Balloch is well-known as the gateway to Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Certainly, most first-time visitors to the famous Loch Lomond will visit the gateway village. In particular, the village is the most popular place to do a Loch Lomond cruise. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about visiting this charming lochside village. This will include information about the best things to do as well as logistics such as how to get there and where to stay. With this in mind, we’ll include details about the best hotels in and near Balloch.
A Loch Lomond cruise is a must-do during your visit to Balloch.
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Visit Balloch on Loch Lomond
Balloch is one of the most-visited villages located on the spectacular Loch Lomond. Certainly, being the gateway to Loch Lomond and the wider national park, Balloch sees many visitors. By reading this guide, you’ll learn about all of the best things to do during a visit. Once you’ve got your list of activities sorted, you can then read the helpful information about logistics, to help plan your entire itinerary. We’ll even include details about accommodation, reviewing all of the best Balloch hotel options.
But, first, where exactly is this village located?
Where Is Balloch?
The village is located in Alexandria and falls under the West Dunbartonshire Council. It’s beautifully positioned on the southern shores of Loch Lomond. To help get your bearings, please click on the image below to access an interactive map of the area.
Plan Your Visit: Things to Do In Balloch
There are plenty of amazing things to do in and around the village. Let’s start with the Balloch Castle Country Park.
Balloch Castle Country Park
The country park, which is also known as the Balloch Country Park, is a beautiful 200 acre lochside park. Of course, the main attraction is Balloch Castle. Unfortunately, the castle is closed with much-needed interior repairs required. But, the castle is certainly still worth visiting as the outer walls remain intact. Whilst, you’ll enjoy stellar views of Loch Lomond from the castle’s impressive vantage point.
Otherwise, the county park is worth visiting in its own right. It features pristine gardens such as the Walled Garden, Chinese Gardens and Secret Garden. Whilst, Fairy Glen and the Waterside Way are lovely trails to follow in the country park. There are also opportunities to swim in Loch Lomond from the shores of the park.
Of course, visiting Balloch goes hand in hand with visiting the well-known Loch Lomond. As mentioned, you’ll enjoy stellar views of the loch from the country park. But, you’ll definitely want to explore more of the loch. And, there’s no better way to do that than by doing a Loch Lomond cruise.
Loch Lomond Cruises: Sweeney’s Cruises
Certainly, a cruise on Loch Lomond is a quintessential thing to do whilst visiting Balloch. There are many excellent Loch Lomond cruises departing the village. Indeed, Balloch is one of the most popular places to do a Loch Lomond cruise.
The most highly-rated Loch Lomond cruise is hands-down the Experience Cruise (AKA the Sightseeing Cruise). It’s a short one hour cruise that takes in all of the major attractions around the southern end of Loch Lomond. This narrated circular cruise is the best option if you’ve got a busy itinerary or just want a taste test of a cruising experience. Personally, Beck and I did the Experience Cruise and absolutely loved it. We booked this tour on GetYourGuide using this link. Given the boat trip’s popularity, you’ll find plenty of daily departures.
Also departing Balloch, the Island Discovery Tour is a two hour Loch Lomond cruise exploring more of the world-famous loch. In particular, you’ll see more of the small islands found in Loch Lomond – an area known as the ‘The Narrow’. Otherwise, if you enjoy photography or want a more romantic experience, you should consider the 90 minute Loch Lomond Evening Cruise.
FYI – Sweeney’s Cruise Co. Loch Lomond is the only company running Loch Lomond boat cruises from Balloch.
Loch Lomond is the source of River Leven from the north. The 10km long river flows through Balloch eventually meeting River Clyde to the south. River Leven is where all of the boats and cruises are docked. Indeed, your Loch Lomond cruise actually sets off in River Leven, before entering the majestic waters of Loch Lomond.
You won’t need to actively seek out the river as you’ll likely pass by once or twice as you walk through the village. Certainly, by doing a Loch Lomond cruise, you’ll get to experience the river up, close and personal.
Long Distance Walks Going Through Balloch
There are numerous multi-day walking trails that pass through the village. The multi-day Three Lochs Way starts in the village, whilst the multi-day John Muir Way starts nearby in the village of Helensburgh on the Firth of Clyde. Certainly, doing a long-distance walk is an intrepid way to see and experience the village.
Balloch Cycle Routes
There are also several cycling routes that pass through the village. The West Loch Lomond Cycle Path connects Balloch to Tarbet along the western shores of the loch. Whilst, the National Cycle Network Route 7 (NCN7) also passes through the village. Specifically, you’ll enjoy the Lochs and Glens Way (North) section of NCN7 whilst cycling through the village and passing through the country park.
Loch Lomond Shores: Family-Friendly Activities
Having covered mostly natural attractions, it’s time to talk about the impressive Loch Lomond Shores complex. Essentially, it’s a string of shops, restaurants, bars and attractions lined along the southern shores of Loch Lomond. This is where you’ll find lots of family fun activities such as Loch Lomond Bird of Prey Centre, TreeZone Loch Lomond and SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium.
SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium
When it comes to attractions at Loch Lomond Shores, SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium is one of the most popular. Of course, SEA LIFE aquariums aren’t unique to Loch Lomond. You’ll find these aquariums all over the UK. Still, the SEA LIFE aquarium at Loch Lomond remains a firm favourite with families visiting the area.
