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Loch Lomond Cruises: Everything You Need to Know (2023)

Loch Lomond Cruises: Everything You Need to Know (2023)

Loch Lomond cruises are a memorable thing to do during a trip to Scotland. Of course, there are many Loch Lomond cruises and boat trips to choose from. In this guide, we’re going to talk about all of the best Loch Lomond cruises and boat trips. We’ll even cover details about the best cruises in other lochs in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Additionally, we’ll cover details about other awesome tours to do whilst you’re at Loch Lomond.

There are many lochs to discover in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Read our guides about Loch Lubnaig, Loch Achray, Loch Venachar and Loch Earn.

Loch Lomond Cruises and Boat Trips

Undoubtedly, a boat trip is a quintessential thing to do during a trip to Loch Lomond. Indeed, it’d be rude to not cruise Loch Lomond whilst visiting the area! But, there are many Loch Lomond cruises to choose from. In this guide, we’ll try and break it all down for you, detailing all of your best options.

Loch Lomond Cruises Departing From Balloch

First of all, the most popular Loch Lomond boat tours depart from the town of Balloch. Located at the southern tip of Loch Lomond, the town’s ease of access from the Scottish lowlands is likely the main reason why it’s the popular starting point for Loch Lomond cruise departures. Indeed, you’ll find most people experience a cruise on Loch Lomond from Balloch.

Generally speaking, all the group tour companies, touring Scotland, that encompass a Loch Lomond ferry tour, end up at Balloch. So, expect many a busload of tourists, to pour out into Balloch to experience a Loch Lomond cruise.

Sweeney’s Cruise Co. Loch Lomond is the company that runs Loch Lomond boat cruises from Balloch.

Read more: Balloch on Loch Lomond – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Experience Cruise AKA Sightseeing Cruise

The most highly-rated and popular Loch Lomond cruise is 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 part of Loch Lomond. This narrated circular cruise is the perfect option for those wanting a taste of cruising Loch Lomond without spending hours and hours on a boat.

Personally, Beck and I did this Sweeney’s Cruises’ Loch Lomond 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 departures daily.

Island Discovery Tour

Also departing Balloch, the Island Discovery Tour is a two hour Loch Lomond cruise exploring further north. Specifically, you’ll explore more of the small islands found in Loch Lomond – an area known as the ‘The Narrow’.

The Island Discovery Tour is yet another highly-rated cruise. Certainly, if you want to spend more time on the water, this tour would be a better choice compared with the Experience Cruise. Departures are less frequent than the Experience Cruise; but, there are still usually at least two departures per day.

Loch Lomond Evening Cruise

The Loch Lomond Evening Cruise is a 90 minute boat trip. It explores a similar part of Loch Lomond as the Experience Cruise; but, of course, the major difference is the time of day you’ll do the boat trip. Beck and I were really tempted to go with this option. Indeed, with good weather, you’ll enjoy a spectacular boat trip around sunset. If you’re a keen photographer, we recommend doing this boat trip.

Keep in mind, that this tour has one departure, which is usually at 7pm. Also, this cruise tends to only run three days a week, specifically during summer and the shoulder seasons.

Loch Lomond Cruises Departing From Tarbet, Luss Inveruglas & Balmaha

There are also Loch Lomond cruises that depart from Tarbet, Luss, Iveruglas and Balmaha. The Loch Lomond cruises departing from Tarbet, Luss and Inveruglas are run by a company called Cruise Loch Lomond. Whereas, a much smaller company called Balmaha Boatyard run boat trips from Balmaha.

Personally, Beck and I didn’t do any Loch Lomond cruises from these alternate departure points. After all, we were more than happy with our Loch Lomond cruise from Balloch. But, from all accounts, these Loch Lomond cruises are very similar. Of course, given the alternate departure points, these cruises explore slightly different areas of the loch. In particular, Tarbet and Inveruglas are located near the Arrochar Alps in the Scottish Highlands. So, you’ll enjoy a more mountainous backdrop during cruises from these departure points.

