13 Amazing Things to Do in Loch Ness, Scotland

With breathtaking natural beauty, friendly highland hospitality, diverse wildlife, rich history, and being the home to a legendary aquatic monster, Loch Ness tops the list of best places to visit in Scotland.

Whether you are a history enthusiast, nature lover, or keen hiker, it offers something for everyone and should be a part of your Scotland itinerary.

The city of Inverness, also known as the capital of the Highlands, is the perfect base to explore this area. Most travellers visit Loch Ness on a day trip from Inverness.

The word ‘loch’ comes from Scottish Gaelic and means lake. The mighty Loch Ness contains the largest volume of fresh water in Great Britain. One of the fascinating facts to blow your mind – it has more fresh water than all of the lakes and rivers in England and Wales combined.

Also, Loch Ness is the second-largest loch in Scotland by surface area, right after the bonnie Loch Lomond.

From popular tourist attractions to lesser-known places, in this guide, we have used our own experiences to show you how to make the absolute most of your time here.

The Legend of Loch Ness Monster, Nessie

Cruising around the tranquil water in search of the famous resident monster is one of the best things to do near Inverness. Over the years, there have been numerous reports of sightings and photographs of the Loch Ness Monster by the local residents and tourists.

The first Nessie sighting dates back as early as 565 AD. It was Saint Columba, the Irish monk who brought Christianity to Scotland. He encountered a giant beast while travelling around the Loch Ness area.

Later, in 1933, a local couple claimed to have seen Nessie. The news got immense global attention.

While many claimed that the Loch Ness Monster is a plesiosaur, a marine reptile that became extinct 65 million years ago or maybe an archetype, a primitive whale which also got extinct about 18 million years ago, there is no definitive scientific evidence. 

Over the years, there have been various scientific expeditions to uncover the mysteries. Even today, Nessie’s existence remains the biggest secret of all. The alluring mystery makes Loch Ness more fascinating. What do you believe in? 

Best Things to Do in and around Loch Ness

1. Explore the Colourful History of Urquhart Castle

Nestled on the northern shore of Loch Ness, the magnificent Urquhart Castle is one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.

Steep in thousands of years of fascinating highland history, this iconic historical landmark is one of the best tourist attractions in Loch Ness.

The stunning ruins that we see today date back to the 13th century. However, historians believe that there was an early Medieval fort at the site.

Urquhart Castle was once one of the largest castles in Scotland. Throughout history, many battles were fought between the Scottish and English forces to claim this castle’s ownership, especially during the Wars of Scottish Independence.

In later years, Urquhart Castle faced several vicious attacks from the Clan MacDonald. Also, it was partially blown up by the government troops during the Jacobite Risings to prevent it from falling into the hands of the rebels.

Once here, marvel at the majestic setting of Urquhart Castle against the vast backdrop of the scenic Loch Ness. You can climb the Grant Tower for a spectacular view of this ruined fortress and the surrounding area.

Also, peel your eyes out for the famous Loch Ness Monster, who has been reportedly seen several times from here.

Opening Hours: Daily. April to August, 9.30 am to 8 pm; September, 9.30 am to 6 pm; October, 9.30 am to 5 pm; November to March, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

Ticket: Adult £13 and child £7.80.

2. Take a Scenic Boat Cruise on Loch Ness

What better way to spot the elusive Loch Ness Monster than a relaxing cruise on the water? This is undoubtedly one of the best things to do from Inverness for anyone hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie.

Boat trips are a great way to admire the stunning sceneries of the surrounding mountains and lush woodlands. It provides a unique perspective.

There are various companies running tours from different places along Loch Ness. You can catch boat tours from Fort Augustus, Drumnadrochit and Doch Garroch.

Also, there are different types of tours to choose from like day cruises, evening cruises or adrenaline-pumping RIB boat tours. Your guide or skipper of the boat will give live commentary. Some of the boat tours include live sonar presentations.

You will learn a great deal about the history of Loch Ness, including the myths and legends behind Nessie. Also, watch out for wildlife.

Adventure lovers can also do canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding here.

