Take a Tour of Scotland’s Mysterious Loch Ness

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Introduction to Loch Ness

Loch Ness is known around the world as the home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Located in Scotland’s beautiful Highlands, it is one of the most iconic freshwater lakes in the world.

The expansive lake covers an area of almost 56 square miles, making it one of the largest lakes in Scotland. Set against the stunning backdrop of rolling hills and forests, the loch shines with a deep blackish-green hue that casts its own unique charm.

Since its early beginnings, Loch Ness has held a special place in Scottish folklore and culture. It has become a tourist hotspot, offering breathtaking views, plenty of activities and the chance to spot Nessie, the elusive resident!

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful holiday away from the city, a fun-filled adventure on the lake or stopping by while on the NC500 route, there’s something for everyone at Loch Ness.

Read on to find out about the best time to visit, suggestions for accommodation and lots of activities you won’t want to miss!

Key Takeaways
Loch Ness is an iconic freshwater lake in Scotland, known for the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
The best time to visit is during the summer months of April to September.
Accommodation options around Loch Ness range from cozy B&Bs to luxury resorts and holiday parks.
Boat cruises and tours provide a great way to explore the loch’s majestic beauty.
Visitors can explore interesting places such as Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, and Clan Fraser Centre.
Adventure seekers can enjoy hiking, biking, gondola cruises, and kayaking at Loch Ness.
Visitors can find a variety of shops to explore, from traditional Scottish markets to big name brands and quirky boutiques.

Best Time to Visit Loch Ness

The best time to visit beautiful Loch Ness is during the summer months of April to September. The weather is at its warmest, and the days are longer, making it perfect for a day of sightseeing. This is also when most tourists flock to the area, so accommodations and attractions may be busier.

Loch Ness is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, so even in the winter months, it can be an excellent place to visit. If you don’t mind cooler temperatures and shorter daylight hours, the winter months may be the best time for you to visit. You’ll have the opportunity to experience historic sites and monuments without the crowds.

For those who want to take part in outdoor activities, the spring or fall seasons may be the best times to go. Spring brings milder temperatures and longer days for golfing, fishing, hiking and more.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Loch Ness, you’ll find plenty of things to do and see. Whether you prefer a more relaxed holiday or a thrilling adventure, Loch Ness has something for everyone.

Accommodation Around Loch Ness

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay near Loch Ness and the Highlands of Scotland, you’re spoiled for choice. Accommodation options range from cozy bed and breakfasts and guesthouses, to luxury resorts and holiday parks.

For those looking for something a little more special, there are plenty of castles, country retreats and private holiday homes available for rent. Of course, camping and caravanning can be a great, budget-friendly way to see all the sights of the region too.

Accommodation Tip:

See our extensive NC500 accommodation directory of all the places to stay, camp and enjoy.

Most accommodation around Loch Ness caters to different budgets and tastes, so whatever type of place you’re looking for, it’s easy to find something to suit. Here’s a quick look at the different types of accommodation you can find in the area:

  • Bed & Breakfasts – Bed & Breakfasts are an ideal option for those who prefer a more personalised experience. Most bed & breakfasts are family-run, offering comfortable rooms, a delicious breakfast and a friendly atmosphere.
  • Guest Houses – Guest Houses are similar to Bed & Breakfasts, but often offer a little more privacy. There are usually a large number of guest houses in close proximity, making it easy to find one that suits your needs.
  • Hotels – Hotels are the perfect choice for those who want to feel pampered. Many hotels offer luxurious rooms, fine dining restaurants and spa facilities.
  • Resorts – Resorts are a great way to get away from it all. These holiday villages usually offer a variety of activities, from swimming pools and golf courses to bike trails and boating trips.
  • Holiday Parks – Holiday parks offer a unique combination of wildness and comfort. These parks are perfect for families, offering plenty of outdoor activities and an abundance of nature.
  • Castles – For those looking for a truly unique experience, there are a number of castles located around Loch Ness. Many of these historic buildings offer luxury accommodation with breathtaking views of the loch and surrounding countryside.
  • Private Holiday Homes – Private holiday homes are becoming increasingly popular around Loch Ness. Staying in a holiday home allows you to enjoy all the comforts of home in a truly scenic setting.
  • Camping and Caravanning – Camping and caravanning can be a great way to explore the area. There are numerous campsites and caravan parks around Loch Ness, so you can find one that suits your needs.

