Skip to content

Urquhart Castle Shore Excursion from Invergordon Port 🚢

Interested in taking an Urquhart Castle shore excursion from Invergordon cruise port?

Want to know if it is suitable for you?

Check out this guide for the practical information you need to decide.

This guide is based on visiting Urquhart Castle on one of the ship’s excursion tours.

Urquhart Castle Shore Excursion

Visiting Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness is one of the most popular shore excursions available from Invergordon.

Generally, cruise companies offer this as a half day tour. A half day tour is 4.5 hours total time including travelling.

How Long Does It Take to Visit Urquhart Castle?

To see the film, use the cafe, browse the gift shop and walk around the castle ruin you will need around 2 hours. This depends on your level of interest, how many photographs you take etc. 1.5 hours is generally a good amount of time for cruise ship guests.

Meeting For Your Excursion on Board Your Ship

Your ship will give you details of the meeting time and meeting location for your excursion.

This is often in the theatre area of the ship.

Some ships give guests stickers showing the number of the coach they are assigned to, some give tickets, and some load by language spoken by guests.

There is no shelter, shade or facilities at Invergordon cruise port coach park – not even benches. If you arrive too early you will have to stand outside. It can often be very windy at the coach park too.

Most ships will not let guests board early to make it fair for everyone.

Most ships will also keep the front seats for guests with limited/reduced mobility.

cruise critic find out more

Leaving the Ship to Go to the Coach Park

When you leave the ship head down the gangplank and turn left.

You will see the coach park ahead of you.

Security operatives will keep guests back until their coach is ready for loading. This is to keep the number of guests moving around the coach park area to a minimum for health and safety reasons.

There are green pathways which you should follow to ensure you are not near any moving vehicles.

invergordon cruise port half day loch ness tour

Travelling from Invergordon Cruise Port to Urquhart Castle

The route you take to Urquhart Castle varies. This is to ensure that all the coaches leaving the port don’t arrive at Urquhart Castle at the same time, as there is a restriction on the entry numbers at the castle.

The quickest way to reach Urquhart Castle is through Inverness. Some cruise ships include a short stop in Inverness. This is generally near the River Ness, beside the cathedral. It is around 45 minutes travel time to Inverness and then another 15 minutes from there to Urquhart Castle itself.

The other route to Urquhart Castle takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes. This route travels through Dingwall and Beauly.

Generally, tours to Urquhart Castle will take one route on the way out and a different route on the way back.

Travel Resources You Might Find Helpful

urquhart castle shore excursion coach park

Arriving at Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle site is set into the side of the hill on the edge of Loch Ness.

The coach parking area is at the very top of the site and Urquhart Castle itself is at the very bottom of the site.

urquhart castle shore excursion main entrance

To reach Urquhart Castle all visitors have to go via the ticket office and main entrance.

The main entrance is reached by taking a footpath from the coach park that slopes downhill. The entrance to the visitor centre is on the far side of the building when you first approach it from the footpath.

If the distance is too far for guests to walk Urquhart Castle has mobility scooters. Ask your guide to contact one of the parking stewards who will get a mobility scooter brought up to the coach park.

urquhart castle shore excursion steps down into visitor centre

Entering the Visitor Centre

Once the guide has sorted out the entry for the group guests will be invited to enter the visitor centre. The main entrance is at the top of the building.

You need to take 3 flights of stairs down to reach the main part of the visitor centre.

There is also a lift – take it to floor -1 (minus 1) to get to the visitor centre main facilities.

urquhart castle shore excursion cafe

Visitor Centre Facilities

The first thing you will come to at the bottom of the stairs or the lift is the toilets.

There are ladies toilets on the left hand side of the visitor centre and gents on the opposite side of the building.

You will see the tills for the shop on the right hand side as you enter the building.

urquhart castle shore excursion theatre

Film Theatre

There is a fabulous film show, which does a great job in explaining the history of Urquhart Castle in around 8 minutes in an easy to understand way – no mean feat given the complexity of the subject!

urquhart castle shore excursion film times

The film show runs throughout the day and the TV monitor near the entrance will show you how long until the next film starts.

There are steps into the theatre. If you need a step free entry to the theatre just ask your tour guide or a steward who will direct you to this.

Once the film is finished the curtains of the theatre open to reveal a stunning view of the castle. Well worth seeing!

urquhart castle shore excursion theatre windows


There is a cafe at the castle which serves drinks, sandwiches and cakes. Guests can pay with contactless or card (not usually American Express).

There is seating inside or outside on the terrace.

Invergordon walking tour small

Gift Shop

The centre of the visitor centre is a gift shop. Often there is someone doing sampling of products in the shop too. There are books, fridge magnets, postcards and some cute Highland cow shortbreads too.

urquhart castle shore excursion steps to castle

Visiting Urquhart Castle

To get to Urquhart Castle from the visitor centre you need to walk outside onto the terrace.

On the left hand side you will see a series of steps leading down to the path which then heads to the castle drawbridge.

To the right of the terrace is a ramp if you would prefer to avoid the steps.

Simply follow the path all the way down to the castle.

When you reach the castle itself there are guides from Historic Scotland to give you more information and there are also interpretation boards around the site. You can climb up the tower for great views over Loch Ness.

urquhart castle shore excursion sign to the car park


You need to allow plenty of time to get from the castle ruins to the coach park – and it is uphill all the way. I usually advise 20 minutes from the castle ruins to the coach park.

