Fort Augustus is a charming village which is centred around the 5 locks of the Caledonian Canal. There are many day trippers that stop here on their way north or south but it also makes for a great place to stay for a day or more. You can easily wander around the village on foot and check out all the sites. There are also lots of places to visit within a short drive – check out our detailed post on things to do around Loch Ness.
Where’s Fort Augustus?
Fort Augustus is located in the Scottish Highlands at the southern tip of Loch Ness half way between Fort William and Inverness. Situated at the point where the 60 mile (96 km) long Caledonian Canal meets Loch Ness and is also located on the Great Glen Way, a 79 mile (127km) long distance walk or bike trail between Fort William and Inverness, Fort Augustus is indeed a special place to visit.
Is Fort Augustus worth visiting?
The short answer is: YES! This is such a pretty village with a lovely buzz about it during the summer months. It’s also a great spot to visit during the quieter months when the crowds have gone. Read on to discover what to do in Fort Augustus.
Visit Loch Ness Viewpoint
Walk down the north side of the canal to reach the Loch Ness Viewpoint where you’ll find the famous “Loch Ness” sign. It’s the perfect spot for that Loch Ness selfie or to search for the elusive monster! Our kids loved looking out across the loch from there when they were younger. You can walk along the pontoon decking next to the canal, however, be aware that it gets very slippy when wet!
Loch Ness Cruise
Head across the bridge to the south side of the Caledonian Canal and jump aboard a Cruise Loch Ness boat trip. Opt for a scenic day or evening tour on the traditional boat or a high speed option on a RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat). You can buy tickets ahead online or at the cabin located just next to the boat on the southside of the canal. There’s a car park next to the booking cabin, however, it isn’t very big and it may therefore be best to use the carpark at the entrance to the village (heading towards Inverness).
Admire the Pepperpot lighthouse, Scotland’s smallest lighthouse
Walk down the path on the south side of the Caledonian Canal and you’ll come across a very cute little lighthouse. It’s called a “pepperpot lighthouse” due to its resemblance of a pepper shaker and is one of the smallest lighthouses in the United Kingdom. It was built in 1840 and is located at the point where Loch Ness meets the Caledonian Canal.
Lunch with a stunning view of Loch Ness
Just a stone’s throw from the Pepperpot lighthouse! Keep walking past the lighthouse until you reach the Boathouse Café and Restaurant. You won’t find a better Loch Ness view! You can sit in the restaurant or choose one of the outdoor tables overlooking the loch. It’s currently undergoing a major refurbishment and is expected to reopen in spring 2023.
Visit the Caledonian Canal Centre
We highly recommend a visit to the Caledonian Canal Centre to learn about the fascinating history of the canal. The visitor centre is located on the north-west side of the canal, on the right-hand side of the bridge if you’re coming from the Inverness direction. You’ll find a room that delves into the Caledonian Canal story as well as a gift shop, an ice-cream parlour, the Loch Ness Larder, a lovely café with a conservatory overlooking the river plus an outdoor seating area. There are even charging points for anyone needing to charge up their E-bike battery.
Caledonian Canal Locks
You can’t miss the locks as the village is very much centred around the 5 locks that link the canal to Loch Ness. Designed by Thomas Telford and constructed between 1803 and 1822, the 96km canal links the Atlantic Ocean to the North Sea. There are benches and outdoor seating areas along the canal area where you can view the boats manoeuvring their way down the canal to the loch. It’s fascinating to watch, especially if you have little ones (although keep a close eye on them as there are some sheer drops down to the water).
Shop in a converted church
This is such a small, pretty building with some beautiful stained glass windows. It’s worth a quick browse just to appreciate the architecture of this converted church. You’ll find an array of tartan wares, cashmere accessories and Scottish souvenirs.
Lunch in one of the charming restaurants and cafés
There are some great places to eat in Fort Augustus including a wide selection of tea rooms, restaurants, cafés and gift shops, particularly on the southside of the canal.
→ You’ll receive a very warm welcome at Cobbs Café either in their café or on their outdoor terrace.
→ Neighbouring Lock Inn also has a lovely beer garden adjacent to the Cobb café terrace, both of which overlook the canal. There’s a lovely open fire for those cold wintery days and some wholesome pub grub to fill you up.
→ If you like fish and chips, then pick up a take-away at “Monster Fish & Chips” located next to the main car park at the entrance to the village (Inverness side).
→ Pop into “Ripples Tearoom” for some delicious scones and an amazing view of the canal. Quaint tearoom with very friendly service.
→ Make sure you grab a delicious local ice cream from Miele’s Gelateria. The ice cream parlour is attached to the Fort Augustus Gift Company and is located on the left-hand side as you enter the village (opposite the petrol station). Open seasonally.
