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- 27 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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If you’re heading for Loch Ness, you’re probably hoping for a glimpse of the world-famous monster that allegedly hides deep within Scotland’s most renowned expanse of water. But searching for the mythical “Nessie” is just one of the reasons to visit this 23-mile-long freshwater lake. You can get a taste of Highland hospitality in cosy lodgings with log fires and hike or bike through spectacular lochside landscape.
Many Loch Ness youth hostels have uninterrupted views of the water. Get a taste for Scottish history and stay in a converted 18th-century farmhouse. Here, you'll get free tea and coffee to warm you up during chilly months – plus there's a well-stocked on-site bar. After a day's adventures, you can securely store your bike and prepare a meal in a shared kitchen. Grab a whisky with new friends and settle in by the open fire of this Loch Ness hostel for an evening of live music.
Drumnadrochit is on the western shore halfway along Loch Ness, making it an ideal spot for exploring the whole area. Keen hikers will find plenty of trails nearby for taking in the Scottish scenery. At the southern tip of the loch, Fort Augustus is a charming canal-side hamlet surrounded by rolling hills with numerous walking and cycle tracks. The city of Inverness is 13km to the north of Loch Ness. It's the cultural capital of the Highlands, with museums, historic buildings and lively nightlife.
You can head out on the loch’s deep, dark water by boat cruise or canoe. The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition takes visitors through 500 years of history and legend, while the Clansman Centre will teach you about life in the 17th-century Highlands. Discover the picturesque ruins of the 16th-century Urquhart Castle, once one of Scotland’s largest, and climb up the Grant Tower to visit the windowless prison cell. Perched on the edge of the loch, the views from the grounds are unmissable.
The size of Loch Ness makes a car or public transport the best way to explore further than your immediate surrounds. Scottish Citylink and Stagecoach operate a bus service that runs the length of the loch several times a day. It'll take about 30 minutes from Inverness to Drumnadrochit. Inverness Airport is the nearest, 35km away. It's 10 minutes' drive from Inverness city centre, where you can connect to Loch Ness by bus or private transfer.