Things to do at Loch Ness: chase Nessie or waterfalls?

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There are lots of things to do at Loch Ness, Scotland’s most famous of lochs, from exploring on foot to scouring the loch by boat searching for a monster.

Loch Ness is situated in the Highlands of Scotland. It’s a long and thin loch and at one end you have the city of Inverness and at the other you have the village of Fort Augustus. What you can do there will depend on which end you come from and which area you decide to explore around.

It still tickles me that the Google Streetview man is changed to Nessie when you’re looking around Loch Ness! Give it a try!

Things to do at Loch Ness:

If you’re just looking for an overview of the top things to do at Loch Ness I got you!

  • Go on a boat trip
  • Search for Nessie
  • Learn about the history of the Loch Ness Monster
  • Check out castle ruins
  • Go for a walk and chase waterfalls
  • Enjoy amazing views while having a Scottish cup of tea (or something a bit stronger!)
  • Try a long distance walk by following the Great Glen Way

I wanted this article to be helpful for those planning a trip around Loch Ness and not just be vague about what to do in the area. The following is a more detailed look at some of the stops around the loch and what you can do in each one.

You’ll notice that there isn’t a lot of attractions around and the main thing that you’ll want to do is take walks and explore the nature. If you’re looking for classic Scottish scenery then you’ll love this place.

So, as I mentioned there are different areas of Loch Ness with things to do. For the purposes of this article I’m going to focus on each area, starting at the west end in Fort Augustus and travelling round the loch clockwise.

You might also like this post if you need some tips on how to get to Loch Ness from Inverness

fort augustus

Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus is at the west end of Loch Ness, right at the tip and it’s where the Caledonian Canal begins as well. Like many of the villages around Loch Ness, it’s only small but has some things to offer visitors and tourists.

Cruise Loch Ness

Cruise Loch Ness do evening and day cruises from Fort Augustus that are about 50 – 60 mins long.

Fort Augustus Locks & Caledonian Canal centre

A great area to head for a walk, especially if you don’t want anything with an incline!

The Canal Centre has food on offer and a small shop as well.

The Clansman Centre

A fun gift shop that has recreated the interior of a highland turf house complete with someone dressed up to tell the history. Well worth a visit if you’re in the village!

Fort Augustus offers a lot of holiday accommodation too if you’d like to stay around Loch Ness – check to see what’s on offer here.

Allt Na Crìche

A hike to get you some great views of Loch Ness. The trail will take you along the Allt na Crìche burn, through the forest and up an incline that will lead you out and see amazing views of the scenery. You’ll need around an hour to do the walk.

It’s very close to Fort Augustus, only a mile and a half away, and has it’s own car park.

waterfall and bridge in Invermoriston near Loch Ness

Invermoriston

The next village along Loch Ness is Invermoriston. It’s a little set back from the loch itself but has one of the rivers that feeds it running through and that’s the main attraction here.

There’s a large car park in the centre if you’re wanting to explore.

The Toll Bridge & Falls

This old bridge dates back to the early 1800s and is really picturesque with the river and falls nearby.

You might also see salmon leaping if you’re here at the right time – normally October – November.

Invermoriston is also a good base if you want to stay on Loch Ness. Check out accommodation here.

John Cobb Memorial

John Cobb was a man who was looking to set a new world water speed record and in 1952 he attempted this at Loch Ness. He already held the land speed record at the time. Unfortunately he lost his life in an accident – a sombre reminder that these attempts don’t always work.

Halfway between Invermoriston and Urquhart Castle there’s a memorial to the man and some information boards to learn more about him. The lay by to park is on the opposite side of the road to the memorial itself so be aware if crossing the road – the A82 can be very busy.

view of loch ness with urquhart castle in the foreground

Urquhart Castle

This ruined castle is an iconic and beautiful sight overlooking Loch Ness. Its history goes back a long way and there’s lots to tell from the English taking over it in 1296 to it being blown up in 1692!

