Loch Ness lies at the north-western end of the Great Glen, just a few miles from Inverness. The loch is by far the largest in Scotland by volume - and is second only to Loch Lomond in surface area.
Famous for the Loch Ness Monster (aka Nessie or Niseag in Scots Gaelic). At the northern end, it is connected to the sea by the River Ness, and at the southern end the River Oich and the Caledonian Canal, which continues all the way on to Fort William at the other end of the Great Glen.
Loch Ness is one of few inland lakes to have its own lifeboat, manned by volunteers from the RNLI.
The Great Glen is a part of a geological fault extending out into the North Sea in one direction, and towards Northern Ireland in the other. Further down the glen, you'll find Loch Oich, Loch Lochy and finally Loch Linnhe before you coming to Oban and Mull.
Loch Ness is one of Scotland's top destinations - lots of our itineraries pass through the area and we'd love to help you explore it.
Discover Nessie at the Loch Ness Centre
You can't visit Loch Ness without going on a hunt to find Nessie - and by far the best place to start is the Loch Ness Centre. Housed in a converted hotel, they have an amazing exhibition, two gift shops and a cafe, as well as running cruises on the loch.
Great for both kids and adults, the exhibition takes you through 500 million years of history, natural mystery and legend - revealing the unique environment of Loch Ness, and everything you could ever want to know about the Loch Ness Monster.
Image: Unsplash / Robin Canfield
For over 500 years, Urquhart Castle was one of Scotland's largest castles. It was fought over in successive wars and skirmishes between the Scots and the English and raided by the Lords of the Isles. Although it was eventually blown up in the 1690s, the ruins are still impressive, and its commanding location on the north shore of the Loch makes for incredible views.
These days, the castle is looked after by Historic Environment Scotland.
Paddle the Caledonian Canal
Image: Unsplash / Francois Olwage
Stretching 60 miles from Fort William to Inverness, the Caledonian Canal is one of Scotland's most impressive engineering feats. First surveyed in 1773, the canal was opened in 1822, but closed again in 1843. Reoponening in 1849, the canal was an important route for shipping for 100 years. These days it is mostly used for leisure - yachts, motorboats, canoes and kayaks regularly journey along the waterway, while cyclists and walkers enjoy the flat route along the towpath, or the dramatic ups and downs of the Great Glen Way.
The Caledonian Canal Centre in Fort Augustus is a great place to discover the rich history of the canal and the surrounding area.