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!
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).
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. Another venue worth checking out is The Tower. This 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.
Don’t miss Helensburgh’s newest visitor attraction, the Scottish Submarine Centre. Helensburgh is the home of the UK's Submarine fleet. The centre provide visitor 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.
Helensburgh Heroes is a fascinating small museum featuring famous, Helensburgh-related people John Logie Baird, father of television. It also has a 50's themed cafe. Helensburgh Heritage Centre is a great to learn more about the town’s links with the past. Artefacts of interest include items relating to John Logie Baird, Henry Bell and the Clyde steamers.
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. It was was recently awarded a 'Bib Gourmand' by Michelin. Or how about fish and chips on the pier? The Wee Kelpie fish and chip shop was awarded the 'Best Takeaway' at the Scottish Entertainment and Hospitality Awards last year.
Look out for Helensburgh Market in the Square, which runs on the second Saturday of each month in Colquhoun Square. It’s a feast for all the senses and a great place to pick up local produce and artisan fare. You’ll find home-baking, seasonal vegetables, fresh meat and fish and local cheese.
Find out more about things to see and do in Loch Lomond and Clyde Sea Lochs.