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Things To Do in Loch Ness

Loch Ness is an iconic place to visit on your Scottish adventure and a perfect base for exploring the surrounding area. Here are our top recommendations for things to do: from the tourist hotspots to the hidden gems. Let’s go!

Towns to Visit

Fort Augustus - Caledonian Canal
The Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus
  1. Drumnadrochit – This charming village is a town-sized tribute to Nessie, the iconic monster lurking in the depths of Loch Ness. Go on your very own monster hunt at Nessieland, and explore the history and mysteries of the area at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition. Drumnadrochit also hosts its own annual Highland Games in August, where you can experience traditional Gaelic sporting events, such as hammer throwing, tossing the caber, and shinty. And if you’re still not convinced – the Groundskeeper Wullie from the Simpsons is said to be from Drumnadrochit!
  2. Fort Augustus – A historic and scenic settlement with spectacular views of Loch Ness. The centrepiece of the village is the Caledonian Canal. This amazing feat of engineering has a series of locks and bridges which run right through the Great Glen, allowing boats to travel safely from coast to coast. If you follow the canal to the banks of Loch Ness, the view of this western tip is hard to beat, and the official Loch Ness sign is a popular prop for holiday photos. We recommend visiting Fort Augustus in the mornings to beat the crowds as by lunchtime, this wee village will be buzzing with tour buses and visitors.
  3. Beauly – Said to be named by Mary Queen of Scots during her visit in 1564 after exclaiming ‘C’est un beau lieu’ (what a beautiful place). This stunning town is home to award-winning independent shops and cafés like the deli Corner on the Square and the excellent wee bakery Café Biagotti. The magnificent ruins of the Beauly Priory were chosen as a film location for Outlander Season 3, and this is also where you can find the oldest elm tree in Europe. In the summers, pipe bands often perform in Beauly’s town square, which will make your visit truly unforgettable.

Historical Landmarks

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle
  1. Urquhart Castle – Its dramatic ruins offer a taste of the castle’s rich history, spanning over 1,000 years. Located on a strategic route through the Scottish Highlands, the castle set the stage for the miracles performed by St Columba, vicious grapples for power, and inspired acts of defiance and chivalry. Enjoy the breathtaking views from the Grant Tower and explore the foundations of medieval life.
  2. Culloden Battlefield – The harrowing site of the last battle fought on British soil and one of the most significant events in Scottish history. Learn all about the Jacobite Uprisings, Bonnie Prince Charlie, the Battle of Culloden and the aftermath, in the modern visitor centre, before taking an audio guide outside to explore the battlefield and various memorials.
  3. Clava Cairns – Located only a short drive from the Culloden Battlefield, you can explore the mysterious remains of an ancient cemetery, dating back over 4,000 years. The well-preserved passage graves from the Bronze Age are made up of ring cairns, kerb cairns, and standing stones, which sit serenely in the beautiful woodlands. Interestingly, the cemetery was used in two periods, a thousand years apart. The cairns are free to visit and open all year round.
  4. Boleskine Burial Ground – This historic cemetery is the final resting place for Clan Fraser, and includes a memorial stone to Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, who is referred to in the Outlander series as Jamie Fraser’s grandfather. He was the last man to be beheaded in the UK, after being charged with treason in 1747 for his role in the Jacobite uprisings.

Nature Spots

A cascade of water flowing down the rock face of a steep cliff in the forest near Loch Ness. People climbing the rocks and standing on a ledge by the water.
Plodda Falls (image credit Visit Britain via Vist Inverness Loch Ness)
  1. The Loch Ness 360° Trail – this extraordinary 80 mile route runs right around the entire circumference of Loch Lomond. Walk, run, or cycle along the trail to take in the stunning Scottish wilderness and charming villages. If you’re really up for a challenge, you can run three marathons around it! Or, join the trail at any point of your choice.
  2. Invermoriston Bridge & Falls – A short stroll into the forest will take you to the ‘Summer House’ which boasts the most picturesque view of the falls and the bridge, designed by Thomas Telford. Before returning to your car, take a walk onto the bridge for a view of where you’ve just come from: it’s another jaw-dropper. You might even be lucky and see the salmon leaping.
  3. Glen Affric – One of the most beautiful glens in Scotland, known for its glorious woodlands and rugged terrain. Be sure to take a wee trip to the Plodda Falls, a stunning waterfall cascading from towering heights. The best photos can be taken from the viewing platform which looks down over the falls and from the area at the base of the falls. Continue deeper into this wildly scenic glen and soak up the enchanting scenes around the Dog Falls.
  4. Chanonry Point – this spit of land on the Moray Firth is one of the best places in the UK to see bottlenose dolphins! Dolphins can be seen throughout the year but it can depend on salmon numbers and tides. Also make sure to take in the lighthouse built in 1846 and the picturesque beach stretching all the way from Chanonry Point back to Rosemarkie.
  5. Falls of Foyers – Along the south side of Loch Ness in the small village of Foyers, you can find a spectacular waterfall that drops into a gorge. You can take the path down steep steps all the way to the shores of Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for excerpts of the poem which Robert Burns wrote about the falls during his visit in 1787. And you might even spot a red squirrel!
  6. Highland Titles Nature Reserve – Spend the afternoon exploring the beautiful Highland Titles Mountainview Reserve and experience the impacts of our conservation efforts first hand. Mountain View is a “self-guided” reserve with a well-made trail to explore so you can just drop by to visit your plot and discover stunning views along the way. Only 1 hour from Inverness, the area is quite easy to reach and it is a great way to spend a day hiking, fishing and spotting the 6 species of bumblebees that inhabit the reserve.

Tours & Activities

  1. Cruise Loch Ness – choose from a leisurely cruise or a high-speed RIB ride. Both offer a unique perspective of the loch and the points of interest around the shore, as well as lots of information about the local wildlife, history and Nessie.
  2. Great Glen Water Park – Book an adventurous day out kayaking, canoeing, gorge walking or rock climbing.
  3. Glen Ord Distillery – Learn all about how Scotch whisky is made and sample a dram straight from the source.

Food & Drink

Images courtesy of The Lovat Loch Ness
  1. Glen Rowan Café – Perfect for a spot of lunch. This cute roadside eatery specialises in freshly prepared local produce and tempting sweet treats. If the weather permits, grab something to takeaway and enjoy at your next stop.
  2. The Lovat Hotel, Fort Augustus – whether you choose to stay here or not, the hotel is well worth a visit for dinner alone. The menu focuses on high-quality, local produce which is prepared and presented like a work of art.
  3. MacGregors Bar, Inverness – this award-winning bar doesn’t do anything by halves; the food is amazing, the drinks offering is local and extensive, and the live music will have you clapping and toe-tapping!
  4. Fiddlers Highland Restaurant, Drumnadrochit – this family-run establishment is all about Highland hospitality and hearty Scottish food, including their own award-winning haggis.

Need a Place to Stay?

If you’re looking for a place to stay around Loch Ness, we have just the place! 8 The Monastery, offers luxurious self-catering accommodation in the Monastery Fort Augustus Abbey, perfect for our Lairds, Lords, and Ladies! Learn more about 8 The Monastery by clicking the link below.