Looking for the best way to get from Edinburgh to Loch Ness?
I’ve found the three best ways for you to get to Scotland’s most famous lake, although the third option (public transportation) is not really ideal. But we’ll get to that.
In this post, you’ll find out how to get to Loch Ness, what to do there and where to stay.
Let’s go monster hunting!
❄️ Read next: 10 magical things to do in Loch Ness in winter
This post contains referral links for products I love. Adventurous Miriam earns a small commission at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. Thank you for your support ♡ Learn more
The best way to get from Edinburgh to Loch Ness
In a hurry?
Here are the best ways to experience the famous lake: With an organised day tour from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, a rental car or by public transportation. I’ll take you through the details below.
|🧙♂️ Organised day tour||Most convenient||Loch Ness & Highlands Day Tour from Edinburgh|
|🚗 Rental car||Most freedom||Discover Cars|
|🚂 Train or bus||Cheapest||Check timetable|
3 ways to get from Edinburgh to Loch Ness
The famous monster lake is a 3,5 hour drive from the capital, so it will take you a full day to visit. The easiest way is with a tour, but if you have a rental car, that’s even better.
1. Full-day tour from Edinburgh
⭐️ RATING: 4.5 from 4,435 reviews | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 12 hours |🐍 BOOK NOW
Taking an organised day tour to Loch Ness is one of the two best ways to explore the famous lake. Everything will be taken care of. You just have to sit back and relax while you spot for lake monsters.
While you can find several tours from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, this full-day tour from Viator is the best rated.
It’s a 12-hour tour that takes you to Loch Lomond, Glen Coe (the most dramatic scenery of the Scottish highlands), Loch Ness where you’ll take a cruise included in the price, and then pass through Cairngorms National Park on your way back to Edinburgh. You’ll hear tales and Scottish history on the way.
The key selling point is this: it’s a small-group. No more than 16 people will join this tour opposed to similar tours that include up to 32 other monster hunters.
You’ll get to see some of Scotland’s best nature, and of course the highlight: Loch Ness.
2. Rent a car and drive yourself
Renting your own car is a fantastic way to get to Loch Ness from Edinburgh, while seeing some of Scotland’s best nature along the way. It’s also the quickest way to get to the mythical Loch Ness monster because YOU set the pace and itinerary.
🏁 I recommend Discover Cars to find and book your rental. They search all the rental companies for the best prices and you always get free cancellation.
The famous monster lake is a 3,5 hour drive from the capital, and the most scenic drive is the below road trip itinerary.
It will take you 564 km and 8 hours of driving. But you’ll see some of Scotland’s most famous landscapes like Glen Coe or Devil’s Pulpit, which is a mysterious deep gorge in the middle of a forest!
Kick-ass road trip itinerary:
- 🏰 Edinburgh – Loch Ness (Fort Augustus)
- 🐍 Loch Ness – Glen Coe
- ⛰️Glen Coe – Devil’s Pulpit
- 🌊 Devil’s Pulpit – Edinburg
3. Take the train or the bus
I’m going to be honest with you here.
I don’t recommend taking the train or bus from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. Not if you’re only visiting for one day at least.
It’s not possible to get a direct train or bus to Loch Ness, so you’ll have to go to Inverness, and from there on take a bus. The total travel time is between 4.5 and 5.5 hours with at least one stop along the way.
If you’re planning on staying in Loch Ness for a day or two, or if you’re doing a road trip around Scotland, then public transportation is a great option. Especially if you’re on a budget.
But honestly, guys. Scotland is BEST explored by car – either your own rental car or with a tour.
🚝 Check train and bus schedules here: travelinescotland.com
How long should you spend in Loch Ness?
One day is enough to spend in Loch Ness. There are a few things to do on a Loch Ness day trip, which I’ll go through in a minute. They can all be done in less than a day.
What is Loch Ness?
Loch Ness is a large lake in the Scottish Highlands that may or may not be the home of a sea monster. Loch is the Gaelic word for lake, and Scotland has many, MANY freshwater lakes – 31,460 to be exact.
Some of them are pretty massive. Like Loch Ness, which holds more water than all other lakes and rivers in England, Wales and Scotland combined.
Loch Ness is 36 km long, 2,7 km wide and 226 meter at its deepest point – that’s just a little less than the height of the Eiffel Tower, people. It’s basically the perfect place for a sea monster.
🦕 Things to do in Loch Ness
Take a Loch Ness cruise
The number one thing to do in Loch Ness is to go monster hunting. And what better way to do that than with a boat?
The boat ride takes an hour and stops by landmarks like Urquhart Castle and prime monster-hunting areas like the deepest parts of the lake and sighting hotspots.
You should lower your expectations, though. The water is murky, and you’ll be more likely to spot an eel or a sturgeon than a plesiosaur. Sorry to be a wet blanket 💔
Visit Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus is the gateway to Loch Ness. It’s a small town with just 650 people living here, but in the summer months it’s lively.