3. Enjoy Great Views from Fort Augustus

Surrounded by majestic Highland scenery, Fort Augustus is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. It sits on the southern end of Loch Ness and is a must-visit place for anyone exploring this part of the Scottish Highlands.

One of the highlights of Fort Augustus is the lovely Caledonian Canal, which runs through the heart of this charming village and features a series of lock bridges. It is fun to watch the boats navigate through the waterway.

Stroll along the canal side path to get to the stunning Loch Ness View Point. From there, you can admire the vast stretch of this tranquil lake and the surrounding mountains.

Also, there are several boat cruises departing regularly from this lochside village. Plus, you can take part in several outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and water sports.

If you are interested in buying some locally produced crafts and souvenirs, pop inside the Caledonian Canal Centre and the Clansman Centre.

4. Soak up the Sun on Dores Beach

You won’t expect to find such a lovely beach on the shore of Loch Ness. Dores Beach is a great day trip destination from Inverness for a beach day out.

Meander along the pebbly shore to soak in the serene beauty of this place. It is the perfect place for a picnic on a sunny summer day.

If weather permits, enthusiastic travellers can take a dip into the water. Although, it is going to be a bit cold. Due to the sheer depth of the loch, the water rarely warms up beyond five degrees Celsius.

From Dores Beach, you will get one of the finest views of Loch Ness.  Also, it is a great location to spot Nessie. You will find the camper van of full-time Nessie hunter Steve Feltham here.

After you visit, if you are hungry, pop inside the nearby Dores Inn for some delicious local delicacies and drinks.

Dores Beach is only a 20-minute drive away from the city of Inverness. You can catch local bus service 302, 14A, 14C and 14D from Inverness bus station.

5. Enjoy Majestic Views from Suidhe Viewpoint

Suidhe Viewpoint is one of our favourite places in the Loch Ness area. It is truly a hidden gem.

This viewpoint is only a 10-minute drive from the village of Fort Augustus. If you are travelling along the south side of Loch Ness, this observation point is an unmissable spot.

It is located on the main road B862, also known as General Wade’s Military Road. It was constructed in the 18th century by the English Government to navigate more effectively, especially during times of political conflicts and unrest.

You will get a breathtaking view right from the road, which also has parking spaces. There are uninterrupted views of the mountains, lochs and valleys of the Scottish Highlands in all directions.

On a clear day, you can spot Loch Knockie, Loch Nan Lann, Loch Tarff and Loch Mhor.

Take a short walk to the nearby hill for a more elevated view. The well-defined path is part of the Loch Ness 360 walking trail.

6. Explore the Falls of Foyers

The beautiful Falls of Foyers is one of the best tourist attractions on the southern side of Loch Ness. It is a peaceful and scenic spot for a nature retreat.

Set in a dramatic gorge, the Falls of Foyers is an atmospheric waterfall with a sheer drop of 144 ft. To visit this stunning waterfall, you need to take a short walk through the woodland.

The path to the Falls of Foyers is properly waymarked and is easy to follow. Cross the road from the car park and pass through a small gate. Next, follow the zig-zag downhill path to visit the upper viewpoint.

From there, you can admire its enormous height. The level of flow varies with season and weather conditions. We went there on a dry week in May, so the flow was much narrower than usual.

Keen hikers can explore further. You can continue along the trail to visit the lower viewpoint or follow the path down to the shores of Loch Ness.

If you are only visiting the upper viewpoint, it takes about 10-15 minutes. The beauty of this place has even inspired Scotland’s greatest poet, Robert Burns, who wrote a poem about this waterfall.

7. Get Active and Take a Nature Break

Around Loch Ness, there are various walking trails for all different abilities to enjoy the beautiful scenery.

If you are looking for a flat route for a nice family walk, Urquhart Bay Woods near Drumnadrochit, Allt na Criche, River Oich and Jenkins Park near Fort Augustus are some of the great choices.

For one of the best views over Loch Ness and the surrounding mountains, climb Meall Fuar Mhonaidh. It is the highest hill in this area. You might have seen this round-shaped hill from afar.

