Continuing on our two week road trip of Scotland, we ventured west towards Loch Lomond and the Trossachs after two days exploring Falkirk (for the Kelpies) and the city of Stirling. Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is perfect for nature lovers. We quickly discovered that one day was not enough to explore the region. However, if you’re embarking on a lengthy Scotland road trip and you only have a limited amount of time in the area, here’s our guide to the ideal Loch Lomond day trip.
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Why Visit Loch Lomond and the Trossachs?
Where is Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, and why would anyone want to travel there? Loch Lomond is the biggest lake in all of Britain, and certainly one of the most beautiful bodies of water in the country. The word, “Trossachs”, refers to this area that’s thought to be the Scottish Highlands in miniature form. It’s all of the sleepy villages, enchanting forests, and twinkling lochs west of Stirling and east of Loch Lomond.
For those spending a longer amount of time in Scotland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is home to 21 Munros (Scottish mountains). You’ll have many opportunities to do some “munro bagging” by hiking all of them. The easiest Munros to hike on any Loch Lomond day trip are: Ben Lui, Ben Lomond, Beinn Narnain, Beinn Ime, and Ben Vorlich.
Loch Lomond Day Trip Itinerary
Deciding to spend one day in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park? There are so many things to do in Loch Lomond that you’ll be hard pressed to fit it all into one day. We had an absolutely wonderful time in the region and I can’t wait to return to explore more of it.
Here’s exactly how to plan your day trip to Loch Lomond if you’re driving over from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, or any other nearby location in Scotland. We drove to Loch Lomond from Stirling and the small town of Callander was our home base. After spending the night in Callander, we continued west, hitting up more places in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs on our way to Oban and Glencoe.
I realize that Doune Castle isn’t technically within Loch Lomond and the Trossachs. It’s a great pit stop on your way towards Callander and the national park. We started our day in Stirling and ventured towards Doune Castle before visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Doune Castle was the home of Robert Stewart, the 1st Duke of Albany and Governor of Scotland.
You might recognize Doune Castle from several popular filming sites. It’s featured in Game of Thrones, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and Outlander (as Castle Leoch). Actor/director Terry Jones provides the commentary for the audio tour of Doune Castle, while interweaving stories from the film set of the Holy Grail.
We really enjoyed wandering around the ruins of Doune Castle. You can tour the impressive great hall, the kitchen tower, and the upper chambers of the castle. You’ll have to use your imagination to envision what the castle looked like back in the day.
Doune Castle is included in the Historic Scotland Explorer Pass, which provides you access to numerous historic sites. The most popular attractions include Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, Iona Abbey, and Fort George, among many others.
There are also several day trips that incorporate Doune Castle as part of the tour. You can take an Outlander Tour from Edinburgh that stops at Doune Castle, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace and more. There’s also this fabulous West Highlands Tour of Lochs and Castles from Edinburgh, featuring stops in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
Lunch in Callander
We dined at a really cute spot called Campbell’s Taste of the Trossachs in Callander. Unfortunately, that restaurant has since closed down. However, there’s another establishment in Callander called Deli Ecosse that was on our list that I suggest you check out. They’ve got quite a few vegan meals in addition to typical omnivore selections. Deli Ecosse reportedly has vegan haggis, a vegan cheese toastie, a veg minestrone soup, vegan cakes, and plant-based milks for coffee.
Loch Venachar and Loch Katrine
From Callander, we drove on the A821 heading west towards Loch Katrine. On the way, we enjoyed marvelous views of Loch Venachar from the car. There are some places along the side of the road to pull over, so you can get out of the car to soak up the scenery.
After witnessing the beauty of Loch Venachar, we continued on until we reached Loch Katrine. By the time we arrived in the afternoon, the car park was empty and all was quiet. We walked around the harbor for a short while to admire the views. If you’d like to explore more of Loch Katrine, you can take a Loch Cruise on board the modern cruiser, Lady of the Lake or the steamboat, Sir Walter Scott. Both boats have heated indoor areas so you can stay comfortable, even in chilly weather.
Scenic Drive on Duke’s Pass
The owners of the accommodation where we stayed tipped us off to Duke’s Pass. We asked for some scenic areas nearby, and they told us that it’s one of the most beautiful drives in the region. They were right! From Loch Katrine, Justin and I drove down the winding road that is Duke’s Pass and were in awe of all of the sweeping views that awaited us.
