We visited Scotland in July of 2014 and one of my goals was to boat on Loch Ness. The Ferry from the visitor centre to Castle Urquhart was a great idea and a smooth, beautiful ride. The pictures of the castle from the water were great, and we were anxious to see an "unrestored" castle of such importance in Scotland.
We were not disappointed. The wonderfully enormous trebuchet visible on docking was our first surprise, as was the bagpiper playing inside the grounds. The castle has a number of interpretive signs that "set the stage" for our imaginations. Our 18-year old son wanted to see a "real" castle and Urquhart fit the bill. I saw notes on Tripadvisor that the views from the Loch and the castle are the same - not so whatsoever. The massive size of this former glory, the layout, the great history to it (the sign describing all the riches stolen from the castle was a real interest) - all made my son declare this was the best castle of our visit.
We had purchased an Explorer Pass and as such, Urquhart was included with the pass which enhanced the value of the pass in our opinion, and we were all too happy to pay for the ferry ride, so all in all, we felt a good value. We highly recommend the Explorer Pass for Scotland - this castle, Edinburgh, Doune, and many more were included in the single price.
While we were visiting the castle, a pair of Eurofighter Typhoon fighters thundered by overhead, giving us a view of the training the Scottish and British pilots were going through - just another great moment in a wonderful visit.
The washrooms were spotless and readily accessible up the hill, the restaurant was clean and well stocked, the gift shop nicely laid out.
Frankly, as a North American looking for a few castles to visit, I would have difficulty finding anything wrong with castle Urquhart. Yes, it's a ruin - isn't that what you should expect from an ancient castle? Great value and great atmosphere. Nicely done!
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