Julie Scotland 21 Comments

Without a doubt, Loch Ness is Scotland’s most famous loch. Legend has it that this lake is home to Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. People travel all over the world to visit this famous loch, hoping to get a chance to spot the elusive underwater monster.

But does that make Loch Ness worth visiting? Our answer is “it depends.”

The Legend of Loch Ness

Loch Ness is the largest loch in Scotland. It is the second largest by surface area after Loch Lomond and the second deepest after Loch Morar. Could this be the perfect home to a mysterious aquatic creature?

Legend of a sea serpent living in Loch Ness actually dates back to 565, with periodic reports throughout history of a monster fish or dragon living in the loch.

In 1933, the first modern reported sightings of the Loch Ness monster occurred. There were numerous reports of a large, strange looking “monster” swimming in the loch. In December of 1933, Nessie was photographed for the first time.

Since 1933, there have been sporadic reports and sightings of Nessie. Most photographs and videos taken of dark shapes or monster-like creatures in the water have been proven to be hoaxes, although many people still can’t help but wonder if the legend of the Loch Ness monster is true.

Looking for Nessie

Coincidentally, just a few days prior to writing this post, a creature similar to the Loch Ness monster was spotted and videoed in Alaska. It seems implausible that Nessie would move so far away from Scotland, but could there be more of these creatures on our planet? Click here to watch the video of the Alaska sea monster.

So, what do you think? Do you believe in the Loch Ness monster?

Is a visit to Loch Ness worth it?

Our answer is “it depends,” so let me explain why.

Loch Ness attracts a lot of tourists every year. It’s an icon of Scotland. When planning a trip here, it’s hard to skip Loch Ness. It just seems like a place that should be visited.

We talked to people who lived their whole lives in Scotland and still have not seen Loch Ness. What does that tell you?

If you believe in Nessie, then yes, a visit here is absolutely worth it.

If you are not a believer, then maybe your time is better spent in other areas of Scotland.

Loch Ness is located 168 miles (three and a half hours of driving) from Edinburgh. If you are in Scotland for just a few days, in our opinion, a day trip to Loch Ness is not worth it. A better day trip idea would be to visit stunning Glencoe (120 miles away, less than three hours of driving, and much more dramatic than Loch Ness).

If you are going on a road trip through Scotland, visiting the Isle of Skye, Inverness, the Highlands, or the whisky trail, than you might want to pay a quick visit to Loch Ness. It’s relatively easy to add Loch Ness to your itinerary if you are already planning to be nearby.

Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle

How to Visit Loch Ness

Loch Ness is long and skinny, stretching from Fort Augustus up to Inverness. Halfway up the loch, on the western shore, is Urquhart Castle. This is the most scenic spot to view Loch Ness and the prime location to spot Nessie.

Loch Ness


If visiting Scottish castles excites you, Urquhart Castle is a great one to visit. It has a stunning location with the loch as a backdrop.

Urquhart Castle Tower

Urquhart Castle

Our Experience

We do not believe in Nessie, although it is a bit fun to think that just maybe there is an ancient sea creature lurking below the surface of the water.

We debated visiting Loch Ness. But we did it. Why? Sometimes you feel like you would be missing out on something if you didn’t do it.

We made a detour to Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness when driving from Dornie to Glasgow. This detour (including time for lunch) added three hours onto our day.

We spent about 45 minutes at Urquhart Castle. There are lots of ancient rooms and towers to explore and a video to watch documenting the history of Loch Ness, but the best part is the castle’s setting overlooking the loch.

Urquhart Castle July

Urquhart Castle Scotland

Loch Ness Urquhart Castle

Was it worth it? Yes, we are glad we saw it. It is a picturesque part of Scotland, although honestly, Scotland is stunning everywhere you go.

Make Sure You See These First

If you have the time, Loch Ness is worth it. However, there are several places in Scotland you should visit before putting Loch Ness on your list.



The Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye



Glen Coe



Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan Castle

Need a Lunch or Dinner Recommendation?

For a great restaurant located near Urquhart Castle, consider dining at the Glenmoriston Arms Hotel. This hotel/restaurant is located in Invermoriston, 15 minutes away from the castle. We were the first customers of the day, arriving right at opening time. The food was great and the hotel’s location is very convenient for those driving through the area.


If you are planning a road trip through Scotland, take a look at our post Driving to the Isle of Skye,  Scotland. We offer different routes connecting Edinburgh and Glasgow with the Highlands and the Isle of Skye.

If you have any questions about how to visit Loch Ness or if you would like to share your experience, comment below.

More Information about Scotland

Planning a trip to Scotland? Read all of our articles in our Scotland Travel Guide.

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Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle Worth Visiting?


