How to get from Inverness to Loch Ness (2023): best and easiest ways to see Nessie

If you’re wondering how to get from Inverness to Loch Ness, that most iconic of Scottish Lochs, then this post should hopefully help you plan your trip.

I always love visiting Loch Ness, it’s got a real mystical quality to it and always feels like quite a brooding place, possibly because of the hills on either side.

You also just can’t help yourself from keeping a look out for Nessie the Loch Ness Monster too – I mean, what if you just happen to see her?

Getting to Loch Ness is really easy, no matter what your transport. It is actually not too far from Inverness at all and I’m always really pleasantly surprised when we’ve gone how quick it is to get there.

Loch Ness is probably one of the most well known lochs in Scotland so visiting there while on a Scottish Highlands trip is a must. Thankfully, it makes an easy day trip from Inverness or as part of a larger itinerary around Scotland.

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Our Top Recommendation

Loch Ness near Inverness

Complete Loch Ness Experience

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ – 5/5 (150 reviews)

If you need to get to Loch Ness from Inverness easily then this is our recommended small group tour.

With a friendly guide you’ll explore the local roads looking out for Nessie and you can also go for a boat trip too (optional)

view over loch ness
Overlooking Loch Ness

A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

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Some Useful Links for getting to Loch Ness:

Where is Loch Ness?

Loch Ness is in the Scottish Highlands, just south west of the city of Inverness.

It’s only around 7 miles to the very tip of the loch at a place called Lochend. The other end of the loch is about 35 miles away in Fort Augustus.

Loch Ness is a very long and narrow loch (and also very deep – it’s Scotland’s 2nd deepest loch!) so while you arrive at it very soon after leaving Inverness you might want to keep going for the best part of the loch to explore around.

How to get to Loch Ness from Inverness

Getting to Loch Ness from Inverness can be done in a few different ways and which one that you choose will depend on your circumstances, how long you have in the area and what you want to do when you get there.

You can get to Loch Ness by:

  • car
  • bus
  • organised tour buses
  • and even walking!

There are a couple of villages along Loch Ness that you’ll potentially want to head to along the loch side. Each of them have car parks, bus stops and things to do like museums, boat trips and shops.

  • Drumnadrochit – home to Urquhart Castle
  • Invermoriston – with some waterfalls nearby too
  • Fort Augustus – at the far end of Loch Ness
view of loch ness from Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle on shores of Loch Ness just outside Drumnadrochit

How to get from Inverness to Loch Ness by car

Driving from Inverness is best if you like your independence and taking your time when exploring!

If you have a car then getting to Loch Ness from Inverness is fairly straightforward. The main A82 hugs the north shore of Loch Ness all the way down from the east tip to the west.

The A82 takes you through many of the main villages on the Loch and you could choose to stop at any or even all of them. They all have good car parks although they may well be busy in high season.

If you just want a quick look at Loch Ness then there’s also a number of laybys on the A82.

They can be perfect for a quick stretch of your legs, a selfie by Loch Ness and a quick scan to look out for monsters!

Do be aware that the A82 road is very busy with fast moving cars and you’ll not likely be able to access the loch at all from there or any walking paths. Be extra careful if traveling with children or animals.

You can also choose to drive the B862 road which will take you along the south shore of the loch. It’s a quieter route with a different feel to it – there’s still a lot of places to stop and explore the loch but none of the bigger villages.

Many people do a circular route around Loch Ness from Inverness. It would take you just over 2 hours if you didn’t stop!

Renting a car in Inverness is a good option if you want to really explore and you don’t have your own car – you don’t need to have it for all your time but it can definitely give a different perspective of the country!

How to get from Inverness to Loch Ness by bus

Bus is a good option is you value your independence to explore but you don’t have your own car.

There are a couple of options to take the bus from Inverness to Loch Ness.

Scottish City Link 919 bus will take you from Inverness all the way to Fort William and stops at many places along Loch Ness so any of the villages that are on the way including Drumnadrochit, Invermoriston and Fort Augustus.

It goes every couple of hours in winter and every hour in Summer, but do check timetables and make sure you know when the last bus back is! (search Inverness to Fort William)

If you just want to go to Drumnadrochit you have another option as well.

The 17 bus, run by Stagecoach, will take you there from the centre of Inverness. There are only a few bus services each day so I encourage you to check the timetable to see if any work for you.

Tours to Loch Ness from Inverness

A good option for those without a car and those wanting to see many places in one day.

The easiest way to get to Loch Ness, especially if you don’t have your own transport is definitely taking a tour. Yes they can be a little bit touristy, but sometimes that can be outweighed by the ease that you can visit where you want to go and not needing to worry about parking or bus timetables.

They are often run by really enthusiastic guides who know the area well so if you like to learn about everything you see in great detail then having a guide can be invaluable. They can really light up a trip as well!

Some tours will take you direct from Inverness to explore the Loch and some others include it as part of a larger tour around the Highlands. Think about what’s important to you when visiting Loch Ness and whether it’s worth fitting in some other places.

If you’re short on time and want to fit in as much as you can then a day tour can be a good way to do it and since the tour operators really know what they’re doing they can fit in way more than you might do even if you had you’re own transport.

Check these tours out:

Complete Loch Ness 1-day experience
Highlander Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield tour
Glen Affric, Clava Cairns and Culloden Tour

signpost on great glen walk near inverness and loch ness

Long distance walk – Great Glen Walk

For anyone who is interested in walking and hiking in Scotland then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a well set up, long distance walk in Scotland called the Great Glen Walk. It runs from Inverness to Fort William? and goes right by Loch Ness.

Obviously this one isn’t for everyone! You can find out more here.

How to get from Inverness to Loch Ness by train

I’ve included this here because many people do search about how to get to Loch Ness by train. Unfortunately the answer is that you can’t get to Loch Ness this way, certainly not from Inverness.

You could catch a train to Inverness or perhaps even Fort William and then use the bus to then get you to Loch Ness. That would be a good way to visit Loch Ness from places such as Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Where to stay in Loch Ness

If you’re planning to stay in the area of Loch Ness then here are a few different options for each village along the way.

Loch Ness Backpackers Lodge – Drumnadrochit
Glenmoriston Arms Hotel – Invermoriston
The Lovat, Loch Ness – Fort Augustus

Alternatively you could check out VRBO for apartments and cottages that would be good if you’re spending more than a couple of days in the area.

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🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?

YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!

Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.

Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?

YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable

I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland

How to book accommodation in Scotland?

For hotels I recommend

For apartments and cottages check out VRBO

Will my phone work in Scotland?

Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.

If you need a SIM for use in Scotland I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.

What to pack for Scotland

Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.

See my post about what to pack for Scotland

Do I need midge spray for Scotland?

YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.

Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!

If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.

What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?

I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks

Where to get flights for Scotland

Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.

Do I need a visa for Scotland?

Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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