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Loch Ness [hiking & cycling]

Last updated: 12 March, 2024

If it weren’t for Nessie, this would be just another loch: admittedly the second largest in Scotland and the deepest, containing more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. But it’s the legendary Loch Ness Monster that put it on the map. There are ‘Nessie hunter’ boat trips available all around the loch.

Start your visit at the informative, award-winning Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition in Drumnadrochit for the low down, and to delve into the scientific findings. Then head off for some monster spotting, while taking in ruined castles, waterfalls and mountain trails.

Don’t miss

Pay a visit to the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle, a medieval fortress on the shore of the loch. You can watch a film of its history in the visitor centre. Also hike up to the Falls of Foyers to see a famous optical illusion. Stare at the water then flick your eyes sideways to see the rock wall move upwards.

While you’re there

The recently built ‘South Loch Ness Trail’ is a fine walking trail stretching 28 miles along the quieter side of the loch from Loch Tarrf to Torbreck near Inverness. For a shorter walk, try the 10-mile stretch from Inverfarigaig to Dores; download a map at the Visit Loch Ness website.

The 80-mile Loch Ness 360-degree trail loops the circumference of the loch. It is split into six sections (see the website for the breakdown), which you can walk (about 6 days) or cycle (about 3 days), and joins up with the South Loch Ness Trail. It starts just north of Loch Ness in Inverness, and passes the Falls of Foyers and Urquhart Castle. Some parts of the route are steep, and the width and quality of the path varies along the way, so you need reasonably good fitness and agility.

Who to go with: tour operators

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Urquhart Castle

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Ruined castle in the foreground, the loch stretches away behind

Experience

This former medieval fortress, on the shore of the loch, once was the home of Scotland’s Grant Clan. Built in the 13th century, it was subsequently destroyed by the English in 1692 following the crushing of the Jacobite Rebellion at Culloden. You can watch a film of its history in the visitor centre.

Adult price: £10

Good for age: 8+

Falls of Foyers

  • Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom (UK)

Aerial view of a large waterfall

Experience

Hike up to the 165-feet high Falls of Foyers to see a famous optical illusion. Stare at the water then flick your eyes sideways to see the rock wall move upwards. The waterfall feeds into Loch Ness.

Good for age: 8+

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Inverness is a good base for tours and excursions to Loch Ness. It’s also the starting point for the Loch Ness 360 degree walk. If you’re self-driving, the main A82 runs from Inverness along the western shore of Loch Ness to Fort Augustus; note, this route is clogged with traffic in summer. The eastern side of the loch is quieter and more rural.

When you’ve had enough Nessie-spotting, head to the Dores Inn in the village of Dores, a lovely little pub on the eastern shore of the loch.

When to do it

The Loch Ness visitor centre is open all year round, seven days a week. Nessy only appears when he/she feels like it. The walks are accessible any time of the year. May to September offers the best weather, but also an abundance of annoying midges (so take repellent).

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

  • Edinburgh

*Includes a 50 minute cruise on Loch Ness in the tour price. Explore Loch Ness, Glencoe and the Scottish Highlands on this 12-hour tour from Edinburgh. Depart from Edinburgh on a luxury mini-coach and travel out into the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe with your guide. Stop at Fort Augustus on the banks of Loch Ness at marvel at the spectacular scenery, then continue on to explore the Cairngorms National Park. Admire the majestic mountain of Craig Meagaidh and continue through the Drummochter mountain pass to visit the Victorian town of Pitlochry. Group size limited to 16 to ensure a personalised experience.

Price £82

Min age 5

Rating 4.71 / 5 [5087 ratings]

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  • Edinburgh

PLEASE NOTE WE CANNOT ALLOW ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 7 ON TOUR WITH US. When exploring Scotland on your 1 Day Loch Ness, Glencoe and Scottish Highlands Tour, you will get to experience the very best of Scotland in a jam packed adventure. This tour is perfect for those who might have limited time and want to get the most for their money. With breathtaking scenery and landscapes of unspoilt nature you’ll travel the Scottish highlands, getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Experience Scottish culture through the folklore of Scotland’s myths and legends, historical sites and learn about the history of our wonderful country. Every twist and turn of the winding Scottish road has a new photo opportunity, a new story to be told and a new experience to be had.

Price £61

Min age 7

Rating 4.82 / 5 [4059 ratings]

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  • Edinburgh

Go on a fantastic tour from Edinburgh to explore the legendary myths of Loch Ness and enjoy the diverse range of Scottish Highland scenery. Drive through the forests and rivers of Highland Perthshire and get a glimpse of dramatic Glen Coe – the site of the Massacre of Glencoe. See Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, and enjoy a locally sourced and freshly made picnic lunch before taking in magnificent views of the Forth Bridge.

Price £59

Min age 5

Rating 4.66 / 5 [2052 ratings]

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  • Edinburgh

Immerse yourself in spectacular scenery, beguiling mystery and dramatic history on this day trip from Edinburgh. Traveling to the Scottish Highlands, witness the stunning vistas of Cairngorms National Park and cruise along world-famous Loch Ness in search of the Loch Ness Monster and tour Urquhart Castle ruins. Admire an ancient castle in Stirling as you pass by, learn about the massacre at Glen Coe and the adventures of Scottish legend William Wallace, whose life is depicted in the film ‘Braveheart.’ Be sure to bring your camera to capture stunning views and maybe even a glimpse of ‘Nessie’! Please note on December 26 there will be no castle or cruise available

Price £48

Min age 3

Rating 4.61 / 5 [1846 ratings]

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  • Edinburgh

This 12 hour tour will fit in as much of Scotland as can possibly done in one day! You will witness the stunning scenery of Glencoe and Ben Nevis before you make your way to Loch Ness for a cruise across its deep waters looking for evidence of its renowned resident, Nessie. Enjoy traveling in comfort on one of our luxury, modern, air-conditioned coaches as you witness the stunning sights that Scotland has to offer.

Price £62

Min age 4

Rating 4.45 / 5 [1309 ratings]

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