On the eastern banks of Loch Lomond is the popular village of Balmaha. Whether you are visiting the village as a stopping point on the famous West Highland Way, taking a boat trip around the Loch Lomond islands, to climb Conic Hill or Ben Lomond, or to stay at the popular Oak Tree Inn, here are the best things to do at Balmaha, Loch Lomond.
Top 10 things to do at Balmaha, Loch Lomond
- Climb Conic Hill – for one of Scotland’s most iconic views across Loch Lomond and the Highland Fault line. Conic Hill is one of the best hills for families in Scotland.
- Catch the ferry to Inchcailloch Island – explore the pretty ‘island of the old women’ by boat from Balmaha Boatyard.
- Try the ice cream and coffee at St Mocha – stop by Balmaha’s cafe, home to Loch Lomond Coffee and ice cream parlour.
- Hike the Balmaha millennium forest walk to Craigie Fort – follow the trail to a lovely viewpoint over Loch Lomond.
- Find Weir’s rest and the Tom Weir statue – Scottish climber and writer Tom Weir of “Weir’s Way” lived at Loch Lomond for 17 years and a statue of Tom can be found at Balmaha – often with a jaunty new hat and scarf.
- Explore Balmaha pier, bay and Balmaha beach -discover the east side of the loch by foot or by SUP.
- Walk the West Highland Way – the Drymen to Inverarnan section of the famous West Highland Way takes you through Balmaha and is a great way to discover the lochside.
- Take an Island Cruise – Head out on a boat trip with Cruise Loch Lomond at Luss or with Sweeney’s Cruises at Balloch.
- Visit Balmaha visitor centre – visit the Loch Lomond national park information centre to find out more about the loch and the Highland Boundary Fault.
- Balmaha boat hire – fancy exploring the loch under your own steam? Charter a boat from Balmaha boat hire.
Read more: The complete guide to Loch Lomond
Looking to make Balmaha your base on Loch Lomond, or looking for a weekend break? Here is where to stay at Balmaha.
Affiliate links are used in this section
if you are thinking of camping in east Loch Lomond, the best place for camping in Balmaha is at Gartfairn Farm – a quiet site on a farm with tent and camper van pitches, you can also camp at Milarrochy Bay a mile north along the loch, Cashel Campsite, Sallochy which is owned by Forestry and Land Scotland, and Lochan Maoil Dhuinne which is permit site run by the National Park.
See below info on wild camping at Loch Lomond.
Balmaha wild camping at Loch Lomond
Informal lightweight ‘wild camping’ is legal in Scotland, however, because of the sheer demand for camping in the national park in summer, wild camping is restricted from March to September. You can still ‘wild’ camp but only in designated spaces and you need a permit. Permits are £3 per tent or campervan per night and you can book a camping permit for up to three nights in one area.
The rest of the year (October to February) you are allowed to wild camp – as long as you comply with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.
Youth hostel at Balmaha
Youth hostel facilities can be found at Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel further north a long the loch.
Fancy a luxury lodge? Loch Lomond Waterfront has eight five-star luxury lodges and three lochside grass-roofed chalets. Whether you are looking for a romantic break or a family group trip to Loch Lomond, each lodge sleeps between two and six people, most are dog-friendly, and all have stunning views over the loch.
Book the Loch Lomond Waterfront Luxury Lodges
More lodges at Balmaha
- Birchwood Guest Lodge – a 2 bed lodge at Balmaha
- Balmaha Lodges and Apartments – lodges and glamping pods
Balmaha glamping pods
Glamping pods at Balmaha can be found at Balmaha Lodges.
Balmaha hotel – The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha
The Oak Tree Inn, Balmaha has 38 rooms and a bar and restaurant.
More recommended hotels near Balmaha
- The Clachan Inn, Drymen
- The Lodge On Loch Lomond Hotel, Luss
- The Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, Luss
- Cameron House on Loch Lomond, Balloch
- Duck Bay Hotel & Restaurant, Ballloch
Self catering Balmaha
If you prefer your own space, book a self catering cottage at Balmaha
A little Balmaha history…
In Gaelic, Balmaha is thought to mean St Maha’s Place or the Bealach Mo-Cha, named after the Saint Mo-Cha (also known as St Kentigern) and today the village is a pilgrimage for many visitors to Loch Lomond. St Maha’s Well can be found on the hill above Balmaha and the coffee shop St Mocha is named after the saint. The Pass of Balmaha through which pilgrims travelled can be found to the north of the village.
The Highland Boundary Fault Line
A major fault line (a crack in the earth’s crust) crosses Scotland, and one of the best places to see it is at Balmaha. The fault line divides Scotland – with the highlands and its mountains to the north and the lowlands to the south. You can find out more at the Balmaha visitor centre, follow the geology walk around the bay, or climb Conic Hill to see the Highland Fault line for yourself.
