Loch Lomond is now reduced to "park" status. You will be micro-managed in every way and made to feel most unwelcome. Don't come unless you: want a ticket for stopping at the roadside, charged for enjoying a glass of wine with your picnic, spoken to by a ranger who wants to know where you come from and your e-mail address, hunted down for camping in the woods, have cash for the parking meters, obtain a permit for the campsite, are happy to go home at 8pm because the barriers will be locked, are prepared to find out that on a sunny day your 3 hour drive to get there will be fruitless because there aren't enough car parking spaces.
Unique Suggestions: Come in the middle of winter when it is raining. National Park executives will be abroad on holiday and you will be left in peace.
Not really a tourist trap but more a mark of courtesy for the residents of a small village like Luss. There are no double yellow lines or traffic wardens to stop you parking in the little streets but if you do you may albeit unwittingly stop a resident from returning to his or her village. There is a large sized car and coach park very near by. Tickets cost £1.00 how ever long your stay. Obviously they won't let you park here overnight. Parking is also available at the near by hotel but this is for patrons only and would end up costing you more in the price of some food and or a drink.
If you are buying anything in the many woollen mills/tourist shops around Scotland using your credit card watch which currency they do the bill in. The exchange pound/euro they use is very high. They should ask which currency you want to pay in before ringing up the amount. In several shops we were in they did but in the Jedburgh woollen mill they did not and I was too slow and only realised what had happened too late..... cost me a couple of pounds extra on the bill. When Koos bought a new jacket in Callander they did ask him and he was quicker than me and said pounds saved him 4 pounds but the assistant in the shop was not pleased with him!
Unique Suggestions: say straight away which currency you want to pay in.
It is a problem we have only come across in the tourist areas around Loch Lomond though, other times we have only ever had bills in pounds when using our Mastercard.
in Balloch on the shores of Loch Lomond there are two factory outlet complexes:
Antartex Village Visitor Centre and Loch Lomond Outlet Centre. They are both tourist traps really with very little choice and in the Loch Lomond Outlet Centre lots empty shops. The cafe in the Loch Lomond Outlet Centre is very unfriendly. the cafe in the Antartex Village Visitor Centre is fine for a coffee or light lunch.
Certainly the Antartex Village Visitor Centre gets lots of bus loads of visitors with i think an average age of 75 but it is just another woollen mill really.
We used both to have a coffee and use the restrooms.
Unique Suggestions: just have a coffee or lunch and do not waste your time in the shop/shops
Fun Alternatives: look in the smaller local shops in the pretty little villages around the loch and in the National Park. the coffee and lunches are good Callander or Aberfoyle woollen mill and they are much friendly there.
It is huge, it is ugly, it 's got a big wide mouth, it eats a lot of people and it is REAL -- the Monster of Loch Lomond! The beast is also known as Drumkinnon Tower and it pretty much symbolizes a curious development on Loch Lomond's southern end at Balloch. Thanks to Glasgow VTer Cutiepadger, I had been warned about the place, so I came when all the shops were closed and the huge parking lot was virtually empty. I have a feeling that all the stuff in this Lomond Disneyland just does not belong here... Jenners Department Store in Princes Street Edinburgh is fine, but what the hell are they doing here? They are earning money, of course, from the many daytime visitors living closeby in the Lowland belt. What is your business here? Well, if you really have to come here, I would strongly urge you to do the "full monty" -- Do the Edinburgh Dungeons, go to MacTavish's Kitchens (good news for you: there are actually two of them, one in Oban and one in Fort William, isn't that great???), go see the Drumnadrochit Loch Ness Monster exhibitons -- take lots of pictures, so you can show your folks at home you've seen the real Scotland! Well, not really so. But you won't care. I know you won't care.
Unique Suggestions: I came to Loch Lomond shores in order to find a place close to the Loch which is wheelchair accessible. That it really is, you will have great access both to the tower, the outlets and the walkways. The walkways, however, are not really extensive... actually more than half of this place is covered by the parking lot... quite revealing, don't you think?
Fun Alternatives: For wheelchair users who would like to enjoy a lochside walk, there is an excellent alternative: The old road at Firkin Point on the western shore between Inverbeg and Tarbet: 3 miles of paved, pretty flat and very scenic lochside walkway. Picnic Tables, accessible loo, everything you could ask for :-))
We recently visited the newly opened sealife centre, located in the Loch Lomond Shores shopping/leisure area at Balloch, and we were very disappointed! When we entered the building, we thought that the ticket price was a little expensive, but decided that the visit must be worth the money, and went in anyway. It took us all of 35 minutes to visit the ENTIRE centre. We paid £7.95 each.
Some of the exhibits were not yet opened, and said that they were 'under refurbishment'. The centre had only been opened a matter of weeks when we visited! Also, some of the exhibits were too high too look at, and the signs/information boards looked as though they had been written by a five year old child. I understand that places like this have to cater for people with younger kids, but surely they have to give other folks information too?
Anyway, I'd recommend that you don't visit the centre. Instead, have a wander around the little woodland area that is down there, or visit Luss. The sealife centre there was no where near value for money!
Much as I liked Luss, and it is certainly an attractive village, it is a bit of a tourist trap in so far as the car park there is now "Pay & Display" & you have no choice but to park there since cars aren't allowed in the village itself. I don't know how much it costs since I changed my mind about stopping there [I only wanted to buy postcards!] but there are plenty places you can stop for nothing just to take a picture. If you want to stop there for longer then its probably worth it but for a brief stop I'd pick somewhere else.
Unique Suggestions: Since I just wanted to stop very briefly there [I'd been before anyway] I didn't think it was worth forking out for parking. However it IS a really pretty village and the views are great of the Loch so if you plan to stop for longer it might be worthwhile. If you are going here in the winter months you don't have to pay to park anyway, as I found when I went there in February
Fun Alternatives: If a brief stop is all you have time for, or you just want to take some more pictures, you can park at Tarbet, Balloch or Inveruglas plus numerous laybys along the road without having to pay.