Caledonian Canal Tours

Pleasure boats float along Caledonian Canal, a scenic 60-mile (97-kilometer) waterway that runs through Scotland's Great Glen, connecting Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast. The canal, which links Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Dochfour, and Loch Ness, is popular with walkers and cyclists, who follow towpath trails. 

The Basics
Though the long-distance Great Glen Way, which follows the path of the canal, attracts hikers and cyclists to the water’s edge, most visitors to Scotland encounter the Caledonian Canal during sightseeing cruises. The most-visited part of the canal is the area around Loch Ness, a vast and scenic lake, and the supposed home of a mysterious aquatic monster. Organized tours departing from Edinburgh and Inverness often include a visit to the canal, as well as trips to other area Highland highlights, such as Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and Glencoe.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The Caledonian Canal is a must-see for scenery-seekers and active travelers. 
  • Swimming is not allowed in the waterway. 
  • Wi-Fi hotspots are available (for a fee) at various spots along the canal. 
  • Some parts of the Great Glen Way are wheelchair-accessible.  

How to Get There
If you’re coming from Fort William, Neptune’s Staircase, 4 miles (6 kilometers) north of the city in the village of Banavie, are the nearest and most spectacular set of lochs on the canal. To get there, ride the Mallaig-bound train from Fort William to Banavie. If you’re based in Inverness, take a stroll along the Canal Road, which connects to the Great Glen Way. 

When to Get There
The best time to visit the canal is in summer. At this time, the weather is generally warmer, days are longer, and sightseers can take advantage of cruise vessels’ outdoor decks. The canal is perhaps at its most scenic during sunrise and sunset, when the golden glow reflects off the water’s surface. 

The History of the Caledonian Canal
Built in the late 18th and early 19th century, the Caledonian Canal was meant to serve as a safe route for commercial freight who wanted to avoid the hazardous west coast of Scotland. Unfortunately, by the time it actually opened in 1822, larger steam ships were becoming more commonplace, and were too large to use the canal. Nowadays, the canal is largely used for recreational purposes. 
Location
Address: Inverness, Scotland
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6 Tours & Activities to Experience

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Cruise the Caledonian Canal, Sail Loch Ness and View Urquhart Castle

Explore the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness by boat, and enjoy sweeping views over Urquhart Castle on this 3.5-hour sightseeing cruise from Inverness. Choose the tour time to suit your schedule, then cruise out along the Caledonian Canal to Loch Ness with a guide. Admire the 13th- to 16th-century ruins of Urquhart Castle from the waves, and gain insight into Loch Ness’ rich history and mythology. This sightseeing cruise includes round-trip travel from Tomnahurich Bridge in Inverness.
  • Duration: 3 hours 20 minutes
From
USD30.75
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  • Duration: 3 hours 20 minutes
From
USD30.75

Loch Ness and the Highlands Small Group Day Tour from Edinburgh

Uncover the mysteries of Loch Ness on an exciting day-trip from Edinburgh. Set out north along Scotland's West Coast to experience one of the country's most iconic lochs, best known for the fabled 'monster' said to reside deep within its waters. En route you'll pass some incredible sights, including the ruins of Linlithgow Palace, Ben Nevis―Britain's tallest mountain―and dramatic Highlands landscapes recognizable from films like 'Skyfall.' Your guide will also regale you with stories about the area, making for an exciting, informative―and if you're lucky, truly 'legendary'―trip.
  • Duration: 12 hours
From
USD57.67
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  • Duration: 12 hours
From
USD57.67

The Complete Loch Ness Experience Day Tour from Inverness

Explore the landscape and legends of Loch Ness and the Highlands on a sightseeing tour from Inverness by luxury mini coach. Take an optional cruise across the loch to see Urquhart Castle, enjoy an easy-going walk from Invermoriston, then see the picturesque villages of Foyers and Dores. This 7-hour Highlands tour includes pickup and drop-off at a central location in Inverness, and it’s limited to six people for personal service.
  • Duration: 7 hours
From
USD30.75
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  • Duration: 7 hours
From
USD30.75

Loch Ness Cruise and Urquhart Castle Visit from Inverness

Explore Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle on a 4-hour cruise tour from Inverness. Board the 'Jacobite Rebel' cruise boat at Dochgarroch Lock, and sail down the Caledonian Canal and Loch Dochfour to Loch Ness, Britain’s largest body of water by volume and famous for its mythical monster. Admire the scenery, hear stories about Loch Ness’ history, and enjoy two hours to explore 13th-century Urquhart Castle on the lochside before another hour of cruising.
  • Duration: 4 hours
From
USD44.85
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  • Duration: 4 hours
From
USD44.85

Cruise the Caledonian Canal, Sail on Loch Ness and View Urquhart Castle

Seek out Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, on a 2-hour cruise from Dochgarroch Lock. The boat is fitted with a special Nessie sonar, but if the elusive monster doesn’t show up, the area's other sights will charm you instead. Pass along the Caledonian Canal into Loch Ness to see Urquhart Castle, Bona Lighthouse, and the crash site of a World War II bomber. You'll learn about the loch’s history and legends as you cruise.
  • Duration: 2 hours
From
USD25.63
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  • Duration: 2 hours
From
USD25.63

Cycle To Loch Ness - Self Guided

Explore Loch Ness at your own pace on this independent 1-day cycle tour from Inverness. Hop on your bike in Bellfield Park and — with your map and directions to hand — head into rural Scotland toward Loch Ness. Head along winding country roads at your leisure and enjoy fine views over the countryside scenery. Spin through the peaceful village of Dores to the banks of Loch Ness, then perhaps enjoy lunch in a local café before strolling along the shoreline. Bike hire, map and directions are included on this tour.
  • Duration: 1 day
From
USD48.70
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  • Duration: 1 day
From
USD48.70


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