Loch Lomond Steamers
The village became popular as a stopping point on the Loch Lomond Steamers – which once carried goods, animals and tourists around the loch. Following the publication of Sir Walter Scott’s Rob Roy in 1817, Loch Lomond became a popular tourist destination and ‘Marion’ a steamship was commissioned to take tourists out for day trips.
The boat took 10 hours to traverse the loch – including stopping at Balmaha. The boat even connected at Inversnaid where passangers could travel to Loch Katrine where you can still take a steamship out on Loch Katrine today.
Steamships continued to sail on Loch Lomond until 1982 when the service on the last remaining steamship The Maid of the Loch was withdrawn. The ship can now be seen at Balloch – and there is a project underway to restore her.
One of the best ways to discover Balmaha and Loch Lomond is by foot. Here are my favourite walks at Balmaha.
Balmaha Millennium forest walk and Craigie Fort
With a fabulous view from the wooded promontory at Craigie Fort, climb 1.5 miles up through forest and woodland from Balmaha, along the West Highland Way with views of Loch Lomond’s islands.
The West Highland Way at Balmaha
Scotland’s most famous Great Trail, the 96-mile West Highland Way passes through Balmaha. You can walk along the lochside as far as Rowardennan – passing lots of beautiful bays and beaches. The full Loch Lomond section is 14 miles (from Drymen) but you can walk as far as you like – note there is no public transport along the east side of Loch Lomond so you will need to walk back!
Conic Hill Balmaha
Sitting on the Highland Boundary Fault which marks the boundary between the lowlands and the mountainous highlands of Scotland, Conic Hill is one of Loch Lomond’s iconic viewpoints. The climb up Conic Hill will take you around an hour on part of the West Highland Way, past a herd of docile Highland Coos, for an incredible view back over the loch to Luss. The best time to climb Conic Hill is at sunset for a truly incredible view across the loch.
Read more: How to climb Conic Hill
Ben Lomond is one of Scotland’s most popular hill climbs, with over 30,000 people reaching the summit every year. he route is a fairly simple one in spring, summer and autumn with a path to follow to the top. Depending on your fitness the climb will take 4 – 6 hours. To make the route a circular one, follow the Ptarmigan ridge back to the car park.
Read more: how to climb Ben Lomond
Balmaha boat hire
You can’t visit the UK’s largest loch without getting out on the water – and in summer the loch is busy with activity. Adventurous? You can Hire a Kayak, a jet ski, a speedboat, wakeboard, kneeboard, Ringo ride, and a banana boat. Try Loch Lomond Leisure at Luss and Rowardennan or In Your Element at Balloch.
Loch Lomond Cruises
Like things a little more leisurely? Head out on a boat trip with Cruise Loch Lomond at Luss, Sweeney’s Cruises at Balloch and on steamship Sir Walter Scott and cruiser, the Lady of the Lake from the Trossachs pier on Loch Katrine, or just jump on the water bus for a more informal trip
Loch Lomond circular cruises run from Balloch and Luss by Cruise Loch Lomond and Sweeneys.
Water buses on Loch Lomond
In summer water buses run on Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine connecting the villages, bus routes and long distance trails together. The buses only run in summer, but you can see the routes and rough time table in the waterbus guide (PDF download). You can catch the waterbus between Luss and Balmaha.
Inchcailloch – or the ‘island of the old women’ referring to the nunnery founded here by St Kentigerna – was once the burial ground for the MacGregor clan. The island is accessible by an on-demand service running from Balmaha boat-yard every 30 minutes or by the water bus from Luss and Balmaha. On Inchcailloch the circular route takes you around the island, and to the highest point for a beautiful view of the loch. You can camp on the island with a permit, and the campsite is open 1st March – 30th September.
Weir’s rest and the Tom Weir statue
Scottish climber and writer Tom Weir of “Weir’s Way” lived at Loch Lomond for 17 years and a statue of Tom can be found at Balmaha – often with a jaunty new hat and scarf.
Visit Balmaha visitor centre
Visit the Loch Lomond national park information centre to find out more about the loch and the Highland Boundary Fault.
- Balmaha’s pub, the Oak Tree Inn is a popular spot in the village and has outside seating and serves up good food.
- Try Loch Lomond ice cream and Loch Lomond coffee at St Mocha.
Shops in Balmaha
- Balmaha village shop – for everything you need for a day out in Balmaha.
How to get to Balmaha
Balmaha is on the east side of Loch Lomond. You can get there by car, bus and boat!
- By Bus – Balloch to Balmaha – McColls Coaches number 309 will take you from Balloch to Balmaha in 20 minutes. The bus stop is at Balloch bus terminus. Balloch is connected to the railway network.
- By car – Balmaha car park – car parking at Balmaha is at the National Park Visitor Centre. Be warned, this is also the car park for Conic Hill – so it can get very busy. Parking charges apply – up to 1 hour – Free · Up to 2 hours – £2.10 · Up to 4 hours – £2.60 · All day – £3.20. The Balmaha postcode is G63 0JQ.
- By boat – Catch the Luss to Balmaha ferry – park at Luss and take the 45 minute water bus across the loch.
Love from, Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.