To book these different Loch Lomond cruises, we recommend heading to their respective official websites or booking in person on the day. Although, please note, some cruises require advanced booking.

Other Loch Lomond Cruises

There are plenty of other boat trips on Loch Lomond other than just the standard cruises. You’ll find many specialty Loch Lomond cruises, which explore a particular destination, a specific part of the loch or some are even themed. Let’s look at some of these options below.

FYI – as previously mentioned, to book these tours, head to the respective official website or book in person on the day. Although, please note, some cruises require advanced booking.

Cruises offering Loch Lomond boat trips

Inchcailloch Island (Departing From Luss and Balmaha)

There are boat trips exploring more of the well-known Loch Lomond island – Inchcailloch Island. During these tours, you’ll actually stop at Inchcailloch Island, to explore further on foot. Cruise Loch Lomond offer this tour from Luss, whereas, Balmaha Boatyard offer this tour from, you guessed it, Balmaha!

Read more: Loch Lomond Walks – The 26 Best Walks in Loch Lomond

Inversnaid Explorer (Departs From Tarbet)

Cruise Loch Lomond offers many specialty ‘explorer’ Loch Lomond cruises. One of these includes the Inversnaid Explorer. From Tarbet Pier, you’ll explore a more remote area of the loch along the eastern shores. By doing this tour, you’ll see waterfalls and hidden beaches, whilst, you’ll get the opportunity to do woodland walks.

Rob Roy Discoverer (Departs From Tarbet)

Cruise Loch Lomond also offers the Rob Roy Discoverer cruise. Inspired by the famous outlaw, Rob Roy MacGregor, you’ll explore areas where Rob Roy spent time, such as at Rob Roy’s Cave. On this boat trip, you’ll also explore similar places covered by the Invernsaid Explorer cruise, such as Inversnaid Falls.

FYI – both Inversnaid Falls and Rob Roys Cave are attractions along the eastern shores of Loch Lomond that are seen during the multi-day West Highland Way hike.

Tarbet to Rowardennan: Ben Lomond Hike

The Ben Lomond Explorer offered by Cruise Loch Lomond is a unique boat trip. From Tarbet, you’ll catch a cruise to Rowardennan. You’ll then have the opportunity to climb Ben Lomond! After bagging this Munro, you’ll then jump back on the boat to head back to Tarbet.

Read more: Hiking Ben Lomond – The Ultimate Guide To A Bonny Scotland Trail

Ben hikes Ben Lomond with Loch Lomond in the background

Luss to Balmaha Waterbus

Both Sweeney’s Cruise Co. and Cruise Loch Lomond offer a waterbus service between Luss and Balmaha. By using the waterbus service, you’ll enjoy a sensational boat trip, whilst having the opportunity to explore both charming villages. Whilst you’re in Balmaha, why not climb the legendary Conic Hill?

Loch Lomond Cruises From Edinburgh

This is a great option for doing a Loch Lomond cruise if you’re staying in Edinburgh. This Edinburgh to Loch Lomond tour has the optional extra of doing a cruise during the day. You’ll also visit Stirling Castle and the Kelpies. Please note that the cruise isn’t included in the price of the tour.

Loch Lomond Cruises From Glasgow

Similarly, if you’re based in Glasgow, you can do a Loch Lomond cruise during an organised tour. This Glasgow to Loch Lomond tour includes a cruise in the price of the tour. This very reasonably priced tour also includes a visit to Stirling Castle and the stunning Trossachs area, north of Loch Lomond.

FYI – if you’d prefer a smaller tour group, visiting the same places, with the price of the cruise included, then we recommend this tour.

Other Loch Cruises

Other than cruising Loch Lomond, it’s possible to take boat tours on other lochs in the area. The other popular loch for cruises is Loch Katrine. To book these cruises, head to the official website or simply, book in person on the day at the Trossachs Pier.

