Straddling both the Scottish Highlands and the Lowlands, this island-studded loch boasts the largest surface area of any of Scotland’s lakes. It’s also one of its most famous, thanks in no small part to a well-known Scottish folk song that speaks of its “bonnie banks.” The lake’s mirror-clear waters reflect the crags and peaks that rear up around it, most notably the 3,195-foot (974-meter) Ben Lomond on its eastern shore, whose summit offers views of both Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.
Loch Lomond is commonly visited on day tours from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and the cruise port of Greenock, with many tours and day trips also stopping in nearby destinations such as Oban, Inveraray, Loch Ness, Loch Awe, Stirling Castle, and the William Wallace Monument. While you can drive, walk, or cycle around the loch’s shores, it’s most rewarding to go out on the water itself. Rent kayaks or canoes, or book tickets on a cruise from Tarbet to see the wild scenery of the north shores of the loch.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wheelchair- and stroller-friendly trails can be found along the shores of Loch Lomond.
- In winter, the hills and mountains become icy and snowy, and should only be tackled by those with sufficient mountaineering experience.
- Scotland is known for its notoriously changeable weather; bring layers and be prepared for sunshine one minute and rain the next.
- Bring insect repellent to fend off midges (gnats).
How to Get There
With its southern tip just 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Glasgow, Loch Lomond is an easily accessible wilderness. The main access points are Balloch on the south shore and Luss on the west shore. From Glasgow Queen Street, ScotRail runs a direct, 50-minute train service to Balloch and another route to Arrochar and Tarbet, about a 15-minute walk from Tarbet. Driving to Balloch takes just 35 minutes from Glasgow and about 90 minutes from Edinburgh. Tour typically include round-trip transport from Glasgow and Edinburgh.
When to Get There
Loch Lomond has year-round appeal. Spring is wildflower season, autumn brings fantastic fall foliage, and winter promises snow-dusted mountain vistas. Despite seeing the most visitors, summer is probably the best option weather-wise. The vast size of the lake and the national park means the area rarely feels crowded.
Island-Hopping in Loch Lomond
Loch Lomond features more than 30 islands. Among the largest of them is Inchmurrin, home to the ruins of the 14th-century Lennox Castle. North of Inchmurrin is Inchcailloch, an easily accessible island with a 13th-century church and several attractive woodland walking trails.