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Comments 21

  1. Avatar for Deb
    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  2. Avatar for Matt

    Thanks for this, it’s so good to hear a different perspective on whether it is worth paying for entry. We are planning 6 weeks road tripping around Scotland and there are so many things to see, so many castles as well, even with 6 weeks we have to cut things. It sounds like seeing this from one of the loch cruises might be more than sufficient without entering the castle itself.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, the castle is nice, but low on our list of favorite sites in Scotland. Wow, 6 weeks in Scotland, that sounds amazing! Cheers, Julie

      1. Avatar for Matt
    2. Avatar for Debbie H
      Debbie H

      Hi, although I agree the recommended locations in this report are stunning, I don’t think the info supplied on Loch Ness is accurate. Take a ride along the South of the Loch, passing through Dores with its iconic views of Loch Ness – and fab pub, Inverfarigaig, Boleskine, Foyers, The Suidhe viewpoint above Loch Tarf and then on to Fort Augustus. Stunning views of the Loch all the way with so many places to stop and take photos, and Foyers Falls and gorge are amazing. Plus there are several cafes in the village becoming famous in their own right.
      Enjoy your holiday, 6 weeks is brilliant! Also rec the Bealach na Ba and Applecross, then drive on to Shieldaig and Torridon. An extra add on is taking the road from Torridon to Diabaig – mesmerising. 😊

      1. Avatar for Matt

        Hi Debbie, thanks for the extra comments! Yes, we are planning on driving around the southern side of Loch Ness while we are there, thanks for the suggestions on places to stop along the way. Yep, Bealach na Ba, Applecross, Shieldag and Torridon are on the itinerary too! It looks like a stunning drive in the photos we’ve seen!

  3. Avatar for ANDY Coggans
    ANDY Coggans

    I am in Fort Augustus now! I am impressed with the location. But the prices are ludicrous. I am Scottish and not a tourist!! £1.50 FOR A MARS BAR!! Not on!!

  4. Avatar for Pratap Rajan
    Pratap Rajan


    Just the site you need before you plan a road trip from Edinburgh.. It’s awesome..

    One query about parking spaces.. Are there decent number of spots nearby ( I will be accompanied by my elderly in laws and a toddler)??


    1. Avatar for Julie Post
  5. Avatar for David Cameron
    David Cameron

    You’ve got a nice family. And I’d prefer Glencoe any day, and suggest the same unless, like you’ve said, they are interested in the legend. Nice clicks and it was a good read.

  6. Avatar for Claudia Matteau
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      You can see it from a distance without a ticket, but you are pretty far away. All of the photos in this post were taken from the grounds of the castle (with the ticket). Cheers, Julie

  7. Avatar for Diana Zamora
    Diana Zamora

    Hi Julie!
    I wanted to know if you recommended going to Inverness, and if you do, what do you recommend us doing there? I haven’t really understood if Inverness and Loch Ness are in the same place also. Since we would only have one day to spare, would you recommend Glenco over Inverness?
    Thank you so much!

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Hello Diana. We never made it to Inverness, so I do not know if it is better than Glencoe. It takes about a half hour to drive from Loch Ness to Inverness. Glencoe is lots of rolling, green mountains and a very beautiful place. Or, Inverness is another popular Scottish city to visit and you can make a quick visit to Loch Ness. Since we never made it to Inverness, I really can’t tell you if one option is better than another. But we did like Glencoe more than Loch Ness (we actually had a long day where we drove from Dornie, near the Isle of Skye, to Loch Ness, to Glencoe, and then to Glasgow). I hope this helps! Cheers, Julie

  8. Avatar for Diane
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      Yes, you can see Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness from the road (A82), from a distance. In order to enter Urquhart Castle you will need to pay the entrance fee.

  9. Avatar for Tammy Halcomb
    Tammy Halcomb

    Hi. I really enjoy your site. I will be in Scotland and Ireland in August 2017. Friends and I are taking a cruise around the British Isles period we will be on the Isle of Skye for one day. What is a must to see there? Additionally, I would love to see Culloden Moor and the town of Inverness but it is not one of our scheduled ports. Final connection can you tell me if it is possible to do a day trip from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Culloden?
    Tammy Halcomb

    1. Avatar for Julie Post

      On the Isle of Skye, I recommend the Trotternish Loop. This is where you can see the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, and a few other scenic spots. It’s a gorgeous drive with several small hikes to do, if you like that sort of thing. If you like castles, Dunvegan Castle may be worth your time. You can do a day trip to Culloden from Glasgow and Edinburgh, but it will be a lot of driving. It takes between 3 to 3.5 hours one way to get to Culloden Moor, so it can be done, if you don’t mind a long day trip. Scotland is the type of place where a long drive can be a good thing since it is so beautiful anywhere you go. Cheers, Julie

  10. Avatar for Jan Garde
    1. Avatar for Julie Post

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