Cairnryan

Scotland, United Kingdom

Cairnryan is a village in the historical county of Wigtownshire in Scotland. Lying on the eastern shore of Loch Ryan, the village port connects Scotland with Northern Ireland by sea. On Ferryhopper, you can check available ferry routes from/to the port of Cairnryan, find tips for your holiday in the village, and book your tickets online in just a few steps!

Read our suggestions for your stay in Cairnryan and find useful information about the Scottish port:

The seaside village of Cairnryan by Loch Ryan, Wigtownshire. Scotland

The quaint seaside village of Cairnryan by Loch Ryan

Cairnryan ferry port

Located in the south of the Scottish west coast, Cairnryan actually has 2 ports. They are both located near the town of Stranraer, in the area of Dumfries and Galloway, and are an important link to Northern Ireland.

More specifically, in Cairnryan there is:

  • The Loch Ryan Port is operated by Stena Line, linking Cairnryan to the port of Belfast
  • The Cairnryan Port is operated by P&O Ferries, connecting the village with the port of Larne

The Loch Ryan ferry terminal was built in 2011 and has modern amenities: there is a café, a departure lounge, baby changing facilities, as well as toilets for disabled people. Passengers also have access to free Wi-Fi and to a large parking lot that is available at the terminal building for both a short or a long stay.

Ferries from Cairnryan port: schedules and tickets

The port of Cairnryan in southwestern Scotland is an important gateway to Northern Ireland. It is connected to 2 Irish destinations: the city of Belfast and the town of Larne.

Ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast

The Cairnryan - Belfast ferry connection is served up to 6 times daily all year round. The route is operated by the Stena Line ferry company. The ferry trip lasts about 2.5 hours and tickets start at around €42.

Ferry from Cairnryan to Larne

Ferries from Cairnryan to Larne run with up to 6 crossings a day. The connection is served by P&O Ferries. The ferry ride takes 2 hours and ticket prices start at around €29.

Where is the ferry port in Cairnryan?

The Cairnryan ferry port is 8 km north of Stranraer town on the A77 (South West Scotland). Both Cairnryan ferry terminals are about a 5-minute drive from the Cairnryan village center.

How to get to Cairnryan port?

You can reach the Cairnryan ferry port by car:

  • from Glasgow via the M77 and A77 
  • from Edinburgh via the A71 and A77
  • from Carlisle in North-England via the A75 and A77

If you want to get there by train, the nearest railway station to Cairnryan ferry port is Stranraer Railway Station, which is around 6.5 km from Cairnryan Port and 12 km from Loch Ryan Port.

The Loch Ryan Port (Stena Line) is around 15 minutes on foot from the center of Cairnryan, but you can also reach it easily with bus 360. The Cairnryan Port (P&O Ferries) is about 25 minutes on foot from the village.

Sunset in Wig Bay on Loch Ryan, Stranraer, Scotland

Mesmerizing sunset in Wig Bay on Loch Ryan, near Stranraer

Holidays in Cairnryan

Located on Scotland’s west coast, the small village of Cairnryan is more popular for its port than as a tourist destination. It has a population of less than 150 inhabitants, but is a pretty modern British settlement.

Cairnryan itself might not be the holiday destination you have been dreaming of, but there are several things to see and do in the surrounding area and within the county of Dumfries and Galloway. This part of lowland Scotland has an incredible coastline with sandy beaches, as well as large forest and lush-green areas, all perfect for outdoor activities lovers.

How to get to Cairnryan

Cairnryan mainly stretches along the coastal A77 road, and you can easily reach it by car. The village is well linked to Scotland’s road network and its roads are well maintained. The nearest railway station is located in the nearby town of Stranraer, and is about a ten-minute walk from the bus station to Cairnryan.

You can also reach Cairnryan by sea from 2 ports in Northern Ireland: Belfast and Lorne. Find out more about how to get to Cairnryan from Ireland, Glasgow, Edinburg, and other places in the UK above.

What to do in Cairnryan

Cairnryan is a small village with a proud maritime history but limited things to do. It has a local shop and a few B&Bs. Most travelers arrive there to get a ferry to Northern Ireland from the Cairnryan port. If, however, the place charms you, you can use it as a starting point to explore more of the treasures of the Dumfries and Galloway area in lowland Scotland.