On clear days, you can even see Ben Nevis and the other mountains of Fort William from the top. It takes around 3-5 hours to complete this hike.

Keen hikers and adventure seekers will love exploring the stunningly beautiful Glen Affric. It is a perfect place to visit on a day trip from Inverness.

Another popular hike is the Great Glen Way, a long-distance trail that runs from Fort William to Inverness and passes alongside Loch Ness.

Before venturing out, always check the weather. It is Scotland, after all. Paths can be very boggy after heavy rain. So, sturdy hiking shoes will come in handy.

8. Enjoy Romantic Strolls in Invermoriston Bridge and Falls

Invermoriston is a small village on the northern shores of Loch Ness. The main highlights are Invermoriston Falls and a small old bridge built by Thomas Telford.

The short walk to the Invermoriston Falls passes through a magical woodland. The trail is easy to follow and is a popular kid-friendly nature walk around the Loch Ness area.

There are various viewpoints along the path, which offer stunning views of the captivating Invermoriston Falls. Pop inside the summer house for a magnificent view of the cascading stream. You can find it on the cliff edge above the river.

You will spot a small stone-arched bridge standing over the River Moriston. It was built in 1813 by none other than the famous Scottish engineer, Thomas Telford. Later, in 1933, it was replaced with a new road bridge.

However, you can still walk to the old bridge. It makes a great spot for photography. Watch out for the salmon leaping up the stream. If you are visiting Loch Ness in autumn, we would strongly recommend visiting this place. It looks gorgeous in fall colours.

9. Marvel at the Magnificent Plodda Falls

Plodda Falls is one of Scotland’s best-kept secrets. This magnificent waterfall is just an hour’s drive from Inverness via the A82 and A831. The drive takes you along the shores of Loch Ness.

From the village of Tomich, you have to follow a narrow forest track for around five miles, which is mostly a single-track road, and the drive is an adventure in itself.

From the car park, follow the sign for Plodda Falls. After a short walk through the woods, you will reach the upper viewpoint of the waterfall. 

The viewing platform hangs over the gorge. From there, you will see the mighty Plodda Falls gushing down fiercely.

Continue to follow the trail downhill to visit the lower viewpoint. From there, you can see the entire waterfalls, and it’s a sight to behold. Plodda Falls is over forty metres high.

Be mesmerised by the beauty of this waterfall. Undoubtedly, Plodda Falls is the most dramatic and spectacular waterfall near the Loch Ness area and is a hidden gem.

The surrounding area of Plodda Falls is a nature reserve and has rich wildlife. Also, you will find some of the tallest trees in Scotland here.

10. Admire Endless Views over Loch Ness

While driving along the banks of Loch Ness, you will find several viewpoints boasting spectacular vistas over the lake and the surrounding landscapes.

Also, there are small parking spaces attached to them. So, it is safe to park your car and soak in the stunning view. It is not hard to find them. We have also added these observation spots to the map below.

There are quite a few great parking laybys at the side of the road on A82. You can walk down the stairs into the pebbly shore of Loch Ness.

The A82 has several sharp curves and gets very busy with tourist cars and buses. So take care when approaching the parking layby.

If you are driving on the south side, make a brief stop at the viewpoint near Inverfarigaig and Whitefield. There are a few picnic benches to relax and admire the stunning view. You can also spot Urquhart Castle from here.

Another wonderful stop along the road is the historic Clan Fraser Cemetery. Also, don’t forget to stop by at Loch Tarff Viewpoint.

11. Uncover the Secrets of Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Corrimony Chambered Cairn is a must-visit site for all history lovers and budding archaeologists visiting Loch Ness.

It is an ancient passage grave dating back to the bronze age. Also, the circular mound is surrounded by eleven stones of different sizes.

This type of site is known as Clava Passage Grave, named after Clava Cairns, which you can visit as a day trip from Inverness. Interestingly, these monuments are only found in this region of the Scottish Highlands. They were built around 4000 years ago for collective burials.

If you duck down and crawl through the narrow passage in this historic site, you will reach a small central chamber. Archaeologists believed this was the tomb of a woman.