One of the top free things to do here is simply sitting by the water and watching the boats sail into the loch.
Urquhart castle lies by the shore of Loch Ness, and it’s one of Scotland’s largest castles.
You may remember it from Outlander. No?
It’s the castle that Claire and Frank Randall takes a day trip to.
Urquhart Castle is over 1.000 years old and only ruins today. Impressive ruins, might I add, so make sure to visit.
- Opening hours: 9:30am – 4.30pm (winter) / 9.am -6pm and 8.30 in June-Aug
- Entry fee: £14.50 or pre-book a castle round-trip cruise
Falls of Foyers Walk
A 1.5 to 2-hour scenic walk through the forest will take you to the Falls of Foyers.
Although the path is steep and includes many steps, it’s worth every effort as it offers a peaceful and less crowded alternative to other walks around Loch Ness.
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
Make sure to also stop by the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition.
With audio-visual displays, underwater photos, and exciting exhibits like Operation Deepscan, you’ll be fully immersed in the mystery. Plus, enjoy a café, gift shop, and even boat trips on the Deepscan research vessel.
For more monster fun with the famous Loch Ness, check out the nearby Nessieland theme park.
Visit the Caledonian Canal
This historic canal runs through Fort Augustus and offers scenic views of the surrounding countryside. You can watch boats passing through the locks or take a boat tour yourself.
Enjoy local cuisine
There are several restaurants and pubs in Fort Augustus that offer traditional Scottish fare like haggis, neeps, and tatties, as well as fresh seafood from nearby waters. Try the The Loch Inn for a good meal.
Where to stay in Loch Ness
If you decide to spend the night, I recommend basing yourself in Fort Augustus.
Lock Chambers, Caledonian Canal Centre (⭐8.8) has cosy rooms with private bathroom, and it’s located centrally in Fort Augustus, just by Loch Ness. Check availability here.
Which is closer to Loch Ness: Edinburgh or Glasgow?
Glasgow is actually closer to Loch Ness than Edinburgh. The distance between Glasgow and Loch Ness is about 140 miles, while the distance between Edinburgh and Loch Ness is around 160 miles.
How do you get to Loch Ness without a car?
One way to get to Loch Ness from Edinburgh without a car is by taking an organised tour. There are several tour companies that offer day trips from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, including transportation and a guided tour of the area.
Another option is taking a train from Edinburgh to Inverness, which is the closest city to Loch Ness. From there, you can take a bus or taxi to the Loch. It will take you between 4.5-5.5 hours of travel each way, so you’ll need more than a day.
Is Loch Ness nice to visit?
Loch Ness is a beautiful and unique destination to visit, with beautiful scenery and a rich history. The fact that the lake might or might not be home to the legendary long-necked sea monster who goes under the nick-name Nessie only adds to its charm.
Where is the best view of Loch Ness?
There are many great viewpoints around Loch Ness, but Fort Augustus, Urquhart Castle and Dores Beach are three popular options.
Are there tours from Edinburgh to Loch Ness?
Yes, there are several great tour options from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. These tours include transportation from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, as well as a guided tour of the area and its attractions.
During the tour, you can expect to see some of the top sights in the area, such as Urquhart Castle and Fort Augustus. You may also have the opportunity to take a boat cruise on Loch Ness and try your luck at spotting the legendary monster.
Is Loch Ness the deepest lake in the world?
No, Loch Ness is not the deepest lake in the world. While it’s a very large and deep lake, there are several other lakes around the world that are deeper.
Lake Baikal in Russia is considered to be the deepest lake in the world, with a maximum depth of over 5,300 feet (1,620 meters).
In comparison, Loch Ness has a maximum depth of approximately 755 feet (230 meters), which still makes it one of the deepest lakes in Europe.
🤓 What does Ness mean in Scottish?
“Ness” is a Scottish word that means “headland” or “cape”. It’s often used in place names to refer to a piece of land that juts out into the water, such as the headlands surrounding Loch Ness itself.
In addition to being part of the name Loch Ness, “Ness” also appears in other Scottish place names, such as Inverness (which means “mouth of the River Ness”).
Many thanks to VisitBritain and VisitScotland for generously hosting me in Scotland, and thanks to Colin from Heart of Scotland for being a wonderful guide. As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own, regardless of who is footing the bill.
More posts from Scotland you might like
- 18 fascinating facts about Loch Ness and its monster
- The perfect Scotland itinerary 7 days
- Isle of Skye: 8 amazing experiences
- 3-day Scottish Highlands tour with Heart of Scotland
- A Weekend in Edinburgh: An Amazing 2-Day Edinburgh Itinerary
- Best Isle of Skye Hotels | Where to stay on Skye,
- A first timer’s guide to Edinburgh Festivals in August