15 Best Beaches in Scotland

Find your own piece of paradise on the Scottish coast

Posted on 08-05-24, updated on 05-07-24By: Sarah R. | 13 minute read

Achmelvich Bay, near Lochinver, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Achmelvich Bay, near Lochinver, Scottish Highlands

Discover the Beauty & Tranquillity of Scotland's Coastlines

Scotland may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of beautiful beaches, but this enchanting country has plenty of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Imagine sandy shores perfect for family outings, glistening waters ideal for surfing enthusiasts and a long stretch of coastline ready for sandy feet and paws! From the spectacular beaches of the Scottish Highlands to the pristine sands of the Outer Hebrides, there's no shortage of options to brighten your day. We've dived into the top rated Scottish beaches on Tripadvisor to see what all the fuss is about. So, grab your sunscreen or your coat; your surfboard or your bucket and spade; your sense of adventure or your lust for serenity; and get ready to explore 15 of the best beaches Scotland has to offer!

Searching for the perfect place to stay on your Scottish seaside escape? Check out our holiday parks and lodges in Scotland.

 Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

1. Luskentyre Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

It's no surprise this one takes top spot on Tripadvisor, with a near-perfect score from over a thousand reviews. On a sunny day here, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in the Caribbean, not the Isle of Harris! With its pristine white sand stretching for miles, crystal-clear turquoise waters and majestic mountain backdrop, it is no wonder why Luskentyre Beach is often considered one of the best beaches in Scotland, the UK, Europe and even the world! This highly-acclaimed beach has been recognised by Tripadvisor as the best beach in the UK and the 7th best beach in Europe in the Travellers' Choice Awards 2022, and features on Conde Nast Traveller's list of the best beaches in the world in 2024. Whether you're looking to sunbathe on the powdery sands, go for a refreshing dip in the sparkling sea or embark on a scenic hike, this island paradise offers a simply stunning adventure for everyone.

Tip: Whilst there is parking and toilets nearby, there are no beach cafes or restaurants, so pack a picnic if you're planning to spend the day here.

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 1,000 reviews
Postcode: HS3 3HL
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Find your home away from home with our holiday cottages in Outer Hebrides.

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides

2. Calgary Bay, Isle of Mull, Inner Hebrides

With its picturesque setting nestled along the west coast of the Isle of Mull, Calgary Bay is a must-visit destination for nature lovers, sea swimmers and beach bathers alike. This stunning beach boasts clear waters, soft white sand and dramatic cliffs that provide a breathtaking backdrop. Visitors can explore the rocky shores, go swimming in the inviting waters, or simply relax and soak up the sun in this tranquil holiday haven. The beach is equipped with facilities such as a car park, toilets, and a café serving delicious local treats, making it a convenient and comfortable spot for a day out by the sea.

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 700 reviews
Postcode: PA75 6QW
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Our Isle of Mull cottages are ready to welcome you for a dreamy seaside stay!

Camusdarach Beach, Mallaig, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Camusdarach Beach, Mallaig, Scottish Highlands

3. Camusdarach Beach, Mallaig, Scottish Highlands

Familiar to many for its cameo in the classic 80s film "Local Hero", it doesn't take long to see why Camusdarach Beach, located on the west coast of Scotland, makes our list of the best beaches in Scotland and has an incredible 5/5 bubble rating on Tripadvisor. Part of the Silver Sands of Morar, a string of beautiful beaches that pepper the coastline between Arisaig and Morar, Camusdarach Beach was once named by Ewan McGregor as his favourite place on Earth when asked by Travel magazine. Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, including towering sand dunes and rugged cliffs, it's known for its white sands and inviting waters, which are perfect for a swim on a warm summer's day. Additionally, visitors can enjoy handy facilities such as car parking, picnic areas, and nearby cafes and shops for a truly relaxing day at the beach. Whether you're looking for a peaceful retreat with your partner or a fun day out with family and friends, Camusdarach Beach has something for the whole family to enjoy.

Tip: The west-facing beach is famous for its incredible sunsets, so check the time before your visit if you want to witness one! The views look out onto the open sea and the Small Isles of Eigg and Rum.