There aren’t too many places to pull off to the side of the road here as it’s a relatively narrow pass. We managed to find one spot where I hopped out to snap a few pictures. Even still, this might be one where you slowly drive down the road and marvel at the scenery all around. Don’t stop your car on the road or put yourself into any dangerous situations.
Balloch Castle and Country Park
Next, it was time to visit Loch Lomond itself. The Balloch Castle and Country Park is a charming area of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and perfect to add to your Loch Lomond day trip itinerary. It’s Loch Lomond’s only country park and it has an interesting feature: Balloch Castle.
The country park was established in the 19th century, but didn’t become officially recognized until 1980. The castle and the park were organized and built by John Buchanan of the Glasgow Ship Bank. Balloch Castle and Country Park has 200 acres of paths, forest, wetlands, and open green space. I loved walking along the lake and exploring the gardens where many flowers were in bloom. There’s also a small Fairy Trail around the property that makes use of the tree stumps of trees that had to be cut down.
The castle itself was built in 1800, although it lies abandoned today. It was once purposed as the headquarters for the Countryside Ranger Service. Even though you can’t go inside the castle, it’s a lovely landmark to admire on the property.
Balloch Country Park is the only registered historic designed landscape in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. The layout of the park remains largely unchanged for over 200 years. For those looking to explore the park in some detail, check out this pamphlet with more information about the gardens and the grounds.
Dinner at Queen of the Loch Pub
We stayed in the town of Balloch for dinner and found an interesting dining experience at the Queen of the Loch. The pub welcomes larger groups, guests of its 27 room hotel, and any visitors to the area. Dogs are allowed in the restaurant and we saw several pups laying on the floor by their owners. It’s great if you’re traveling with your dog and want to dine out. There are also a couple of play areas, both indoors and outdoors, for the kiddos to run around before their meal.
It’s not a traditional restaurant where a server greets you at your table and takes your order. Instead, choose your meals and order up at the front bar. Then, a server will bring your meals out to you. We were drawn to dine at the restaurant because they had a few vegan dishes on the menu. The vegan options (and items that can be prepared vegan) are clearly marked.
You can choose from: cauliflower wings, beer battered onion rings, cauli wings salad, the Moving Mountains burger, a mushroom Bourguignon pie, an aubergine bake, and a whole bunch of side dishes. We weren’t starving, so we simply ordered some cauliflower wings and a small plate of nachos with guacamole.
We were most impressed by their vegan dessert selection. Choose from apple pie, vegan ice cream, raspberry jam donut pudding, and a praline chocolate tart. I couldn’t resist ordering the praline chocolate tart. We ordered it with a scoop of the vegan ice cream. Shortly after, the staff members told us that they were actually all out of vegan ice cream. But, to make it up to us, they gave us a second chocolate tart! We thought that was so nice of them and fabulous customer service that went above and beyond.
Stay at Abbotsford Lodge
Abbotsford Lodge is one of the best places to stay in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Callander is an ideal home base for your travels when spending one day in Loch Lomond. It’s a charming small town with cozy cafes and nearby natural attractions like waterfalls and hiking trails. After a day of exploring the national park and other local gems, Abbotsford Lodge is one of the best hotels in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs to rest and relax.
The rooms are incredibly spacious and tastefully decorated. The tartan curtains and the woodsy wallpaper evoked the atmosphere and vibes of Scotland. Abbotsford Lodge is a quiet accommodation in a peaceful area of town where you’ll enjoy a restful night’s sleep. In the morning, the Scottish buffet breakfast was delicious. Plus, for my vegan friends out there, make a request for vegan haggis. The owner, Dina, whipped up a delicious plate of vegan haggis that I really loved!
You can book your stay at Abbotsford Lodge, read my full review of the property, and read more reviews by travelers who have spent the night. I highly recommend staying at this delightful lodge that has the personal touches of a B&B and the amenities of a comfortable hotel.
More Things to Do in Loch Lomond
After waking up at Abbotsford Lodge and enjoying a delicious Scottish breakfast, it was time to embark on a morning hike. There are lots of things to do near Loch Lomond, and many of them are right on your doorstep in Callander.
