Lochs and Glens Holidays 2023
The wild and rugged Scottish lochs and glens are among the Highland's best offerings. From secret valleys hidden beneath craggy castles, to reviving whisky distilleries and pretty village markets, the Scottish lochs and glens are your gateway to Scotland itself. Whether you want to visit the show stoppers like Glen Coe or indulge in some extreme winter sports at Glen Shee, each loch and glen provides its own unique character. And then there’s Nessie, Scotland’s resident mythic monster trawling Loch Ness from Inverness to Fort Augustus. Explore it all with lochs and glens holidays.
The top 5 things to do in the Lochs and Glens
1. Walk history at Glen Coe
One of Scotland’s most enigmatic and important sites, Glen Coe is a grand and majestic presence. It has played a major role in many historical events, not least the grisly Massacre of Glencoe following the Jacobite Rising of 1689. Today, Glen Coe attracts hikers and tourists looking for the perfect picture-postcard photograph. One of the best introductions to its cultural history can be found at the Glencoe Visitor Centre, just southeast of Glencoe village itself.
2. Whisky tour and tasting
Scotland’s lochs provide the water that produces the country’s “water of life” - whisky. From Loch Katrine to Loch Lomond, distilleries depend on a steady supply of fresh, drinkable water to craft the nation’s favourite spirit. You’ll find plentiful whisky distilleries throughout Scotland’s lochs and glens, providing the namesake of many famed producers, from Glenlivet through Glenmorangie. From Loch Lomond alone, you'll find Glengoyne, Loch Lomond and Auchentoshan, three excellent choices offering tastings and tours.
3. Hunt for the Loch Ness monster
Scotland’s largest loch is an endless source of fascination. There are some truly captivating sights to discover in this area, particularly along the tranquil B862. Urquhart Castle is among the loch's most mysterious and romantic fortifications which add to Loch Ness' appeal. Nessie hunters can head to Loch Ness Centre for a breakdown of sightings with a myth-busting fact-check.
4. Hike the majestic West Highland way
Scotland's most popular long-distance trek runs for 96 miles. You needn't hike them all; simply pick a spot to experience Scotland's lochs and glens up-close. The route between Milngavie and Fort William takes in Lowland lochs and rivers, following the shores of the pretty Loch Lomond. It takes you through Glen Nevis, the valley below the country's highest peak, Ben Nevis.
5. Cruise Loch Katrine
As one of the Trossachs National Park’s most beloved and beautiful sites, Loch Katrine is the perfect day out. You can cruise the charming waters with the Sir Walter Scott Steamship, a small boat which ferries lucky visitors across the loch’s enigmatic banks. If you’d like to follow this up with a hike, the Brenachoile Trail leads directly from the steamship’s pier.
Our best hotels in the Lochs and Glens
Set on the banks of the peaceful and remote Loch Linnhe, this award-winning hotel is the ultimate Highland getaway. Enjoy pretty dining room views and afternoon strolls around the loch, all just moments from the historic Glen Coe. The resident's bar is well stocked with whisky, and you can even visit the renowned Oban Distillery less than 20 miles south along a picturesque coastal road.
Resting on the shoreline of Loch Shieldaig, close to the remote Loch Bad an Sgalaig and Dubh Loch, this cosy hotel is set on spectacular forested grounds. The restaurant is an absolute treat to dine in, with views across the yacht-lined bay. The rooms have been recently and tastefully redecorated, maintaining a traditional Highland aesthetic that adds to the experience.
Set in a loch and glen-laden heartland, this hotel was a favourite of Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin no doubt was drawn to the breathtaking surrounds, as the hotel overlooks the romantic Moray Firth and Black Isle, just moments from charming Nairn. Set in 21-acres of mature parkland, this remote and restful hotel is the perfect antidote to modern city living.
When is the best time to go on holiday the Scottish lochs and glens?
Scotland's lochs and glens are breathtaking all year round, but it takes a hardy kind of visitor to withstand the cold, dark and moody winter months. Generally, the warmest months to visit are July and August. This is also the high season, when prices are generally between 10% to 20% higher and you're likely to experience Scotland's infamous midges, particularly around lochs. May, June and September provide fewer tourists, dry weather, plentiful wildflowers and pretty landscapes. Unless you're prepared for snow, rain and cold, October to April is best avoided.
Going on holiday in Scotland’s lochs and glens
Scotland is served by two international airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow, which are likely to be your entry points. That’s unless you're coming up from the English border. Trains run through the very picturesque Highland Line, among others, but they can be expensive and inconvenient. Generally, cars are the best form of transport to Scotland's most remote lochs and glens. Major sites like Inverness and Loch Ness can be easily navigated with public transport, but traditional, remote and secluded glens can only be approached with road — and foot — transportation.
How long should you stay in the lochs and glens?
To best enjoy the lochs and glens — from its spectacular whisky distilleries, castles and mountain surrounds — a 2-week period is advisable. A week-long itinerary, however, is also the perfect introduction to the country's main highlights from Edinburgh to Glen Coe, across the Highland Coastal Road and up to Fort William, the Great Glen and Loch Ness.
The Voyage Privé travel expert’s opinion on Scotland’s lochs and glens
There are few things as Scottish as lochs and glens. Prominent and romantic symbols of Scottish heritage, culture and tradition, they speak to Scotland's grandeur and epic beauty. The autumnal colours of Loch Lomond and the Trossachs are one of life's great sights, while the atmospheric glens which run deep into the Highlands are littered in historic and folkloric tradition. You can walk in the footsteps of Scotland's romantic poets and legendary figures, before returning to a roaring fire in your loch-side hotel. Wherever you choose to explore, lochs and glens holidays are among the most beguiling in the world.