Of course the first thing you think of when you hear Loch Ness is the legendary monster, Nessie. I heard about many sightings but even as a kid I doubted the monster existed. Still, when I realized we would be going close to Loch Ness on our way to Isle of Skye, I thought it would be fun to explore and see if I could have my own Nessie sighting.
We planned on visiting the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre to learn about the history and then go looking for Nessie on a Loch Ness boat tour during our week in Scotland. Let me share my experience searching for Nessie.
About Loch Ness
Loch Ness is known for more than just Nessie. It is the biggest lake by volume in the UK because it is very deep in places. To give you an idea of the scope, it holds more water than all of the lakes in England and Wales combined.
The Loch Ness water is very calm and we only saw a few boats. However, the water visibility is extremely low because of the high peat content in the soil. The area around Loch Ness is very beautiful and very green. You can see the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the shore. There are very few other buildings are right on the lake, so it feels very rural. The town of Inverness is located 8 miles away. (Read more about other day trips from Inverness.)
Loch Ness Exhibition Centre
We started our Loch Ness tour at the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre so that we could learn a little bit more about the history. Outside the building, there is the submarine that was used in the Loch Ness investigation in 1969. Most of the exhibition is videos telling the history of Nessie and all the scientific research that has been done. You move through the rooms watching short videos with some pretty fun special effects.
Instead of a video, the last room has several exhibits. I enjoyed the section about the eyewitness accounts, it was interesting to hear the conviction in their stories. I also thought it was interesting that they showed two Styrofoam heads which used to be identical until one was taken down 230M to the bed of the Loch. That head got compressed and puts the depth of the water into perspective.
The Loch Ness Centre also has a gift shop where you can get your Nessie souvenirs.
Loch Ness Boat Trip
That evening, we planned to go on the lake with Cruise Loch Ness to see if we could spot Nessie for ourselves. The boat leaves from Fort Augustus Loch Ness, at the south end of the lake. Before we boarded the boat, we went across the street and explored the locks of the Caledonian Canal, which were actually built in the early 1800s!
The Loch Ness boat tour left promptly at 8 pm just as the sun was about to set. The boat had two levels, and we sat outside on the top deck since the weather was nice. Our tour guide narrated as we went along the coastline admiring the scenery.
I wasn’t expecting to see any wildlife on our Loch Ness cruise, but thanks to the good eye of our tour guide, he pointed out several sheep and deer hidden in the woods. We also saw cormorants. The silhouette from these large birds may have led to some Nessie sightings.
Our guide also pointed out a section of the shore area called the horseshoe, where missing vegetation creates a horseshoe shape. Of course, the story is that the mountain was damaged by Nessie trying to escape!
Then our tour guide invited everyone downstairs for a sonar lesson. To be honest, I wasn’t interested in it but figured since it was getting dark I might as well go inside. However, learning about the sonar was fascinating. We learned how two different screens showed the depth of the water. One even had dots to show the Loch Ness fish. It was impressive to see how the depth of the lake changes so dramatically.
Looking for Nessie
Then it was time for the part of the cruise on Loch Ness that everyone was waiting for. Our guide asked if anyone wanted to get video of Nessie. Of course, I was curious and raised my hand. Russell and I followed the guide as he helped us get our Nessie video. Take a look and let me know what you think!?
We had a fun and educational day in Loch Ness visiting the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and exploring with Cruise Loch Ness. Our tour guide kept us entertained! We also visited the romantic ruins of Urquhart Castle. There are plenty of things to do in the Scottish Highlands. It is a beautiful area and the story of Nessie is definitely intriguing. You definitely need to do one of the Loch Ness boat trips and search for yourself.
Have you visited Loch Ness or had any usual sightings? What are your thoughts on Nessie?
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Expert Tips for Your Loch Ness Trip
- Learn more about the history of Loch Ness at the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre.
- Be sure to catch the sonar lesson on your boat ride with Cruise Loch Ness.
- Keep an open mind, you never know what you will see.
Disclosure: No financial compensation was received, but we were guests of the Loch Ness Exhibition Centre and Cruise Loch Ness. As always, opinions expressed here are my own.
Last Updated on April 28, 2023
This feels like a must for visiting Scotland, even if only to say you went hunting for Nessie. It’s nice to know the scenery is also picturesque and I always like getting out on the water. I might just copy your itinerary of this and Isle of Skye. #TheWeeklyPostcard
David – Thank you. Yes, I agree it is a must. I will tell you though we had a hard time deciding on our itinerary for our Scotland trip because there are just so many amazing places. Lots more to come, so stay tuned.
What a fun experience! This reminds me of Roswell , New Mexico and visiting the UFO museum. It is interesting to read people’s accounts and hear their stories. Also your video made me laugh!
Chantell – Yes. I can imagine Roswell is similar, but I haven’t been there. The UFO museum sounds interesting. Glad you enjoyed the video.
This looks like a blast! I can’t imagine riding around in that ancient little submarine looking for a mythical monster… hello claustrophobia.
Thanks Alex. Haha yes, I think the boat cruise is the better way to go!
LOVE that video of Nessie! I’m convinced! 😉 Haha, but seriously, it sounds like a lovely time! I have of course heard of the Loch Ness monster, but I never thought of it as a place to visit! So cool, and definitely something I’ll have to add to my list. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks Maria, glad you enjoyed it and hope you get to search for Nessie yourself someday.
Did they discuss how and why the legend of Nessie began?
Sally – There have been 100s of sightings. One that really got the legend started was when the hotel manager had a sighting. The exhibition centre also discussed some of the scientific reasons that have led to the sightings like the murkiness of the water, etc.
This was such an interesting read! My parents got to visit Loch Ness when I was a kid, on their honeymoon but I haven’t been yet! I know one day we will do a tour around Scotland and squeeze this in! #TheWeeklyPostcard
Lolo – Thanks. It is such an interesting place. Scotland is definitely a must visit, there is just so much to see!
Always good to keep an open mind! I’m not particularly superstitious but you never know what might happen. Then again, I’m pretty freaked out by deep water to begin with. What a unique experience!
Thanks Jessica, it was definitely interesting and we had a great time.
Searching for loch ness monster must be so exciting – haha. Sonar lesson sounds very interesting. Loved the video 🙂
Thanks Roota. It was fun and glad you liked the video.
We spent a few hours around Loch Ness on our way to Isle of Skye this summer. Such a fascinating a fun history to hear. There were so many people around, so it was hard to get swept up in the magic of it. It seems that you had fantastic immersion in the tales and area! Lovely share!
Thanks Eulanda. Glad you got to visit Loch Ness too and happy you enjoyed the post.
The sonar looks fascinating, and love the Nessie video! We wet upto Scotland a couple of years ago, but didn’t get as far as Loch Ness. Definetely one for the bucket list I think. Thanks for sharing. #theweeklypostcard
Thanks Upeksha. It was a really interesting place and we had a great time.