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 300 reviews
Postcode: PH40 4PD
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Nairn Beach, Nairn, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Nairn Beach, Nairn, Scottish Highlands

4. Nairn Beach, Nairn, Scottish Highlands

Nairn Beach, located on the stunning Moray Firth coast in the Highlands, is a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. With its golden sands and clear blue waters, Nairn Beach offers the perfect setting for a relaxing day by the sea. The beach is lined with pretty seaside cottages and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside as well as easy access to the charming town. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade, build sandcastles with the kids, take a refreshing dip in the North Sea or watch the sunset paint the sky in hues of red and orange. During the summer months, the beach comes alive with sunbathers and watersports enthusiasts, creating a vibrant and lively atmosphere. In the winter, you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights! Whether you're looking for a peaceful escape or some fun in the sun, Nairn Beach is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of the Scottish coast.

Tip: Nairn is one of the sunniest and driest places in Scotland, so is an ideal destination for a summer beach break!

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 1,000 reviews
Postcode: IV12 4EN
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

St Andrews West Sands Beach, St Andrews, Kingdom of Fife, Scotland, UK

St Andrews West Sands Beach, St Andrews, Kingdom of Fife

5. St Andrews West Sands Beach, St Andrews, Kingdom of Fife

Famous as the setting for the opening scenes in the iconic film "Chariots of Fire", St Andrews West Sands Beach is a truly breathtaking destination that offers a sense of tranquillity and peace. Located near the centre of St Andrews, with its iconic golf course, university and castle, the vast stretch of golden sand invites you to take a leisurely stroll, breathe in the fresh sea air and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin. The crashing waves provide a calming rhythm to the natural beauty that surrounds you, creating a sense of wonder and awe. Whether you are looking to relax and unwind by swimming and sunbathing, or seek activity and adventure with watersports like surfing and sailing, St Andrews West Sands Beach awaits!

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 750 reviews
Postcode: KY16 9XL
Lifeguards: RNLI lifeguards patrol the beach on a seasonal basis
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly for most of the year, however, dogs are not allowed on the part of the beach nearest the town from May to September

Plan your Scottish beach break at one of our holiday parks and lodges in Fife.

Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides

6. Claigan Coral Beach, Isle of Skye, Inner Hebrides

Nestled on the rugged and remote Isle of Skye, the largest island of the Inner Hebrides, Claigan Coral Beach is a truly magical place for a Scottish seaside stay. Its pristine white sands and turquoise waters create a stunning contrast against the dramatic backdrop of rolling hills and jagged cliffs. The beach gets its name from the unique coral formations that line the shore, a rarity in this part of the world. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the sand, marvel at the vibrant marine life in the rock pools, or simply relax and soak in the beauty of nature.

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 750 reviews
Postcode: IV55 8WF
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round, however, the track that leads to the beach passes through farmland, so always keep your dog on a lead when walking to and from the beach, and be mindful of grazing cattle and sheep

Plan your island stay at one of our Isle of Skye holiday cottages.

Achmelvich Beach, near Lochinver, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Achmelvich Beach, near Lochinver, Scottish Highlands

7. Achmelvich Beach, near Lochinver, Scottish Highlands

Achmelvich Beach or Achmelvich Bay is a haven for wildlife watchers, nature enthusiasts and watersports lovers in the north west of Scotland. It's a popular place for birdwatching, with Red-throated Divers and Common Terns around the water and Golden Plover, Ringed Plover and Dunlin in the nearby rocks. In summer, the beach attracts an array of sun worshippers and activity seekers who come to try water skiing, kayaking and wind surfing in the calm, sheltered waters. Families also love this beach for its interesting rock pooling and child-friendly shallow waters, which have been awarded the prestigious Yellow Flag for water quality, cleanliness and safety measures. The stunning backdrop of rocky outcrops and lush green hills complements the white sands and aqua blue waters, creating an enchanting and colourful setting for your Scottish beach break. It's no wonder that this beach is considered one of the best in Scotland, a place where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and connect with the beauty of nature.

