Inverness, Scotland is the capital of the highlands. A picturesque city, it is an ideal base from which to explore the north of Scotland. The majestic blue waters of the River Ness, fresh air, and historical gems will captivate and enchant you. The compact city centre makes it ideal for exploring on foot or on a bicycle. Also, if you are a fan of the spell-binding narrative of the Outlander series, Inverness will whisk you off into the Outlander world as it serves as the location for many important events. For example, in the book, the fictional pre-historic stone circle of Craigh na Dun that transports Claire back in time is located just outside Inverness.
Scotland is well known to be rainy, which is a contributing factor to the lush greenery and verdant forests, but makes it unpleasant at times for tourists. So keep the weather in mind and remember to dress appropriately for the activities you are doing. The months between May and September are the most popular with tourists as this is when the weather is best and there are longer hours of daylight.
City Sightseeing Inverness Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Price: From 13.5 USD
Contact: +1(702) 648-5873
For the outdoor lovers
1. Take a stroll by the River Ness
The name Inverness is derived from its Scottish Gaelic form of Inbhir Nis, meaning ‘Mouth of the River Ness’. Hence, there is no better way than to start your explorations than with a visit to its namesake, the River Ness. Take a leisurely stroll by the river banks and you will pass by many main attractions of Inverness, which are situated by the shore. This will give you a good idea of which places you want to explore in-depth. If the weather is fine, do consider walking upstream along the river to the Ness Islands, a group of islands in the middle of the River Ness, crossing to the other side on one of the many pedestrian suspension bridges, and walking back down from the other bank. This should take you about 1 to 2 hours, depending on your pace. As there are many places for you to stop and take a break, bring a book along or some snacks to munch on as you take in the river views.
The Ness Islands are also a natural park, so if you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of the wildlife that inhabits the islands. You can also extend your walk or rent a bicycle, and do a full circuit along the Caledonian Canal. Walkhighlands provides directions and an offline map that you can download, to guide you through the route.
You cannot say you’ve been to Scotland without visiting the famous Loch Ness. You could choose to walk the 117-kilometre (72.7-mile) Great Glen Way trail but the best way is to go by canoe. Paddle your way through breathtaking scenery and delve into the mysteries of the Loch Ness in the company of an experienced guide, or rent your own canoe if you want to undertake this adventure by yourself. Boots n Paddles offer an array of tours that you can book online ranging from short day trips to a 5-day canoe expedition. If you prefer a more leisurely approach, check out
Canoeing - Explore Loch Ness (2.5 hours)
Meeting Place: Inveroich Pier (Ford Augustus)
Price: From 30 GBP (39.50 USD)
Duration: Around 2.5 hours required
Contact: [email protected]
Loch Ness Cruise Including Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
Departure Point: Inverness Bus Station, Central Inverness
Price: from 44.09 USD
Departure Point: 10.15 am
Duration: Around 3.5 hours required
Contact: +1(702) 648-5873
For history lovers
3. Explore the grounds of Inverness Castle
Sitting on a clifftop overlooking the River Ness, Inverness Castle is a prominent landmark. Dating back to the 11th century, it is perhaps best-known for being the location of Duncan’s murder in the Shakespeare tragedy ‘Macbeth’. Originally built using wood, the castle was partially destroyed by King Robert I of Scotland, and a succession of castles were built over the site. The current red-stone structure was built in 1836 by architect William Burn. Public access is currently limited to its external grounds because the castle houses the Inverness Sheriff Court. However, there may be plans to open up the castle as a tourist attraction in the future. Nevertheless, it is worth a visit as the castle offers beautiful views of the city and the river, and makes a good photo spot.
