Most people that go to Ardrossan are only transiting through to get to the Isle of Arran.
From the south, the A78 now by-passes Irvine, Stevenston and Saltcoats so Ardrossan is a lot easier to get to. A recommended route avoiding the traffic lights is to stay on the bypass until you pass Ardrossan, turn left and then turn right at a public toilet, following the coast. Stay on this road and then turn right at the crossroads at Princes Street.
From Glasgow, the M8 takes you to Glasgow Airport and at the Airport, the A737 signposted Irvine and going through Dalry is the best route.
Even though the bypass has been built, the main roads around the town centre can be clogged with ferry traffic, especially in the summer, so watch out. Extensive long term parking is available at the Harbour.
A variety of bus services run here from all over the area.
Good train service from Glasgow, with stops at all of the town's 3 railway stations - Ardrossan South Beach, Ardrossan Town and Ardrossan Harbour.
Trains from Glasgow usually depart at quarter to the hour and quarter past but this changes at peak times. Trains leaving at quarter to the hour will only stop at Ardrossan South Beach and continue on to Largs whereas trains leaving at quarter past will carry straight on to Ardrossan Town and Ardrossan Harbour.
If you are looking to only go as far as South Beach then Largs trains at quarter to the hour are faster as these stop at fewer stations.
As of January 2009 at least one of the signs at South Beach station is full of bullet holes...it is wise to alight from trains as near to the front as possible as this will mean you step off directly at the station building and exit. It is not unknown for underisable youths to congregate at the station and hassle travellers.
From the harbour, you can catch the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, MV Caledonian Isles, to the Isle of Arran. This leaves several times a day and there are trains from Glasgow Central that connect with these sailings. The journey time is around 50 minutes though this can change depending on the weather conditions.
In Summer (June to August) an additional ship is used for the route, to date this has always been the MV Saturn. It is a smaller ship and the sailing time is around 1 hour 5 minutes, train services do not specifically connect with its sailings.
For private vessels and pleasure cruisers there is the Clyde Marina at Ardrossan Harbour which offers superb shelter from the elements and competitive rates. As well as this it is also situated next to the best restaurant in town and a large ASDA supermarket.
The nearest airport is Prestwick International Airport. This is less than an hour away by bus and there is a train station with a change at Kilwinning station required to reach Ardrossan.
Also convenient is Glasgow International Airport. There is a rail link being built which would take travellers to Paisley Gilmour Street Station where an Ardrossan/Largs train could be taken to Ardrossan.
Walking is probably all that is required to see the town, it is not huge and above the High Road/Parkhouse Road there is little of interest to tourists.
There are plenty of local buses should walking be impossible e.g. due to the often atrocious weather.
There is a distinct lack of shops in Ardrossan as neighbouring Saltcoats has the larger retail area. There are two streets in the town with shops however, as well as the ASDA superstore.
ASDA - Wait until 3.30PM for the cheap out of date items (you can't miss it as there are always about 15 to 20 folk waiting to grab the 'almost out of date' bargains).
There are a few establishments in which to remedy a dry throat in Ardrossan, some less reputable than others. These are...
The Red Herring
The Laurieston Hotel
Free internet access at the Ardrossan Library where there are pleasant, foreigner-tolerant librarians.
The Harbour where a free wifi internet connection is set up.
There are several public phone booths in the centre of town.
Several postboxes around town and a Post Office in neighbouring Saltcoats.
This will probably be your favoured option after the local yobs, coupled with the bad weather, take their toll.
To summarise, there are 6 roads out of the town, the train to Glasgow and the ferry to the Isle of Arran. Watch for riff-raff getting on/off the train at Stevenston - it is appallingly common to see scruffy, dirty hoodlums (both old and young) dodging the ticket inspector and causing a general ruckus.