Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park was established in 2002 as Scotland's first national park. It has an array of landscapes, including stunning mountains, woodlands, lochs & glens, and nature conservation sites with various wildlife.
Across this variety of scenery, the park is packed with attractive places to visit and things to do from hiking and kayaking to climbing and cycling. But there are also other (family-friendly) excursions such as adventure parks, historical and cultural attractions, small towns, farmers' markets, and whisky distillery tours.
The park is easy to reach from Glasgow and Edinburgh. As such, it is a popular getaway in Scotland for a couple of days of outdoor pursuits. Here is a 6-day trip from Glasgow with plenty of sportive activities to enjoy this scenic spot to the fullest!
Day 1 Heading off to Callander
This road trip starts in Glasgow with today's destination the old Highland town of Callander, a friendly little town nestled in an area of outstanding natural beauty. On the way - at only 20-30 minutes from Glasgow - you find two single malt distilleries: Auchentoshan Distillery and Glengoyne. Both offer tours of their premises and you can learn about the history and the process of making their whiskies. Of course, you can also have a tour with tastings of their (exclusive) single malts.
Continue your drive to Callander, a perfect home base for the following days.
In the afternoon, take from Callander the Three Loch Forest Drive in the direction of Aberfoyle. The drive is a 7-mile loop that goes through Queen Elizabeth Forest. Along the drive, you will pass three beautiful lochs – Loch Venachar, Loch Achray, and Loch Drunkie – offering small trails to discover the woodlands. Loch Drunkie is also a great spot for kayaking and canoeing! So if you have your own kayak, you can find a peaceful paddling spot here. Loch Venachar - stretching for 3.7 miles - offers stunning waterfronts and some small pebble beaches. You can as well go sailing. The Loch Venachar Sailing Club offers sailing classes, and you can find places nearby to rent canoes to explore the whole loch.
Day 2 Cycling around Aberfoyle and some more outdoor adventures
Today you can head to Aberfoyle, a charming village on the banks of the River Forth. It has an attractive main street, well served by shops, cafés, and restaurants, and an excellent bike shop for rentals! From the town center start many miles of cycling routes. For example, through the Loch Ard Forest. Here you will find the Loch Ard Family Sculpture Trail with some impressive sculptures and sound posts (featuring the sounds) of local animals.
Another tour you can make is the National Cycle Route 7 to Drymen, a stretch of 9 miles! The pretty village of Drymen is well worth exploring. There are excellent places to eat or drink, plus shops to stock up with supplies, perfect for a small break before returning to Aberfoyle.
Before returning - or as an alternative to biking - young and old can enjoy exciting hours in the Go Ape Treetop Adventure Park with high rope courses, obstacle challenges, and swings among the trees of Queen Elizabeth Forest.
Did you know that this park has the longest zipline in the UK?
Imagine zooming down the zipline and enjoying views of the waterfalls, hills, valleys, and Highlands. It is a perfect place for thrill-seekers and adventure lovers.
Day 3 Hiking Ben Ledi and relaxing at Loch Lubnaig
Just north of Callander on the main A84, you will find the signs to Strathyre Forest Cabins. From this car park starts the trail to Ben Ledi, the tallest mountain (2,884 feet) in this part of the Highlands. It's a popular hike, so try to come here early or later in the day to avoid crowds. The long ridge of Ben Ledi might look not too challenging but it has some steep climbs! The 6.2-mile loop takes about 4-6 hours but you will be granted incredible views.
After this strenuous exercise, you can relax at nearby Loch Lubnaig - one of the most beautiful lochs in the area, they say. It is a small but stunningly located stretch of freshwater nestling between the mountains of Ben Ledi and Benvane. Loch Lubnaig is famous for open-water swimmers. There is as well a fantastic picnic spot and some picturesque beaches to relax.
Day 4 Picnicking on Conic Hill and the first encounter with Loch Lomond
Today it is time to leave the first home base in Callander and go west to Loch Lomond, where the enchanting village of Balloch will be the base for discovering this alluring lake surrounded by charming villages and rolling countryside. However, we advise you to take a little detour toward Balmaha, a small village on the eastern shores of Loch Lomond. Just a 45-minute drive from Callander. Here starts an easy hike to Conic Hill. The walk only takes 2-3 hours (start following the path at the back of the public car park in Balmaha). It's a spectacular spot to make a picnic on a good sunny day. As you gaze over Loch Lomond and its islands, you have stunning views of Ben Lomond in the distance.
Continue the road to Balloch. Balloch is home to many sights such as Balloch Castle Country Park and Loch Lomond Aquarium. But there is as well a nice shopping complex, many quality places to eat and lots of events to suit everyone.
One thing you cannot miss is taking a cruise on Loch Lomond. Cruising provides a unique perspective on the tranquil waters, small islands, surrounding scenery, mountains, and wildlife. Sweeney's Cruise Co offers various cruises including an evening cruise where you can gaze at the sun set over Loch Lomond.
Day 5. Touring and actively exploring the western shores
The main A82 is following the western shores of Loch Lomond, and is ideal for a scenic road trip with many sportive activities to pursue! From Balloch, you drive in 15 minutes to the beautiful village of Luss. Luss has a long beach and has a variety of shops and places to eat and drink.
As you walk up Pier Road, you can see the lovely quaint cottages for which Luss is famous. Loch Lomond Leisure rents here SUPs and you can also join their guided tours. Another way to explore the water is by catching the waterbus that goes to the loch's islands, e.g. to the small island of Inchcailloch. This is an untouched island that even in high season is still calm. You can hike around the island in a couple of hours (in spring the island is covered with colorful bluebells).
From Luss, it is another short drive (just 10 minutes) to Tarbet. The village is about halfway up the loch and about 2 miles away from Loch Long. Tarbet is ideal for sailing, walking, climbing, and cycling. Also, The Arrochar Alps - a beautiful mountain area boasting some of Scotland's most visited Munros’ - are not far from Tarbet. For an easy (family) walk, you can choose the Tarbet Isle Walk - a 1.2-mile walk crossing through pine woods and oak woodland with excellent views over Loch Lomond and Tarbet. Alternatively, you can hit the Hidden Heritage Trail (3.5 miles), a circular walk between Arrochar and Tarbet.
Before driving back to Balloch, take a left in Tarbet to the famous "Rest and be Thankful" viewpoint. It is set at the notorious road A83, which goes almost 100 miles from Loch Lomond to Campbeltown, at the foot of the Kintyre peninsula. Travelers used to rest at the top and be thankful for reaching the highest point. It is more than worth taking ten minutes to stop and admire the truly magnificent scenery and beautiful views over Glen Croe valley and Ben Arthur.
Now, head back along the shores to Balloch, and enjoy the lively ambiance and town amenities. Don’t forget to try tasty Scottish seafood and have a walk at the Farmer’s & Craft Market (every weekend at Loch Lomond Shores).
Day 6 Going back to Glasgow
This is already the end of the tour, it is time to head back to Glasgow. From Balloch, the trip only takes about 50 minutes.
Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park have many more areas to explore. So, when you return for another long weekend or short holiday, be sure to try out other hikes, horseback rides, or some diving, waterskiing, and wakeboarding. And put as well the Falls of Dochart in Killin and Inchconnachan Island in Loch Lomond (where you can spot wallabies) on your bucket list.
Where to stay?
Loch Lomond offers a wealth of choices for accommodation from self-catering cottages, and country inns to exclusive resorts on the shores of the loch. You will find something that fits your taste and budget.