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Loch Ness from Edinburgh

Plan a trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh

3rd Jun 2024

How to plan a trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh:

Every year, hundreds of visitors to Scotland travel from Edinburgh to Loch Ness, blending the richness of World Heritage-listed architecture with the breathtaking beauty of the Scottish Highlands in one trip. In this guide, we’ll help you craft the perfect itinerary, featuring two iconic Scottish attractions: The Real Mary King’s Close and The Loch Ness Centre.

The Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close – a sister attraction of The Loch Ness Centre – is one of the UK’s Top 10 visitor attractions, as voted by TripAdvisor. Once a street that bustled with busy markets and over 600 residents, Mary King’s Close was buried beneath the Edinburgh City Chambers following the council building’s construction in 1753.

For centuries, the street was forgotten. But today, you can join a 1-hour guided tour led by a “former resident” of the close. Descend underground to discover a warren of hidden streets, and discover what life was like for the people of Edinburgh’s Old Town throughout the centuries.

The Loch Ness Centre

Meanwhile, the world-famous Loch Ness Centre is located in Drumnadrochit near Inverness. This is the very place where a “water beast” was sighted in 1933, sparking a global phenomenon.

Over the years, The Loch Ness Centre has attracted worldwide attention. This is the first multi-media visitor centre that showcased, in detail, the history and research behind the monster. In 2023, the attraction underwent a £1.5 million refurbishment, and helped to organise the largest surface watch for Nessie since the 1970s.

With the help of famous monster hunters like Adrian Shine, Steve Feltham and newcomer Alan McKenna, the updated exhibition is a fully immersive experience. Visit to discover over 500 million years of history and share what you think! Do you believe in Nessie, Nonsense or Possibilities?

How do I plan a trip to Loch Ness from Edinburgh?

A Day in Edinburgh

Storytellers at The Real Mary King's Close

Storytellers at The Real Mary King’s Close © The Real Mary King’s Close

Before travelling up to Loch Ness, spend a full day exploring the city of Edinburgh. Start your morning with a filling breakfast for a big day ahead. We recommend checking out Luckenbooths right next door to The Real Mary King’s Close. Open from 7am, they serve everything from full Scottish breakfasts to smoothie bowls, porridge and hot smoked salmon with French toast.

After breakfast, immerse yourself in Edinburgh’s rich history with a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close. Be sure to book your tickets online in advance and arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled tour. You can even pop into the attraction’s listed Burgh Courtroom before your tour begins for a selection of locally brewed coffees, teas and a range of Scottish snacks.

Following your tour, take a stroll along the Royal Mile and explore nearby attractions such as the underground vaults with Mercat Tours or the Writer’s Museum. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit iconic landmarks like Edinburgh Castle and Calton Hill for panoramic views of the city.

Wander down to the Grassmarket area and dine somewhere relaxed like Hula or Bertie’s Proper Fish and Chips for lunch. In the afternoon, discover Scotland’s whisky heritage with a tour at the Scotch Whisky Experience, or enjoy a leisurely hike up Arthur’s Seat for breathtaking views.

Travelling to Inverness


View of Loch Ness © Alison White Photography

Then, after a day of exploration in Edinburgh, it’s time to journey north to Loch Ness. If you’re short on time, opt for a same-day trip from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. Begin your day with a tour of The Real Mary King’s Close, followed by a scenic drive up to The Loch Ness Centre.

Any quick Google search will show there are plenty of car hire options in Edinburgh. The drive is approximately 3 hours long, and you can take a detour to pass through iconic landmarks such as Loch Lomond and Fort William. The roads are narrow and windy though, so be very careful.

In fact, we recommend staying overnight. Not only is it safer, but extending your journey over two days will help to fully immerse yourself in the experience. Choose from a variety of accommodations in Drumnadrochit or Inverness for a comfortable overnight stay.

We’ve included a few popular options below:

A Day at Loch Ness

Myths and Legends x600

The Myths & Legends Room at The Loch Ness Centre © Alison White

Embark on a day of adventure at Loch Ness, starting early to make the most of your time! If you’re in Inverness, arrange a taxi or car rental to reach The Loch Ness Centre. It’s just a brief 30-minute drive away.

Positioned at the head of Urquhart Bay, Drumnadrochit awaits. The visitor attraction is located at the entrance to the village, with free car parking on-site for all visitors. We recommend booking an Anytime Ticket so you can join an available tour whenever you like.

Also, if visiting in the late spring, summer, or early autumn seasons, don’t miss out on a Deepscan Cruise. Named after 1987’s Operation Deepscan – which was the largest search for Nessie until The Quest launched in 2023 – this is the perfect way to gain in-depth knowledge of the area.

Take a break for lunch at one of the local eateries like Café Eighty2 or The Loch Ness Inn. Then, visit Urquhart Castle, a picturesque ruin with commanding views over the loch. What’s more, Drumnadrochit is surrounded by Glen Urquhart and Glen Moriston. Also, the Great Glen that reaches across from Inverness in the east to Fort William in the west.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty to do, from hiking to horse riding, cycling and fishing trips.

The Real Mary King’s Close and The Loch Ness Centre are proud members of Continuum Attractions.

To discover more amazing days out across the UK:

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