Updated on March 22nd, 2023
Here is my summary of the best things to do in The Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park. If you have only one day to explore the area, then this is the perfect road trip to discover the ‘Highlands in miniature’. With 720 square miles of untamed landscapes, 21 Munroe’s, over 20 lochs and more than 50 conservation sites then this is a nature and wildlife lovers paradise.”
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park
It was the first day of my road trip to discover the Scottish Highlands and Islands. I had spent the first night in Glasgow and was headed on a scenic drive to Oban. Just an hour’s drive from central Glasgow, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park cover an area of 720 square miles of untamed landscapes.
What are The Trossachs?
The Trossachs are also referred to as the ‘Highlands in miniature’. The area has been designated an area of natural beauty for a reason and was Scotland’s first National Park.
Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is home to 21 Munroes (Scottish mountains over 3000ft) and over 20 lochs. This includes Loch Lomond, the largest expanse of fresh water in Britain. It also houses 57 nature conservation sites so if you would like to see wildlife then keep your eyes peeled for eagles, red deer, otters, red squirrels and pine martens.
Love a road trip? Check out my essential guide to solo road tripping HERE.
Things to do in The Trossachs – A One Day Road Trip
Please note that I visited in August 2020, when things were just tentatively reopening after the COVID lockdown. Hence, many of the usual attractions were not in operation. Therefore, we relied on gorgeous drives, scenic routes and our own sense of awe to get to know this beautiful part of the world. Any attractions mentioned here are not all based on personal experience, but more a wish list that I believe would enhance a visit to this stunning area.
We started our exploration of the Trossachs by taking Dukes Pass. Dukes Pass is a winding scenic road, supposed to be one of Britain’s best drives, so where better to start? The road leads from Aberfoyle to Loch Katrine and transverses some of the most beautiful parts of The Trossachs National Park along the way.
Sir Walter Scott fell in love with the area and as a result, wrote his poem ‘The Lady of the Lake’ in 1810. He was inspired by Loch Katrine and it went on to be the first international bestseller. Nowadays, you can take a ride on a steamship on the loch, named after the famous writer. Or maybe consider hiring an electric bike to cycle around the pristine loch which forms the heart of the Trossachs.
To better guide you through the area, the National Park has handily constructed 4 art pieces. They are strategically placed at some of the most spectacular viewpoints so the perfect way to explore the region. We headed for Loch Voil first. The journey there gave us our first experience of a single-track road. If you are not a confident driver, then this could be a real challenge. To help you feel more confident I have compiled a list of top tips on how to negotiate your way around these thoroughfares. Scroll to the bottom of the post for these. Trust me, if you want to truly explore Scotland and the road less travelled then you will need to get to grips with driving these precarious routes!
En route to Loch Voil you will pass through Balquhidder where you can make a stop at the church to see Rob Roy’s grave…maybe 😉
You may doubt my directions on the way, but keep going to the end of the road where you will find the gorgeous Monachyle Mhor hotel. Park there and take a short walk to find the Mirrored Box.
The box is one of the art pieces which has been placed to reflect the spectacular lush green glen in between 2 lochs. It will mess with your head just by walking around it or taking a seat inside.”
Before you leave, check out the hotel itself for tea, lunch or maybe even stay overnight? They have some fantastic looking feature rooms, including a couple of retro waggons.
Make sure you bring your swimmers as on a hot day you can take a quiet dip or a big leap into the pool of this 30-foot-high waterfall. The Falls of Falloch is also the perfect spot for a picnic. Here is the 2nd of the art pieces that you can visit on this route. This time it is made up of a cantilevered platform of woven steel rods. This leads you on a path to view the falls from above.
The car park for the falls is limited but constantly moving. If there is nowhere to park, pull in and wait for a few minutes and space should become available soon.
Love waterfalls? Check out 18 Best Things To Do In Fort William
At the north end of Loch Lomond you need to stop at the 300-year-old Drovers Inn, purportedly the 2nd most haunted pub in Scotland. It was an ideal place for the Highland drovers to stop as they drove their cattle down the side of Loch Lomond. In addition, apparently Rob Roy enjoyed a drink here too!
It’s an interesting place with a host of history, a wealth of treasures for fans of taxidermy (stuffed animals) or those who fancy being served by a waiter in a kilt! We stopped for a drink to enjoy the sunshine, but the food looked great too.”
Want to see more from Scotland? See Top 10 Things to do on the Isle of Mull & 16 Fantastic Things to do on Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides.
