Located deep in the Scottish heartland, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is one of the most staggeringly beautiful parts of the country, with scenery that will take your breath away. The national park covers 720 square miles, and boasts wild mountain glens, flowing waterfalls, ancient woodlands, and glistening, fjord-like sea lochs. There’s also incredibly diverse wildlife to be found here, as well as charming towns – and just as many opportunities for rest and relaxation as for intrepid exploration.

If you’re looking to take a staycation this year, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is an ideal destination – and to get you inspired, here are six things to do while you’re here.

1. Go hiking

With 22 lochs, 21 munros (mountains over 3,000 feet), 20 corbetts (peaks between 2,500 and 3,000 feet), Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park is a walker’s paradise. And whether you’re an experienced hiker who likes a challenge or you prefer gentle walks at your own pace, the good news is that the park is crisscrossed with dozens of waymarked paths and long-distance hiking trails.

Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Britain, and many of the walks loop around this area, including the long-distance routes West Highland Way, Rob Roy Way, and The Three Lochs Way. Popular shorter walks include Ben A’an, a 2.4-mile walk up a hill from where you can enjoy gorgeous views of Loch Katrine and Loch Achray, and Bracklinn Falls, a three-mile circular walk hike where you can admire views of Ben Ledi and Ben Vorlich, as well as a beautiful waterfall.

If you fancy climbing a mountain during your time in Loch Lomond, you might want to think about tackling the Ben Lomond Mountain Path. Standing over 3,000 feet, this 7.7 mile trek is strenuous, but the views from the top are breathtaking – just remember to bring your camera! The most popular starting point for the Ben Lomond walk is the tiny village of Rowardennan, where there’s a car park, accommodation, and a pub where you can refuel after your mountain adventure. You can check out a selection of different walks over on the official Loch Lomond website.

Browse accommodation near Rowardennan

2. Hit the water

It would be a shame to visit the largest lake in Great Britain and not make the most of these deep blue waters – and the good news is that there are many ways you can do this at Loch Lomond… Even if you don’t fancy swimming (the water is clean but very, very cold!), kayaks, canoes, and SUPs are available to hire from many of the piers around Loch Lomond, and if you fancy something a little more exhilarating, then wakeboarding, windsurfing, and waterskiing are all pretty easy to arrange too.

One of the most popular ways to explore the beauty of this area is to take a sightseeing cruise. On Loch Lomond, the family-run Sweeney’s Cruises have been providing sightseeing cruises for more than a century, and they also offer private charter as well as a seasonal daily water-bus service. Another popular option here is to take a sightseeing cruise on the Maid of the Loch paddle steamer, though currently, cruises are still on hold due to lockdown restrictions.

Alternatively, you can visit Loch Katrine, the beautiful eight-mile lake that inspired Sir Walter Scott to write his poem The Lady of the Lake, and climb aboard the famous vintage steamship, Sir Walter Scott. Built in 1900, the ship was refurbished several years back and now runs on biofuel instead of coal, so this is an antique experience with an eco-friendly edge (although, the ship is currently waiting for a new boiler, so cruises aren’t running right now!). The cafe by the pier, The Steamship Cafe, is a great spot for a pre or post-cruise meal – and you can also get takeaway food if you fancy eating your food on the shores of the loch.

Browse accommodation near Loch Katrine

3. Visit Luss

One of the most famous places to visit in the Loch Lomond area is the picture-perfect village of Luss, which sits on the Western shore of Loch Lomond. This scenic conservation village has a pretty, sandy shoreline you can relax on, chocolate box-esque sandstone and slate cottages, characterful pubs,  lovely restaurants, and several quirky independent shops to explore. Be sure to walk along the end of the pier, where you can enjoy mesmerising views of Ben Lomond looming over Loch Lomond.

In the summer months Luss is especially beautiful, as the village comes alive with vibrant and colourful flower displays garlanding the houses – although with a setting this stunning, Luss is spectacular all throughout the year. In summer Luss can get busy, so if you fancy some respite from the crowds, you might want to visit the peaceful parish church, where you can admire the wooden ceiling, made from Scots pine rafters, and the beautiful Victorian stained-glass windows.

If you’d like to explore Luss from the water, you can hop on the Capercaille to enjoy a 90-minute circular island cruise. On this cruise you’ll learn all about the village’s history and travel around the surrounding islands, and you’ll probably be able to spot plenty of wildlife on route. If you’d like to do a spot of walking, the nearby Luss Hills are easily accessible from the village.