→ As mentioned above, the Boathouse Café and Restaurant is a great spot to enjoy lunch with a view of Loch Ness. It does get very busy so it’s worth booking ahead to ensure you get a table. It’s currently undergoing a major refurbishment and is due to reopen in spring 2023.
It’s worth noting that Fort Augustus can get very busy with coach tours which will impact waiting times in local restaurants and cafes. Also, many places close during the winter months so it’s worth checking ahead to see what’s open.
Good to know: there’s a petrol station next to the main car park if you need to refuel. There’s a Spar convenience store within the petrol station if you need to stock up on supplies or get a picnic together.
Admire the Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Fountain
You’ll probably stumble upon this wrought-iron fountain when wandering around the town. We’ve included this for a bit of fun and some trivia… Located to the right of the swing bridge (heading south), the fountain was erected to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It is believed that Queen Victoria passed through the town on her steamship and that she complained that the people were “very rude” to stare in as she ate on board!
The Clansman Centre (seasonal opening hours)
The Clansman Centre is a wee gem that you won’t want to miss! Located in the 19th century Old Schoolhouse, next to the Loch Ness Cruise boat on the south side of the canal, this place provides a wonderful insight into Highland life showcasing traditions of a bygone era. Enter the recreation of a Highland turf house and join in a great show that’ll teach you how to dress as a Highlander, wear a kilt and fight the enemy. A fun hour of storytelling and entertainment! You do, however, need to book the shows ahead. You can also pick up some Scottish souvenirs in their giftshop.
Walks in & around Fort Augustus
Why not give your legs a stretch and enjoy the stunning scenery on offer. There are plenty of walking options in and around Fort Augustus..
- Discover what the town has to offer by going on a self-guided walking tour using this heritage trail map (provided by “Enjoy Loch Ness”). It takes approximately one hour to walk around the suggested route. You’ll discover lots of hidden gems and fun trivia about the town and its history.
- Take a walk along the Caledonian Canal by joining the Great Glen Way path on the northern canal towpath. You could walk all the way to Fort William (42kms) or stop at Kytra Lock and admire the picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage and scenery before making your way back to Fort Augustus.
- If you have your own transport, you could go on the River Oich Walks. Head north out of the village (towards Inverness) and turn left where the free car park is signposted. You will then drive up a steep hill, turn left after the free car park and carry on until you reach the forestry car park. From here, there’s a choice of 3 different walks: the river walk, the nursery trail walk and the pine tree circuit.
- Allt Na Criche Trail – this is another lovely spot to go for a walk and is located a short 2km drive north of Fort Augustus. Park up in the forestry car park and follow one of the trails. We provide more detail about this walking trail on this post – things to do around Loch Ness.
Click here to download a map of the walking trails around Fort Augustus (Caledonian Canal, River Walks, Allt Na Criche and more) and check this website for detailed information about the walks in the area.
Explore the area on your bike or hire an e-bike
Get out into the fresh air and bike along the Caledonian Canal on your bike. You can also easily take your bike on the walking trails mentioned above or join part of the Caledonia Way, a 234 mile long-distance that runs from Campbeltown to Inverness. Click here for further details.
If you’re a keen mountain biker, don’t miss the fantastic trails at Nevis Range, home to the UCI Downhill World Cup. Located just outside of Fort William, it’s a 40 minute drive south. The upper trails are not open during the winter months. This is when you’ll need to swap your wheels for skis!
If you don’t have your own two wheels, you can always hire a Ness E-bike from Girvan’s hardware store. They’re located on the road out of Fort Augustus, heading south towards Fort William. They will be able to provide you with lots of suggestions of routes and itineraries.
Join in an outdoor “Monster Activity”
Check out the many activities on offer from Monster Activities. The company operates out of the Highland Club in Fort Augustus and is open all year. Choose from activities such as canoeing, river rafting, archery, tomahawk throwing and clay pigeon shooting! As you can see, there are plenty of Fort Augustus activities on offer for the outdoorsy traveller!
Check out their website by clicking here →
Where to park in Fort Augustus
There is a large public car park on your right just as you enter Fort Augustus coming from the north along the A82. It’s a pay and display car park.
Tip: there are public toilets located close to the village car park, just behind the Monster fish and chips take-away as you head into Fort Augustus.
There is another car park which is actually free. It’s located before the main car park as you enter the village (from the north). It’s up a very steep hill and is located about 250 yards up on the left-hand side. There’s also a skate park and a little play park right next to the car park.
Places to stay in Fort Augustus
Despite its size, there are plenty of accommodation options suiting all budgets in Fort Augustus.
