About Urquhart Castle
What’s this attraction all about?
Urquhart Castle is one of those Scottish tourist attractions that seemingly everyone in the world has seen photos of. Nestled on the banks of the pitch-black waters of Loch Ness, the castle is the perfect location to whip out your camera and capture the spirit of Scotland.
Although it’s a popular tourist destination today thanks to its beautiful and peaceful setting, in another life the castle played a pivotal role as a defensive position for both the Scots and the English, where bloody battles eventually led to its partial demolition during the Wars of Independence.Read more...
What can you do there?
Due to the close proximity of both Inverness and Fort William, Urquhart Castle is easily accessible from either town and it provides the perfect stopping-off point for visitors who want to experience Loch Ness in all its glory from both the northern and southern ends. Once at the site you will find a sizeable car park with accessible footpaths leading through the visitor centre and out into the grounds surrounding the castle ruins, while the castle itself can be explored in nearly all areas, with the gloomy prison cell and the imposing tower being particular highlights.
The castle is now a ruined shadow of its former glory partly due to weather erosion, with the majority of the damage caused by the English military force that was stationed there in the 17th-century. The castle had changed ownership between the Scots and the English for many years, but when the English troops finally left in 1692 they decided to prevent the fortress being subsequently used by Jacobite forces, and so they demolished most of the castle walls with explosives.
However, much of the structure still remains intact and there’s plenty to see and do at the site, and the maze-like warren of walls and corridors are a great place for families to explore together. Mums and dads will love the view stretching across Loch Ness from the battlements of Grant Tower, and children will be fascinated by one of the few working stone-throwing trebuchets in Scotland.
Perhaps the best way to see Urquhart Castle is from Loch Ness, and if you take one of the many loch cruises from Fort Augustus you will be able to see the castle from an entirely different perspective as the tour boat sails past the ruins.
The castle’s popularity with tourists means that it’s been re-designed to be accessible for all ages, and easy-access paths run throughout the site so that even those with limited ability will be able to enjoy the location. The visitor centre is also one of the best attached to any castle in Scotland, with an extensive gift shop, exhibitions explaining the castle’s history and a restaurant serving refreshments both inside the centre and outside on the terrace overlooking the loch.
If you’re intending to spend any time at Loch Ness then a visit to Urquhart Castle has to be at the top of your list of attractions to visit.
What I liked about this attraction
- There are really nice views looking out across Loch Ness
- The castle ruins are fun to explore
- The visitor centre is first class
What I didn’t like about this attraction
- It’s really busy at most times of the year
- It’s a bit expensive if you’re not a HES member
Urquhart castle is approximately mid-way between Fort Augustus and Inverness, on the west side of Loch Ness, near Drumnadrochit village.
Approaching from Inverness at the northern end of the loch, follow the A82 for approximately 17 miles
Approaching from Fort Augustus at the southern end of the loch, follow the A82 for approximately 17 miles.
- Telephone: 01456 450 551
- Website: Urquhart Castle
Prices and opening times
Urquhart Castle is managed by Historic Scotland, which allows visitors to explore heritage sites either with an annual membership pass or by paying a separate fee at each site.
- Member/Explorer Pass holder: FREE
- Adult: £9.00
- Child aged 5-15: £5.40
- Child under 5: FREE
- Concession: £7.20
- 1 April to 30 September: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 6pm
- 1 October to 31 October: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5pm
- 1 November to 31 March: Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pm
- New Year’s Day (1 January): 11am to 4.30pm
Craig Smith is your guide to the best attractions in Scotland. He loves exploring the Scottish wilds and is happiest when he’s knee-deep in a muddy bog in the middle of nowhere.