A perfect day trip from Glasgow: Discover Helensburgh

Hop on the train at Glasgow’s Queen Street and in just 45 minutes you’ll be in the beautiful Argyll town of Helensburgh. With elegant, broad, tree-lined avenues, piers, a promenade, shops and eateries galore, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this lovely Scottish town. There’s also a rich heritage to discover, from the town’s notable residents to its world-class architecture, as well as some cracking visitor attractions. For a great day out, make your way to Helensburgh!

Helensburgh seafront.

Heritage and architecture

Hill House is a highlight of any visit to Helensburgh. It’s universally regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s finest domestic creation. The celebrated architect and his artist wife Margaret MacDonald designed almost everything to see here, from the building itself to its furniture and textiles. Perfectly restored, much of the house looks almost exactly as it did in 1904. (due to some closures this year, do check the website before travelling).

The famous Hill House in Helensburgh.

The Helensburgh Architectural Trail

Helensburgh’s planned grid of leafy streets contains a huge range of other architectural attractions. The Helensburgh Architectural Trail is a great way to discover these gems, covering 25 buildings across the town centre, dating from 1853 to 2015. The Tower digital arts centre is housed in a fabulous old building, designed in 1861 by William Spence, one of the country’s best theatre architects at the time. It was carefully renovated and preserved before being fitted out with the very latest technology.

Of you have time, take a trip to the nearby village of Kilcreggan too. It’s thought to have the largest concentration of Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson-attributed architecture outside Glasgow.

Helensburgh's streets are particularly breathtaking during cherry blossom.


Don’t miss Helensburgh’s newest visitor attraction, the Scottish Submarine Centre. Helensburgh is the home of the UK's Submarine fleet. The centre provides visitors with information about submarines and how they work, using immersive video and audio to provide learning experiences about the exploits of the submarine service and the people involved. You can see the X51- HMS Stickleback submarine. 

Looking for something a little more adventurous? Come and experience Scotland from a different perspective with Boat Trips Helensburgh. Having recently received a Trip Advisor Travellers Choice 2023 Award, this boat tour operator offers a variety of trips across the Kyles of Bute.

Helensburgh Heritage website is great to learn more about the town’s links with the past. They often have displays hosted by the Civic Centre where artefacts of interest include items relating to John Logie Baird, Henry Bell, and the Clyde steamers.

Head on a walk around Helensburgh stunning coastline to learn more about the region's wildlife & heritage.

Get active

Helensburgh Golf Club has a moorland course, a rich history and a friendly atmosphere. Visitors are more than welcome, and there’s a range of visitor golf packages available all year round. The course, which sits high above Helensburgh town, affords stunning views of the Clyde estuary and the hills of Arran and Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.

There are lots of options for walking too. Take a stroll in Duchess Wood. Set within the greenbelt of Helensburgh, this beautiful woodland is home to a variety of different plant and animal species. Or you could take a wander through Hermitage Park. Right in the centre of Helensburgh, this set of formal gardens containing attractive fields, shrubbery and a old mill. There are also some fine gardens to explore near Helensburgh, including Geilston and Glenarn. For something different, head to Fruin Farm, where you can take an ​alpaca or llama for a walk. There’s a great restaurant there too.

For a more challenging route, you could walk the second stage of the Three Lochs Way from Helensburgh to Garelochhead. The Ben Bouie circuit is another great walk, offering stunning views and wildlife spotting opportunities. From the centre of Helensburgh it takes about three and a half to four hours to complete.

Eat and drink

Helensburgh is packed with great places to eat and drink. Head to Cattle & Creel for the best Scottish steak and seafood right on the seafront. Enjoy a seafood platter or take a seat at the bar and enjoy freshly caught seafood on ice with a glass of champagne. Sugar Boat on Colquhoun Square is another fantastic place to eat in Helensburgh.

Riva Boutique Hotel in Helensburgh should definitely be on your list. This wonderful restaurant and bar in the heart of town serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner with a firm focus on seasonality, provenance and foraged ingredients.

For sumptuous dining on the shores of Loch Lomond head to Cameron House. The hotel’s four restaurants, Cameron Grill, The Boathouse, The Claret Jug and Martin Wishart at Loch Lomond, offer the very best of Scottish cooking using fresh, local ingredients. You can find more places to eat out in the Loch Lomond and Helensburgh area.

Places to Stay in Helensburgh

Riva is not only a fantastic restaurant but also a beautiful luxury boutique hotel right at the heart of Helensburgh. A bit further afield, you'll find Mansefield House and Campbell Cottage, overlooking Loch Long & the Arrochar Alps.

Alternatively, book a stay at Cameron House to truly escape it all. The five-star luxury hotel and spa offers a variety of lodges and rooms right at the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.


Find out more about things to see and do in Helensburgh and Loch Lomond