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16 Loch Ness Things to Do – Makes a Great Day Trip

loch ness things to do

Is it worth driving around Loch Ness?

Yes, it’s a fabulous drive with great views from the Eastern side of the Loch as well. You can easily drive around Loch Ness in one day from Inverness with plenty of times for stops.

Here are 16 Loch Ness things to do.

If you want to you can make this list into a one day complete tour of Loch Ness – so I have included driving directions along the way.

Nessie sightings not guaranteed!

self drive loch ness tour the professional traveller

Loch Ness Things to Do

1. Visit Dores and the only Beach at Loch Ness

If you are driving Take the B862 from Inverness towards Dores. This road runs from the A8082. You can find the roundabout right beside the Tesco Supermarket, Dores Rd, Inverness IV2 4XT.

Travel South passing through Scaniport.

6.5 miles from Inverness is the village of Dores.

Dores is where the only beach at Loch Ness is located. To reach the beach you need to take a right turn from the main road. The Dores Inn is on the left and the car park is ahead with the beach nearby.

The Dores Inn is a great spot to enjoy a nice meal if you are staying in Inverness too.

At Dores you can stay on the B852, which means bearing right at the junction in Dores or bear left to go onto the B862.

The B862 takes you away from the edge of Loch Ness but goes up higher for some great views.

The B852 follows more closely along the edge of Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Things to Do

2. Do a Little Bird Spotting at Loch Ruthven

If you are driving take the B862 Towards Achnabat.

After Dores, you will head up and also head in an Easterly direction.

16 miles from Inverness is Loch Ruthven. This is an RSPB nature reserve which you will see the signs for from the B862. This could be a pleasant addition to your trip around Loch Ness. There are no facilities as such, other than a car park. The loch has sedge around it making it ideal for divers.

Check out the RSPB page on Loch Ruthven for more information.

As you continue along you will see Loch Mhor appear on your left hand side. You will follow alongside the Loch through Lyne of Gorthleck and Gorthleck.

The road continues on and you leave Loch Mhor behind you.

falls of foyers the professional traveller loch ness things to do

Loch Ness Things to Do

3. Visit the Falls of Foyers

18.5 miles from the starting point

If you are driving you will come to a junction and see a right hand turn to Foyers and the Falls of Foyers.

Turn right at this junction and follow the River Foyers which will be on your right hand side. There are a couple of spots with parking where you can get a good view and photo of the river.

The Falls of Foyers are well worth a visit.

You will find a marker stone at the entrance to the falls and some interpretation boards. Entry is through a gate. Take the gate on the left hand side to head down to the falls.

There is a circular walk that will take you right down to Loch Ness and back up through the woods. Walk Highlands say this walk takes about 1.5 to 2 hours.

If you are heading down to view the falls then follow the steps that zig zag down the hill. The steps are uneven and there isn’t a handrail along the way for most of the sections. There are some uneven sections with exposed rocks and roots. It can be a bit slippery but don’t let any of that put you off – it’s still worth the walk.

However, the views are lovely and there are also some great stones with poetry engraved on them which are a lovely addition.

En route there is a tiny waterfall that comes out from underneath the road and can be reached by taking a right turn at the bend of a zig zag in the steps.

Continue down until you reach the viewing area which is reached by squeezing round a larger rock.

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Loch Ness Things to Do

4. Camerons Tea Room

Set just outside Foyers Camerons Tea Room and Farm Shop is a lovely spot to stop – especially if the weather is nice enough to sit outside.

There is a great selection of soup, sandwiches, and cakes to enjoy as well as lots of lovely produce in the farm shop.

suide viewpoint loch ness things to do professional traveller

Loch Ness Things to Do

5. Suidhe Viewpoint

If you are driving return back to the B862 and continue heading South.

Pass through Whitebridge.

There is a holiday park on the left as you pass through the village. It’s a Hoseasons holiday park, called Wildside, with a great selection of lodges, including plenty with hot tubs.

After Whitebridge, the road straightens out and you will be traveling along a section of General Wade’s military road. These roads were constructed in the 18th century to enable Government troops to quickly move around the Highlands in case there was another Jacobite uprising.

The road climbs up to the Suidhe Viewpoint.

There is an interpretation board that shows you what you are looking at as you look towards Inverness. There is also a walk, reached by crossing through the gate, to a higher viewpoint.

There is a layby on each side of the road for easy parking.

It’s 1200′ high or 393m.

loch tarff loch ness tour the professional traveller

Loch Ness Things to Do

6. Loch Tarff

The road heads down from the viewpoint and reaches Loch Tarff on the right hand side. There is a viewpoint at the start of the Loch.

