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Kilmarnock, sometimes known as Killie, is a town in Southwest Scotland in an area called East Ayrshire. Killie is known as the birthplace of the world-renowned whiskey brand Johnnie Walker, and is also the town most associated with the poetic works of a national bard of Scotland, Robert Burns. While there are many sites within town, driving around the lovely environs of Kilmarnock is an excellent way to experience this region as a whole.
Who to Book With
While it is possible to hire a vehicle on the ground from the car rental companies in Kilmarnock, it is best to find out about prices and deals available in town by checking online before arrival. Both Sixt and Enterprise operate in Kilmarnock. Sixt has an office in Low Glencaim Street, while Enterprise is located in Cambell Street near the Glenncairn Business Estate. An office of local car hire company Compass Self-Drive can also be found here.
Best Time to Go
The climate tends to remain cool and wet year-round in this region of Scotland. Summers are also fairly cool and rainy, while winters see a lot of snow. It’s the Atlantic weather influences the amount of precipitation in the area, so visitors are encouraged to visit anytime from spring to autumn, but also to prepare for rain.
Need to Know Essentials
Things to bring when collecting your car hire:
- A UK licence or an International Driving Permit
- A credit card (the same one indicated in the booking)
- A booking print-out
- A secondary proof of identity (with photo)
Kilmarnock is a provincial town, so the roads here see less vehicular traffic than in most other bigger towns and cities. This has been especially the case since the opening of new motorways. One example is the new M77 motorway that connects Kilmarnock north direct to Glasgow and the rest of Scotland. The route to Glasgow formerly ran along the A71 passing, through many towns before joining the M74, the main England to Scotland motorway.
Many major motorways make Kilmarnock accessible to the rest of Scotland and England. Driving to this town in the Scottish Southwest is therefore quite easy to do. Those travelling around the region can also take buses and trains, as Kilmarnock receives regular services for both modes of transport. Private taxi companies can also be booked online or by phone.
The Kilmarnock Railway Station is found in the town centre along Hill Street. Trains here are operated by the Glasgow South Western Line, and run from Glasgow south to Kilmarnock, continuing on to Stranraer via Ayr or to Carlisle via Dumfries. Trains to Glasgow from Kilmarnock leave every half hour on weekdays, but are less frequent on the weekend.
Private cab companies provide taxi services to both locals and tourists in Kilmarnock for travel within the town as well as to outlying destinations. Kilmarnock Taxis provides online booking, while many other taxi firms like Kilmarnock TOA Taxis can be booked with a simple phone call. A ride from Kilmarnock to Glasgow costs around £40, while the journey to Newton Mearns costs around £25.
Kilmarnock’s bus system is run by the Stagecoach Group. Buses run around many points in town, while some lines head out of Kilmarnock to other major destinations within Scotland, such as Glasgow, Irvine, Stewarton and Ayr. Other more remote far-flung towns can also be reached, as can Newcastle and Carlisle in England. The buses in town only provide services until 23:00, so prior arrangements should be made for night travel.
Kilmarnock provides a great vacation for those looking to escape city life. Driving here affords the motorist great countryside sceneries and stunning views. Within the area are a number of attractions well worth the visit. The museum to go to is the Dick Institute, the most important cultural establishment here. Dean Castle offers a glimpse into the history of the area, while those into golf can enjoy many daytrips from the city.
The Dick Institute - This is a museum and library, considered one of the important institutions for the culture and arts of Southwest Scotland. Opening in 1901, the establishment was a donation from Kilmarnock native James Dick. Works by Scottish artists and filmmakers, as well as natural history and archaeology artefacts, are contained within the institute.
Dean Castle Country Park - This is a beautiful area northeast of Kilmarnock town centre. It is home to Dean Castle, an impressively preserved 400-year-old mansion set in beautifully landscaped grounds. It was once the home of the Clan Boyd of Southern Scotland, and the structure is associated with many important historical events and people.
Golf Courses - These are unsurprisingly very popular in Scotland; it is in this country where the sport was born after all. Kilmarnock has a number of golf courses surrounding it, making for great daytrips from the city. Annanhill Golf Course and Caprington Golf Course are the nearest to the city centre.