There is a lot of coastline in Scotland, which means there are a lot of beautiful beaches. From along the North Coast 500, Angus Coast, Aberdeenshire and all the Islands. We recommend trying to visit some on your travels. Especially in the summer when it is warmer, and you can go for a swim and dry off in the sun. Scotland is known to have some great surfing and watersports locations.
Narrowing it down to just ten beaches is very hard, but the top ten are notable for many different reasons!
In no particular order…
Found on the Angus Coastline near Montrose, Lunan Bay is a beautiful sandy beach backed by dunes and low cliffs. At low tide, you can explore the caves at the north end of the beach. Lunan Bay is a popular beach with locals, and you can often see horse riders and surfers enjoying this delightful beach.
Talisker Bay is one of the best beaches on the Isle of Skye, with breathtaking views of a spectacular sea stack and a waterfall crashing over the cliffs. Located near the village of Carbost where the famous Talisker Whisky is distilled, parking can be found 10 minutes from the village though the parking spot is small so please park sensibly. The grey sand and stone beach are striking, and there’s something very relaxing and tranquil as you look out to the sea.
Situated on the North Coast 500, Achmelvich is well-liked by watersports enthusiasts such as kayakers, windsurfers and water skiers, and fishers catching mackerel and cod. In the summer, this beach usually is quite popular. However, it is an exceptional place with a beautiful white sand beach and is surrounded by spectacular scenery (almost like being on the moon). Sit above the beach on the cliffs and watch the sunset.
Though the weather might be slightly cooler, this pristine beach with its white sand and aquamarine-coloured waters is Scotland’s answer to the Maldives. Various wildlife can be spotted off the coast, including seals, wading birds and dolphins.
Located on the East Neuk of Fife, known for its picturesque fishing villages, Elie Beach lives up to its reputation. With its Instagram-able multi-coloured beach huts and lighthouse. The sheltered bay is not too windy for beginners who want to try watersports such as windsurfing, water-skiing and paddleboarding.
For the adventurous at heart, there is also the Elie Chain Walk, a via ferrata scramble of 8 chains set into the coastal cliffs. A bite-size mini-adventure.
This beach is a 15-minute walk from the centre of the famous historic town of St Andrews. This sandy beach stretches for two miles, backed by dunes of ecological importance. If the weather isn’t cooperating, there are plenty of inside options in the town.
Home to the “Art in Nature” woodland walk, which winds its way amongst various art installations, sculptures and carvings between the beach and the Carthouse Gallery and Tearoom on the hill above. Calgary Beach’s white sands and sheltered bay make it an ideal place for a swim or a walk.
Buy yourself a local Mull ice cream from Robin’s Boat an offbeat shop built partly out of an upturned boat, and enjoy the peace and quiet as you walk along to the old pier and ruined township of Inevie.
The Isle of Iona is only accessible on foot as visitors’ cars are not permitted. We recommend leaving the 4×4 Overland Hire truck in the free carpark on Mull and make your way across on the Caledonian Macbrayne ferry. You can rent bikes on the other side to make your way to Port Ban beach.
While it might be a little more tricky to get to than some other beaches, Port Ban might be the best on the list. It is a genuine sun trap surrounded by cliffs and dunes. A whole day can easily be whiled away on the pristine sand made from crushed shells and paddling in the clear water. However, a wetsuit may be required if you want to swim unless you are particularly hardy.
Another beach placed just off the North Coast 500 route, Achnahaird is in the Inverpolly Nature Reserve with wonderful views over to Stac Pollaidh. The reserve is home to wild cats, pine martens and golden eagles and is well worth visiting if you are a nature enthusiast.
If surfing is your thing, then Thurso is the place to go! On the North Coast 500 route, this beach on the northernmost tip of Scotland is known for giving the most consistent and best quality waves. Making it a world-class surfing spot.