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Loch Ness Things to Do

7. Visit Fort Augustus

13 miles from Falls of Foyers

As you continue down the hill you will get a great view across the lower part of Loch Ness and to Fort Augustus which sits at the bottom of the Loch.

The road goes around the bottom of Loch Ness and if you are able to safely park there might be the opportunity for a great photo up Loch Ness with the mountains framing the Loch on either side.

At the junction with the A82 bear right to head into Fort Augustus.

Fort Augustus is at the southernmost end of the loch.

Cross the swing bridge and continue past the petrol station where you will find a parking area on your left hand side. This is for cars and coaches.

Fort Augustus is well worth a stop. It is small but there are several things worth seeing.

There are several cafes alongside the canal and some gift shops as well. It makes for a pleasant wander and comfort stop if you are travelling around Loch Ness.


There is a public toilet if you are walking back from the car park to the centre of Fort Augustus. It is a pay toilet and is 50p. It is on the left hand side just after the petrol station.

Loch Ness Things to Do

8. Check Out the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre

Right next to the canal and the swing bridge in the centre of Fort Augustus is the Caledonian Canal visitor centre. It is operated by Scottish canals and the visitor centre includes a shop, some interpretation boards, and cafe towards the rear of the building.

The cafe has a nice terrace that overlooks the river.

There is a nice walk alongside the canal which has several locks in Fort Augustus.

Walk to the Scenic Viewpoint

If you cross the A82 near the Calendonian Canal visitor centre and walk towards Loch Ness you can walk out to a scenic viewpoint for a good photo of Loch Ness. There is also an old lighthouse just across the entrance to the canal as well.

9. Take A Cruise on Loch Ness

If you want a different perspective of Loch Ness and to visit the quieter end of the Loch then why not consider taking a trip with Cruise Loch Ness? Their trips depart from Fort Augustus.

They have a 50 minute trip running through the day and a 1 hour evening cruise.

Loch Ness Things to Do

10. Visit Invermoriston

7 miles from Fort Augustus

To continue the circular tour take the A82 and head North out of Fort Augustus.

Drive North keeping an eye out for a tiny island on the right hand side called Cherry Island.

Continue alongside Loch Ness.

The road turns to the West slightly as you reach Invermoriston. As you bear right you will cross the River Morison. Shortly afterwards on your right, you will see a parking area. You can park here and walk back to the bridge for some great photos.

You can also walk behind the toilets and follow the river down to a fabulous viewing point on the river called the Summerhouse.

Loch Ness Things to Do

11. See the Cobb Memorial Cairn

As you get nearer to Drumnadrochit you will come to a straight piece of road and on the right hand side you will see a round small tower – it’s actually a memorial cairn to John Cobb. He died nearby having crashed his speedboat on Loch Ness when trying to get the fastest recorded speed on the water. He had already got the land speed record. His boat hit 200 mph but hit an unexplained wake in the water and disintegrated. The date was 29th of September 1952. The boat remains are still in Loch Ness.

Loch Ness Things To Do

12. Visit Urquhart Castle

12 miles from Invermoriston

Shortly after the John Cobb memorial is Urquhart Castle. From the road, you cannot see the castle itself until you are passing the main entrance.

Urquhart Castle is set in a very scenic location, but it wasn’t built for decoration. At one time it was the headquarters for everything in the area with the castle being fiercely fought over throughout its history due to its strategically important location.

The castle is very easy to visit. If visiting by car then you park in the car park and head into the round building at the rear of the car park. Inside there is a ticket office and then there is a lift or a staircase which takes you down to the main visitor centre.

The visitor centre has a gift shop, cafe, interpretation area, toilets and a fantastic film which shows the whole history of the castle in about 12 minutes. At the end of the film there is a great view of the castle too!

To reach the castle remains themselves you walk out of the visitor centre and down the hill via the path.

Once at the castle ruins there are guides to ask questions of. You can climb down to the edge of the loch and also up the highest tower for a great view and photo too.

It is £9.60 per adult to visit the castle.


You can’t just pop into the cafe or the toilets. Entry is paid before you access these facilities.

Urquhart Castle Boat Trips

You will see a boat dock near the castle ruins. Boats arrive and depart throughout the day. You can take a boat trip from Urquhart Castle or if you want to combine a longer trip you can take a trip from the Clansman Hotel, Dochgarroch or Inverness depending on how long you want to spend cruising and what you want to see. The majority of the larger cruises on the Loch Ness are operated by Jacobite.

You might be interested in my Loch Ness Boat Trips article – it reviews all of the trips available

Loch Ness Things to Do

13. Visit Drumnadrochit

Continuing North from Urquhart Castle the road turns West again and heads into Drumnadrochit. There is a Co-operative shop as you enter the lower part of the village.