Loch Katrine Cruises

The company, Loch Katrine, offers various cruises on this stunning loch in the Trossachs. The company has two cruisers at the Trossachs Pier, named Lady of the Lake (after Sir Walter Scott) and Rob Roy III. Both of which, are used to run narrated circular cruises around Loch Katrine. During a standard circular tour, you’ll explore Brenachoile Point, which is where an episode of Outlander was filmed!

FYI – you can also cruise Loch Katrine on the famous Sir Walter Steamship or Osprey!

Read more: Loch Katrine – The Ultimate Visitor’s Guide

Loch Katrine
Loch Katrine

Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar

Another option is to catch a one-way cruise across Loch Katrine from the Trossachs Pier to Stronachlachar. We recommend hiring a bike at the Trossachs Pier (Katrine Wheelz), doing the enjoyable cruise, and then cycling back.

Other Loch Lomond Tours

Other than cruises, there are many other awesome things to do at Loch Lomond. During a visit, you should definitely enjoy some watersports. Both kayaking and paddleboarding are fun activities that can be easily enjoyed on Loch Lomond. It’s possible to book both kayak and paddleboard hire on GetYourGuide.

How to Get to Loch Lomond

The quickest and easiest way to get to Loch Lomond is to drive there yourself. If you don’t have your own set of wheels, 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.

Otherwise, it’s easy to use public transport to get to Balloch. From Glasgow, you can catch a direct train to Balloch. Whilst, you can catch a bus directly from Glasgow to Luss, Tarbet and Inveruglas using Citylink. From Balloch, you can catch a bus to Balmaha. There is no public transport running to the Trossachs Pier. We recommend using Google Maps and Trainline to help plan your journey using public transport.

Loch Lomond Accommodation

Loch Lomond has many fantastic accommodation options. Given the sheer size of Loch Lomond, the amount of choices can be overwhelming. To keep things simple, we recommend staying in Balloch or the surrounding areas, at the southern tip of Loch Lomond. After all, the most popular Loch Lomond cruises depart from Balloch. Below, you’ll find the best budget, mid-range and luxury options at the southern end of Loch Lomond.

  • 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 walk to the famous pub.
  • 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. On-site, you’ll find a fantastic restaurant and bar.
Duck Bay Hotel

FAQs

Below, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about Loch Lomond cruises.

How Long Is a Loch Lomond Cruise?

This depends on which cruise you choose. The shortest is one hour and some are an all-day affair.

Can You Go On a Boat in Loch Lomond?

If you’d like to use your own personal boat, on Loch Lomond, and it has a motor, you need to register it with the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority.

Are Dogs Allowed on Loch Lomond Cruises?

Yes, both Sweeney’s Cruise Co. and Cruise Loch Lomond allow well-behaved dogs onto cruises.

What Are the Names of the Boats on Loch Lomond?

Most cruisers will have the names Sweeney’s Cruise Co. and Cruise Loch Lomond as these are the two biggest companies running boat trips on the loch.

​​​​​​​How Long Should I Spend in Loch Lomond?

This really depends on what else you want to do in the area. Indeed, there is plenty to do in Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. So, it’d be easy to spend an entire holiday there!

Bonus Tips

  • Private boat trips on Loch Lomond: the company Loch Lomond Leisure tend to be the go-to for private boat trips and boat hire. They organise private speedboat tours as well as Loch Lomond booze cruises!
  • Sailing Loch Lomond: if sailing is your thing, then Loch Lomond could be the perfect destination for you to visit as there are sailing opportunities aplenty. FYI – near Balmaha, on the eastern shores of the loch, you’ll find the Loch Lomond Sailing Club.
  • Best time to visit: the best months for visiting Scotland are during summer or either side of this season (May to October).

We hoped this guide helped you to plan your visit to Loch Lomond. Please buy us a coffee to show us your appreciation!

Daniel Piggott

Physiotherapist turned travel blogger, Dan is a keen hiker, natural wonder seeker and world traveller. He loves writing travel guides to help his readers explore the most beautiful destinations in the world.

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