Whether you’re familiar with Kirkcudbright or not, when you’re creating your list of things you want to do and see over the summer, exploring this scenic harbour town should be near the top of the list. Everything about Kirkcudbright is cute and quaint, but that shouldn’t be confused with boring. There is plenty to keep you entertained here, and it’s family-friendly so go ahead and pack the kids up for a road trip.
Here’s a look at the top nine reasons Kirkcudbright needs to be on your must-explore list this summer.
Enjoy a Blend of Historic Architecture
Not every town showcases architecture through the times, but in Kirkcudbright, you’ll enjoy buildings from the mediaeval, Georgian and Victorian times. It makes for an eclectic and interesting mix that is perfect for sightseeing and snapping some beautiful photographs.
The town dates back to 1455 when it was called Kirkcudbrightshire. It can be found at the mouth of the River Dee in Dumfries and Galloway. It is 454 km from London and 135 km from Edinburgh. Originally declared a Royal Burgh, it wasn’t until about 1555 that the town got permission from Queen Mary to build a parish church, nunnery and convent. The town continued to evolve from there, as well as change hands.
The Town Features a Working Harbour
Many harbour towns that were once busy back in the day are no longer working harbour towns, but that’s not the case with Kirkcudbright. The harbour is still a source of activity with hustle and bustle taking place. Located on the Solway coast it gives visitors a peak at what a working harbour is truly like.
Kirkcudbright Has Established Itself as an “Art Town”
Wondering what Kirkcudbright’s personality is? This town has done a great job at becoming an “art town”, welcoming all types of creative artists. This history dates back to the 19th century when it appealed to Scottish artists. It’s a reputation that has stuck with the town and for that reason, its galleries remain extremely popular.
Those who wish to explore the local art scene further can check out locations such as The Whitehouse Gallery, Kirkcudbright Tolbooth, Kirkcudbright Galleries, Harbour Cottage Gallery, High St. Gallery, and Ochre Gallery & Studio to name a few.
Stay and Enjoy a Meal
Of course, no visit is complete without also enjoying a meal, and Kirkcudbright offers a wide array of options. Whether you want something traditional with a local vibe or something more modern with an infusion of flavour, you’ve got choices. A few visitor favourites include The Selkirk Arms Hotel & Restaurant, The Auld Alliance, The Castle, Mullberries, The Belfry and the Solway Tide Tearoom.
Each of these restaurants has a unique personality and tasty menus, so the most difficult part will be choosing just one.
Learn About Kirkcudbright’s History
Visitors often like to learn more about the destination they are exploring, which is why museums can be such a popular activity. Here in Kirkcudbright, The Stewartry Museum should be a must-visit as it has been around since 1879. The collection has grown substantially over the years, making it even more interesting.
A more specialised museum, meaning it is focused on one aspect of the town’s history, is the Kirkcudbright Town Hall. The building is known for displaying works of local artists to help tell its story.
There is also Broughton House which was built in the 18th century and is located on High Street. It was home to an artist by the name of Edward Atkinson Hornel and is now maintained and operated by The National Trust for Scotland. The museum showcases Hornel’s extensive works.
MacLellan’s Castle Gets a Mention
You simply can’t visit a castle town without also exploring the castle. Here in Kirkcudbright is MacLellan’s Castle which is a historic site. Keep in mind the grounds and shop is accessible, however, you won’t be able to enter the castle itself. This is to help preserve what’s left of it.
The MacLellan Castle was a family home back in the 16th century. It was built in 1582 by Sir Thomas MacLelland of Bombie. Highlights of the interior include a below-stairs area that is home to dark vaults, a secret spy hole and a massive and stunning fireplace in what was the great hall.
Visit the Beach and Enjoy Pure Relaxation
Relaxation is often top of the list while on holiday, and the beaches in Kirkcudbright are the perfect location for it. Dhoon Beach is ideal for those who want a quiet getaway that isn’t overrun with crowds. It is described as a beautiful coastal beach surrounded by stunning landscapes. The beach isn’t huge, but thanks to how wide it is and the fact it doesn’t get crowded, it feels much larger than it is.
Another option is Brighouse Bay which has unique landscapes and scenery to offer visitors. Again, don’t expect a bustling beach, this area is all about quiet solitude and relaxation. A couple of hours here is all you’ll need to unwind.
The Farmer’s Market Is Packed with Local Fare
Visiting Kirkcudbright between March and December? If so, you can visit Kirkcudbright Farmers’ Market. The market features food, drink, crafts and much more. It’s a wonderful spot to find souvenirs and unique items from local producers and artisans.
A Full Calendar of Events to Keep Everyone Busy
And speaking of special events, the summer festivities in Kirkcudbright always pack in the fun. The town likes to be known as one of the more lively areas of Scotland when it comes to events, activities and exhibitions.
These events hit their peak levels in July and August, so that’s typically the best time to visit. Some of the summer festivities include Scottish Nights, Kirkcudbright Art and Crafts Trail, Car Boot Sale, 2023 Kirkcudbright Tattoo & Firework Display, Riding of the Marches, Festival of Light and the Jazz Festival.
Don’t Miss What This Small Town Has to Offer
So as you work on your summer holiday plans you may want to add Kirkcudbright to your list of destinations to visit and explore, because as you can see – there is plenty to do here.