Borders travel guide, which covers the southeast.


Planning a trip to Scotland?

Download my FREE Trip Planning Checklist

Join my Facebook group to find inspiration for big & small adventures

Listen to my podcast Wild for Scotland for lots of travel inspiration

Use my Scotland Travel Journal to document your trip

Make trip planning easier with my Scotland Resource Library

Save time and get one of my pick-up-and-go Scotland itineraries

Beat the overwhelm and hire me to plan a bespoke itinerary for you

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *