Did you know that Scotland boasts some of the UK’s most fabulous beaches? Of course, this country is famous for its mountains and glens, there is also an impressive 6,000 miles of coastline, too. (And that’s just the mainland, without the islands.)
There are magnificent beaches aplenty, with spectacular views, stunning white sands and an emptiness that makes the heart soar. We confess that the weather might not always be bikini hot but this doesn’t stop anyone strolling, running and enjoying a lazy day of sandcastle building and picnics on Scotland’s many, many beautiful beaches.
A motorhome or campervan is also the ideal transport for visiting a beach. Whatever the weather, you can make the most of the outdoors playground or perhaps just sit in the van and look out at the view.
Fabulous Scottish beaches
Seeing a sunset over a Scottish beach from the comfort of your campervan, while enjoying a chilled glass of wine or beer, is the stuff of fantastic holiday memories.
Here we reveal some of our favourite Scottish beaches.
17 of the best beaches in Scotland
Highly rated by visitors on TripAdvisor and a huge favourite for locals, the gorgeous West Sands in the golf town of St Andrews provide the perfect location for a stroll, run or old-fashioned family day at the beach. Other entertainment includes watching the traction kiters and land yachters.
Silver Sands, Aberdour
A Blue Flag awarded Scottish beach in 2013, Aberdour Silver Sands is a popular and attractive stretch of sand on the Fife coast. The beach looks out on the picturesque islands of Inchmickery and Inchcolm, where there is a famous abbey. The Fife Coastal Path also passes by this beach, making it a great area for a longer coastal walk if you fancy.
Overlooking the Firth of Forth, the sandy beach of Burntisland is another Blue Flag winner of 2013. This beach itself is located to the east of Burntisland and is a perfect destination for families who enjoy old-fashioned seaside pleasures such as sandcastle building, exploring rockpools and crazy golf.
Achnahaird Beach, Wester Ross
Wester Ross is famed for its wonderful beaches, including the renowned Achnahaird Bay. The white sandy beach is easily accessed from the road that runs between Altandhu and Achiltibuie and on numerous occasions we have found the beach to be almost empty. Park up and take in the breathtaking views or head out on to the sands for a breezy stroll.
Balnakeil Beach, near Durness, Sutherland
White sand and fantastic dunes make this a popular beach for a day of sandcastle building, picnics and generally enjoying the great outdoors. The dunes are a particular favourite for fun-loving kids and grown-ups. This beach can sometimes be a bit breezy so wrap up warm if you plan to spend time here. Alternatively you can park the van and watch the frequently stunning sun-lit views from the comfort of your motorhome or campervan.
Armadale Bay Beach, Sutherland
A popular surfing beach, you’ll find that this sandy bay is also pretty sheltered. The bay is easy to reach on foot from the nearby road and is a delightful place to enjoy a coastal stroll. If the wind is up and favourable for surfers, you will find it easy to while away a few hours simply watching the surfing fun.
Sandwood Bay, Sutherland
If you are thinking that Sutherland is unfairly dominating this list of great Scottish beaches, you are right! However, this north-west part of the country is well worth the visit and so many beaches are worthy of a mention. Another truly superb beach is Sandwood Bay, which regularly tops “best beaches in the UK” lists. It requires a bit of a walk (around one to two hours) to get to this remote and stunningly beautiful location, but the effort is easily rewarded. The beach is a spectacular mile or more of pristine sand edged by the dramatic Atlantic sea and backed by stunning dunes.
As we said in our Loving It blog, this is also a wonderfully romantic location to visit.
Farr Beach, Bettyhill, north coast
We are letting you into a bit of a secret with less-visited Farr Beach. Located just to the west of the settlement of Bettyhill, and on the other side of a river that you need to walk around, you’ll discover a long stretch of sandy beach that is frequently empty (apart for a few surfers). Don’t forget your camera if you enjoy looking back at pictures of magnificent coastal scenery.
Shandwick Beach, near Tain
A long and sandy beach, Shandwick Bay, situated between the villages of Shandwick and Balintore, is another gem of a find. It’s also worth visiting the pretty harbour in Balintore.
Coldingham Sands, Berwickshire
The south-east coast of Scotland is often overlooked as people drive north on their way to the tourist attractions of the central and northern areas. Instead, stop a while in Berwickshire where you’ll discover the stunning beach of Coldingham Sands, near St Abbs Head.
In fact, Coldingham Sands is a Seaside Award beach, which recognises the more rural nature of beaches. Certainly Coldingham is a quieter and less developed beach than many you will find in the UK.
Seacliff Beach, near North Berwick
Unusually, this beach located to the east of the seaside town of North Berwick is privately owned. The beach, stretching to around half a mile, also boasts a range of unusual things to do. There’s a small harbour – reputably the smallest in the UK! – to explore, the ruined mansion of Seacliff House, nearby Tantallon Castle and St Baldred’s Beacon, which is a large cross commemorating an eighth century hermit that once lived in East Lothian.
Scottish islands beaches
Talisker Bay, Carbost, Isle of Skye
A beautiful beach that requires a short walk. Our top tip is to go in the early morning or evening when the light is truly stunning. The sunrises and sunsets in this part of the world are legendary. The beach is located on the west coast of Skye, near the village of Talisker (not to be confused with the famous island distillery). Why not pour yourself an evening dram of Tailsker whisky and watch, on a clear night, as the sun falls in the sky over the bay of Talisker!
Luskentyre, Harris, Outer Hebrides
Regularly featuring in top 10 worldwide beach lists, Luskentyre on the island of Harris is well worth a trip. It’s a little off the beaten track but with a bit of thought and a picnic hamper you will experience the great outdoors in Scotland in a breathtakingly magical way.
Tiree, Inner Hebrides
Take your pick of dozens of stunningly flat and wide sandy beaches on an island renowned for its wonderful coastline and opportunities for sea-based fun, including surfing, kite surfing and kayaking.
Of course, this list of great Scottish beaches is not exhaustive so please do tell us about your favourites.