Looking closely, you can spot cup and ring marks carved on the stone. You will get to see similar prehistoric markings at Clava Cairns.

It takes only 15 minutes to drive here from Drumnadrochit, a village on the shore of Loch Ness. Corrimony Chambered Cairn is located in Glen Urquhart.

12. Visit Loch Ness Centre

Located in the village of Drumnadrochit, Loch Ness Centre is a fantastic place to explore for all enthusiastic Nessie hunters. If you are travelling with kids, they are going to love it here. Plus, if the weather turns bad, this is the perfect place to spend a few hours learning about Nessie and this area.

This museum is housed in an old hotel, which has an intriguing past. The manager of this hotel reported having seen a gigantic, whale-like beast, which at that time got a lot of massive media attention and quickly became an international frenzy.

Take an hour-long interactive tour to delve into the thrilling tales of the infamous Loch Ness monster. Also, you will learn a lot about the intriguing geological features of this area. Tours run every 10 minutes throughout the day. Also, book your tickets online in advance for a cheaper price.

13. Discover the Falls of Divach

Located about two miles from the village of Drumnadrochit, the Falls of Divach is perfect for a peaceful stroll around the Loch Ness area.

From the car park, follow the signposted trail to the waterfall. It takes around half an hour to reach the observation point and come back.

From there, you can see the water tumbling down 100 ft to the pool underneath. Later, it flows into River Coiltie, which continues to Urquhart Bay before joining Loch Ness.

The surrounding woodland is full of diverse wildlife. So, keep your eyes peeled out. Also, the walk through the beautiful oak-tree woods is equally remarkable.

Map of the Attractions in Loch Ness

Here is a map showing all the places of interest mentioned in this travel guide. Along with the tourist attractions, we have also marked all the viewpoints you can find along the loch. Click on this Google Map. Also, you can use it offline if you save it to your phone.

Best Time to Visit Loch Ness

This area looks fabulous in all seasons. With warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, summer is the perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. It is also the peak season. So, this area gets very busy in summer with local and international tourists.

However, if you fancy visiting Loch Ness without crowd, we would suggest coming here in April, May, September and October. This area looks stunning in spring and autumn colours.

Bear in mind that the weather in Scotland can be notoriously unpredictable. So, it’s always a good idea to come prepared.

How to Reach Loch Ness

This area is easily accessible from all parts of Scotland and England. If you are visiting on public transport, you need to get to Inverness first.

By Train: ScotRail operates direct train services from Edinburgh and Glasgow. The journey from Edinburgh Waverley Station takes about 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours and around 3 hours 20 minutes from Glasgow Queen Street Station. From Inverness Bus Station, you can catch a local bus service to get to Loch Ness.

By Bus: There are direct buses to Inverness from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Bus services are operated by Scottish Citylink and Megabus.

By Road: From Edinburgh, take the M90 through the Queensferry Crossing, then join A9 near Perth. The fastest route to Inverness takes around three hours.

By Air: The closest airport to Loch Ness is the Inverness Airport. There are direct flights from London, Bristol, Manchester and Amsterdam.

How to Get Around Loch Ness

The northern bank of Loch Ness is easily reachable by public transport. Bus services 917, 919 and 17 leave from the Inverness bus station and travel to Drumnadrochit and Urquhart Castle.

If you are visiting Fort Augustus, catch the Citylink service 919 heading towards Fort William.

To explore the southern bank of Loch Ness, like Dores Beach and Falls of Foyers, hop on bus service 16.

We have visited this area by public transport quite a few times. So, it is completely doable. Although, it requires some advance planning.

If you want more flexibility, we would recommend hiring a car for a couple of days to explore Loch Ness at your own pace. A82 goes through the north side of the lake and connects Inverness to Fort William. Much of the roads on the south side are single-track. So, drive carefully.

Loch Ness is one of the most scenic parts of Scotland. Yes, it is touristy. But if you go outside the popular places, there are so many hidden gems around this area where you can have peace and quiet. We hope that this guide has inspired you to travel here.

With love, Moumita & Sankha

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