The penultimate pause on this whistle-stop tour of the Trossachs is beautiful Kilchurn Castle. Built in the mid-1400s, Kilchurn is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland and for good reason! The castle sits on the head of Loch Awe and the best view is across the water. Head down the A819 briefly until you see your prize across the water. Then, take a short stroll to the side of the loch for spectacular views. Again, if you have your swimming cossie available, the loch is a great place to get it wet again.
After this, head over to see the impressive ruin at closer quarters by heading back to the main road and taking the next left turn. It is a 1-kilometre walk to the ruins from there.
For more castles check out 15 Reasons to Visit the Tower of London.
The final stop for the day is St Conan’s Kirk. One of the best-kept secrets of Argyll is in a stunning location on the banks of Loch Awe. It is unique in having examples of almost every style of church architecture.
I urge you to go inside and explore as well as making the most of the peace and tranquillity which surrounds its location.”
What are the other things to do in The Trossachs?
There is so much more to see and a day really doesn’t do the area justice. If you are lucky to have more time, here are a few other things to do in the Trossachs and Loch Lomond National Park.
Queen Elizabeth Forest Park
If you are a wildlife fan, then this is the place to head. You could arrange for a ranger-led guided walk. Check out The Lodge Forest Visitor Centre just outside Aberfoyle for more information. There are also several walking and cycling trails here, or you may want to view the park from a different, more adventurous angle at Go Ape!
Our original plan was to take the A83 to ‘Rest and Be Thankful’ pass. Let’s face it with a name like that who wouldn’t want to visit? Unfortunately, just before we arrived, they had a lot of rain which had closed the road. I have it on good authority that the view is magnificent, if you like deep glens, glistening lochs and impressive mountains, that is!
Loch Lomond is the 2nd most famous loch in Scotland, after its rival with Nessie, the monster. It is also the largest expanse of freshwater in Britain and an area of outstanding natural beauty. We visited on the way back from the Isle of Skye, but it was hard to appreciate as there was torrential rain.
It is the perfect place to try your hand at water sports like water skiing, fishing, sailing and kayaking.”
The loch is also home for some attractive towns which could form a great location for an overnight stay (Luss, Tarbet and Balloch for example).
Want to try an epic train ride? Check out Everything you need to know to ride the Hogwarts Train, Scotland.
Walks in The Trossachs
If hiking is your passion, why not walk a section of the West Highland Way? This 96-mile walking path stretches from Glasgow to Fort William and here meanders along the eastern shore of Loch Lomond. Alternatively, Ben Lomond is the most southerly of all the Monroe’s and you can follow the well-maintained path. The walk is 7 miles and you should allow 5 hours to complete it. For a 4 mile, easy to follow route why not try Ben A’an? It starts at the car park at Loch Katrine and climbs to just under 500m. Near Callander, there are routes to either Bracklinn Falls or the Callander Crags.
Interested in the Isle of Skye? See Top 15 Picks for your Perfect Isle of Skye Itinerary
If you came to Scotland to sample the whiskey then the perfect spot is the Glengoyne Distillery, reputedly one of the most beautiful distilleries in the country.
The great thing about Loch Lomond and The Trossachs is the proximity to Glasgow (35 minutes), Stirling (40 minutes) and Oban (1 hour). As we were on our way to the Isle of Mull the following day, we chose to stay overnight in Oban, the seafood capital of Scotland. The perfect bed for the night is The Perle Oban Hotel.
However, why come to this beautiful part of the world and not stay a little closer to nature? If you would like a treat in a spectacular location then I would totally recommend Monachyle Mhor hotel. Or why not opt for the Courie Inn, Killin or Roman Camp Hotel in Callander. For a more budget-friendly option, you could try The Bield in Aberfoyle.
Use the map below to find other options
If you really fancy getting at one with the environment, then why not consider joining the community of wild campers in Scotland? Pull up your van or pitch your tent wherever you fancy along the way.
Driving Tips for Scotland
If you are following the route from the start, you will have either gained some confidence… or be terrified! As a result of 10 days driving in Scotland, we became experts at the single-track road so here are a few driving tips:
- Keep left.
- Stop to let vehicles pass.
- Stop and wait at the designated ‘Passing Places’ if you see any traffic coming.
- Look out for ‘Passing Places’ so you know where they are if you need to reverse.
- Cross to the right, even if there is a ‘Passing Place’ there.
- Create a queue. Pull in to let others pass (that way you enjoy the drive so much more too!).
- Park or drive on the verge or park in ‘Passing Places’.
- Make others reverse a long way back.
So, I hope that has helped to increase your confidence on the road. Our next stop was the Isle of Mull which was one of the highlights of my 10 days exploring Scotland’s Highlands and Islands. I look forward to sharing all my favourite spots with you in my upcoming blog post.
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