Travel in Ayrshire – The Ultimate Guide

Stagecoach West Scotland
Stagecoach West Scotland

Ayrshire may be renowned for being Burns Country; it may even be renowned for having superb ice-cream parlours in Largs! One thing you probably don’t know is that Ayrshire has one of the best transport infrastructure networks in Scotland. Whether you plan on travelling to us from near or far, wish to travel between event venues or just plan on taking a day trip in Ayrshire, travelling has never been easier.

By following our simple yet informative guide to all things travel related, you will find it easy to locate and access your preferred method of transport to get you in and around Ayrshire.

By Rail:

Ayrshire is served by one of the busiest railway lines in Scotland with the Scotrail operated services running as often as every 5 minutes throughout the day from Glasgow. All trains on this coastal route operate from Glasgow to Kilwinning through Glasgow Central, Paisley Gilmour St, Johnstone, Milliken Park, Howwood, Lochwinnoch and Dalry before separating at the main interchanging in Kilwinning to serve different areas of the Ayrshire coast. Choose your service:

  • Ayr > Newton-on-Ayr > Prestwick > Prestwick Airport > Troon > Barassie > Irvine > Kilwinning then onwards to Glasgow
  • Largs > Fairlie > West Kilbride > Ardrossan Town > Ardrossan South Beach > Saltcoats > Stevenston > Kilwinning then onwards to Glasgow
  • Ardrossan Harbour > Ardrossan Town > Ardrossan South Beach > Saltcoats > Stevenston > Kilwinning then onwards to Glasgow

The secondary Ayrshire railway line serves the land-locked towns and villages of Kilmarnock, Stewarton and Kilmaurs every 30 minutes, with certain services extending to serve former mining towns such as New Cumnock and Mauchline. Services on this line carry on as far south as Carlisle and Newcastle.

With stunning modern trains complete with spacious carriages, free WiFi and toilets, the train really is the quick and easy way to travel around Ayrshire! All train timetables, ticket booking, station facilities and further information is available at www.scotrail.co.uk.

By Bus:

Ayrshire is served by three main bus operators, locally based Shuttle Buses, rapidly growing McGills Buses and national giants Stagecoach. The main bus interchanges in Ayrshire can be found at Ayr Bus Station, Kilmarnock Bus Station, Irvine Cross, Cumnock Bus Station, Saltcoats Rail Station and Largs Main Street.

Thanks to the fantastic infrastructure Ayrshire boasts, most Ayrshire railway stations are served by buses which stop at the station door. Frequent services will connect rail passengers to the nearest bus interchange or town centre.

Shuttle Buses is a locally based company with a reputation for punctuality. With a modern, clean fleet of buses and friendly drivers, where possible this is often the choice of operator for Ayrshire residents. A list of current services is as follows: www.shuttlebuses.co.uk

  • Service 10 – Dalry Local Service
  • Service 13 – Irvine – Stewarton
  • Service 21 – Irvine – Dreghorn – Dundonald – Crosshouse Hospital
  • Service 27 – Evening Service Irvine to Kilwinning
  • Service 29 – Irvine – Girdle Toll – Kilwinning
  • Service 38 – Irvine Railway Station – Irvine – Kilwinning
  • Service 40 – Largs Local Service
  • Service 50 – Kilwinning – Seamill – Fairlie – Largs
  • Service 113 – Irvine – Kilmaurs – Stewarton
  • Service 219/319 – Stewarton Local Service
  • Service 347 – Ayr – Ayr Hospital – Coylton – Drongan – Rankinston
  • Service 362 – Girvan Local Service

McGills Buses operates a handful of services to and from locations in North Ayrshire. These services are popular with visitors to Largs from Glasgow and Paisley as well as holidaymakers making the trip down the Clyde Coast. www.mcgillsbuses.co.uk

  • Service 337 – Kilmarnock – Crosshouse – Kilmaurs – Stewarton – Beith
  • Service 576 – Largs – Wemyss Bay – Inverkip – IBM – Greenock
  • Service 578 – Largs – Wemyss Bay – Inverkip – IBM – Greenock
  • Service 901 – Largs – Braehead – Glasgow
  • Service 904 – Largs – Kilbirnie – Beith – Johnstone – Paisley
  • Service 906 – Largs – Braehead – Glasgow

