The harbour town of Kirkcudbright is known for its strong fishing community, quicksand beaches and artistic background. Located on the Solway Coast, it is only 10 miles from the famous Scottish tourist destination, Castle Douglas. Continue reading to discover My Voyage Scotland’s top things to do in Kirkcudbright.
Pronounced ‘kir-coo-bree’, this charming town sits on the banks of the River Dee – it is the only town on its coastline with a working harbour. The town’s colourful blend of medieval, Georgian and Victorian buildings are picture perfect and attract many tourists visiting this part of Scotland to its shores.
Learn more about this hidden gem with our guide of the top things to do in Kirkcudbright.
Things to do in Kirkcudbright
During the late 19th century the town became a magnet for Scottish artists and that it is known throughout Scotland as the Artists’ Town. The Tolbooth Art Centre and Harbour Cottage Gallery celebrate the town’s artistic heritage as they showcase the work of local artists.
Visitors to Kirkcudbright are spoilt for choice when it comes to places to eat out around town. Shopping also draws many tourists here as there are many independent shops which are great for those looking for gifts and ta monthly farmers’ market that showcases the best of local produce.
This part of Scotland also offers beautiful scenery and many travel to Kirkcudbright to enjoy the views around the Solway Coastline. Here you will find white sandy bays, beautiful estuaries, rare bird reserves and quiet clifftops, some which stretch across the water to Cumbria.
Read on to discover our favourite things to do in Kirkcudbright.
Top on our list of things to do in Kirkcudbright is MacLellan’s Castle.
Make sure you add MacLellan’s Castle to your to-do list – is rated four stars by Visit Scotland!
This tourist attraction in Kirkcudbright is open from April until the end of September.
MacLellan’s Castle was built by Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie in 1582 to function as a grand family home.
This 16th century tower house by the harbourside is loved by history geeks as visitors can go ‘below stairs’ into the castle’s dark vaults. During your visit, you will hear stories about the working conditions of family servants and you will find Laird’s Lug’, a secret spy hole which was once used by the laird to eavesdrop on his guests.
While you are visiting here, check out Broughton House which is close to MacLellan’s Castle. This Georgian townhouse was once the home of the artist Edward Hornel and has stunning Japanese gardens onsite.
Harbour Cottage Gallery
The Harbour Cottage Gallery is a converted 18th century building in Kirkcudbright which showcases some outstanding work from local artists.
The Cottage was scheduled for demolition, however, once news of this spread around the town, the community gathered together and local artists and businessmen converted the building into a gallery.
These days, Harbour Cottage provides a permanent exhibition space which visitors are more than welcome to go along and visit. Throughout the year you will find a fantastic programme of events as well as private showcases of local artists’ work.
Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival
2020 will mark the 23rd Jazz Festival in Kirkcudbright. This popular event attracts jazz fans from all over the country as the organisers host a fabulous lineup of bands.
In recent years Best Band winners from the Scottish Jazz Awards have played at the event, as well as up and coming artists from all over the world!
The event in June brings this little town to life. It is cheap and cheerful and Kirkcudbright locals will show you a good time, no matter what the Scottish weather brings.
Tickets for this event often sell out- so make sure you secure a space in advance.
Dumfries & Galloway
Kirkudbright sits in the region of Dumfries & Galloway, an adventure playground which attracts thousands of tourists to Scotland every year – it is home to s one of Europes longest Zip wires!
If you love the outdoors, but would rather enjoy the views from this part of Scotland from the ground, you can enjoy gentle walks and long cycles here.
Dumfries & Galloway also has a strong reputation for its culture and art scene. Events that are based around arts & crafts, performing arts, literature and sport happen here throughout the year and there are also some excellent music festivals hosted here during the summer months – we highly recommend that you bring your wellies for this!
The nearby town of Castle Douglas has lots to offer travellers to Kirkcudbright. This lively food town is the home to the enchanting Threave Castle, Carlingwark Loch and the Stewartry Agricultural Show.
Foodies that visit Castle Douglas are often impressed by the range of local produce and quality food and drink available here.
Goat Well Bay
Get your bucket and spade ready and head ‘Doon’ the water!
Scotland is known for its awesome range of beaches and this small sandy beach is not one to be missed if you are visiting Kirkcudbright.
Known as Goat Well Bay to the town’s locals, this hidden gem in Dumfries and Galloway is surrounded by woodlands and looks out onto Nun Mill Bay at the mouth of the River Dee. It is just a short drive away from the town of Kirkcudbright and there are places to park when you arrive.
During the summer months, the bay can get busy with west coasters travelling here to enjoy some fun in the sun. Suitable for families the water at Dhoon Beach is fairly shallow, there are also some eye-catching rock pools which the kids will love exploring.
There is also a great spot for picnicking behind the beach, make sure you pack some sandwiches with you!
One of the most popular walks along the River Dee begins at Kirkcudbright car park. The route includes a loop to Tongland hydroelectric power station.
This walk is suitable for adventurers of all ages and abilities as the terrain lies on a surfaced path for the majority of the route. There is a short section on the south side of the river which lies between the two Tongland bridges.
This walk will offer spectacular opportunities for birdwatching – Skylarks, Redshank, Lapwing, Mallard and Shelduck all breed in this area during the summer months.
View a detailed guide of this walk on Walkhighlands.