Urquhart Castle is one of the most picturesque landmarks in Scotland, and an iconic sight to all those who have travelled between Fort William and Inverness. Perched on the banks of Loch Ness beside the village of Drumnadrochit, it commands great views up the length of the loch, and is one of the main sites for reported sightings of the legendary Loch Ness Monster.
The current day castle consists of a visitor centre newly built in 2002, which came with sizeable new car and coach parks, both of which are to be found in slopes underneath the A82. In order to explore the beautiful ruin, you will have to pay (at the time of writing) a reasonable admission fee at the Visitor Centre; £7.50 for adults and £4.30 for children, all year round. Furthermore, whether you prefer exploring the castle in summer with the sunlight sparkling on Loch Ness or whether you wish to enjoy the castle cafe during the blue winter hues, the castle is open in both seasons with the following timings; 1st April – 30th September, Mon-Sun, 9:30 am – 6:00 pm; 1st October – 31st October, Mon-Sun, 9:30 am- 5:00 pm; 1st Nov- 31st March, Mon-Sun, 9:30 am – 4:30pm. Please note that the castle is usually closed on 25th and 26th December.
A trip to the visitor centre serves as an interesting prologue to the castle visit and consists of four main attractions. Most appealing is the exhibition which includes a sizeable model of the castle, depicting what it might have looked like in its prime. The exhibition also consists of a theatre which runs an informative movie for visitors about the history of the castle from the 6th century to the 17th century, when it was demolished. There is also a cafe which provides stunning views of the castle and Loch Ness and is therefore often unsurprisingly chosen as a venue for wedding receptions. In fact, the adjoining terrace area is also available during the summer months, giving a fairy tale like quality to this setting; something to remember if you are planning an exotic wedding! Moreover the visitor centre also has a gift shop in the event that you want to take back souvenirs to friends and family.