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 450 reviews
Postcode: IV27 4JB
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: Dogs are welcome at the beach for most of the year, but they should always be kept under control and there may be some restrictions in place during peak tourist season. Sheep have been known to roam the beach, so please be mindful of this if visiting with your dog

Loch Morlich, Glenmore, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Loch Morlich, Glenmore, Scottish Highlands

8. Loch Morlich, Glenmore, Scottish Highlands

This one breaks the mould slightly, as it isn't actually anywhere near the coast! Loch Morlich is an inland freshwater beach located in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, and the highest beach in the UK at 300 metres above sea level. Despite not being on the coast, it is considered one of the best beaches in the country due to its picturesque surroundings, coarse pink sand and crystal-clear blue waters. One of the unique features of Loch Morlich is its sandy shoreline - the beach stretches for over a mile and offers plenty of space for sunbathing and picnicking. It's also popular for watersports, with opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding and even wild swimming in the chilly waters. There's a charming café, a yacht club and a watersports centre where visitors can hire equipment and take lessons. The surrounding woodland provides a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll or a scenic bike ride, adding to the unique appeal of this Scottish beach.

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 650 reviews
Postcode: PH22 1QY
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol, however, there are areas clearly marked for safe swimming
Dogs: Dogs are welcome all year round

Balnakeil Beach, near Durness, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Balnakeil Beach, near Durness, Scottish Highlands

9. Balnakeil Beach, near Durness, Scottish Highlands

Tucked away in the very northwest of the country, the Scottish beach of Balnakeil is the perfect place for those seeking a tranquil and unspoiled retreat by the sea. With its pristine white sands stretching for miles along the coast of the Scottish Highlands, the crystal-clear waters invite you to take a refreshing dip or try your hand at surfing or paddle boarding. Situated near the small village of Durness, this beach offers stunning views of rugged cliffs and the iconic Cape Wrath lighthouse in the distance. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the shore, explore the dramatic dunes, or simply relax and soak up the peaceful atmosphere of this picturesque paradise.

Tip: The beach faces west, making it the perfect spot to catch a romantic sunset with your loved one.

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 300 reviews
Postcode: IV27 4PX
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: Dogs are welcome all year round

Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

10. Uig Sands, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Scotland's Hebridean beaches are known for being pretty spectacular, and the Isle of Lewis's Uig Sands (also known as Ardroil Beach) is no exception. Visitors can take leisurely strolls along the shore, explore the sea caves and rock pools, or simply relax and soak in the natural beauty of this unspoiled and remote location. One of the best things about this beach is how large it is, particularly at low tide, making it easy to enjoy your own peaceful paradise without the worry of crowds. It's vast shoreline also means it's an ideal place for kite buggiers, runners and energetic dogs!

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 300 reviews
Postcode: HS2 9EU
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, UK

Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

11. Scarista Beach, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

Here we have another coastal gem on the Isle of Harris, just a short drive south along the coast from Luskentyre Beach. Many would argue this beach is just as beautiful, if not more beautiful than Luskentyre Beach, particularly as it is lesser known so often quieter during summer months. It is adored for its tranquility and natural beauty, with views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Sound of Taransay and the rugged cliffs of the Harris hills. Both dogs and children will love playing in the soft sandy shores, while keen surfers will find some of the best waves in the Outer Hebrides here.

Tip: This is a great beach for wildlife enthusiasts, as you can sometimes see seals, eagles and deer here!

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 200 reviews
Postcode: HS3 3HX
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol and the waves can get quite big here, so are only suitable for strong swimmers
Dogs: This beach welcomes dogs all year round

Dornoch Beach, Dornoch, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Dornoch Beach, Dornoch, Scottish Highlands

12. Dornoch Beach, Dornoch, Scottish Highlands

Dornoch Beach is a magical stretch of golden sand that sits at the edge of the quaint town of Dornoch, known for its rich cultural heritage, traditional Scottish baking and world-renowned golf course. With sweeping views of the North Sea and the surrounding countryside, it's perfect for romantic dog walks along the shore, child-friendly swimming in the crystal-clear shallow waters, and sunbathing in the Scottish sun (when it appears!) The beach is also a great spot for wildlife watching, with the chance to spot seals, dolphins and a variety of seabirds. Whether you're looking for a relaxing day by the sea or an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Scottish coast, Dornoch Beach has it all.