If you’re on a budget, you’ll find private, shared and family rooms at reasonable prices at Morag’s Lodge. Located just on the edge of the village as you head north towards Inverness, this independent hostel is a great option for solo travellers. They’re also right on the Great Glen Way so it makes for a great spot for an overnight stay if you’re walking or cycling the route.
There are a number of options for families which include camping in Fort Augustus. There’s a fantastic luxury glamping retreat on the outskirts of the village called the Loch Ness Highland Resort. There are some great onsite facilities including a restaurant, a Monster Playpark, a gift emporium and more.
We generally book self-catering accommodation as we find it works really well when travelling as a family – space to spread out and somewhere to cook meals. The Highland Club is a great option as there are lots of different apartments available within this former abbey. Click here to check availability and prices
There are plenty of B&Bs in the village. Here’s a selection that get great reviews:
You can even stay in accommodation at the Caledonian Canal Centre! You really can’t be any more central than staying in Lock Chambers.
If you fancy treating yourself, then why not book into the Lovat Hotel. This place prides itself on its eco-conscious ethos and high standards. It’s located very close to the town centre and has a fantastic gourmet restaurant too.
→ Click here to check availability and prices
Loch Ness Pods
Located just a short distance from the village centre, yet close to beautiful scenery, these pods are a great choice if you’re after a fun, unique experience. There’s a great outdoor terrace, firepit and BBQ area.
Inver Coille Campsite
Located in a tranquil setting between Fort Augustus and Invermoriston, this campsite is a great option for those seeking peace, tranquillity and immersion in nature. They’re also located on the low route of the Great Glen Way so make for a handy stopover for anyone doing the route. They offer a number of fun, quirky accommodation options including geodomes, bell tents, pods, timber tents and pitches for those choosing to camp. It’s worth noting that they’re only open seasonally.
How to get Fort Augustus?
You can get to Fort Augustus by public transport or by car. The easiest way to reach the town is by car, however, if you’re relying on public transport, you can absolutely get there by bus. Read on for various options:
Getting to Fort Augustus By car
Getting from Inverness to Fort Augustus by car [1 hour]
From Inverness, join the A82 (follow signs for Fort William) and stay on the A82 for about an hour until you get to Fort Augustus. You’ll drive along the banks of Loch Ness and will drive through the village of Drumnadrochit (Loch Ness Visitor Centre) as well as Urquhart Castle. A perfect stop on route if you wish to stretch your legs.
Getting from Edinburgh to Fort Augustus by car [3.5 hours]
Head over the Forth Road bridge and join the M90. Head towards Perth where you’ll join the A9. Stay on the A9 until you reach the turn-off at Dalwhinnie. Turn left here and join the A889 and then the A86 in the Fort William direction. This is an incredibly stunning road, you won’t regret it (although beware if travelling during winter months). Once you reach Spean Bridge, turn right onto the A82 in the direction of Inverness.
Getting from Glasgow to Fort Augustus by car [3.5 hours]
Join the A82 which will take you all the way up to Fort Augustus. This is another incredibly scenic route which will take you past Loch Lomond and then onto Glencoe.
Getting to Fort Augustus By bus
Getting from Inverness to Fort Augustus by bus
Catch the 919 (Scottish Citylink) from Inverness bus station. The journey takes just over an hour and drops you off at the Tourist Information centre in Fort Augustus. It’s a lovely scenic drive on the A82 along the banks of Loch Ness.
Getting from Fort William to Fort Augustus by bus
Catch the 919 (Scottish Citylink) from Fort William bus station. The journey takes just about an hour and drops you off at the Tourist Information centre in Fort Augustus.
Getting from Edinburgh to Fort Augustus by bus
Catch the Citylink / Megabus (or the train) from Edinburgh to Inverness and then the 919 (Scottish Citylink) mentioned above. The entire journey will take almost 5 hours
Getting from Glasgow to Fort Augustus by bus [5 hours via Inverness or 5hrs30 via Fort William]
There are two ways to get from Glasgow to Fort Augustus. Either catch the bus from Glasgow to Fort William and then connect with the 919 (Scottish Citylink) heading north to Fort Augustus. Alternatively, catch the bus from Glasgow up to Inverness and then connect with the 919 (Scottish Citylink) heading south to Fort Augustus.
Getting to Fort Augustus By train
There is no train station in Fort Augustus. The closest train station is in Spean Bridge (23 miles) or Fort William (32 miles) and Inverness (35 miles). We recommend checking the Scotrail website for train times. You will then need to catch a bus to Fort Augustus. Check Traveline Scotland for connections and bus timetables.
Getting to Fort Augustus By plane
The closest airport to Fort Augustus is the one in Inverness (43 miles from Fort Augustus). Check Inverness Airport website for details of airlines that fly into Inverness. You can then pick up a hire car (click here to compare prices) or you can easily get into Inverness from the airport by taxi or by bus. From there, catch the 919 (Scottish Citylink) bus down to Fort Augustus.
