A Day Trip to Scottish Highlands & Loch Ness

The beautiful unparalleled scenery of Scottish Highlands have inspired many poets and wordsmiths alike. Loch Ness, Scotland's most famous loch (lake) has been on the travel bucket list of many due to its mystical inhabitant Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

Scotland is a travelers dream come true with its rich amalgamation of history, culture, stunning architecture and majestic scenery. But there is so much to see and do and with limited time of hands, it may become overwhelming. In our previous article, we told you about the fun things to do in Edinburgh and keeping a day aside to visit the highlands is a great addition to your Scotland itinerary.

We chose a local tour company for our day trip to Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness but if you can drive, it shall be an amazing ride. The route is lined majestic mountains, rolling hills and mysterious lochs throughout and is full of mind boggling scenery.

We started from Edinburgh at around 8 am in a luxury coach with an audio video guide that is immensely helpful in understanding the beautiful sights. We left Edinburgh and headed towards Firth of Forth (a designated world heritage site) where three bridges from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries run side by side and are still in use today. Crossing over firth of forth we entered the historic county Kingdom of Fife, full of rustic villages, castles, museums and galleries but pass through it with a quick promise to come back again someday :) En route get to know some interesting trivia about this important county. Fife is best known for its mention in Shakespeare's play Macbeth and was one of the most important coal fields with communities in Fife built around the lucrative business of coal mining. We also pass Blair Castle, Dalwhinney Distillery and Cairngorms National Park on the way.

The ride of about one hour is smooth and we arrive at our first stop, Pitlochry, the largest town in Highland Perthshire. Wander around the Victorian town and one finds many structures with Victorian Scottish Baronial architecture that make for great photo stops.

The town center is full of quaint shops, tea houses and independent boutiques selling handcrafted skincare, candles, Scottish tartan scarves and Scottish tablet (crumbly sweet traditional Scottish treat).

Do stop by and enjoy delicious ice cream from S.Luca run by the third generation of the family that has been making ice creams from 1908.  

From Pitlochry, we start towards Fort Augustus, the gateway to Loch Ness and spend almost two hours here.

One has an option to enjoy a 60 minute cruise on Loch Ness and search for the elusive monster Nessie or visit the local shops, cafes, pubs or sit and experience the Caledonian canal, that runs through the center of the village. 

The canal has an impressive number of locks that help assist the water traffic through various vertical levels and one can enjoy the sight of many boats of various shapes and sizes traveling through the canal. Do stock up on required essentials from the supermarket located near the canal as you may not get much en route or at your next stop.


The next stop Commando Memorial (approximately 30 minutes drive from Fort Augustus) is a three figure bronze statue dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces raised during World War II. Located overlooking Ben Nevis and Mamore mountains, the memorial is a place of respect and reverence and a must visit. One passes Fort William while on this route.

The fourth destination on the trip is Glencoe, one of Scotland’s best known u-shaped glen (a long valley that is bound by gently sloped concave sides). The vast, sweeping pass is one of the most dynamic geological landscape in whole of Britain with steepening foothills and angular peaks. The towering peaks began life 470 million years ago and the mountains may have been four times the size in the past. Know more about the Massacre of Glencoe, the treacherous slaughter of members of the MacDonald clan by soldiers that till date is a sad chapter in Glencoe's history. On the southern side of Glen Coe, one gets to see the highest mountain in the old county of Argyll, Bidean nam Bian and it's famous northern ridges known as the Three Sisters.

Next visit the Loch Tulla (a small loch) view point, located on A82 to enjoy some spectacular views across the loch and the highlands. We stopped here for around 10 minutes.

Our last destination, Callander a beautiful holiday town situated on the River Teith was bustling with activity. Home to beautiful Bracklinn Falls and the River Keltie, Callander has a lot to offer to tourists but our stop of 45 minutes only enabled us to take a walk across the main street and to stop and grab a bite for our return journey.

We started our return journey towards the Edinburgh City Centre after our full day trip to Scottish Highlands and Loch Ness thinking about the brilliant blue sky and warm sunny glow spread over towering mountains and crystal clear lochs.