No matter what type of accommodation you’re looking for, you’re sure to find something around Loch Ness that fits the bill. From luxurious resorts to rustic camping grounds, there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets.

Boat Cruises & Tours on Loch Ness

Visiting Loch Ness is an unforgettable experience, and one of the best ways to explore its majestic beauty is with a boat cruise. There are various different companies offering cruises on the loch and several hop-on/hop-off tours which give you the chance to take in all the sights. From leisurely sightseeing trips to adventurous wildlife spotting expeditions, these cruises provide the perfect way to experience Loch Ness.

Popular tour operators offering boat cruise services from Fort Augustus and Drumnadrochit include Cruise Loch Ness, Loch Ness By Jacobite, and Nessie Hunter. Many of the companies offer special packages allowing you to explore the loch at your own pace as well as providing onboard commentary. For example, if you choose to take the ‘Loch Ness Explorer’ package offered by Cruise Loch Ness, you can expect to have the opportunity to explore the loch, admire its beautiful scenery, take part in some interactive activities, and listen to informative commentaries by experienced guides.

The hop-on/hop-off tours provide the perfect opportunity for visitors to explore all aspects of Loch Ness. You can catch the boat from either Fort Augustus or Drumnadrochit and travel around the loch at your own pace, hopping off at selected points along the way. These stops allow you to explore some of the more remote areas of the loch as well as give you the chance to visit nearby attractions. Plus, the boat will pick you up from whichever stop you hopped off from at a later time.

So, whether you opt for a leisurely cruise or an adventurous tour, tours and cruises on Loch Ness are a must-do. Make sure to book in advance to avoid disappointment and have an unforgettable experience on the loch.

Interesting Places to Visit at Loch Ness

Loch Ness is famous throughout the world for its mysterious depths, but there’s much more to see and do than just a boat ride. The area around Loch Ness has a lot to offer and many attractions are found in the area. Here are some of the most interesting places to visit while exploring Loch Ness!

Urquhart Castle

One of Scotland’s most iconic castles, Urquhart Castle sits on the banks of Loch Ness, offering stunning views and a fascinating history. Dating back to the 13th century, this castle has been destroyed and repaired numerous times. Visitors can explore the ruins, which include St Margaret’s Chapel, and learn about the castle’s days as a royal stronghold and its role in the Jacobite rising of 1745.

Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition

Located in Drumnadrochit, the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition is a great place to learn more about the history and legend of Loch Ness. This interactive exhibition covers all aspects of the Loch Ness monster, including scientific theories and sightings. It also has an aquarium, which provides an up-close look at some of the creatures that live in Loch Ness.

Caledonian Canal

Travelling through the Highland countryside, the Caledonian Canal connects the Moray Firth to the North Sea and is perfect for a leisurely boat ride. Along the way, visitors can spot some of the beautiful wildlife that make their homes in the area, as well as the historic lock gates that helped construct the canal.

Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle stands majestically atop a hill overlooking the River Ness and the city of Inverness. It was built in the 1100s and was used as a prison until the 19th century. Now, visitors can explore its many rooms, as well as the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, which chronicles the area’s history.

Clan Fraser Centre

The Clan Fraser Centre is located in Fort Augustus and offers a glimpse into the lives of one of Scotland’s oldest clans. There are exhibitions that detail the date and locations of battles, along with the family’s ancestral home in Lovat, which dates back to the 12th century. Visitors can also explore the grounds and discover the hidden history of this ancient clan.

Activities For Adventure Seekers

Visiting Loch Ness provides countless opportunities for adventure seekers to explore and discover the natural beauty of this fabled land. From hikes and bike rides to chest gondolas and kayaking, the area has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for excitement or a nature enthusiast looking to spot wildlife, here are some activities that you can enjoy at Loch Ness.


The beautiful hills and forests surrounding Loch Ness provide picturesque views and excellent hiking trails. Explore the serene beauty of the Great Glen Way with a guided tour and breathtaking views of Loch Ness. If you’re feeling adventurous, choose one of the more challenging trails that wind along the lake’s edge, providing amazing views of the water.