On the left, you pass a games field where they play shinty in the winter months and have Highland games in the summer months.

You then enter the lower part of the village. You will see a parking area on the left hand side. This is currently being redeveloped by the local community so hopefully the public toilets will be opening again soon as will the information centre at the front of the building.

Across the road from the parking area is a gift shop with plenty of Loch Ness Monster i.e. Nessie related gifts and items.

There are several cafes and restaurants nearby too. A particularly well known restaurant is Fiddlers which has a particularly fine selection of malt whiskies.

Further along on the right hand side you will see a floral recreation of Urquhart Castle.

14. Visit the Loch Ness Centre

As the road continues North it turns Eastward, round to the right. As it does you will see Nessieland on your left hand side and Nessie looking down at you from her elevated position just about the road junction.

As the road continues round to the right you will see the Loch Ness centre on your left. There is some parking outside the front of the building.

This visitor centre has a walk through exhibition where you can learn the history of Loch Ness, about the search for Nessie and much more besides. At the end of the visitor centre there is a large gift shop to walk through.

There is also a self service cafe located on the site which has toilets as well. This is in the round building nearest the road.

The Loch Ness Centre is currently being refurbished and is due to reopen in Spring 2023.

PT Note:

Just beside the car park at the visitor centre, as you head out of the upper part of the village there is a tiny loch on the left hand side where you can find Nessie bobbing about in the water. If the trees haven’t grown up too much you can get a good photo.

PT Note 2022 Update:

There is a little tearoom which has views over a field of Highland Cattle – Heilean Coos. You will see the sign saying tearooms and Hairy Coos just as you head North out of Drumnadrochit. It is a left turn up a bit of a hill. The tearoom is at the B&B on the right hand side.

15. Call in at The Clansman Hotel

Continuing North on the A82 you come to the Clansman Hotel, located just after some lodges on the left hand side of the road. There is parking at the front of the hotel but it is very limited. In summer it can be extremely busy.

The Clansman Hotel has a coffee shop on the ground floor, a large gift shop, toilets just beside reception, and a restaurant on the 1st floor with views across Loch Ness.

It is also the starting and finishing point for a number of cruises on Loch Ness. These cruises are operated by Jacobite and there are shorter cruises available, alongwith full day cruises. There is also the option to combine a cruise with a visit to Urquhart Castle.

Cruises from the Clansman Hotel don’t include cruising on the Caledonian Canal generally.

To reach the cruise harbour you follow a small path that goes underneath the main road. It is located in the corner of the car park near the front of the building. There is a Nessie figure there to help you find it.


Do not cross the road as cars go very fast and there is no easy way down to the boat boarding point.

There is a ticket booth at the boat dock.

Boats generally have toilets and a snack bar on board, indoor and outside seating, and sonar displays to show what is happening under the water as you cruise over the water.

PT Note:

If you fancy some local gelato the Clansman sells Miele’s gelato in the reception area of the hotel. This is a local gelato made in Inverness – delicious!

16. Visit the An Talla Visitor Centre

Just after the River Ness and the Caledonian Canal join Loch Dochfour is Dochgarroch.

There is a great visitor centre here with a little cafe and some great gifts. It’s a great spot to have a look at what is happening on the Caledonian Canal.

If you want to see some Highland cattle – Heilean Coos – up close there is generally a couple in a field just beside the visitor centre at Dochgarroch

Loch Ness FAQs

Which side of Loch Ness is best for driving?

If you want the best views, the best places to stop, the highest viewpoint in the area, and just all around great scenery then the Eastern side is the best side. It is also much quieter as large vehicles cannot go on these smaller roads.

Where is the best view of Loch Ness?

There are several great viewpoints. Urquhart Castle offers a great view because it juts out into Loch Ness. Going on a boat trip offers a great view of Loch Ness. There is also a fabulous view from the most Southern point of Loch Ness. Generally, the best viewpoints can be found on the Eastern side of Loch Ness.

What should I do for a day in Loch Ness?

You should take the chance to explore all of it by taking a complete self drive Loch Ness tour. This will give you plenty of time to see all the sights and viewpoints and enjoy some shopping and cafes too.

How long does it take to drive around Loch Ness?

If you were to just jump in your car from Inverness and do the complete circuit of Loch Ness it will take around 2 hours. It is 67 miles all the way around and back to Inverness.

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Further Reading

If you have found this Loch Ness Tour article useful then you might be interested in my article about Getting to the Highlands.

Check out 10 Things You Should Know Before You Visit the Highlands to get the best from your trip

Looking for self-catering accommodation? You might like;

Dog Friendly Cottages in Inverness

Inverness holiday cottages – in and around the city

Hotels in Inverness

Find lots more information on my Inverness page

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