From Abbotsford Lodge, it’s possible to walk to Callander Crags and Bracklinn Falls. It was a beautiful day outside, so I decided to walk up to Bracklinn Falls (takes about 30 minutes from Abbotsford Lodge). You can also drive up to Bracklinn Falls as there is a car park at the path to the waterfall.
Bracklinn Falls in Callander
From the car park, it’s only a short walk to Bracklinn Falls and the Bracklinn Falls Bridge. Walk down the main path and through the woods. You’ll start to hear the sounds of rushing waters in the distance as you approach the waterfall. Before long, you’ll see a unique bridge over the river with views of the cascading water from the bridge itself.
The original iron bridge, built for a visit from Queen Victoria in the 1870s, was completely destroyed by a flood in 2004. In 2010, this striking wooden structure replaced the original bridge. If you decide to keep walking, the path does eventually loop back around to the car park (5.25km hike in total, taking about 1.5 hours). As I had already walked for a half hour, I turned around and headed back to the hotel.
Hike at Callander Crags
On my way to Bracklinn Falls, I noticed the entrance to another hike called Callander Crags. It’s a 4km hike through the forest, and some of the hike is uphill. Eventually, you’ll reach a lookout point for wonderful views of Callander from up above. The entire hike is another 1.5 – 2 hours in total.
Falls of Falloch
Before leaving Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Justin and I stopped at one of the most beautiful natural places in the area, the Falls of Falloch. It’s one of those spaces that offers a big payoff for very little work. There is a small car park at the Falls of Falloch. Walk down a gently worn and well marked path a very short distance to the waterfall.
The River Falloch drops off the edge of a cliff, forming a 10 meter (30 foot) cascading waterfall. There’s a large pool at the base of the waterfall, although I’d think that it’s a little too cold for swimming!
There’s an interactive sculpture at the Falls of Falloch called Woven Sound. This art installation by John Kennedy is a lengthy tunnel of woven steel rods. Walk through the sculpture to view the Falls of Falloch from another angle. At the viewpoint, there’s an etching of a diary entry by Dorothy Wordsworth that pays tribute to the writers and artists who were inspired by the waterfall in the early 19th century.
Take a Loch Lomond Tour
Don’t feel like driving yourself around? There are lots of amazing tours that you can take with local guides that will show you exactly what to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs.
This tour of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park will take you on a walk through the countryside, a visit to waterfalls and glens, and your guide will point out native wildlife. It includes round trip transportation, snacks, and refreshments.
You can also book this day trip to Loch Lomond from Glasgow or this day trip to Loch Lomond from Edinburgh, depending on where you’re staying. They both include Stirling Castle as a point of interest, too.
Loch Lomond Itinerary Map
Here’s our entire Loch Lomond itinerary displayed visually on a map. It will show you exactly where we visited on our journey through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. This map shows you what to do in Loch Lomond in some detail.
|Essential Scotland Travel Guide|
|Getting There: Scotland has several international airports, and you’ll likely fly into Glasgow, Edinburgh or Inverness. We were able to find cheap flights to Glasgow. The national airline of the United Kingdom is British Airways. |
Getting Around: I highly recommend renting a car in Scotland, even if you aren’t used to driving on the left. You will have the freedom to explore at your own pace and go everywhere you want, whenever you want. I recommend comparing car rental prices for the best rate. If you aren’t comfortable with driving, I suggest looking into small group tours in Scotland to get around.
Fast Facts: GBP Pound is the currency. Power voltage is 230 V 50 Hz using Power Sockets G.
SIM Cards & Mobile: First, you can rent a portable Wi-Fi device with unlimited data that works in 130+ countries worldwide. We’ve used our portable device all over the world and love how we’re always connected! The second low cost option is purchasing a SIM card and data from the cell phone provider, Three. You can actually purchase a Three SIM card and data online in advance and it will work immediately upon landing in Ireland.
Travel Safety: Don’t forget to get travel insurance before your trip. Whether you have an accident, have a flight delay, experience a theft, or need to return home sooner than anticipated, it’s always best to cover your bases. Get a travel insurance quote now for the best rates.
And it’s Scotland…so don’t forget your rain jacket and umbrella!
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