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Last updated on March 22nd, 2021
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition attempts to explain the geology of the local area as well as the monster myth and it’s an ideal stop-off after a busy day exploring the vast Loch Ness.
Review of the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition is an ideal stop-off point after a busy day exploring Loch Ness, especially if you want to know more about the surrounding area because this attraction aims to explain the geology of the loch as well as debunk some of the myths that surround the legend of the monster.
It’s a well-known fact that Loch Ness is the largest body of fresh water in the UK and it’s not really surprising that countless stories of mysterious monster sightings have surfaced over the years from its atmospheric peat-stained depths.
You might be surprised to learn that the very first sighting of Nessie goes all the way back to the 6th-century when St. Columba wrote an account of a man who’d been dragged underwater by a strange creature, and while there were a few sporadic tales afterwards it wasn’t until 1933 that the first photo of Nessie was taken and subsequently published in a national newspaper.
After that visitors from far and wide started to visit Loch Ness to try to spot the monster for themselves and occasional sightings to this very day still ignite a fascination with the loch and its mysterious underwater inhabitant. You can learn all about the history of the loch and its monster in my guide Is The Loch Ness Monster Real?
The Loch Ness exhibition is genuinely interesting and I loved the fact that it hasn’t gone all-in on presenting the legend of Nessie as fact, instead offering plenty of alternative theories as to what Nessie could be and where him/her/it could have come from.
If you’ve got kids and you’re in the area there’s simply no reason not to visit The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition.
Things to do at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
What this exhibition does very successfully is bring the fascinating geological history of the area to life in a way that both adults and children will find fun and informative.
Through a series of lasers, digital projections and special effects the 500-million-year-old history of Loch Ness is explained in vivid detail, and possible explanations for where Nessie came from are explored in a scientific manner.
We know there have been many hoaxes over the years that have been exposed, but what about the hundreds of reliable eye-witness accounts? The Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition will help you to decide for yourself what’s fact and what’s fiction.
Those visitors who want to take a journey out on the open water can book a trip on ‘Deepscan’, the research vessel named after the £1 million scientific study carried out on the loch in 1987 in which 24 vessels simultaneously sailed the length of the loch while recording sonar readings in an attempt to find the monster once and for all.
Unfortunately they never found it, but a latter-day trip on Deepscan will at least take you on a tour around the loch and show you main sights like the famous Urquhart Castle.
While the focus of much of the exhibition is on the scientific study of the geology of the area it never gets boring, and this mixture of education and entertainment (edutainment?) is guaranteed to keep both parents and children occupied for a good hour or two.
The attraction also boasts a quality café if you need to recharge hungry bellies before heading home and an on-site hotel provides accommodation if you’re looking to spend a little extra time in the area.
Finally, there’s the obligatory gift shop for gifts and mementoes where you can pick up Scottish treats including fine whisky, cashmere clothes and children’s toys.
Find more attractions in the Highlands with my Guide to the Best tourist Attractions in the Scottish Highlands.
- This attraction offers a good blend of fun and fact. The story of Loch Ness and the monster is genuinely fascinating.
- Kids will love it – and so will adults thanks to the varied mix of exhibits and displays.
- It’s a perfect attraction for Loch Ness if the weather closes in.
- If you want to explore Loch Ness from the roadside you might consider driving the A82 which follows the loch for its entire length on its western edge.
- Combine a visit with a boat tour on Loch Ness. Loch Ness by Jacobite is one of the best operators.
- Read my Guide to Urquhart Castle to discover the iconic fortress that sits on the shore of Loch Ness. Or read my Guide to Loch Ness for an overview of one of Scotland’s most iconic visitor destinations.
Things to do near the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
- Loch Ness. 3-minute drive. The largest freshwater body of water in Britain that is famous for the sightings of a mysterious monster. The loch is fed by the River Ness to the north, beyond which is the city of Inverness. To the south is the tourist village of Fort Augustus.
- Urquhart Castle. Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ. 6-minute drive. Iconic 16th-century castle situated on the western bank of Loch Ness. The castle was owned by both English and Scottish over the course of hundreds of years till it was partially destroyed in 1692. The Historic Environment Scotland visitor centre houses a permanent exhibition about the loch and the castle as well as a restaurant with outside seating and a gift shop.
- Urquhart Bay Wood. A82, Inverness IV63 6XN. 5-minute drive. An alder woodland located on the shore of Loch Ness with footpaths throughout it. This is one of the few remaining wet woodlands in Scotland where the entire woodland becomes flooded after a rainfall.
- The Garden on Loch Ness. Kilianan, Loch Ness Side, Inverness, Highlands and Islands IV3 8LA. 8-minute drive. A plant nursery and woodland garden that has an array of native and exotic plants.
- Craig Monie. Inverness IV63 6XD. 5-minute drive plus a 30-minute walk. A hill to the south of Drumnadrochit that provides uninterrupted views across Loch Ness. Note that the hill is open to the public but it is covered in managed fir trees which are forested at any time and there is no clearly marked path to the top.
Address and map
From Inverness follow the signs for the A82 heading south. You will pass along the side of the loch for about 14 miles before reaching Drumnadrochit. The Loch Ness Center is clearly visible upon entry to the village, on the right-hand side.
Tickets and opening times
Open 364 days a year (closed Christmas Day).
Closing time is 45 minutes after the last entry.
|Winter||10.00 – Last entry: 15.30|
|Easter – June||09.30 – Last entry: 17.00|
|July / August||09.30 – Last entry: 18.00|
|September / October||09.30 – Last entry: 17.00|
Photos and video
More places to visit in The Highlands
- Ben Ledi – Stirlingshire: Complete Visitor GuideBen Ledi is an 879-metre high mountain in the lower Scottish Highlands. It can be found 5 miles north-west of the popular country village of Callander in the Trossachs National Park. The Trossachs are famous not just for their mountain ranges but also for their lochs which include the mighty Loch Lomond – one of the most scenic bodies of water in the United Kingdom.
- Muir of Dinnet – Aberdeenshire: Complete Visitor GuideThe Muir of Dinnet is a national nature reserve located on the eastern border of the Cairngorms national park in the Scottish Highlands. The reserve features a wealth of different habitats including heath, woodland and wetland, but it’s perhaps best known for ‘the vat’, a natural gorge formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago.
- Glen Etive – Inverness: Complete Visitor GuideWhat if I told you there’s a 12-mile stretch of road where you can see those mountains, rivers and forests in a single relatively small area, where gob-smackingly beautiful vistas open up around every corner on a secluded, frequently tourist-free single-track road?
- Faraid Head – Sutherland: Complete Visitor GuideWhile Scotland’s west coast islands usually take first prize for the number of amazing beaches you’ll find (hello Isle of Tiree) you shouldn’t be too quick to discount Scotland’s mainland either, especially in the far north where it’s relatively tourist-free compared to the rest of the country.
- Castle Sinclair Girnigoe – Caithness: Complete Visitor GuideThis castle (actually castles – more on that later) stands on one of the most dramatic viewpoints in Scotland (in my humble opinion) with a wild and windswept coastline that instantly brings to mind a scene from Game of Thrones rather than a tourist attraction thanks to its near-impenetrable cliff-face setting.