Perhaps, it’s Drumkinnin Tower that does provide some uniqueness to SEA LIFE Loch Lomond Aquarium. The tower is literally the location of the aquarium. In fact, the tower is one of the flagship buildings of Loch Lomond Shores, which opened in 2002. The medieval-style tower was built by one of Scotland’s leading architects, David Page.
The Maid of the Loch
Located at Balloch Pier, the Maid of the Loch is one of the most historical attractions in the village. The Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer to be built in Great Britain. Personally, Beck and I caught magnificent sight of the steamer during the Experience Cruise. During this Loch Lomond cruise, you’ll learn more about the Maid of the Loch.
Famous Events in Balloch
There are quite a few well-known events that traditionally take place in Balloch. The Go Swim Loch Lomond Event is an annual open-water swimming event that starts in the village. Whilst, the famous Highland Games are also held in the village.
Things to Do Nearby
There are definitely quite a few things to do in the village that’ll keep you busy. But, of course, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park has plenty on offer. To learn more about the best walks, lochs and villages in the national park, read our Loch Lomond guides here.
Below, our intention isn’t to exhaustively list all the best nearby places. Rather, we’ll focus on one special area that’s just a stone’s throw from Balloch that’s worth visiting – Duck Bay.
Just around the corner from the village, you’ll find the gorgeous Duck Bay. It’s a popular lochside picnic area. But, it’s most renowned for its breathtaking marina, where you’ll find the highly-rated Duck Bay Hotel & Restaurant.
How to Get to Balloch
The quickest and easiest way to get to Balloch is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, then we recommend hiring a car using Rentalcars.com. You’ll find a wide variety of cars on Rental Cars for reasonable prices. The website is user-friendly and booking online is super easy.
Balloch Parking: Moss o’ Balloch
The Moss o’ Balloch Car Park is a large free car park in the village. You’ll also find free roadside parking along the road that connects Balloch Road and the country park. Indeed, you should be able to find free parking when you visit.
Public Transport: Glasgow to Balloch
It’s possible to use public transport to get to Balloch. From Glasgow, you can catch a train directly to Balloch (and vice versa from Balloch to Glasgow). Indeed, the village is easily accessible and this makes it one of the most popular places to visit in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey using public transport.
FYI – we often get asked about things to do near Balloch train station. Because the train station is conveniently located in the heart of the village, there are really no activities that are off-limits if you arrive by train.
Balloch has plenty of nice accommodation options, including plenty of charming hotels. When it comes to hotels in Loch Lomond, Balloch possibly has the most variety of hotels to choose from. With this in mind, we’re going to reveal the best budget, mid-range and luxury Balloch hotel options.
- Budget – Lomond Park Hotel: you won’t find much in the way of ultra-budget options around Loch Lomond. The most affordable option in Balloch is the Lomond Park Hotel.
- Mid-range – Queen of the Loch: Marston’s Inns’ Queen of the Loch is one of the most popular mid-range hotel options in Balloch. You’ll find accommodation is located separately from the bar and restaurant, so you’ll enjoy a quiet stay that’s just a short stroll to the famous pub. Otherwise, the next best mid-range options are Balloch House and The Tullie Inn.
- Luxury – Duck Bay Hotel: certainly, Duck Bay Hotel is one of the best places to stay in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Located near the famous Cameron House, the Duck Bay Hotel is beautifully set on the southern shores of Loch Lomond. As mentioned, on-site, you’ll find a fantastic restaurant and bar. Sure, the hotel is set just outside of Balloch, but it’s only a stone’s throw away.
Restaurants in Balloch
The village is home to plenty of great restaurants. Generally speaking, most people head to the village’s well-known pubs for a feed. So, the restaurants at Queen of the Loch, Balloch House and The Tullie Inn, do get fairly busy, especially during summer and school holidays. Personally, Beck and I went to Blue Lagoon Fish and Chips and really enjoyed our meals there.
Typically, the best weather in Scotland is from May to July. So, most visitors head to Scotland at this time or during the middle of the year (April to October) to take advantage of the warmer and dryer weather. But, after all, it’s Scotland! So, you can expect high-speed winds and rain, consistently during summer!
FAQs – Did You Know?
Below, you’ll find the most frequently asked questions about Balloch.
What Does Balloch Mean?
It means ‘village on the loch’.
What Is Balloch Famous For?
Being the gateway to Loch Lomond.
Is Balloch Near Loch Lomond?
Yes, it’s located at the southern end of the loch.
Can You Walk From Balloch to Loch Lomond?
Yes, it’s possible. We recommend walking along the Waterside Way from the village to the country park to access the shores of Loch Lomond.
Is It Worth Visiting Balloch?
Yes, absolutely. At the very least, you should visit to do a Loch Lomond cruise.
Does Balloch Have a Beach?
Yes, along the Waterside Way in the county park, there is a small pebble beach near a jetty. Certainly, swimming in this part of Loch Lomond is possible.
Bonus Tips For Visiting Balloch Castle
- If you can only do one thing in the village, make it a Loch Lomond cruise.
- Facilities: for more information about the village and the national park, head to the visitor centre. That’s where you’ll also find free public toilets.
- Other lochs to explore in the national park: there’s more to this national park than just Loch Lomond. Make sure to visit Loch Katrine, Loch Achray, Loch Venachar, Loch Lubnaig, Loch Ard and Loch Earn.
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