Due to its stunning landscape, Loch Ness is an ideal destination for avid cyclists. Choose from several cycling routes in the area, ranging from beginner paths to more advanced options. The Great Glen Cycle Route is a popular choice and provides a scenic 40 miles of biking through the Highlands. You’ll be able to experience some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery while enjoying a leisurely ride along the loch’s edge.

Gondola Cruises

Experience Loch Ness like never before by taking a scenic gondola cruise. These cruises take approximately one hour and meander around the loch, allowing you to spot wildlife along the way. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the famous Loch Ness monster! For an even more immersive experience, try a mini-cruise that will allow you to explore the loch’s hidden coves and inlets.


For those who want to explore the loch up close, kayaking is the perfect activity. Rent a kayak and paddle around the glassy surface and explore the beauty of the loch from the comfort of your kayak. You’ll be able to explore the area at your own pace and take in all of the sights and sounds of Loch Ness. Kayaking tours are also available for those who would prefer a guided experience.

Eating Out Around Loch Ness

When visiting Loch Ness, there are plenty of delicious places to eat. The area offers a variety of different restaurants ranging from seafood eateries to cozy pubs. Enjoy a traditional Scottish meal with haggis, neeps, and tatties or sample some of the local fares.

If you’re in the mood for seafood, head to the Loch Ness Seafood Restaurant. Located at the edge of the loch, it offers stunning views along with delicious locally caught fish. Another great option is the Old Inn, a Scottish pub located in the village of Foyers. Here you can tuck into some delicious burgers, sandwiches, and traditional pub grub.

For something a little more exotic, check out the Dores Inn. This traditional country inn serves up Thai food, as well as the usual pub classics. For breakfast, lunch and dinner, diners can choose from a selection of classic dishes and cocktails.

The best part about eating around Loch Ness is that you don’t have to go far. Most restaurants are within walking distance of the loch, so you can easily enjoy an alfresco meal right by the water. Whether you’re looking for traditional Scottish dishes or something more exotic, you’ll find what you’re looking for around Loch Ness.

Shopping in the Area

Loch Ness offers an interesting selection of shops to explore during your visit. Whether you’re looking for a unique souvenir to take home or some Highland wear to remember your trip, you’ll find plenty to experience. From traditional Scottish markets and independent stores to big name brands and quirky boutiques, there are plenty of options for both tourists and locals alike.

The inverness city centre is home to many independent stores and well-known brands. Eastgate Shopping Centre is located in the heart of the city and features a range of clothing stores, jewellery shops, health and beauty outlets and more. For a more traditional shopping experience, Inverness’ Victorian Market located in Church Street is worth a visit where you can find fresh produce and local handmade crafts.

Other popular shopping areas located near Loch Ness include Drumnadrochit, Fort Augustus, and Dores. All three towns offer a variety of local shops including gift stores, bookshops, galleries and antique shops.

No matter where you are near Loch Ness, you are sure to find something to your liking. Shop till you drop while exploring the area and make sure to pick up a unique souvenir to remember your trip!

Suggested Itinerary Options

Exploring the majestic beauty of Loch Ness is an incredible experience. With a variety of things to do, there’s something for everyone’s tastes. Here, we suggest some great itinerary ideas that could make your trip even more impactful and memorable.

If you’re looking for a full day of activity, start off the day with a boat tour. You’ll be able to experience the stunning landscape from a different view, and get up close and personal with all the wildlife along the shore. With a knowledgeable guide on board, you’ll learn about the history and culture of the area, as well as myths and legends about the lake’s famous inhabitant, the Loch Ness Monster.

After your cruise, spend some time exploring the Ruins of Urquhart Castle, which overlooks the lake and offers an amazing view. From here, take a walk to the nearby village of Drumnadrochit and explore the shops, restaurants and pubs.

On the way back to your accommodation, don’t miss out on the beautiful Highland scenery and take a stop at the Clansman Centre, a fascinating interactive museum dedicated to Scottish history and culture. If you still have time, visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition to learn more about the infamous lcok Ness Monster.