Other airports include Edinburgh (97 miles), Aberdeen (93 miles) or Glasgow (90 miles).
Things to do near Fort Augustus
We’ve covered the town in detail and now we’ll move on to things to do around Fort Augustus. There are certainly plenty of options for fun day trips from Fort Augustus. As you’ll discover, there’s plenty to keep you busy in the area.
Places to visit north of Fort Augustus
Located just half an hour north of Fort Augustus is Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic fortresses. The ruins of the castle sit on a hill overlooking Loch Ness and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore its ruins and learn about its fascinating history while taking in the beautiful scenery.
Loch Ness Visitor Centre in Drumnadrochit
Just five minutes drive from Urquhart Castle and you’ll reach the small town of Drumnadrochit. A stop at the Loch Ness Visitor Centre is a must for anyone wanting to find out more about the legend of Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.
You can reach the capital of the Highlands in under an hour from Fort Augustus. Inverness is a small city with most sites an easy walk away. We enjoy wandering around the city, admiring the castle and having a tasty lunch at the Mustard Seed restaurant down by the waterfront. Our favourite area is down by the river Ness where you’ll find lovely walks around Ness Islands and somewhere to eat at the food trucks at the Highland Food & Drink Trail (usually there Wed – Sunday) on Ness Walk.
Cherry Island and Allt na Criche walk
As you leave Fort Augustus and head north, you’ll notice a small layby on your right (click here to open exact location on google maps). Park up and walk the short trail to admire Cherry Island, the only island on Loch Ness. In fact, it’s not a real island but rather a man-made island-dwelling dating back some 2000 years and is known as a crannog. As a result of the building of the Caledonian Canal, the level of Loch Ness rose by around 1m80 which led to the original island being significantly engulfed in water.
Once you’ve admired Cherry Island, carry on for half a mile and turn off to the left at the forestry car park for Allt na Criche. If you enjoy walking, there is a fantastic 3 km loop walk through the woods taking in cascades, waterfalls and burns. There are also wonderful sweeping views across Loch Ness once you reach the highest point of the trail. Read this post for further detail.
Invermoriston is a quaint little village located about 10 minutes north of Fort Augustus. It’s very small, however, there are some lovely walks and a great hotel pub in the centre. We recommend the walk down to the summer house where you’ll get a great view of the river, the falls and the old Telford stone bridge. You can also join the Great Glen Way from here and head either north towards Drumnadrochit, Inverness or back south towards Fort Augustus.
Falls of Foyers
Instead of heading up the A82 towards Inverness, take the road west (B862) out of Fort Augustus. You will discover the wilder, less frequented side of Loch Ness. Carry on up the B862 + B852 for about 25 minutes and you’ll reach the tiny village of Foyers. Park up in the village car park and cross the road to join the start of the trail down to the falls. After a short 15 minute walk to the upper viewpoint, you’ll discover the spectacular 140ft drop Falls of Foyers.
Places to visit south of Fort Augustus
Fort William & Nevis Range
Fort William has been dubbed the outdoor capital of the UK making it a great place for outdoor enthusiasts and adrenaline junkies. It also marks the end of the West Highland Way and the start of the Great Glen Way, both popular long-distance walks. It’s a stone’s throw from the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis as well as Nevis Range, the ski and mountain biking resort.
Glencoe is an area of outstanding natural beauty and has unsurprisingly featured as a backdrop in a number of films (read our post on filming locations in Scotland).
Places to visit west of Fort Augustus
Eilean Donan Castle
Here you have another iconic castle located a one hour drive from Fort Augustus. Join the Skye Road, the A87 at Invermoriston and take in the beautiful landscape on this scenic road. Situated on an island where the three sea lochs meet, Eilean Donan is a must on your Scottish itinerary. You’ll get to visit the castle (seasonal opening), the visitor centre and have a tasty coffee in the restaurant whilst admiring the breathtaking surroundings. You can even get married there!
We’ve written a very detailed post on places to visit around Loch Ness and we strongly recommend you click here to read up further on all the sites to see around this vast expanse of water. Here’s a link to our post on things to do around Loch Ness
We hope you’ve found our post on attractions in Fort Augustus useful. You’ll also have noticed that there are so many places to visit near Fort Augustus which makes it a great base for exploring this part of the Highlands.
Here are some more of our detailed guides which you might also find useful:
→ 20+ Best things to do around Loch Ness
→ Detailed Guide to Inverness, Gateway to the Highlands
→ 25 Best Day Trips from Inverness
→ Top Guide to Visiting the Black Isle
→ Epic Guide to the NC500 East Coast – from Inverness to Thurso
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