Straddling the boundary between the Scottish Highlands and the lowlands, Loch Lomond’s rare beauty and sheer vastness draws many visitors to its shores. But once you’re there, what is there to do? Here’s our guide to what to see, do and eat in Loch Lomond.
Loch Lomond is the largest loch in Scotland and also one of the most accessible. From Glasgow city centre it’s only a 50-minute train ride to Balloch, the little town on the loch’s southern shore.
Here’s more about how to get to and explore Loch Lomond without a car.
From Balloch train station, it’s a short walk up the street to the shores of Loch Lomond. The loch boasts the largest surface area of any of the Scottish lochs.
And this of course creates a problem.
At over 36km long and up to 8km wide, there’s no way you could see much of Loch Lomond in a day. Thankfully, Balloch has stepped up and is the key to the loch – semi-pun intended. The town showcases many of Loch Lomond’s best features and makes them accessible through a variety of services and routes.
Thanks to Balloch, this part of Loch Lomond feels less like a stretch of untamed wilderness and more like an inland beach. On the hot day we were there, the stony shores were packed with bathers and the parklands were full of barbecues. The water itself was host to sailing and motor boats, jet skis and even a few brave swimmers.
Lomond is a beautiful place to visit with plenty of things to do and see. And Balloch supplies dining and entertainment options away from the water too.
What to see and do at Loch Lomond
Your first stop once you get off the train at Balloch should be the visitors’ centre. The staff there are incredibly helpful and patient, and can direct you towards the popular things to see and do. They can also recommend lunch and dinner spots, of which there are quite a few.
We were lucky enough to have a warm sunny day on our visit to Loch Lomond, so we walked through the park to Balloch Castle, which looks out over Loch Lomond. Unfortunately, the castle is closed to the public, but even the views from its doors are pretty spectacular.
This 19th Century castle is surrounded by beautiful parklands and ornamental gardens. In fact, make sure you stop by the Walled Garden on the way to the castle. The walk downhill towards the shore is quite steep but a quick way to get to the waterfront.
The shores of Loch Lomond
The loch is incredibly popular with locals and visitors alike – especially when the sun’s out. There are plenty of activities on and beside the water. It was lovely to see the loch being enjoyed by so many, and – from the voices we heard – most of them were Scots.
From the slope down to the shores of Loch Lomond, you can walk all the way back to Balloch. The gravelly track passes several beaches on the loch with lovely views out across the water. If you have the opportunity weather-wise, definitely go this way back to town.
We walked back to Balloch then followed the track round all the way to the Maid of the Loch, an old paddle steamer that’s now permanently moored at the loch’s pier. This piece of local history is worth seeing – especially if there’s an event on.
Local attractions and facilities
If you wish to go out on the water, there are boat trips (Sweeney’s Cruises) that go from the ferry landing hourly at peak times. There are also private boat hire options if you want to explore further into the loch by yourself.
Where to eat and drink in Loch Lomond and Balloch
There are plenty of places to find refreshments at the loch and around town.
The Balloch House – recommended by the friendly lady at the tourist information desk, this 18th Century inn right on the water is a homely retreat to enjoy pub favourites like schnitzel parmigiana and a good ol’ roast. Its low wooden-beamed ceilings, open fire and little rooms create a homely atmosphere. And the kitchen does great food.
The Dog House – dog (and people) friendly, this little corner pub exactly mirrors the fun and welcoming Scottish hospitality we were expecting.
The Lomond Park Hotel – for a down-to-earth local beer and the banta, this is the place to be. Close to town and away from the tourists – it’s a lot of fun.
Lomond Fish Bar – on the road to the train station, this excellent example of a Scottish chippy is perfect for a quick supper before your train ride home. With the promise of square sausage, deep fried pizza (or even better, Pizza Crunch, where the pizza’s battered!) and really good chips, you can’t go wrong here.
Of course, there’s more than a day’s fun to be had here in Baloch and Loch Lomond, but if you only have the day, it’s certainly worth the trip. If you have more time, there are lots of guest houses, inns and BnBs to stay in so that you can enjoy the loch by night.
Do you have any tips for visiting Loch Lomond or any of the other lochs in Scotland? Where’s your favourite place in Scotland to get that Gaelic vibe? Tell us in the comments.