The Scots term for lakes is “loch”, and there are more than 31,000 lochs in Scotland alone.
So, how are you ever going to choose which Scottish lakes to visit among all the options?
Here is a list of the most beautiful lakes in Scotland. Work any (or all) of them into your itinerary and you won’t regret it.
1. Loch Ness
Loch Ness is one of the most famous lakes in the world.
While its fame erupted from the legendary sea monster that is said to lurk within its waters, Loch Ness is also recognized as one of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland.
It is the second largest loch in Scotland after Loch Lomond, but its scale and depth make it the largest body of freshwater in the British Isles by volume.
Maybe Nessie does dwell in its vastness!
The ruins of one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart Castle, and nearby lighthouses make for a historical and gorgeous scenery. There are hiking and an exhibition, too.
Out of all the lakes in Scotland, you really don’t want to miss this one. Besides, you might just catch a glimpse of the old monster herself.
2. Loch Katrine
Loch Katrine is full of history and adventure.
It gets its name from the Gaelic word “cateran” meaning “Highland Robber” after the infamous Rob Roy MacGregor who (like the stories of Robin Hood) stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
Loch Katrine also hosts the historical SS Sir Walter Scott. This is a steamship named after the iconic author who made Trossachs, Scotland famous in his 1810 poem The Lady of the Lake.
The ship has been at home on Katrine’s waters for more than a century and is the only in-service steamship left in the country.
Loch Katrine is beautiful. It features glass waters mirroring the beautiful Ben Venue mountain.
Aside from the history and beauty, tourists flock to Loch Katrine for the views as well. Ben A’an, one of the most famous peaks in the UK for its stunning views and relatively easy climb (only 454m high) sits at the eastern end of the loch on Ellen’s Isle.
3. Loch Lomond
Part of the Trossachs National Park, Loch Lomond has the largest surface area (21 square miles) of all lakes in Scotland, making it the largest inland stretch of water in all of the British Isles.
It is also home to the largest island, Inchmurrin.
Like most lochs, Loch Lomond has its place in Scottish folklore.
According to a traditional Scottish song, Lomond’s Bonnie Banks is the famous location where two lovers parted never to meet again.
If you like water activities, Loch Lomond is the place for you. It hosts water cruises, windsurfing, kayaking, and more.
4. Loch Awe
The name says it all. This lake is simply awe-inspiring.
Loch Awe is the home to many ancient castles atop its numerous small islands. This includes Kilchurn Castle, one of the most photographed structures of Scotland.
The Castle is surrounded by beautiful green rolling hills and mirrored by the loch’s still waters.
Famous among fisherman for its large trout, Loch Awe is the third largest freshwater lake in Scotland. It is also the longest, expanding 25 miles long between the highlands and lowlands.
You definitely want to put this one on your list and snap your own iconic image of the heart of Scotland.
5. Loch Maree
Loch Maree is recognized as one of the most beautiful scenes in Scotland.
It is surrounded by beautiful nature including oak-woods, pinewood forest, and the mountains of Slioch.
It has 66 islands, some of them hosting cool archaeological and architectural remains of a 7th-century monastery and an old graveyard.
Highlanders believed Loch Maree had healing powers. The sick and mentally unwell would drink from the holy well on Isle Maree and jump into the loch water three times.
Go check it out for yourself.
But be careful!
Loch Maree is also home to the mythical eel-like creature, the muc-shelich. Its name has a funny meaning, “turtle-pig”, in Gaelic.
6. Loch Tummel
Set in “big tree country” of Perthshire, Loch Tummel is surrounded by gorgeous foliage and nature, including the Tay Forest Park.
It is home to one of the most famous viewpoints in Scotland known as Queens View. Queens View was for one of the wives of Robert the Bruce, though no one knows if it was his first or second.
The point is easily accessible and provides breathtaking views of the mountain ranges and the lake.
Loch Tummel is among the best lakes in Scotland to relax, cycle, and hike.
7. Loch Shiel
This one’s for you history buffs and Harry Potter fans.
Loch Shiel is the fictional Black Lake near Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films.
It is also where a lot of history went down.
Loch Shiel is the location where Bonnie Prince Charlie set the signal for the Jacobite rebellion in 1745.
It’s also an 1140 battlefield site where the Scots defeated the Norse.
Aside from its history, Loch Shiel lies in a stunning location between mountains and wetlands.
8. Lake of Menteith
There are three bodies of water that have the English name “lake”, but only one of them is natural (the other two are man-made).
The natural lake is the Lake of Menteith meaning “low-lying land in Menteith.”
As is the usual outcome of nature, Menteith is a beautiful site. It’s full of natural wildlife including ospreys, trout, herons, and otters.
It is also the home to the classical Port of Menteith, which has seen its share of numerous royals and celebrities including Mary Queen of Scots.
Visit Lake of Menteith, enjoy the countryside life, and then tell all your friends you got to visit the only natural “lake” in Scotland.
Jump Into the Beautiful Lakes in Scotland
Some have legendary creatures living in them (maybe!), some are rugged, some are scenic, and some are home to historical events and ruins. But one thing they have common is their beauty.
There is a lake for every type of wanderer in Scotland.
When you’ve decided which of these iconic lochs are perfect for you and your trip, you’re ready to book!
Start here to find a great Scotland vacation deal and book your next loch-venture!