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Boat tours in Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Shores of Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Urquhart Castle picture in Scottish Highlands
Boat tours in Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Shores of Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Urquhart Castle picture in Scottish Highlands

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  • Beaches, Hiking, Natural Wonders, Recreation Type
  • 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.5
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  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    4.0
  • Atmosphere
    4.5

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You can't leave the Scottish Highlands without visiting the infamous Loch Ness, Scotland's largest loch (by volume). Loch Ness is known worldwide for housing the mythical, dinosaur-like monster, Nessie. The loch spans 23 miles in length and is 700 feet at its deepest, making the Nessie conspiracy all the more plausible. Aside from the Nessie legend, Loch Ness offers stunning scenery, with forest-filled mountains flanking either side of the serene loch. Most travelers choose enjoy Loch Ness by cruise. Sailings depart from various towns along the loch, including Fort Augustus, Drumnadrochit and Inverness.

There are also multiple points of interest and hikes worth exploring offshore. One of the most popular attractions is the thousand-year-old Urquhart Castle, which sits in ruins at the edge of Loch Ness in Drumnadrochit. Drumnadrochit is also home to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition, perfect for those wanting to learn more about the legend of Nessie. For hiking, you'll find plenty of trails in and around Loch Ness. The Fall of Foyers trail, which is close to 3 miles in length, takes travelers to the popular Fall of Foyers, the shores of Loch Ness and atop hills overlooking the loch as well. For more of a trek, try the highest hill in Loch Ness, Meall Fuar-mhonaidh. This nearly 6-mile trek takes travelers to the top of the hill, offering expansive views of both Loch Ness and the general Great Glen area (which spans from Inverness to Fort William). 

The best way to get around Loch Ness is by car. The A82 highway runs right along the northern side of the loch, connecting visitors directly from Inverness to Fort Augustus. Visitors say there are multiple lookout areas and points of interest along the way, including Urquhart Castle, though some say the road can get crowded. To avoid crowds, some travelers suggested driving along the southern side of the lake via General Wade's Military Road. It doesn't snake along the loch for as long as the A82 does, but offers hilltop vantage points that you won't find on the flatter A82. If you aren't renting a car, you can get to Inverness via ScotRail and Citylink coach bus. You can also get to Fort Augustus, Invermoriston and Foyers via Stagecoach. For more information on Loch Ness, visit the tourism board's website.

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#1 Isle of Skye If you only had time to visit one part of the Scottish Highlands, let it be the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Highlands, Skye is ... Read more » sara_winter / Getty Images

#2 Glencoe You may hear the word "glen" a lot during your trip to the Scottish Highlands. A glen is another word for a narrow valley and the Highlands is filled with ... Read more » Shaiith / Getty Images

#3 Cairngorms National Park Cairngorms National Park is its own world. You could easily spend days exploring the many mountains, lochs, rivers, forests and villages that comprise the United Kingdom's largest national park ... Read more » Louise Heusinkveld / Getty Images

#4 Eilean Donan Castle Of all the castles to visit in the Scottish Highlands, Eilean Donan Castle is the one worth taking the detour for. Located near the small town of Dornie in the ... Read more » Petr Meissner / Flickr

#5 Glenfinnan & the West Highland Line The "Harry Potter" movies were filmed throughout the Scottish Highlands (the location of Hagrid's hut can be found in Glencoe), but the most recognizable location is in Glenfinnan. Remember ... Read more » miroslav_1 / Getty Images

#6 Loch Ness You can't leave the Scottish Highlands without visiting the infamous Loch Ness, Scotland's largest loch (by volume). Loch Ness is known worldwide for housing the mythical, dinosaur-like monster ... Read more » LordRunar / Getty Images

#7 Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Scotland's first national park houses Loch Lomond, Britain's largest loch. The park is much smaller than its northern neighbor (Cairngorms National Park is 1,748 square miles while ... Read more » coleong / Getty Images

