Unspoiled and uncrowded, Scotland’s 790+ islands are steeped in tradition, with many containing remnants of ancient cultures and civilizations. Thanks to the country’s compact size, it’s possible to reach more than one archipelago from Inverness. Here are the top Scottish islands tour options.
Urquhart Castle (Caisteal na Sròine)
A82, Drumnadrochit, Scotland
Almost all organized tours that come to Loch Ness, whether from Inverness, Invergordon, Glasgow, or even Edinburgh, include at least a glimpse of Urquhart Castle. Many tours combine a visit to the crumbling gray-stone castle with a sightseeing cruise on Loch Ness or the Caledonian Canal, while other tours make stops at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and the Bronze Age Clava Cairns.
Explore the castle ruins independently, wander around the battlements, admire the splendor of the Great Hall, scan the lake’s surface for the Loch Ness monster, and examine medieval artifacts on show at the castle’s visitor center. Historic Scotland Explorer Pass holders visit for free.
Would do it again in a heartbeat!
Amazing day! The absolute best tour I've been on. Alister was so knowledgeable about everything and a great conversationalist. My teenager was enthralled the whole time. Beautiful landscape and wonderful photo opps.
Sarah_R, Nov 2021
Things to Know Before You Go
With its rich history of battles, Urquhart Castle is an absolute must for history enthusiasts.
Wear comfortable shoes and bring rain gear, as much of the ruins are exposed to the elements.
Most of the castle is accessible via paved paths, with the exception of the guardhouse, the battlements, and the first floor and basement of Grant Tower.
How to Get There
Urquhart Castle is situated on the west bank of Loch Ness near Drumnadrochit. From Inverness, drive south along the A82 for around 30 minutes. Buses (including the 19, 917, and 919) connect Inverness bus station to Urquhart Castle.
When to Get There
The castle is busiest in summer, when lines often form at the staircase at Grant Tower and the parking lot occasionally fills. Arrive just after opening, or an hour or two before closing, to experience the ruins at their quietest. During the winter months, the castle ruins are peaceful, and moody weather adds to the atmosphere.
The History of Urquhart Castle
Urquhart has a long and tumultuous history, with a castle having stood here since at least the 13th century. The fortress was seized, reclaimed, damaged, and restored many times between then and the 17th century. In 1762, the gatehouse was blown up to prevent Jacobites from moving in and establishing a base here. Nowadays, the Historic Environment Scotland manages the evocative ruins.
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- Loch Ness
- Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
- Whin Park
- Inverness Botanic Gardens (Floral Hall)
- Tomnahurich (Fairy Hill)
- Eden Court Theatre and Cinema
- River Ness (Abhainn Nis)
- Inverness Castle
- Old High Church (Old High St. Stephen’s)
- Merkinch Local Nature Reserve
- Glen Ord Distillery
- Fort Augustus
- Caledonian Canal
- Culloden Battlefield