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 550 reviews
Postcode: IV25 3QD
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Durness Beach, Durness, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Durness Beach, Durness, Scottish Highlands

13. Durness Beach, Durness, Scottish Highlands

Nestled within the dramatic landscape of the Scottish Highlands, Durness Beach is a remote beach on the northwest coast, offering visitors a peaceful and picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It's actually one of the most northerly beaches in the country. With crystal-clear waters and stunning views of towering limestone cliffs and rolling hills, Durness Beach is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you're looking to relax and sunbathe on the soft sand, brave a dip in the chilly North Sea, or explore the nearby caves and rock formations, Durness Beach has something for everyone. Don't miss a chance to visit the famous Smoo Cave on the east of the beach - this is the largest cave in Scotland! A daytrip to this hidden gem is sure to leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and in awe of the natural beauty that Scotland has to offer.

Tip: This beach is also known as Sango Bay or Sangomore.

Tripadvisor rating: 5/5 from over 400 reviews
Postcode: IV27 4PZ
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach welcomes dogs all year round

Balmedie Beach, near Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, UK

Balmedie Beach, near Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

14. Balmedie Beach, near Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire

Located just five miles from lively Aberdeen, Balmedie Beach is a great option if you want to make the most of both the coast and the city! It's nestled within the Balmedie Country Park, meaning you can enjoy a range of facilities such as a children's play park, picnic areas, walking trails and wildlife spotting opportunities. Runners, dog walkers and horse riders can make the most of the vast, flat golden sands, while windsurfers and kiteboarders can head straight for the consistent waves in the North Sea. One of Scotland's longest beaches, the natural sand dunes of Balmedie Beach stretch for an impressive 15 miles, meaning you're pretty much guaranteed to find a secluded spot even in the peak tourist season!

Tripadvisor rating: 4.5/5 from over 600 reviews
Postcode: AB23 8WU
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: This beach is dog-friendly all year round

Discover our holiday parks and lodges in Aberdeenshire.

Portobello Beach, near Edinburgh, Edinburgh and The Lothians, Scotland, UK

Portobello Beach, near Edinburgh, Edinburgh and The Lothians

15. Portobello Beach, near Edinburgh, Edinburgh and The Lothians

Finishing off our list of the 15 best beaches in Scotland is the charming Portobello Beach, another popular choice if you fancy combining a city break with a seaside escape! You'll find this sandy beach just a few miles from Edinburgh city centre, stretching along the Firth of Forth. Aside from the beach itself, Portobello also boasts a charming promenade lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the seafront, grab a bite to eat at one of the many eateries or browse the local shops for souvenirs. The beach is a bustling hub of activity in the summer months, with families enjoying picnics on the sand, children playing in the shallow waters and sunbathers soaking up the rays. There are also plenty of opportunities for watersports such as kayaking, paddle boarding and windsurfing here. For those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Portobello Beach is the perfect retreat. So, next time you're in Edinburgh, be sure to make a trip to Portobello Beach and experience the beauty of the Scottish coast for yourself.

Tip: If you're staying in Edinburgh city centre, you can catch a train or a bus to Portobello - journey times are usually around 20 minutes.

Tripadvisor rating: 4/5 from over 750 reviews
Postcode: EH15 1DT
Lifeguards: There is no lifeguard patrol
Dogs: The beach is dog-friendly all year round, however, there may be some restrictions in place during peak tourist seasons

Find your ideal accommodation with our choice of Edinburgh lodges and holiday parks.

Plan your Perfect Scottish Beach Break

So there we have it! Scotland's diverse and breathtaking coastline offers a plethora of stunning beaches to explore and enjoy, from chilly winter mornings right through to warm summer evenings. Whether you're seeking rugged cliffs, golden sands or pristine waters, there really is something for everyone along the Scottish coast. It's time to pack your swimsuit and your towel, and start exploring these seaside gems!

Find even more inspiration for your next coastal adventure with our choice of UK beach holidays.

Loch Morlich, Glenmore, Scottish Highlands, Scotland, UK

Loch Morlich, Glenmore, Scottish Highlands

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