#8 Beaches If you really want to take in the full spectrum of the Highlands' geographical grandeur, make time for its beaches. Some of the beaches feature waters so clear and sands ... Read more » VWB photos / Getty Images

#9 Golf If you're a golfer and happen to be in the Scottish Highlands, you'll want to take advantage of the region's beautiful courses. In fact, the Scottish Highlands ... Read more » ImagineGolf / Getty Images

#10 Duncansby Head England has the White Cliffs of Dover, Ireland has the Cliffs of Moher and the Scottish Highlands has Duncansby Head. Located on the northernmost tip of Scotland's east coast ... Read more » marcoisler / Getty Images

#11 Ben Nevis The most popular trail in the Scottish Highlands is also one of its most challenging. Ben Nevis, the U.K.'s tallest mountain, sits just 7 miles southeast of Fort ... Read more » StevanZZ / Getty Images

Isle of Skye picture in Scottish Highlands
Glencoe picture in Scottish Highlands
Cairngorms National Park picture in Scottish Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle picture in Scottish Highlands
Glenfinnan Viaduct picture in Scottish Highlands
Boat tours in Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs picture in Scottish Highlands
Beaches in Scottish Highlands picture in Scottish Highlands
Golf in the Scottish Highlands picture in Scottish Highlands
Duncansby Stacks picture in Scottish Highlands
Ben Nevis picture in Scottish Highlands
Isle of Skye picture in Scottish Highlands
Glencoe picture in Scottish Highlands
Cairngorms National Park picture in Scottish Highlands
Eilean Donan Castle picture in Scottish Highlands
Glenfinnan Viaduct picture in Scottish Highlands
Boat tours in Loch Ness picture in Scottish Highlands
Loch Lomond & The Trossachs picture in Scottish Highlands
Beaches in Scottish Highlands picture in Scottish Highlands
Golf in the Scottish Highlands picture in Scottish Highlands
Duncansby Stacks picture in Scottish Highlands
Ben Nevis picture in Scottish Highlands

The Quiraing found in the Isle of Skye (pictured) was once a mountain, but experienced a massive landslide that made the natural wonder look as it does today.  sara_winter / Getty Images

Glencoe is one of travelers' favorite destinations in the Scottish Highlands. Visitors say the best way to take in the area, especially if you're short on time, is to drive along the A82 Highway into Glencoe Village, where you'll run into the pictured peaks.   Shaiith / Getty Images

Cairngorms National Park's abundance of forests make for a perfect trip during fall.  Louise Heusinkveld / Getty Images

Eilean Donan Castle is lauded for its beautiful location, acting as the junction between three different lochs. It also offers up some fascinating history, serving as a point of contention during the Jacobite era.  Petr Meissner / Flickr

If you're a "Harry Potter" fan, you will no doubt recognize the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Glenfinnan Viaduct is the same viaduct that the Hogwarts Expresses passes on its way to the school in the "Harry Potter" movie franchise.   miroslav_1 / Getty Images

The most popular thing to do in Loch Ness is take a boat tour. While recent travelers say they didn't spot Nessie, seeing the loch from the water made their Scottish Highlands experience all the more memorable.  LordRunar / Getty Images

Autumn is a particularly beautiful time to visit Loch Lomond & The Trossachs.  coleong / Getty Images

To experience the full spectrum of the Scottish Highland's geography, you must visit the beaches. The best beaches can be found on the islands, though if you don't have time to island hop, the northwest coast also has a reputation for beautiful shorelines.  VWB photos / Getty Images

The Scottish Highlands are home to some of the most scenic golf courses in Scotland.  ImagineGolf / Getty Images

England has the White Cliffs of Dover, Ireland has the Cliffs of Moher and Scotland has the cliffs in Duncansby Head. You can find Duncansby Head, with its striking sea stacks, in the northernmost region of Scotland's mainland.  marcoisler / Getty Images

Ben Nevis is the U.K.'s tallest mountain. The hike to the summit is a little more than 10 miles round-trip and takes about seven to nine hours to complete depending on conditions and your fitness level.  StevanZZ / Getty Images

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