Stagecoach is the main operator of service buses within Ayrshire. With a mix of services connecting towns, local services and express services, locals and visitors can access almost any part of Ayrshire through their comprehensive network. Timetables, route maps and journey planners can all be located on their website: www.stagecoachbus.com

By Taxi:

Ayrshire is well served by a number of local taxi firms which operate on a call and collect basis. Phone numbers for each individual taxi operator can be located in your local phone book or just ask the staff at the venue or hotel of your choice and they will be more than happy to assist you! Additionally there are a number of taxi ranks located around each town, most of which are served 24 hours a day.           

By Air:

            Prestwick Airport:

Located in South Ayrshire, just a few miles from Ayr is Prestwick International Airport. Despite slowing passenger figures, this airport remains one of the biggest in Scotland boasting one of the longest runways in Europe! Regular passenger services to and from a wealth of European destinations not only taken our hard working locals away on holiday, but also brings in a healthy number of tourists for our local economy. This much loved airport is easily accessed, with this being the only airport in Scotland to have its own train station! Bus services from across West Scotland operate to the doors and there is plenty of parking available to book in advance. Full information, destinations, offers and promotions can be found at www.glasgowprestwick.com

            Glasgow Airport:

If you are travelling to Ayrshire via Glasgow Airport then simply follow the easy to access public transport to reach us. On departing the terminal building hop aboard the McGills operated 757 bus link to Paisley Gilmour Street Railway Station (timetable available www.mcgillsbuses.co.uk). From here simply head to Platform 4 and hop aboard the frequent Ayrshire bound trains which will transport you to Kilwinning Railway Station in as little as 15 minutes. Then kick back, relax and enjoy just what Ayrshire has to offer!

By Bike:

Ayrshire is connected to some of the UK’s biggest and best cycle trails. With National Route 7 passing right through the heart of our land and a number of local trails to follow too, there is certainly a great deal to encourage you back on that bike! With stunning scenery, beautiful paths and an outrageously good variety of terrain, biking in Ayrshire is something you shouldn’t miss out on.

By Ferry:

Access to parts of Ayrshire does mean crossing the big blue sea! To access the Isle of Arran you first must taken a trip by boat from Ardrossan Harbour to Brodick. This service is run 7 days a week by Calmac and timetables vary depending on the time of year. Sailings often fill up very quickly due to the popularity of Arran, so arriving early, especially during summer months, is highly advised.

From Ardrossan Harbour you can now also access parts of Scotland unseen to many Ayrshire residents let alone visitors! Campbeltown is now accessible during the summer months by boat thanks to a new service operated by Calmac, heavily reducing the time previously taken to drive the 160 mile journey!

The Isle of Cumbrae (Millport) can be accessed by boat from Largs on a service which is also operated by Calmac. The short 10 minute crossing will take you a world away to the slow pace of life on this small island. Millport is some distance from the ferry terminal so a bus service operates to the town for ferry passengers. Both the bus service and ferry crossings are frequent but busy, so please do allow time and expect a short wait due to high demand during the summer months.

Timetables for all services route fares and harbour facilities are available at www.calmac.co.uk

By Boat:

If you are travelling by boat, accidently missed Marbella and ended up in Ayrshire then you are in luck. Moorings are available at a number of harbours and marinas across our 45 mile coastline including in Largs, Ardrossan, Troon and Girvan. Most locations are chargeable on a nightly basis for boat storage… or parking… or moorings…. If you own a boat, please have someone from your estate ring and let us know the proper terminology!

By Horse:

If you have travelled to Ayrshire by horse then you are probably here for Marymass, the historic 12 day festival held in Irvine every August. Unfortunately there is a lack of horse parking facilities across all of Ayrshire’s towns. Some of our more rural villages do have facilities for horses passing through thanks to being situated in our beautiful countryside.  www.marymassfestival.co.uk