As huge as Loch Ness is, its vast size is not the reason for its global fame, nor is it the magnificent surrounding scenery. The real reason visitors flock to this Scottish body of water is to spot the elusive Loch Ness Monster. Rumors about Nessie have flown since an Irish monk first caught sight of something unusual swimming around the lake’s inky waters back in the seventh century. Today. travelers still cruise around the loch in hopes of catching sight of the mysterious aquatic monster.
Loch Ness is most often visited during day trips from Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen that incorporate other Highlands attractions such as Urquhart Castle, Stirling Castle, Caledonian Canal, Glencoe, Rannoch Moor, Cairngorms National Park, and even Ben Nevis, Britain’s highest mountain. Shorter half-day trips, which typically include boat tours on the lake, typically depart from Inverness, while cruise-ship passengers can take shore excursions from Invergordon. Motorized boat trips are the most common way for visitors to scour Nessie’s lair, though it’s also possible to paddle a canoe or kayak out on the loch, or even take a self-guided cycling trip.
Things to Know Before You Go
- For background on the Nessie phenomenon, visit the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition at Drumnadrochit.
- Wear warm clothes, including a waterproof outer layer, as it can get cold out on the water.
- Day trips from Edinburgh and Glasgow generally last around 12 hours.
- The Loch Ness Centre is wheelchair accessible, however most boat trips are not.
- Bring along a camera so you can document any unusual lake activity!
How to Get There
Loch Ness stretches between Inverness and Fort Augustus, and is one of many such lakes located along the Great Glen. Tours from Inverness, Edinburgh, and Glasgow typically include round-trip transportation to cruise departure points such as Clansman Harbour, Dochgarroch, and Tomnahurich Bridge.
When to Get There
Boat trips around Loch Ness run year-round, though they are weather-dependent. During summer, the main A82 thoroughfare between Fort William and Inverness sees a lot of traffic and sightseeing cruises often sell out, so be sure to buy tickets in advance.
How to Maximize Your Chance of a Monster Sighting
For the best chances of glimpsing the fabled Loch Ness Monster, choose a boat that is fitted with special onboard sonar systems to ensure Nessie doesn’t swim by unnoticed. If you are worried the sound of a motor may disturb Nessie, opt for a canoe or kayak tour instead. And if you’d rather stay away from the water altogether, the high lakeside perch where the ruins of Urquhart Castle lie makes for a great viewing spot, with uninterrupted lake panoramas.