The small but charming village of Balmaha is extremely popular with tourists that have come to Scotland to explore the shores of Loch Lomond. The village’s name derives from the Gaelic phrase Bealach Mo-Cha, ‘the pass of Saint Mo-Cha’. Read this complete guide to discover our top things to do in Balmaha.
Balmaha is an excellent base for tourists and you will find a visitor centre here which is a great starting point for if you are looking for information about Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.
The village is also a stop on Scotland’s famous West Highland Way. Learn more about this magical place in our guide to Balmaha below.
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Things to do in Balmaha
There are tons of things to in Balmaha for outdoor enthusiasts. When visiting this part of Scotland, you can take your pick from a range of stunning walks and hikes throughout Loch Lomond.
If you would rather explore the surrounds from the water visitors to here can take a ferry to Loch Lomond’s other beautiful villages such as Luss and Balloch. From Balamha you can also travel to Inchcailloch – the island offers exquisite views of Loch Lomond.
With so much to do here, you better start planning your trip! We have picked out our top things to do in Balmaha below.
Loch Lomond Nature Reserve
Within Balmaha you will find the area’s Nature Reserve – a must see when visiting the village. There are two sides to this otherworldly reserve – a stunning oak woodland and the wetlands which sit at the mouth of the River Endrick.
Each season has something different to offer. During spring you will be greeted with the perfume of bluebells and a chorus front the Reserve’s birds. When the summer months arrive you will see ospreys fishing and buzzards enjoying the warmer weather.
As the colder months come in and the colours of the woodland begin to change you will find the geese who have migrated. One thing that you will find all year round is breathtaking views across the loch.
VisitScotland claims that “The best time to visit for woodland wildlife, fishing ospreys and wetland habitats is April – September. Autumn and Spring are ideal for admiring wintering geese and other waterfowl”.
As Balmaha is the home to the reserve’s main base, there is a centre here with on site Rangers, that will provide you with all the information and tips on routes that will help you to make the most of your experience here.
The Island of Inchcailloch
Don’t miss the Island of Incgcailloch during your visit to Balmaha. This is one of the fantastic wee things to do in Balmaha.
From Balmaha you can catch a to the island of Inchcailloch, Balmaha’s small bay provides the closest starting point for crossing over to the island.
Inchcailloch means ‘the island of the old woman/cowled woman’. The site is famous for being the settlement of Christian missionary St Kentigerna in 717 AD – she died on the island several years later.
In memory of her a church was built on the island, every Sunday for around 500 years, parishioners would travel over from Balmaha for worship.
If hillwalking is your thing, then you must check out Balmaha’s offering – Conic Hill. One of my personal favourite things to do in Balmaha is climb Conic Hill. From the village, it is a short but stiff climb to the hill’s 361m peak.
Even if you are unprepared to trek to the top, the beauty of this hike is that you will see some fantastic views of Loch Lomond and its islands throughout the journey.
Glamping in Balmaha
Embrace the outdoors and try out glamping! Balmaha Lodges offer different packages for glampers, however, all ‘pods’ have a TV, heating, power points and communal toilet and shower facilities – everything you need for a cosy stay!
Host, Fernanda, at Balmaha Lodges promises to go out her way for guests and she has excellent knowledge of the area.
If you would rather do it the old fashioned way there are several camping sites scattered around Balmaha and Loch Lomond, however, we have cherry picked our favourite.
Milarrochy Bay Club Campsite in Balmaha offers first class views over Loch Lomond, and many visitors travel here to enjoy a relaxing break by the shore.
One of the main benefits of this campsite in Balmaha is its location. The campsite sits east of Loch Lomond in the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.
Prices at Milarrochy Bay Club Campsite start from just £7.30 – excellent value for this part of Scotland.
The West Highland Way
The 96 mile route starts at Milngavie and finishes at Gordon Square in the town of Fort William. During this extraordinary trail, you will pass some of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations, including Mugdock Country Park, Loch Lomond, Glen Falloch, Rannoch Moor, Buachaille Etive Mor, Glencoe, Devil’s Staircase, Loch Leven, Lairigmor and Glen Nevis.
This challenge is not for the faint-hearted if you are wondering how long it takes to walk the West Highland Way, it takes most travellers between five and eight days, however, more experienced walkers have completed the route in just a few days.
You must experience a boat trip while visiting this part of Scotland.
The picturesque village of Balmaha is a popular location for boating, you will find many companies offering cruises around Loch Lomond from here.
There is a lot of things to do in Balmaha itself, but exploring the rest of Loch Lomond is an absolute must.
After some research, we have picked one of the most popular boat operators from this area – but there are many to choose from!
Family run business, Sweeney’s Cruise Co has been running for decades and it is Loch Lomond’s only 5 star cruise operator. Sweeneys run daily 1 and 2 hour circular cruises, as well as services which link the villages of Balloch, Luss and Balamaha,
Note: we receive no compensation for recommending Sweeney’s Cruise Co. It comes from personal recommendations.
If you are hiring a car and would like to see more of the surrounding areas, you will find the man-made island of Strathcashel Point just north of Balmaha. Here lies the remains of a crannog, an ancient loch dwelling which was built around 5000 years ago. To this day the oak foundations of an Iron Age roundhouse can still be found.