Sightseeing and activities in Cairnryan

The village of Cairnryan combines a beautiful coastal scenery and a lush-green forest in the background. The location is ideal for nature lovers and the place’s tranquility and authentic vibe offers the opportunity to find peace of mind and recharge your batteries.

Should you find yourself earlier than expected for your ferry, or if you decide to stay in the charming little Cairnryan or the neighboring Stranraer a little longer, there are some beautiful attractions to discover:

  • Snib’s Cave
  • Ardwell Gardens
  • Castle of St. John
  • Ryan Centre Theatre

If you are a golf fan, there are several golf clubs in the broader area, including the Stranraer Golf Club. The Stranraer Leisure Centre also offers several activities facilities, such as a pool and a games hall. Moreover, we strongly recommend exploring the coastal and inland area around Stranraer and Cairnryan by bike. This way, you will be able to get the best views of Scotland’s natural treasures.

Oystercatchers flying over Loch Ryan near Stranraer, Scotland

The fascinating wildlife in Loch Ryan near Stranraer

Nightlife in Cairnryan

There are but a couple of bars and pubs in the village of Cairnryan, such as Thistle heights, while some bed and breakfasts have their own pubs, e.g. The Merchant’s House. There is also one coffee shop at the P&O ferry terminal.

For more nightlife options, you can head to the nearby Stranraer, where you can find several pubs, bars and clubs. There are also places where you can enjoy live folk music while drinking local ale.

Food in Cairnryan

Restaurant options in Cairnryan are very limited, so it’s best to head to the neighboring town of Stranraer for a good meal. There, you will find several restaurant options, from fresh local dishes to international cuisine, such as Italian, Indian, etc. Henry’s Bay House and The Fig and Olive are some of the area favorites.

We strongly recommend trying some Dumfries and Galloway delicacies, like:

  • Stranraer’s Seriously Strong Cheddar
  • Cairnsmore cheese from Wigtown
  • Ecclefechan Butter Tart

You will also find good places to eat in the towns of Portpatrick and Sandhead.

Tree trunks in the water in the Loch Ryan sea loch, Scotland

Stunning scenery with tree trunks in the water in Loch Ryan

Useful information about Cairnryan

Cairnryan is a modern but small Scottish settlement with only a few permanent residents. However, the village receives many visitors daily thanks to its important ferry port, which is a gateway to Northern Ireland from the UK.

As for accommodation, there are several options for travelers who want to spend the night in the area before catching the ferry to Ireland or wish to stay a few days there and explore the hidden gems of Scotland. There are some bed and breakfasts, a guesthouse (Rhins of Galloway), a caravan holiday home (Cairnryan Caravan Park), as well as self-catering accommodation (Little Laight). You can also find more options in the bigger towns of Stranraer and Portpatrick.

Important phone numbers for your stay in Cairnryan

Here are some useful contacts for your trip to Cairnryan:

  • Loch Ryan Port (Stena Line Cairnryan): +443447707070
  • Cairnryan Ferry Terminal (P&O Ferries Cairnryan): +441304448888
  • Cairnryan Police: +441786289070
  • Cairnryan Health Center: +441776743932
  • Cairnryan veterinarian: +441776703131
  • Cairnryan pharmacy: +441776702851
  • Cainryan taxi services: +441776705555
  • Tourist Office of Cairnryan: +441776702595

Transportation in Cairnryan

It is perfectly possible to reach Cairnryan and its ferry port by public transportation. However, if you are looking to fully explore the wider Wigtownshire region, it is best to bring your own vehicle.

The bus network is actually very good, and connects even the smallest of settlements in the area. However, bus routes are limited to a couple of services per day, meaning you might have to wait a lot to reach your next destination.

Boats at the harbor of Portpatrick town in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

The quaint seaside town and harbor of Portpatrick in Wigtownshire

Where to book Cairnryan ferry tickets online

On Ferryhopper, you can find all about ferry routes from/to Cairnryan in Scotland, UK. Compare prices, timetables and companies, and book ferry tickets to Cairnryan online, at no extra cost.

Frequent ferry connections

Cairnryan has direct ferry connections with 2 ports :

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