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Key Info

Highland

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Beaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Hiking, Recreation Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 4.0Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

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 to 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. Several of the top tours in Scotland offer organized daytrips to Loch Ness. 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 the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The island is filled to the brim with otherworldly landscapes. There's a lot to see on this island, but travel experts and visitors say you can't leave without peeping these gems: the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, Neist Point and the Fairy Pools.

The Quiraing is the perfect introduction to Skye's spellbinding geography. As you descend down the Quiraing, you'll be greeted with sweeping views of stunning geography: Cracked plateaus with craggy cliffsides lead the way to an expansive valley of verdant rolling hills, stately rock formations and alpine lakes. Situated 13 miles south is the Old Man of Storr, a single, pinnacle-shaped rock which stands out for its looks; it's so tall and distinct, it can easily be spotted from sea level miles away.

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