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.
Thoroughly enjoyable day!
We would thoroughly recommend this tour. Being Scottish we decided to see a bit of our own country and, being new visitors to the area, we thought the best way was to do an organised tour. George was a fantastic guide and, being local, had extensive knowledge of the area which he was able to share with us. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable day. We will definitely have to watch Outlander now!
Annette_B, Sep 2020
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.
- Things to do in The Scottish Highlands
- Things to do in Stirling
- Things to do in Glasgow
- Things to do in Edinburgh
- Things to do in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Things to do in Belfast
- Things to do in Middlesbrough
- Things to do in York
- Things to do in Liverpool
- Things to do in Manchester
- Things to do in Westport
- Things to do in Birmingham
- Things to do in Limerick
- Things to do in North East England
- Things to do in North West England