4. Visit Old High St Stephen's Church
While sightseeing in Inverness, made my way to the old High Church. There is a plaque in the grounds explaining some of the history and features. Inside it is quite breathtaking, with a restored building. ( re roofed in 1898) While looking around inside, I was greeted, welcomed, told to take a leisurely look about and even offered a coffee. A must see for building / history enthusiasts. JKandSK2013
Take a moment to enjoy the peace and quiet in the oldest church in Inverness, which has been used as a place of worship since the Celtic times. The surrounding graveyard is also nice to spend some time in to spot some interesting graves that date back to the Battle of Culloden (1746).
Old High St Stephen's Church
Address: The Old High Church, Church Street, Inverness, Inverness-shire IV1 1EY
Opening Hours for Visitors: Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 10 am to 12 noon and 2 - 4 pm (summer)
Sunday Service: 11.15 am on Sundays
Website: Old High St Stephen’s Church
5. Step into the past at Culloden Battlefield
This is the finest museum experience that I have had. They presented a lot of content on the lead-up to the battle as well as voluminous info on the battle itself. But it presented with such a variety of multi-media format that it is anything but dry. The museum covers the political and strategic angles as well as the impact on the average participant in the drama. The 360 movie is quite intense. I found it quite emotional as well. The battlefield itself is informative and moving. Our visit led to conversations throughout the day among our group regarding our reactions to the excellent presentation. MikeSchmid1998
The Battle of Culloden was the last battle to be fought on British soil. It took place on April 16, 1746, and it was the last of the Jacobite risings. It was an attempt to restore Stuart power to the British Throne.
Step back into the pages of history with the interactive exhibitions that showcase the haunting battlefield and provide you an with in-depth understanding of the events that led up to that fateful day. The grounds of the battlefield are free to enter, but it is well-worth paying for admission to the visitors’ centre and museum. The entrance fee also includes a handheld audio guide, which you can listen to as you walk around the battlefield.
Fun fact: Culloden Battlefield was one of the filming locations for the Outlander series, and the Clan Fraser Stone can be found there.
The Culloden Battlefield is around 10 to 15 minutes away from Inverness by road. There are also many local buses that go to Culloden from Inverness.
Address: Culloden Moor, Inverness, Culloden IV2 5EU, United Kingdom
Price: From 11 GBP (14.50 USD)
Visitor Centre Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm (summer)
Duration: Around 1 - 2 hours required
Contact: +44 (0)1463 796090
Website: Culloden Battlefield
For culture lovers
6. Be Entertained at the Eden Court Theatre
Eden Court Theatre is the biggest entertainment venue in the highlands. You’ll find a host of programmes there, from musicals and ballets to dance masterclasses. There is also a cultural cinema that shows the latest blockbuster films, foreign language movies, and indie films. Check out their website to see what’s on; something is bound to catch your eye. The Eden Court Restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner.
Eden Court Theatre
Address: Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SA, Scotland
Opening Hours: 10 am - 11 pm
Contact: 01463 234 234 (Box Office)
Website: Eden Court Theatre
7. Admire the works at Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Curious to get a greater understanding of Scottish history and traditions? This is the perfect museum for you to spend an afternoon, especially if the weather is too bad to enjoy the outdoors. With permanent and visiting collections, interactive exhibits, and a treasure trove of artefacts, this museum is suitable for visitors young and old. Entrance is free but they do appreciate voluntary donations. Keep a look out for Felicity the puma, caught not far from Loch Ness and stuffed when she finally died of old age. If you are an art fanatic, visit the art gallery as well, which has a varied range of pieces from the national collection to the latest contemporary art. Finish up your visit at Cobbs Teahouse, located within the museum, for a delicious afternoon tea.
