I visited Loch Ness as part of my 5-day Highland flight tour with Haggis Adventures. We spent two nights in Fort Augustus on the shores of Loch Ness and spent two days exploring things to do in Loch Ness and surrounding area. I learned a lot about the Loch and the mysterious Loch Ness monster and quickly fell in love with this beautiful part of Scotland.
I had a complimentary tour with Haggis Adventures, but rest assured that all opinions here are my own.
About Loch Ness
Loch Ness is one of the most famous lakes in the world, and certainly the most famous loch in Scotland. The legend of the Loch Ness Monster has endured for centuries, and every year visitors flock to Loch Ness to see if they can catch a glimpse of Nessie herself.
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One of the reasons why the existence of the Loch Ness Monster has yet to be proved or disproved is the loch itself. The water in Loch Ness is coloured from tannins in the peat soil which wash into the loch, giving it a dark and foreboding aura. Visibility in the lake is practically zero so diving or taking a submarine down into the lake is impossible. The sheer size of the loch also makes it difficult to investigate thoroughly – it has a surface area of 22 square miles and is 755 feet deep at its deepest point, containing more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.
Where to Stay in Loch Ness
We stayed at Morag’s Lodge in the quaint village of Fort Augustus on the southern tip of Loch Ness. The hostel has private rooms and dorms with en-suite bathrooms and the best showers I used in Scotland! There is a self-catering kitchen as well as breakfast and evening meals available if you pre-order. There is also a bar where you can compete with fellow travellers in the pub quiz.
Things to do in Loch Ness
As things to do in Loch Ness would technically be in the water of the loch, this article covers things to do around Loch Ness and in the towns and villages on the edge of the water.
Things to do in Loch Ness: A Loch Ness Cruise
This was without a doubt my favourite thing to do in Loch Ness, and essential for any visitor to the Loch. Getting out on the water is the only way to really appreciate the depth and size of this huge body of water. Cruises leave from various points around the Loch including Inverness and Drumnadrochit, but we left from Fort Augustus as it was close to our accommodation.
Cruise Loch Ness run Loch Ness boat tours from Fort Augustus around the Loch at regular intervals throughout the day. We took an evening Loch Ness Cruise which was a lovely way to end a busy day, but if you want something more intense they also offer RIB tours too. The excellent guide Shaun was hilarious, sharing stories and facts about the Loch with a great sense of humour and with tongue firmly in cheek. He pointed out interesting things to see around Loch Ness, including a patch of bare rocks on the steep bank where legend has it, Nessie tried to escape the Loch, or at tried to catch some goats for her dinner. We also spotted a couple of deer on the bank.
The most interesting (and entertaining) part of the tour was the talk given by Shaun about Nessie and the various attempts to find the Loch Ness Monster. He explained the lengths that people went to to try and capture Nessie, and some of the technical methods still used today in the Loch, like the SONAR readings provided live on the boat. If I wasn’t a believer before, I am now! Shaun also shared a fail-safe way of taking a photograph of the Loch Ness monster, he managed to tempt her out of the water at just the right moment! (disclaimer: this may not be true!)
Cruises leaving from the north part of Loch Ness also include views of Urquhart Castle on the banks, but we had enough to look at without that! If you are visiting Loch Ness and not staying in Fort Augustus, these other Loch Ness cruises might work for you:
Spot Nessie on the Shores of Loch Ness
No matter where you are on the shores of Loch Ness, come down to the water’s edge to see if you can spot any ripples in the water…. A Nessie souvenir gives you great photo opportunities to show the family back home! If you pass by Dores on the eastern shores of Loch Ness you could stop off to visit Nessihunter Steve Feltham who has been searching for Nessie full time since 1991. He lives in a van right next to the Loch and sells souvenirs to help fund his search. Sadly we didn’t get the chance to stop by, but hopefully next time!
Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
If you’re still craving more Nessie information after a Loch Ness cruise, then the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition provide scientific analysis and documentary evidence about the Loch and the Loch Ness Monster through a series of video displays. There is free parking on site, but the entry fee of £8.45 per person (reductions available for concessions & children) may be a bit steep for what you get. I didn’t personally come here, as the information we got on the cruise was detailed enough for me!
The Caledonian Canal
The 60-mile-long Caledonian Canal cuts through the Great Glen from Inverness through to Fort William. In Fort Augustus, you can see a series of lochs where the canal meets Loch Ness and visit the Caledonian Canal Centre to learn more about the history of the canal. There are also several good restaurants along the canal to try out.
Things to do around Loch Ness
There are also lots of things to do around Loch Ness, including hiking, biking and exploring the beautiful scenery here. These are a few of things we did as part of the Haggis Adventures Tour.
Inverness is a bustling city and is the cultural capital of the Highlands. There were plenty of shops and restaurants here, as well as a Victorian shopping arcade, a 19th-century cathedral and a castle. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs and get some lunch, but for me, the best things to do in Inverness are actually outside the city in the nature around Loch Ness.
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I had no idea about Scottish history before coming to Scotland, so this was a sobering but interesting visit for me. Culloden was the site of the last battle on British soil on 16th April 1746 and marked the end of the Jacobite Uprising which had aimed to restore the Stuart Monarchy to the British throne. 1600 men were killed in less than an hour, 1500 of them were Jacobites. The battle ended the Highland clan way of life, and memorials to the clan members are dotted around the field. The battlefield is free to visit, and there is also a visitor centre and museum which has more information about the battle and the Jacobite Uprising which has an entry fee.
Close to Culloden, these 4000-year-old burial cairns give a fascinating glimpse into Neolithic Scotland. For Outlander fans, these stones apparently provided inspiration for Craigh na Dun in the series. Apparently built as burial sites, the stones were carefully placed to allow the sun to shine in specific places on the winter solstice, although not the people who built them didn’t leave many clues to their purpose. The Cairns are free to visit and are a short drive from Culloden.
Trees for Life at Dundreggan
As part of our Haggis Adventures tour, we visited Trees for Life and planted two trees in Haggis Wood, where Haggis Adventures are doing their bit to re-populate the native Caledonian Forest. If you are visited Loch Ness on your own or in a small group you could take part in one of their conservation days or donate money for a tree to be planted in your name. Their website also has details of areas in the forest to visit, where you could spot red squirrels and other Scottish wildlife.
Other Things to do in Scotland
If you’re spending more time in Scotland you may also like this 7 day Scotland itinerary or my full review of the Haggis Adventures Highland Fling tour.
Are you a believer in Nessie? Have I missed any things to do in Loch Ness that you’d recommend? I’d love to hear what you think, please leave your comments below.
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