Where better to spend your upcoming free time than in the stunning, south westerly corner of Dumfries & Galloway? We already know it's glorious. But there's still so many things to do here that you might not have tried yet! Here's everything you might not know yet about this part of Scotland.
Remember to check directly with the businesses before visiting on their reopening date, and look out for the Good to Go scheme logo, which shows that a business has carried out a Covid-19 risk assessment.
Head to brilliant beaches
We don't call it the 'Costa Del Solway' for nothing - the beaches in Dumfries & Galloway are simply stunning. And, there is plenty to keep you entertained on a day out to the seaside.
Make your beach trip one to remember with these ideas:
- The beach at Brighouse Bay is the start point of a walking route which follows the coastline along the cliffs before turning inland for a ramble through some of Galloway's rich dairy country.
- Once a hub for smugglers, the pretty village of Auchencairn is now a quiet coastal spot filled with whitewashed stone cottages. Beachcomb as you wander along the shoreline of Auchencairn Bay and gaze across to Hestan Island.
- Southerness Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in Scotland. Located on the Solway Firth, the walk to the lighthouse only takes minutes from the happy village of Southerness.
Discover the calm waters of Loch Ken
One of the region's largest and loveliest lochs, you're sure to find peace and tranquillity here. With wildlife, walks and water - time spent around Loch Ken is good for the soul.
- A cycle, walk or road trip, the Galloway Kite Trail is a 24-mile circular route exploring around Loch Ken whilst looking above for the wonderful red kites, easily recognisable by their fork tails.
- The water is sheltered on Loch Ken with several secluded spots and quiet bays. On a sunny day, why not try a spot of fishing or perhaps some wild swimming?
- See if you can catch a fiery sunset, a vision that has captured the creativity of many local artists.
- Check out more wellness ideas in South Scotland.
Explore the pretty town of Portpatrick
Embrace the peaceful vibes of Portpatrick, a pretty town with pastel-coloured houses, set around a small bay with cliffs forming the backdrop.
From the town, you can:
- Take the walk to Killantringan Lighthouse, walking from the town out to the lighthouse and circular route back round along the coastal path. There is parking in the town at both ends. This walk is also the start of the Southern Upland Way, a coast-to-coast long-distance route.
- See across the water to Northern Ireland on clear days.
- Enjoy a stroll along the fine harbour and small sandy beach.
Cream o' Galloway
Cream o' Galloway, just outside Gatehouse of Fleet, is usually a must-visit on the list for every summer holiday in Dumfries & Galloway.
Did you know?
- The ice cream counter is open! There are so many flavours to try. Have you had a scoop of Cranachan or Whisky, Honey & Oatmeal?
- You can enjoy the organic farm's adventure playground, nature trails and crazy golf.
- You can order delicious cheeses straight to your door from sister company, The Ethical Dairy.
Galloway Activity Centre
Located on the outer fringe of the Galloway Forest Park, on the shores of Loch Ken, Galloway Activity Centre offers the opportunity to reset in the tranquil surroundings while enjoying a host of outdoor adventures, from polishing your spinnaker skills or whizzing along a zip wire.
Did you know that you can do all of these activities when the centre re-opens?
- The list of adventures includes canoeing, sailing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, scaling the centre's own 25 ft climbing wall, flying down its zip wire, and even a spot of archery.
- If you're a fan of the Japanese game show Takeshi's Castle, you won't want to miss tackling the Wobbly Waterpark. Best described as a floating assault course, it's just about the most fun you can have on the water!
- For thrill seekers, you might be craving a rush of adrenaline. Try the gut-churning freefall experience of the 3G swing, described as '40 ft of fun'!
Plan for later
These ideas are for attractions and activities which are opening soon for your first trip a little further from your doorstep.
Find out more about the current Covid-19 restrictions of Phase 3 and future phases.
Get to know the Galloway Forest Park
You might have already enjoyed some of the walks or cycle paths through the Galloway Forest Park but why not try these?
- Explore the atmospheric ruins of a traditional Galloway farming village, abandoned over 200 years ago. It is a beautiful setting in the lee of the Rhinns of Kells.
- Take the short walk to the Bruce's Stone, which overlooks the shimmering waters of Loch Trool and commemorates Robert the Bruce and the bitter battle that took place in 1307 - difficult to imagine in such a peaceful spot!
- The area is the UK's First Dark Sky Park and on clear nights, you can usually see over 7,000 stars and a few planets with the naked eye, as well as the Milky Way. Check out our dark skies toolkit and videos to learn more about the night sky in Scotland.
Explore Galloway Forest Park.
Red Deer Range
A visit to see the gorgeous deer at the Red Deer Range between Newton Stewart and New Galloway is a lovely day out and one to bookmark for the future. Look out for tours returning, so you can learn more about the deer and witness them in their natural habitat.
But did you know?
- Entry is free to the red deer range and there are around 60 red deer to see from the hide.
- If visits are possible by early October, you could witness one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles that Scotland has to offer: the red deer rut, when males battle for the attention of females.
- You might see buzzards and other birds of prey soaring overhead. There are also adorable wild goats to say hello to in the neighbouring Wild Goat Park.
You can find out more things to do in the region at Visit South West Scotland.
Where will you go on your first trip beyond your own doorstep? Share your ideas and fascinating facts on Dumfries & Galloway in our iKnow Community or on social media.
With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new to tick off the bucket list? Check out our other articles for more ideas for your first (second, third and fourth…) trip within Scotland.