Finally, if you’re feeling adventurous, take an evening hike up to the breathtaking Meall Fuar-mhonaidh Viewpoint, where you can watch an incredible sunset over the lake.

Safety Tips and Advice

When visiting Loch Ness, safety should be a priority. It’s important to take precautions and follow the advice of local authorities. Follow the tips below to ensure your trip is safe and enjoyable.

  • Do not swim in the loch, as it is extremely deep and dangerous (may also contain a monster)
  • Be aware of the weather conditions before going out on the loch, as the weather can change suddenly.
  • Always wear life jackets when on boats or vessels.
  • Pay attention to signs and warnings posted along the trails – there are some dangerous areas that should be avoided.
  • Familiarize yourself with the area before setting out – it’s easy to get lost in the area, so use a map and stay on marked paths.
  • Be careful while walking along the shoreline – there can be strong currents in the loch and it’s easy to slip and fall.
  • Be aware of wildlife in the area – there are many species of animals that live in and around the loch, so it’s important to be respectful of those creatures and give them their space.
  • Keep your valuables safely locked away in your accommodation – crime rates in the area are low, but it’s still best to be safe.

Overall, exercise caution and follow the safety tips above to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Loch Ness.

Final Thoughts

Visiting Loch Ness is an experience that will stay with you forever. The unique landscape, the activities and the historic sites create memories that you can take home with you. With so many things to do and see, it is important to plan your trip carefully. Make sure you research the best time to visit and read up on the various activities available, to make the most of your time there.

It is always a good idea to have a plan and think ahead when travelling. Even if you’re planning a spontaneous getaway, do a little bit of research first. This guide has touched on some of the key information needed for exploring the area, but be sure to also look for additional sources for more detailed information before you go.

In Summary

Loch Ness is a mysterious, beautiful and incredibly special location with an amazing natural landscape.

From boat rides and wildlife watching to shopping and activities for adventure seekers, there is plenty to do to ensure you have a memorable stay. No one could ever claim to have seen it all at Loch Ness, as its secrets remain hidden away from prying eyes.

With all of the incredible attractions, be sure to plan your North Coast 500 trip and make the most of the time you have in this stunning area!

Frequently Asked Questions About Things to Do at Loch Ness

  • Q:What is Loch Ness?
    A:Loch Ness is the second largest deep freshwater loch in Scotland, located about 20 miles southwest of Inverness. It is famously known for the mythical ‘Nessie’, a sea creature that is believed to inhabit the loch.
  • Q:What is the best time to visit Loch Ness?
    A:The best time to visit Loch Ness depends on what activities you want to do. For boat cruises and tours, peak season falls between April and October, while fishing is best from July – September. Adventure outdoor activities are good all year round.
  • Q:What are some accommodation options around Loch Ness?
    A:There are many accommodation options available around Loch Ness, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and self-catering cottages. Loch Ness Hideaways, Loch Ness Country House, The Loch Ness Backpackers and Loch Ness Safari Lodges are all highly recommended.
  • Q:Are boat cruises available on Loch Ness?
    A:Yes! Visitors can take boat tours and cruises across the famous Loch Ness, offering an opportunity to sight the elusive monster. Popular companies include the Jacobite Cruises and Nessieland Adventures.
  • Q:Are there any interesting places to visit at Loch Ness?
    A: Yes! Visitors can explore Urquhart Castle, which was built in the 13th Century, or visit Glen Affric, one of the most spectacular glens in Scotland. Other attractions include Inverness Castle, Fort George and Cawdor Castle.
  • Q:What activities are available for adventure seekers at Loch Ness?
    A: Adventure seekers can enjoy a range of activities around Loch Ness, such as canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and biking. Companies such as Get Out With The Kids offer family-friendly activities, while Loch Ness by Jacobite runs thrilling Powerboat Experiences.
  • Q:Are there any places to eat around Loch Ness?
    A: Yes! There are plenty of great eateries around Loch Ness. Options include the Loch Ness Inn and the Dores Inn for traditional Scottish fare, the Waterfall Cafe for locally sourced organic products and Lingonberry Cafe & Bookshop for scrumptious treats.
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