Loch Ness, in beautiful Scotland, was a place we didn’t originally plan to visit during our anniversary trip this summer. However, when we realized it was only a short distance from our hotel, the Glengarry Castle Hotel, we realized it would be silly not to check it out! I’m glad we took the afternoon to go explore this little town made famous by the alleged presence of the Loch Ness Monster, because it had beautiful views of the surrounding Loch Ness (Loch meaning lake in Scottish Gaelic), and some of our favorite souvenir shops in all of Scotland. Should ever you find yourself near Loch Ness, take the time to stop and explore, 4-6 hours should be enough, because it really is a beautiful place, even if you don’t manage to catch a glimpse of “Nessie”.
What to Do
Loch Ness is a small area, and there isn’t a lot of fantastic attractions there, but as someone who grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan, I’ve always been very fond of watching sailboats come to dock, and I love looking out over the water. Admittedly, my husband and I aren’t big fans of gimmicky tourist traps, so we didn’t delve too far into the “Nessie” attractions and museums, but if someone wanted to, they certainly could extend their trip quite a bit.
Primarily, we enjoyed a nice meal at The Boathouse Lochside Restaurant, which overlooked Loch Ness, and watched the sunset over the loch, the surrounding mountains, and strolled through the marina, enjoying sailboats that had parked there from all over Europe, even as far away as Norway. There weren’t a lot of people in the city when we visited in late July, but the locals we did meet were so kind and friendly, and happy to chat with us about our travel plans and give us recommendations of other things to do in the area.
A visit to the Clansman Centre will help visitors to Loch Ness learn more about Scotland’s various clans, how they lived, and what life was like for them hundreds of years ago when clans and clan membership was everything to Scottish people.
There are lots of boating tours where visitors can go out and scan the lake to try to find Nessie, or should the mood strike, you can charter a sailboat and tour the far flung shores of Loch Ness. Either way, the water is beautiful and everyone who was enjoying those activities seemed to be having an excellent time.
Where to Eat
As I mentioned earlier, Loch Ness is a small town. As such, there aren’t many choices when it comes to food. We had dinner at The Boathouse Lochside Restaurant, which not only had great views, but it also had delicious seafood and fish fresh from the lake. There are several small convenience stores and smaller café type restaurants in town too, if you’re on the prowl for a quick bite before seeking out the Loch Ness Monster.
Nearby Glengarry Castle Hotel has great food as well.
Where to Stay
We stayed in the nearby Glengarry Castle Hotel, which was beautiful. It was a roughly 15 minute drive into town, and so we were able to enjoy the town as part of our stay in the Invergarry region, without having to stay in a crowded tourist town. Plus, the hotel was so peaceful and beautiful, located right on Loch Oich, we had a beautiful view of the loch, the surrounding mountains, and the wandering sheep that would graze in the yard each morning. It was also a decent place to stay for our visits to the Isle of Skye, because even though it was a 2 hour drive to the isle each day, we found so many captivating and wonderful sights and vistas along the way, I wouldn’t have traded it for anything!
Cities & Sights Near Loch Ness
3 Hour 15 Minute Drive
Scotland’s capital city is where you’ll find Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh Old Town, the Royal Mile, the world’s most hauntingly beautiful graveyard that inspired Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, and so much more. If you have time to stop in Edinburgh for a few days, I can promise you won’t be disappointed! We stayed at The Scotsman Hotel and loved it!
Eilean Donan Castle
1 Hour 45 Minute Drive
Eilean Donan Castle is the most easily recognizable and perhaps most famous castle in all of Scotland. Having been recently rebuilt, this castle has an incredible history, and even more breathtaking views.
3 Hour 20 Minute Drive
Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow has lots to offer visitors whether you’re seeking arts and cultural offerings, food and drink, or simply a fun, fast paced city environment.
30 Minute Drive
The cultural capital of the Highlands, Inverness houses much of the Highland’s religious and artistic history. Those interested in learning more about Highland clans and their respective heritages should make it a point to visit Inverness for at least a full day.
Isle of Skye
2.5 Hour Drive
The Isle of Skye is my favorite place in all of Europe, and that’s truly saying something. Truly wondrous sights abound on the Isle of Skye, like Mealt Falls, the Fairy Pools where my husband and I renewed our wedding vows on our fifth wedding anniversary, and the Fairy Glen, just to name a few. See 10 of the most incredible places on the Isle of Skye here.
2 Hour 40 Minute Drive
Portree is the portal to the Isle of Skye and the last major city before hitting the beautiful, dramatic wilderness of the Highlands. This port town is famous for its brightly colored buildings and stunning sunsets.
We loved visiting Loch Ness, and I would recommend an afternoon here to anyone passing through the Scottish Highlands.
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