When returning to the coach park pass through the visitor centre and take the stairs or the lift to the top level. When you exit the main door at the top of the stairs there is a handy reminder of the route to the coach park.

urquhart castle shore excursion sign to the buses

Then follow the path along to the end of the car park

urquhart castle shore excursion path to car park

Then take the ramp back up the hill to the coach park

urquhart castle shore excursion ramp to car park

Urquhart Castle Shore Excursion Pros

  • Convenient way to get to Urquhart Castle – making own way from Invergordon is time consuming and complicated
  • Half day tour gives time to relax and also see some of Invergordon
  • Local guide will provide and interesting commentary throughout the tour
  • Mobility scooters make the site accessible to those with reduced mobility. They can take a little while to arrive to the coach park if the castle is busy. Guests cannot access all of the castle ruins on a mobility scooter.

Urquhart Castle Shore Excursions Cons

  • Depending on the cruise company guests can sometimes only have an hour at Urquhart Castle, from arriving to leaving. This is most common likely when there is a stop for 30 minutes or more in Inverness.
  • For most guests moderate levels of fitness are required to explore Urquhart Castle ruin including being able to get up and down the hill.

Author Bio

melanie photo the professional traveller

Melanie Newdick, The Professional Traveller

🌏 Professional Traveller for +36 years
🚍 Coach holiday expert – taken 8,000 people on holiday

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 Scottish Highlands Lover

✈ Lover of An Airport Lounge
🧳 Travel Essentials Packer

💰 Travel Insurance Advocate
🚢 Invergordon Cruise Port Guide
🗺 Travel Inspiration Planner

🤑 Travel Bargain Hunter

You Might Also Like

Guide to Loch Ness Boat Trips to help you find your favourite

Loch Ness tour – a full day and half day option available from Invergordon cruise port

How to get from Invergordon to Inverness – by taxi, bus or train

Find lots more information on my Invergordon Cruise Port page

free ebook signup

Further Reading

  • Cawdor Castle Shore Excursion from Invergordon Port 🚢
    Thinking of taking a Cawdor Castle shore excursion during your Invergordon port call? Here is all the practical information you need to decide if it’s the perfect excursion for you. Cawdor Castle Shore Excursion – Travel Times Cawdor Castle operates timed entry slots for groups. There may be more than 2 coaches from the ship … Read more
  • Loch Ness Cruise Shore Excursion from Invergordon Port 🚢
    Thinking of Taking a Loch Ness Cruise Shore Excursion from Invergordon Cruise Port? Here is all the information you need about the practicalities of this tour, so you can decide if it’s the perfect trip for you. Loch Ness Cruise Shore Excursion Generally, most Loch Ness Cruise shore excursions operate as a half-day tour from … Read more
  • Top Tips When Taking a Shore Excursion from Invergordon 🚢
    Are you coming to Invergordon cruise port? Thinking of taking a shore excursion from Invergordon? Here are my top tips to have an even better day in the Highlands. Shore Excursion from Invergordon Head the Right Way at the End of the Gangplank If you are taking a ship organised excursion then you need to … Read more
  • Urquhart Castle Shore Excursion from Invergordon Port 🚢
    Interested in taking an Urquhart Castle shore excursion from Invergordon cruise port? Want to know if it is suitable for you? Check out this guide for the practical information you need to decide. This guide is based on visiting Urquhart Castle on one of the ship’s excursion tours. Urquhart Castle Shore Excursion Visiting Urquhart Castle … Read more
  • Details of Which Cruise Lines Visit Invergordon Port 🚢
    Wondering which cruise lines visit Invergordon port? Invergordon receives visits from many different cruise lines. Below are highlighted some of the larger ships and cruise companies that visit. We have had other lines such as Disney visit in the past. Many of the ships that visit call into Invergordon several times during the year. The … Read more
  • Invergordon Cruise Ships – Are There Any Local Benefits? 🚢
    This article was inspired after hearing, yet again, that there are no benefits from Invergordon cruise ships. At a recent public meeting, there was mention of all the cruise ship guests ‘getting on buses’ and disappearing out of town. Having worked with cruise ships, as a dispatcher and a tour guide, I have a little … Read more
  • 11 Invergordon Restaurants & Takeaways (And What to Try) 🍲
    Are you coming to visit Invergordon? Looking for something to eat while you are here? Well here is a list of places within the town for you to try, with suggestions from me and a few locals of what to try if you need some inspiration. Daytime Options for Invergordon Restaurants and Takeaways Invergordon Restaurants … Read more
  • Port of Invergordon – Where Do Cruise Ships Dock? 🚢
    Are you coming to the port of Invergordon? Want to know where your cruise ship will dock and what facilities are there? Well check out this post for all the details. 2023 Cruise Ships Coming into Port of Invergordon The majority of the cruise ships coming to visit the port of Invergordon in 2023 are … Read more
  • Invergordon Port – Does it Use Tender Boats?
    Invergordon Port Invergordon Port is located within the Cromarty Firth. This area of the North Sea is very sheltered and protected thanks to a relatively narrow entrance channel. The entrance channel is approximately half a mile wide. It runs between two sandstone headlands, known as the Sutors. The small town of Cromarty is on the … Read more

error: Content is protected !!