10 charming seaside towns in Scotland

Plockton seaside town in Scotland

Scotland’s coastline is as dramatic as it is serene, stretching from the rugged cliffs of the Highlands to the quiet sandy coves of the Borders. 

I love exploring this impossibly beautiful part of the UK, and Scotland’s coastal gems are definitely part of that allure. 

The best seaside towns in Scotland offer a memorable escape, combining quaint charm with heaps of history and gorgeous views. 

From bustling harbour towns bursting with maritime heritage to sleepy villages with sweeping views of the sea, my guide will take you through Scotland’s finest seaside spots.

Whether you’re after postcard-perfect beauty, freshly caught seafood or simply a peaceful spot to unwind, each of these seaside towns in Scotland offers something truly special.

Author Bio: Jessie Moore

Jessie Moore is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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1. Oban

Best for: Seafood

Where to stay: No17 The Promenade

Top tour: From Glasgow: Oban, Glencoe, Highland Lochs & Castles Tour


I believe Oban is the perfect starting point for anyone looking to explore the Western Isles.

Epic shores and rolling countryside frame this charming seaside town for a postcard-perfect aesthetic with a wonderfully friendly feel.

Oban is affectionately known as the “Seafood Capital of Scotland,” so I know that seafood lovers will be in their element here.

The town is dotted with cosy seafood bistros and traditional pubs where the catch of the day is always on the menu.

I’d recommend a visit to the Oban Distillery in the heart of the town, for a taste of local single malt.

Oban’s hillside position offers beautiful views, which can be best enjoyed from the iconic McCaig’s Tower.

It’s a Colosseum-like structure that offers panoramic vistas of the town and the neighbouring islands.

2. Tobermory, Isle of Mull

Best for: Wildlife

Where to stay: Glengorm Castle

Top tour: Isle of Mull and Iona 3-Day Small-Group Tour from Glasgow


Painted in a palette of bright colours, the postcard-worthy waterfront of Tobermory offers a vibrant welcome to the Isle of Mull.

But I can assure you that this scenic port town is far more than just a pretty face!

Here you’ll find a hub of activity, starting with the charming shops along the main street that sell local crafts, artisanal goods, and traditional Scottish treats. 

This Scottish seaside town is also a cultural hotspot, hosting a variety of music and arts festivals throughout the year.

For nature enthusiasts, I’d recommend exploring the nearby trails which offer the chance to explore the gorgeous green landscapes that are typical of Mull.

And if you’re keen on wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for seals basking along the coast and eagles soaring overhead.

3. St Andrews, Fife

Best for: Golf

Where to stay: Fairmont St Andrews

Top tour: Top Sights Guided Walking Tour

St Andrews

While St. Andrews is globally recognised for its historic golf courses, this Scottish seaside town has much more to offer.

Here you’ll find an abundance of cultural and historical attractions, all against the backdrop of stunning coastal scenery.

Explore the medieval streets and discover the ancient ruins of St. Andrews Cathedral. For a taste of local life, visit the bustling market street with its quaint cafés and specialty shops.

The town’s beaches, including the expansive West Sands, provide the perfect spot for a leisurely walk with impressive views of the North Sea.

4. Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Best for: Watersports

Where to stay: Arduthie House


Another of my favourite seaside towns in Scotland, Stonehaven is a welcoming town just south of Aberdeen. 

The highlight of a visit to Stonehaven is Dunnottar Castle, dramatically perched on a 160 foot rocky headland. 

This ruined medieval fortress is a must-visit for history lovers – or simply for those after some epic views of the coastline. 

Back in the town centre, the picturesque harbour is a delightful place to explore. Think local fish and chip shops, inviting ice cream parlours and quaint fishing boats.

On the water itself, there are plenty of opportunities for watersports. Have a go at paddleboarding or try your hand at a spot of surfing or sailing.

Stonehaven also hosts the annual Fireballs Ceremony on New Year’s Eve. It’s a unique local tradition that lights up the town with a parade of fire! 

5. Portree, Isle of Skye

Best for: A base for exploring Skye

Where to stay: Cuillin Hills Hotel

Top tour: Best of Isle of Skye Full-Day Tour from Portree


Portree is the bustling capital of the Isle of Skye and serves as the perfect base for those looking to explore the beautiful island. 

The town itself has an utterly charming harbour, with colourful houses framed by rugged landscapes.

I’d recommend wandering around the town centre where you’ll stumble across independent boutiques, cosy cafés, and seafood restaurants. 