Browse accommodation near Luss

4. Visit a distillery

Scotland is known all around the world for its excellent whisky, and if you’re a fan of this honey-hued drink (or even if you’re not), then visiting a distillery makes a great day out, especially if the weather isn’t great. None of the whisky distillers are actually located inside the national park, but all are just a short drive away – and of course, if you’re just looking to taste the local whisky, you can do that at one of the many pubs in the area.

The best-known distillery is Glengoyne, which is located near the small, scenic village of Strathblane. Here you can take a guided tour of the distillery as the experts show you how whisky is made – from the mash tun and copper stills to the cask and bottle. You can also enjoy a tasting session, where you’ll learn about the bold, complex flavours of Scottish whiskies – and if you fancy taking some souvenirs home, the gift shop is packed with whisky-themed goodies. If you’re peckish after all your whisky tasting, there are several pubs, restaurants, and hotels in Strathblane.

Alternatively, Auchentoshan Distillery in Clydebank, and Deanston Distillery in Doune both offer whisky tours and tastings, as well as the chance to buy whisky to take home. If you’re more of a beer enthusiast than a whisky affectionada, you might want to try the two local brews – a beer or cider from Balmaha Brewing, which is brewed at the Oak Tree Inn, or beer from the family-run Loch Lomond Brewery, which is served throughout the Loch Lomond area.

Browse accommodation near Strathblane

5. Go wild camping

If you fancy feeling at one with nature, and really immersing yourself in the beauty of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, then why not try a spot of wild camping? Wild camping with a tent is legal in most of Scotland, and Loch Lomond is the perfect place to do it. Simply find a spot that draws you in and pitch up your tent for a night under the stars – although do be mindful not to camp in enclosed fields of crops or animals, and keep away from buildings or roads.

The joy of wild camping is the isolation: there’s no sea of noisy tents nearby, no dirty toilet blocks or revving cars or caravans. It’s the perfect escape and allows you to explore the national park in your own time – plus, pitching your tent on the edge of the forest, while the sun sinks behind the mountains, can make you feel like an intrepid explorer. It’ll certainly be an experience you won’t forget in a hurry! You can find out more about wild camping on the official Loch Lomond site.

If you like the idea of camping but aren’t sure about the ‘wild’ part, there are over 30 campsites located in the park, some of which are exclusive either for tents and campervans, and others that accommodate both.

Loch Chon is ideal for visitors who’d like to experience a more civilised version of wild camping; this campsite has widely spaced tents in the woods – but also flushing toilets. Other decent campsites include Cashel Campsite, on the eastern edge of Loch Lomond, Cobleland Campsite, inside Queen Elizabeth Forest Park, and Loch Katrine Eco Camping, where there’s a cafe, WiFi, bathrooms, and a place to rent bikes.

6. Visit Balloch

Loch Lomond and the Trossachs certainly aren’t short of delightful villages, but another one of the most popular is Balloch, which is located on the southwest shores of Loch Lomond. Often referred to as the gateway to Loch Lomond, Balloch has dozens of shops, pubs, restaurants, and hotels, so it makes a great base for anyone looking to explore the national park.

The village’s best known attraction is Balloch Castle Country Park, which has 200 acres of ornamental woodlands, open parklands, walled gardens, and tree avenues to explore. This is a site steeped in history; the old castle was built in 1238 and remained occupied until 1390 – although today, all that remains of the original building is the remains of the moat. The impressive gothic-style castle that stands was built in 1808.

Other than the country park, there’s plenty to see and do in Balloch. If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, or a delicious meal, then a visit to Loch Lomond Shores is a must. There are many excellent restaurants to dine at here, many of which offer spectacular loch views and have a focus on local food and ingredients. There’s also a popular farmer’s market here which takes place on the first and third Sunday of the month, and plenty of shops to browse in.

Browse accommodation near Balloch

Final thoughts…

With glistening lochs, mysterious forests, imposing mountains, and charming, historic villages, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs is a spectacularly beautiful location – and with so much space in the mountains and around the water, there are endless ways to explore the beauty of this park. If you’d like to get active on your holiday you can go hiking and swimming, or perhaps try your hand at some watersports – and if you’d like a more leisurely retreat you can enjoy cruises on the lochs, visit distilleries, and explore some of the lovely towns and villages in this area.

And if you just want to get away from it all and feel as though you’re alone in the wild, you couldn’t find a more perfect spot to experience the unique and quiet solitude of wild camping.