Stranraer, also known as The Toon, is a large town that lies on the shores of Loch Ryan. It is Dumfries and Galloway’s second-largest town, with a population of nearly 13,000. The largest town being Dumfries with a population of over 31,000.
Stranraer has a long history as a ferry port and served the ferry that connected Scotland with Belfast and Larne in Northern Ireland. This service was moved to nearby Cairnryan in 2011.
Stranraer is considered the gateway to the Rhins of Galloway, otherwise known as the Rhins of Wigtownshire. It is a hammer-head peninsula stretching more than 25 miles from north to south, its southern tip is the Mull of Galloway, the southernmost point of Scotland.
The town has a great selection of shops, accommodation and places to eat and drink. Check out Tripadvisor for the top restaurants in Stranraer.
Castle of St John
This medieval tower house in the centre of Stranraer was built around 1510 by Ninian Adair of Kilhurst, one of the most powerful Lairds of Wigtownshire. Here you can enjoy a fantastic day out watching the videos and reconstructions which tell the story of the medieval landowners who built and lived in the castle. You’ll also learn about the Government troops who used the castle as their headquarters during the Killing Times in the 1680s and the criminals and debtors imprisoned in the castle during the 19th century. There is also an excellent activity room for families and children. There are several eye-catching artworks in the area surrounding the castle.
Stranraer Museum can be found in the Old Town Hall. The museum features one of Scotland’s oldest ploughs, while you can also look at Victorian Wigtownshire in 3D photographs and follow in the footsteps of Stranraer’s own polar explorers. There are displays on archaeology, local history, farming and dairying. An exciting temporary exhibition programme also runs throughout the year.
Castle Kennedy Gardens
Magnificent Castle Kennedy Gardens are among the most famous and the most child friendly in Scotland. Just three miles east of Stranraer the gardens boast the castle, two lochs, a giant lily pond and an avenue of monkey puzzle trees. It is the perfect habitat for a fascinating range of species who find perfect sanctuary in the 75 acres of woodland, lochs and gardens. It is a romantic garden paradise with quite literally something for everyone to enjoy – regardless of age. Dogs are welcome too!
From stunning fauna to beautiful scenery, sculpted landforms, spectacular walks and popular bird hides, the Gardens are a hidden treasure in South West Scotland. The inspiration of the 2nd Earl of Stair in the 1730s, the colourful displays of rhododendrons, azaleas and embothriums are legendary, so too are the many rare and exotic plants, 20 Champion Trees, the walled garden, atmospheric avenues and the romantic ruins of 16th Century Castle Kennedy.
While garden and plant lovers will find much to relish, families can also have great fun enjoying the host of exciting, nature-based activities throughout the season. There is a splendid Snowdrop Festival, Easter Egg Hunt and Pumpkin Trail as well as garden walks. Open Air Theatre/Cinema are performed against the dramatic backdrop of the Castle ruin itself adding another unique experience for visitors to enjoy. There is a friendly Tearoom with picnic tables outside and a popular plant centre.
Stranraer Golf Club
Stranraer Golf Club is the final course designed by James Braid; the culmination of his many years of outstanding golf course design.
This is a course that’s worth making time to play, one of the best courses in the region, its beautifully designed with a prevailing wind from the sea and some real testing holes.
Stranraer presents a true challenge for the better golfer, with excellent facilities and an immaculate course. The warm wash of the Gulf Stream provides this part of Scotland with a remarkably mild climate, making play possible on all but a handful of days.
Situated on the shores of Loch Ryan, the 6,308 yard parkland course is laid out on gently undulating ground with exceptional views over the loch to Ailsa Craig, the Isle of Arran and beyond.
From an early morning coffee with a bacon roll to an evening meal, the welcoming clubhouse boasts excellent catering and panoramic views over the course and beyond.
Booking is advisable in the summer. Golfing parties are accepted, maximum party size 60.
Agnew Park has a wide range of leisure facilities for all ages including a large boating lake with a range of boats, including canoes, skiffs and pedalos. It offers a fantastic day out for the whole family, with a miniature railway which takes you on a full tour of the park, a play island featuring innovative play equipment, an 18-hole putting green and a mini car racing circuit.
There are walkways through beautiful gardens and a cafe serves a range of hot and cold snacks and refreshments. The park draws on its seaside location and marine heritage in the design of benches, railings, pavements and other features.
Special events at Agnew Park include the annual Day in the Park and Santa’s Christmas Grotto.
Add Stranraer to Your List of Must-See Destinations
Stranraer has lots to offer whatever your age and interests. Approximately 65 miles from Kippford it’s a great day out if you’re staying with us at Coastal Kippford holiday park. Check out our holiday home rentals and book your staycation today.