For those after a cultural hit, don’t miss the award-winning Aros Centre, where you can catch a theatre performance, concert or film screening.

But arguably the biggest pull of Portree is its location as a gateway to the wild expanses of Skye – from the famous Cuillin Hills to the enchanting Fairy Pools.

6. North Berwick, East Lothian

Best for: Foodies

Where to stay: Marine North Berwick

North Berwick

Just a short train ride from Edinburgh, North Berwick is one of the more accessible seaside towns in Scotland. 

This fashionable town is celebrated for its elegant Victorian charm and gorgeous landscapes, including two sandy beaches that are perfect for sunbathing or bird-watching.

North Berwick is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, home to the renowned Scottish Seabird Centre. Here you can learn about and observe the rich birdlife inhabiting the nearby islands.

But what I love most about North Berwick is its incredible cuisine and wonderfully fresh seafood. In fact, I consider it to be one of the best foodie breaks in the UK.

There’s also a strong cultural scene, with various art galleries and music events. While golfers will find plenty to love here too, with world-class courses offering scenic sea views.

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7. Portpatrick, Dumfries and Galloway

Best for: A peaceful getaway

Where to stay: Mount Stewart Hotel


Portpatrick is a captivating village on the southwestern coast of Scotland, where quaint charm meets rugged scenery.

I love the idyllic setting of Portpatrick – colourful houses line the harbour where boats gently bob up and down in the water.

The atmosphere here is tranquil and inviting, so I think it makes the perfect retreat for those looking to unwind. 

If you fancy getting active, walking enthusiasts will love exploring the Southern Upland Way, which starts from the heart of the village.

The path offers scenic routes along the coast with panoramic views of the North Channel.

For a taste of local life, I’d recommend spending some time in the lively pubs and seafood restaurants which dot the town.

8. Plockton, Wester Ross

Best for: A hidden gem

Where to stay: Duirinish Pods


With the nickname, ‘Jewel of the Highlands’, you know you’re in for a treat with this Scottish seaside town. 

It’s a serene village that boasts an almost subtropical ambiance thanks to its sheltered location by the waters of Loch Carron.

The picturesque setting is characterised by rows of quaint cottages and palm trees that line the waterfront, creating a surprisingly tropical feel in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.

Let’s be honest, ‘tropical’ and ‘Scottish’ are two words you wouldn’t normally hear in the same sentence!

Plockton is a hub for artists and photographers, drawn by the village’s beautiful vistas and the soft, luminous quality of the light.

In terms of things to do, you can enjoy boat trips to see seals, take leisurely kayak tours of the loch, or simply stroll along the waterfront, enjoying an ice cream from a local shop.

9. Cullen, Moray

Best for: Scenic walks

Where to stay: The Seafield Arms


Cullen is a small picturesque town in Moray that boasts a stunning beach and striking viaduct.

But, rather uniquely, it’s also known as the birthplace of the beloved Scottish soup, Cullen Skink.

This creamy fish soup has warmed many a visitor with its rich blend of smoked haddock, potatoes, and onions.

The town itself is equally charming with its series of quaint, narrow streets that lead down to a sandy bay flanked by rocky cliffs.

For those keen on history, the ruins of Cullen Auld Church offer a peek into the past.

While the abundant coastal walks provide breathtaking views of the Moray Firth, known for its dolphin sightings. 

10. St Abbs, Eyemouth

Best for: Diving and bird-watching

Where to stay: The Ship’s Quarters

St Abbs

My final pick of the best seaside towns in Scotland is St Abbs, a small and vibrant fishing village located on the southeastern coast.

It’s renowned for its rugged natural beauty and as a centre for marine and bird life.

St Abbs is particularly famous among diving enthusiasts for its crystal-clear waters and beautiful underwater scenery. 

On land, the St Abbs Visitor Centre offers insights into local wildlife and the area’s fascinating history as a smugglers’ haven.

The village is also a popular starting point for walks along the Berwickshire Coastal Path, where you’ll find dramatic views of the cliffs and the North Sea. 

Map of the best seaside towns in Scotland

Have you visited any of these beautiful seaside towns in Scotland? Let me know in the comments below!

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Jessie Moore
Jessie Moore

Jessie is a luxury travel expert with years of experience travelling the world to find the best destinations, hotels and adventures.

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Want up to 25% off hotels?

Subscribe to my newsletter and get immediate access to my guide on how to save money on flights and hotels. Our weekly emails are filled with adventure inspiration, insider travel tips and exclusive discounts.