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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 05 January, 2023
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

Scotland’s largest loch stretches for 24 watery miles of jaw-dropping scenic splendour – just a short hop from Glasgow.

Part of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park (Scotland’s first national park), and sprinkled with no fewer than 30 islands, Loch Lomond offers a one-stop shop for water-based outdoor activities from sailing to canoeing, kayaking to windsurfing and more leisurely cruises across the water.

On its eastern shore rises Ben Lomond, the country’s most southerly – and popular – Munro, soaring to a height of 3,176ft.

While you're there

Check out the romantic tree-tangled ruins of Buchanan Castle outside the village of Drymen. The ancestral seat of the Duke of Montrose, Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess was imprisoned here in 1941.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 6+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Having a car is handy to allow you to explore the area, but you can also catch the train from Glasgow to Balloch or take the bus; both journeys take around 45 minutes.

The crowds of daytrippers can be suffocating during the summer in the main centres such as Balloch, and the picture postcard village of Luss. Take an old wooden ferry from Balmaha Boatyard to Inchcailloch, an island in the middle of the loch, and leave the crowds behind.

Another place to escape the crowds is the Balloch Castle Country Park, 200 acres of walled gardens, ornamental woodland and a spectacular rhododendron display in spring with views out over the loch

After all that exploring, head for sustenance to the Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, a revamped 17th-century coaching inn and part of the Luss Estate. Most of the ingredients on the menu are sourced from the estate from the venison to the veg grown in the grounds.

When to do it

The summer months are of course the busiest and its proximity to Glasgow means that at weekends and during the July and August school holidays it’s hard to escape the crowds of daytrippers.

Try to visit midweek or in the spring or autumn. Even during the peak months, however, by taking a boat trip you can leave the hordes behind.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Cromlix Hotel

Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[41.9 miles]

Tennis superstar Andy Murray’s opulent Highland hotel has a gourmet restaurant, whisky room and tennis court in Wimbledon’s colours.

Official star rating:

Ardanaiseig Hotel

Taynuilt, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[43.6 miles]

Romantic Scottish country house hotel, complete with four-posters on the edge of a dreamy loch. Every activity you could crave is on your doorstep, from deer stalking to wildlife photography.

Official star rating:

Kilmartin Castle

Lochgilphead, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[55 miles]

A quirky 16th-century castle, complete with spiral staircases and stone-vaulted ceilings, converted into a bijou B&B in history-steeped Kilmartin Glen.

Official star rating:

The Gleneagles Hotel

Auchterarder , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[56.4 miles]

Scottish baronial style meets French chateau flair at this 5-star resort hotel, recreating the glamorous, extravagant luxury of the Roaring Twenties. Three immaculate golf courses, and plenty of activities to keep non-golfers happy.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands, United Kingdom (UK)

Magnificent mountain scenery slashed by silvery lochs and peppered with brooding castles: all laden with rich Scottish heritage, history and tradition.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Stirling Castle

Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[40.7 miles]

One of Scotland’s most dramatic and history-laden fortresses, hunkered into a volcanic crag. A real castle wow factor.

Best for ages: 8+ | £17


Ballachulish , Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)[70.2 miles]

A magnificent brooding glen that was the scene of Scotland’s bloodiest historic massacres – the slaying of the unarmed MacDonald Clan.

Best for ages: 13+ | £6