Loch Ness is world-famous for its legend of the Loch Ness Monster. So, visiting the Loch and making your own mind up about ‘Nessie’ is a must for anyone in the area. But there is much more to Loch Ness than its monster. Loch Ness is the largest loch or lake by volume in the British Isles. It’s an average of 600 feet deep and almost 22 miles in length. And it can even be seen from outer space!
The surrounding area is of outstanding natural beauty. A landscape dotted with small villages, attractive short walks and historical attractions. And our full day Loch Ness road trip is the perfect introduction to this stunning place.
Loch Ness Road Trip from Inverness
This car tour can be completed in one day, starting and finishing in Inverness. With so much to see and do on the way, however, we would recommend taking two days for this Highland road trip. This way you can make more of all the things to see and do on the way. See our South Loch Ness Road Trip for the best things to do on the South of the Loch. The route is approximately 67 miles long.
Inverness to Lochend
Start your Loch Ness trip by following the A82 south out of Inverness. Loch Ness first comes into view just beyond Lochend. Here, there is a large lay-by to stop and take your first photos. It’s called the Wellington lay-by, as it was here that a Wellington Bomber aircraft crashed into the waters of the Loch on a training flight during World War 2. From here you can also see across to a fairytale-style castle, Aldourie Castle. It was home of the Cameron Clan for over 300 years, but now provides exclusive accommodation for families and groups.
Lochend to Brackla
A few miles further down the road pull in at the Clansman Hotel in Brackla. The only hotel to sit on the banks of Loch Ness.
Not only does it have a great gift shop and café, but it is also the embarkation point for Jacobite Cruises out on to Loch Ness. This 5-star cruise operator offers two cruise options from the harbour across the road from the Clansman. Other options are available sailing from their Dochgarroch moorings. You can also book exclusive hire cruises for larger groups and enjoy cocktails and entertainment on Loch Ness.
Brackla to Drumnadrochit
The Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition enjoys a VisitScotland 5-star rating. Here you will find out all you need to know about Loch Ness and our famous Monster – both fact and fiction. This is a long-established family business and the centre manager, Adrian Shine, is the world authority on everything associated with the Loch. Back down into the village, Fiddler’s Restaurant provides excellent bar food to keep you well-fuelled on your trip.
Drumnadrochit to Urquhart Castle
Half a mile beyond Drumnadrochit, you’ll find the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle by Loch Ness. Standing perched above the deepest point of the loch, the castle is a very popular attraction. It provides a fascinating insight in to the rich social and cultural history of the area. There is also an excellent café and gift shop here.
Urquhart Castle to Invermoriston
From Urquhart Castle, it is a 20-minute drive down to the small village of Invermoriston. Often overlooked by visitors, it’s a good place to stop and stretch your legs on the short walk to the waterfalls and Thomas Telford’s historic bridge. Allow 30 minutes for this.
Invermoriston to Fort Augustus
The next stop on your Loch Ness road trip is Fort Augustus at the southern end of Loch Ness. This bustling, small attractive village is dominated by the Caledonian Canal. This was built in the early part of the 19th Century by Thomas Telford, one of Scotland’s greatest civil engineers. Take a walk up and across the locks, or simply rest a while and watch. In summer, yachts and cruise boats make their way through the canal to places like Loch Ness and Fort William.
Fort Augustus is also where the other main cruise operator on Loch Ness operates. Cruise Loch Ness are a long-established company, who in addition to the traditional type cruise, offer high-speed rib boat rides out on the loch. Fort Augustus can get very busy in the summer months. So, if you don’t book in advance, you can expect to queue for a cruise. But there is also a small number of gift shops in the village to browse and places to eat.
Also, don’t forget to take a stroll along the lovely footpath which takes you along the waterfront around Fort Augustus Abbey. This building has a long and chequered history stretching back hundreds of years, but today has been converted into exclusive apartments.
Fort Augustus to Suidhe Viewpoint
From Fort Augustus, you start your journey back up the south side of Loch Ness on the B862 and stop at Suidhe Viewpoint. Drivers should be aware that much of the road on this side of the loch is still single track. But don’t be put off by this. The traffic on this side of the loch is light and as long as you follow the etiquette of driving on these roads, you will be fine. The scenery on the south side is wild and spectacular. And for the best views, stop at the highest point on the road called Suidhe Viewpoint. If you’re not in a hurry, why not take a short walk along the South Loch Ness Trail from here and really take in the
Suidhe Viewpoint to Foyers
At the small village of Foyers, a visit to the Falls of Foyers is a must. A tourist attraction since Victorian times, when in spate they must be seen to be believed. The water thunders down over the falls, through the gorge and out into Loch Ness. There are a number of short walks in the vicinity of the falls to explore and the village also has a couple of lovely cafes to stop off for another cup of coffee after your exertions.
Foyers to Boleskine
If you are interested in local history, two miles on from Foyers is Boleskine Graveyard. This is close to the remains of Boleskine House (private property). Once the home of the notorious Victorian occultist Aleister Crowley and also owned in the 1970s and 80s by Jimmy Page of the rock group Led Zeppelin.
It was here on the hillside behind the house that they recorded the fantasy sequence from ‘The Song Remains The Same’.
Boleskine to Dores
Finally, no Loch Ness day tour is complete without a stop at Dores. Not only does it have a great restaurant in Dores Inn, but also the only beach on Loch Ness and long-time resident Nessie spotter Steve Feltham! On a sunny day, it is a lovely place to relax and just savour the unique atmosphere and scenery of Loch Ness.
Dores to Inverness
From Dores, head back to Inverness, where you started. And your Loch Ness road trip is complete!Explore The Highlands Further
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