Plan your visit to one of the most popular villages on the North Coast 500 route with our guide of the best things to do in Gairloch.
The village’s name translates to “Short Loch” in Gaelic as it sits on the shores of Loch Gairloch in Wester Ross.
If you are a Game of Thrones fan, you may be wondering if the area has any connections to the show’s ‘Westeros’ location.
Many fans do believe there is a link due to the resemblance of the map of Westeros and the Scottish coastline and the beautiful natural setting of the area.
If you are ready to start your adventure to this stunning tourist destination in the Highlands, read more about the village in our complete guide of the best things to do in Gairloch.
Things to do in Gairloch
During your escape to the north-west Highlands of Scotland, you will be spoiled for choice when it comes to planning things to do in Gairloch.
Many choose to visit Gairloch during the summer months as it is a haven for outdoor activity.
Canoeing, kayaking and boating are all on offer if you want to see the best of Scotland from the sea, however, there are many beaches and mountains nearby Gairloch that you can explore on foot.
The village also has a golf course, a museum, hotels and restaurants which makes it an excellent base if you are exploring Gairloch and surrounding areas in Wester Ross.
North Coast 500
This hidden gem lies on the world-famous 500-mile Scottish driving route.
Tourists from all over the world travel to this part of Scotland to complete the drive and to see some of the best beaches and most enchanting castles in the UK.
Along the way, you will discover distilleries, smokehouses, farm shops and spectacular scenery.
Whether you choose to cycle, camper van or drive the route you are bound to enjoy this once in a lifetime journey!
One of the best things to do in Gairloch is to hit the beach.
The first beach near Gairloch that is on our list is remote but well worth the trip as the beach remains untouched.
You may have guessed it but Redpoint beach is well known for its red-hued sand and picturesque dunes.
On a clear day, you will see views of Raasay, Skye and the Western Isles.
Big Sand Beach
This tourist attraction does exactly what it says on the tin!
One of Gairloch’s most popular tourist attractions is Big Sand beach.
This stunning location offers visitors magnificent views of the mountains of Skye and Torridon and throughout the year many come here to enjoy stunning sunsets over the Hebrides.
From the beach, you can also reach Longa Island, one of the most celebrated islands of Wester Ross.
Many local providers offer kayak trips around Longa.
The small island is one of the most familiar landmarks in Wester Ross.
“Longa” which means Ship Island in old Norse, is only 0.49sq miles in size.
The island was once small inhabited by a fishing community in the early 19th century, however, it is now only home to the range of rare birds which nest on the island.
The highest point on the island is Druim am Eilean, which reaches 70 metres above sea level.
Water sports in Gairloch
Looking for more exhilarating things to do in Gairloch?
As 2020 is Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters, Gairloch Canoe and Kayak is set to hold a series of kayak and canoe trips.
Scottish waters can be rather cold, but if you are brave enough, there are many local providers around this area that you can rent equipment from.
Gairloch is home to a diverse range of marine life.
Whales, dolphins, porpoise, basking sharks and seals all swim in the waters near to this village. Various species of seabird’s swim above them.
If you are interested in learning more about these creatures, Gairloch Marine Life Centre & Cruises offer scenic and wildlife survey cruises around the shores here.
The centre is one of the longest-running marines and has been based in Gairloch since 1989.
From Gairloch, you can also begin the Hebridean “Whale Trail”. This is a 30-plus site initiative that aims to promote sustainable, low-impact marine wildlife watching from land.
The initiative also promotes wild swimming.
Wildlife lovers will be amazed at the snorkel trails around Gairloch and the opportunities to see sea life up close.
One of the more well known things to do in Gairloch, Gairloch Museum is well worth a visit!
Rated four stars by the Scottish Tourist Board, Gairloch Museum is a must-see if you are visiting Wester Ross.
Gairloch Museum is based in a converted nuclear bunker, it was moved to here in 2019.
This popular tourist attraction in Gairloch showcases the history, culture and natural heritage of this stunning part of Scotland.
The Museum states that:
“visitors will experience 7,000 years of local history, from evidence of Gairloch’s earliest settlers to the twentieth century engineering marvels of the Rubh Re lighthouse lens.”
Badachro Distillery Experience
If you are a fan of Scottish gin you need to visit Badachro during your trip to Gairloch. You can book a visit to Badachro from just £15!
During this unique and intimate experience, you can get up close to the still and learn how the distillery started.
Once you have expanded your knowledge of gins and botanicals you can finish the day with a Badachro G&T or take away a 5cl bottle.
Visits are available from May to October. At the end of the experience, guests are given a 10% discount for on-site purchases.
A maximum of eight visitors can enjoy the tour during each session.
Located in the grounds of Shieldaig Lodge, Shieldaig Falconry is a fantastic day out.
At this falconry, visitors have the opportunity to fly owls, buzzards, hawks, falcons and eagles.
There is even archery for the kids aged 12 and above.
Glamping in Gairloch
Enjoy the wilderness with a stay at Sands Wigwams.
Glamping in Wester Ross is incredibly popular and many couples, friends and families choose this area for a Scottish getaway.
This is unsurprising considering the number of beaches and lochs that are located near Gairloch.
Sands Wigwam has a concrete slipway for boat launching on site. This makes it an excellent place to stay for those that want to enjoy fishing or water sports in Wester Ross.
You will also find an adjoining farm on site. This is excellent if you want a personal meet and greet with Gairloch’s Highland cattle.