Urquhart Castle is owned by Historic Environment Scotland and there’s a fee to enter unless you’re a member. Open year round except 25/26 Dec and 1/2 Jan.

It’s also situated just by the next village so can be combined with a visit there easily.

Drumnadrochit

One of the main villages around Loch Ness and one that has a number of things to do and explore. Take time out to visit gift shops and cafes and as always, keep an eye out for Nessie!

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Explore and learn about the history of the loch, the search for Nessie and the geology of the area at this exhibition.

You can also book boat trips from here to go out on the loch.

Nessieland

Another attraction based on the Loch Ness Monster myths. This one is rather run down and tired though and doesn’t get good reviews. I’ll update if this changes.

Loch Ness Borlumbay Cruises

Doing tourist cruises and fishing trips all along Loch Ness. More details here.

Urquhart woodlands

Some woods that are near the village and would make a great walk out to stretch your legs and get some river views. Perfect if you have a dog with you!

Craig Monie viewpoint

A trail that can be started in the village and gives spectacular views over Loch Ness and Urquhart Bay.

Divach Falls

A couple of miles from the village but worth it to get a little more out of the way. There’s a small car park and trail that will lead you to Divach Falls.

Drumnadrochit has a lot to offer if you want to stay on Loch Ness. Check out accommodation here.

Clansman Harbour

A little further on from Drumnadrochit is a small harbour and a hotel and gift shop tempting you in.

Loch Ness by Jacobite

One of the many harbours that Jacobite tours uses for their boat trip. They do a lot of different options if you’re looking to cruise along the loch including dog friendly ones!

Gift shop & cafe

Lots of Nessie inspired gifts to get you to part with some money! If you’re planning a cruise you might like to have a browse before or after.

Check out their statue of Nessie too!

The Garden on Loch Ness

This is a garden nursery supplying plants but it also has a woodland walk and you can walk round the garden and enjoy the views over the loch. Worth a stop if you love plants!

Lochend beach

We’re now, as the name suggests, at the far end of Loch Ness. There’s a small number of houses and a small beach that you can walk along, explore and get a different view of the loch – straight on!

Dores Beach

We’re now on the south side of Loch Ness, more of a quiet side with a smaller, less busier road.

In Dores you’ll find another small beach that’s great for walking your dog, throwing pebbles in and contemplating life! Just me that does that?

There are a couple of food and drink options in the area too and a gift shop.

Loch Ness Alpacas

Animal lovers should head here where they do ‘meet & greets’ and ‘trekking’ of their alpacas.

Probably not what you expect to see on the shores of Loch Ness! Check out Loch Ness Alpacas here.

Change House Walk & Loch Ness View

There’s a layby and parking here in between Inverfarigaig and Whitefield. You’re directly across from Urquhart Castle and it’s a great spot to bring a picnic with benches looking out across the water.

There’s a walk you can do as well if you’re looking to explore. It takes you up to the ruins of the Change House – an 18th century inn that would have been used by the military who would go by this way to Inverness from Fort Augustus.

Farigaig forest trails

Another wonderful area with lots of trails to explore to get a view over Loch Ness. Keep an eye out for red squirrels in this area – it’s great for wildlife! This is a forestry site with a free car park so nice and easy to start your walk.

waterfall near Loch Ness

Falls of Foyers

Our last spot on the south side of Loch Ness are the Falls of Foyers. yes, another walking trail through some of the beautiful Highlands countryside. This trail will take you to some spectacular waterfalls – lots of steps so be forewarned!

Great Glen Way

Finally, it’s worth looking at the Great Glen Way. It’s a long distance trail that goes from Fort William to Inverness and goes by Loch Ness.

If you want to do the trail then it takes between 4 and 7 days, there’s lots of places to stay on route and if you love hiking you’ll see some fabulous scenery around! It’s on my list to do.

Check out the Great Glen Way website here.

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And don’t forget to pick up a guide book!

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Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to explore the UK and Europe and has a particular penchant for historical sites.

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