Scotland’s best beaches have been crowned for 2024

From Troon to Brora beach, here's exactly where to enjoy the sun in Scotland this summer

Annie McNamee
Written by
Annie McNamee
Contributor, Time Out London and UK
Girvan beach
Photograph: Shutterstock

It may not seem like it, but summer is here. With any luck at some point soon the sun will come out and if we’re lucky we may even crack 20 degrees. In that case, you might fancy heading to the seaside for a day, and luckily for you, Keep Scotland Beautiful (KSB) have just released their picks for the best beaches in Scotland this year.

Recommended: Time Out’s guide to the best beaches in Scotland.

Each year KSB recognises beachy excellence across the country. To be awarded, a beach must meet a specific set of criteria from the board, and have no major violations of those rules. It has to comply with terms from three categories, including ‘access, facility and safety’, ‘local environmental quality’, and respect for ‘community and heritage’. Each of these headings have between three and five points councils must follow to earn the group’s seal of approval. 

This year 51 sandy shores were awarded by KSB. Each of these has maintained a high standard of cleanliness and respect for the local area, so they’re all worth a visit. 

The most southern beach to make the list was Girvan in South Ayrshire, which KSB describe as having ‘spectacular views over Ailsa Craig, a wildlife and bird haven, the Firth of Clyde, the isle of Arran, and Mull of Kintyre.’ It’s about an hour away from Glasgow, its nearest city, so it’s not too out of the way and ideal for any city-dwelling day-trippers.

Meanwhile, the furthest north was West Sandwick, all the way up in the north Shetland island of Yell. It’s a two hour flight from the nearest city, Inverness, so you may want to make a longer trip of this one. 

Of the 51 shores, only six were on the west coast, one is on an island, and one is inland in the Cairngorms national park. Here’s the whole list of ‘excellent’ beaches in Scotland, in alphabetical order by council. 

The best beaches in Scotland 2024

  • Aberdeen Ballroom Beach – Aberdeen City
  • Balmedie Beach – Aberdeenshire
  • Collieston – Aberdeenshire
  • Cruden Bay – Aberdeenshire
  • Fraserburgh Tigerhill – Aberdeenshire
  • Fraserburgh Waters of Philorth – Aberdeenshire
  • Inverboyndie Beach – Aberdeenshire
  • Peterhead Lido – Aberdeenshire
  • Stonehaven Beach – Aberdeenshire
  • Montrose Seafront – Angus
  • Carnoustie – Angus
  • Arbroath – Angus
  • Lunan Bay – Angus
  • Monifieth – Angus
  • East Haven – Angus
  • Broughty Ferry – Dundee City
  • Belhaven Bay – East Lothian
  • Dunbar East – East Lothian
  • Longniddry Bents, Gosford – East Lothian
  • Yellowcraig – East Lothian
  • North Berwick Milsey Bay – East Lothian
  • North Berwick West Beach – East Lothian
  • Longniddry Bents – East Lothian
  • Gullane Bents – East Lothian
  • Aberdour Silver Sands – Fife
  • Anstruther Billowness – Fife
  • Burntisland Beach – Fife
  • Crail Roome Bay – Fife
  • Elie Harbour – Fife
  • Elie Ruby Bay – Fife
  • Kingsbarns Beach – Fife
  • Kirkcaldy Seafield – Fife
  • Leven East – Fife
  • St Andrews East Sands – Fife
  • St Andrews West Sands – Fife
  • Aberdour Black Sands – Fife
  • Kinghorn and Pettycur Bay – Fife
  • Brora Beach – Highland
  • Dornoch Beach – Highland
  • Nairn Central – Highland
  • Loch Morlich – Highland
  • Irvine – North Ayrshire
  • Coldingham – Scottish Borders
  • West Sandwick – Shetland
  • Sands of Breckon – Shetland
  • Ayr South – South Ayrshire
  • Troon – South Ayrshire
  • Maidens – South Ayrshire
  • Prestwick – South Ayrshire
  • Girvan – South Ayrshire
  • Barassie Shore – South Ayrshire

You can view an interactive map of the beaches, including info about them all, here.

Get your beach fix 

There are loads of other drop dead gorgeous beaches in the UK. If none of these take your fancy, plan a trip to one of Time Out’s pick of the best beaches in the country. If you’d rather go a bit more off the beaten track, we've got a list of the most beautiful hidden beaches too. 

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