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Address: Castle Wynd, Inverness, Inverness-shire, IV2 3EB
Price: Free entry
Opening Hours: 10 am - 5 pm. Tuesday - Saturday (summer)
Contact: (01463) 237114
Website: Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Food and drinks
8. Have a taste of whisky at Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre
This distillery, one of the oldest in Scotland, is worth visiting for whisky lovers. We did the one hour Legacy tour which included an in-depth walk through the distillery, with Michelle, our guide, who proved very knowledgable. This was followed by a tasting of 3 of their whiskies; please be advised they ask for the designated driver on check in, because the police are very strict with alcohol and driving. The DD is not charged for the tasting. The distillery is only about 10 miles from Inverness, so it is worth the visit- highly recommended to call ahead and book a tour, since each group is limited to 12-14 people. crossroadsdoc
When you are in the birthplace of Scotch whisky, it would be a crime not to have a taste of it! At Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre, you can sign up for tours that take you around the distillery, learn how whisky is produced, and taste some of the whiskies they produce. If you’re a whisky lover, you will love this fun and engaging experience. As it may be busy during peak tourist season, it is recommended that you book the tour before you go to guarantee a spot. Slàinte! (Toast used when drinking, it means health.)
The Legacy Tour
Address: Distillery House, Tomatin, Inverness IV13 7YT, UK
Price: Over 18: 7 GBP (9.25 USD); Under 18: 3 GBP (3.97 USD)
Opening Hours: March 25th 2016 - October 31st 2016: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm, Monday - Sunday
Duration: around 1 hour required
Contact: +44(0)1463 248 144
Website: Tomatin Distillery
9. Relax at Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop
A great place to just chill out and enjoy a good coffee. Such a warm and relaxed vibe. Staff are very friendly. A great place for bike lovers, Courses are run at night such as wheel building and bike maintenance. They often open late at night for special evening so its always worth keeping an eye out on their website. The lunch menu is good but a little limited but always a huge selection of cakes and good coffee. A great place to meet and make friends. Robin D
After all that exploring and sightseeing, Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop is a great place for you to take your lunch break or to unwind with a slice of cake and a cup of coffee. A big communal table and friendly staff create an informal and chilled out atmosphere. They also hold special events like poetry or craft nights so check their calendar of events to find out what activities are being held throughout the month.
For bike lovers, this bike-themed cafe also has a bicycle workshop where you can fix up your bike or work with a mechanic from Thursday to Saturday (for a fee, of course). Courses on cycle maintenance are also available in the evenings from Monday to Wednesday at 20 GBP (26.50 USD) for a 2-hour class.
Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop
Address: 1 Crown Avenue, Inverness IV2 3NF, United Kingdom
Opening Hours: Mon, Wed, Fri and Sat 9am -5pm; Tues 10am - 5pm; Thurs 9am - 9pm; Sun 11am - 5pm
Contact: 01463 419 956
Website: Velocity Cafe and Bicycle Workshop
10. Have a few drinks at Hootananny
First night in Inverness and we found this little gem of a pub. Great atmosphere, friendly staff and terrific food. Good prices and then the free music starts and is a fantastic way to spend a night out in Inverness. Highly recommended for a good meal and great atmosphere Gill L
This award-winning pub and live music venue will give you a taste of Scottish pub food and live traditional music. It is a great place to get some drinks and chat with other patrons as the environment is quite social. Try the recommended haggis or fish and chips. If you’re there on the right day, you might even get to enjoy some ceilidh music, which will get everyone on their feet dancing. It gets busy on weekend evenings so do arrive early to grab a spot if you want to have dinner.
Address: 67 Church Street, Inverness IV1 1ES, Scotland
Opening Hours: 12 noon - 1 am, Monday - Saturday; 6.30 pm - 12 midnight, Sunday
Contact: (01463) 233651
On a high in the Highlands
“Beneath Scottish skies. Wild are the winds to meet you, Staunch are the friends that greet you, Kind as the love that shines from fair maidens’ eyes.” - Scotland the Brave (Traditional Folk Song)
Inverness will entrap you with its breathtaking natural beauty and rich history. The perfect base from which to see Loch Ness and explore the dramatic landscapes of the surrounding mountains and glens, Inverness offers a welcome escape into a magical world and you will leave feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and recharged.
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