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Things to do in Inverness

Things to do in  Inverness

Welcome to Inverness

Nestled on the banks of the River Ness in northern Scotland, Inverness is the last city stop on the way up to the remote Shetland Islands. Slightly more subdued than major Scottish cities such as Edinburgh or Glasgow, Inverness lies within reach of top attractions including the Great Glen and Loch Ness—attracting year-round travelers eager to admire the spectacular scenery and rugged landscapes for which Scotland is famous. Within the city itself, visitors can take hop-on hop-off bus tours to sites of interest including Abertarff House, the Caledonian Canal, Inverness Castle, and the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve—and gain insight from tour guides into centuries of Scottish history. Looking farther afield, you’ll find whisky-tasting tours to the Highland and Speyside regions, home to famous distilleries including Glenfiddich and Glenlivet; early-morning canoe trips through the mighty Aigas Gorge; full-day tours to Loch Ness and Glen Affric; and day trips to diverse destinations including Applecross, Eilean Donan, and Torridon, where life ticks by at a wonderfully relaxing pace. And if time isn’t pressing, two- to five-day adventures take in far-flung corners of the Scottish shoreline such as the Isle of Skye, Orkney Islands, and Hebrides, where the natural beauty of Scotland’s rugged Atlantic Coast reveals itself in full.

Top 15 attractions in Inverness

Isle of Skye

Scotland's largest island, the Isle of Skye is a pocket of wilderness jutting off the coast of the West Highlands. The area is a treat for nature lovers, with its dramatic sea cliffs, windswept valleys, and glittering lochs.More

Loch Ness

While visitors flock to Loch Ness hoping to catch a glimpse of its elusive and eponymous monster, Loch Ness—a lake in the Scottish Highlands—is worth the trip even if you don’t believe the rumors. Vast and surrounded by magnificent Scottish scenery, Loch Ness is a popular boating and sightseeing spot.More

Fort Augustus

A village on the shores of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is a popular destination in the Scottish Highlands. Once a garrison in the 18th century, the scenic village today attracts cyclists, hikers, and travelers in search of the Loch Ness monster. It’s also a gateway to the Great Glen Way, a 73-mile trail that runs from Inverness to Fort William.More

Culloden Battlefield

The Culloden Battlefield was the site of one of the last battles to take place on British soil. On April 16, 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army of 5,000 Jacobite Highlanders faced off against the Duke of Cumberland and 9,000 Hanoverian government troops. Though the Jacobites fought valiantly, they were ultimately defeated, resulting in the elimination of the Scottish clan system and the suppression of Highland culture. Today, the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre retells the events of that fateful day through interactive exhibits that put travelers in the thick of the action.More

Urquhart Castle (Caisteal na Sròine)

Set on the shore of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle (Caisteal na Sròine) attracts many visitors that come here in hopes of glimpsing Nessie, the loch’s fabled aquatic monster. The ruined medieval fortress, which was destroyed in 1762 to prevent it from becoming a Jacobite stronghold, now houses a visitor center that exhibits objects found amid the ruins.More

Clava Cairns

The Clava Cairns—or the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Balnuaran of Clava—are all that remains of what was once a much larger Bronze Age burial complex. Dating back 4,000 years, the evocative cemetery site retains original features, including passage graves, standing stones, and ring cairns (stone circles).More

Inverness Castle

Perched atop a hill by the River Ness, this Victorian-era red sandstone castle—built to replace the medieval fortress blown up by the Jacobites in 1746—is one of Inverness’ most prominent historic structures. Access to the castle, now occupied by government offices and law courts, is restricted but the grounds are open to the public.More

Caledonian Canal

Pleasure boats float along Caledonian Canal, a scenic 60-mile (97-kilometer) waterway that runs through Scotland's Great Glen, connecting Fort William in the southwest to Inverness in the northeast. The canal, which links Loch Lochy, Loch Oich, Loch Dochfour, and Loch Ness, is popular with walkers and cyclists, who follow towpath trails.More

Cawdor Castle and Gardens

Cawdor Castle is immortalized in literary history as the fictional home of the Thane of Cawdor in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The Highland castle, however, has little in common with its fictional counterpart as it wasn't built until the 14th-century, 300 years after the reign of both the real and fictional King Macbeth.More

Glen Ord Distillery

Founded in 1838, Glen Ord is the only remaining single malt whisky distillery on the Scottish Highlands’ Black Isle peninsula. Visitors can go on a behind-the-scenes tour to see and understand the process of making a single malt from start to finish; you’ll check out the barley maltings as well as fermentation and distillation methods.More

Inverness Cathedral (St. Andrew's Cathedral)

With its imposing pink sandstone turrets presiding over the River Ness, Inverness Cathedral (St. Andrew's Cathedral or, less commonly, the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew) is one of the most striking of the city’s many churches. The 19th-century Gothic-style structure is conspicuously spire-free. Though architect Alexander Ross put them in his original design, they had to be scrapped due to lack of funds.More

Fort George

Built by George II in the mid-18th century to defend against Jacobite attacks following the Battle of Culloden, this vast military fort functions as a working army base and as a tourist attraction. View collections of arms, browse exhibitions on Scottish army regiments, and make the 1-mile (1.6-kilometer walk around its ramparts.More

Old High Church (Old High St. Stephen’s)

Dating back to 1897, Old High Church (or Old High St. Stephen’s) is the oldest church and congregation in the Scottish Highlands capital of Inverness. The church is noteworthy for its Arts and Crafts/Gothic-style architecture, Ballantine stained glass, 1902 organ, and adjacent cemetery overlooking the Ness river.More

Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

Using projections and special effects, this immersive exhibition focuses on the ecology of Loch Ness and the mysterious monster that supposedly swims its waters. Curious visitors find out about the lake habitat and the likelihood of a monster surviving here, as well as learning about previous monster hunts, research missions, and hoaxes.More

Eden Court Theatre and Cinema

A cultural hub in the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness’ Eden Court Theatre and Cinema hosts a variety of events from a broad range of disciplines, including music, theater, dance, comedy, and film. A visit to the venue is a great way for travelers to take the pulse of the local cultural scene.More
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Recent reviews from experiences in Inverness

Truly an ultimate Loch Ness trip
Lyuboslava_H, Jan. 2023
The Complete Loch Ness Experience Small-Group Day Tour from Inverness
It was lovely to have the chance to see the lake from all sides and driving along the lake was breathtaking!
Great Tour
Meaghan_H, Oct. 2022
Highlander Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield 8 Seater Tour from Inverness
A great way to see Culloden and the Inverness area.
Great/fun way to see Inverness
Damon_S, Oct. 2022
Inverness Bike Tour a 2 hours guided bike tour around the Waterways of Inverness
A great way to see and learn about Inverness!
A Winter Wonderland from Inverness to Isle of Skye
Debra_P, Dec. 2022
The Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle from Inverness
The weather was a little rough mid-December, but it was absolutely worth it for the breathtaking views of snow-covered peaks and glimpses of castles through the snowfall and the mist!
Amazing experience! We...
Jolies_T, Dec. 2022
Glen Affric & Culloden Tour from Inverness (*inc entrances from 1 April 2023)
Even though it was winter solstice period and the daytimes were short, the time planned were sufficient to visit all the places.
A fantastic time and experience
KokOnn_P, Dec. 2022
The Complete Loch Ness Experience Small-Group Day Tour from Inverness
Duncan is very friendly and really good with kids as well.
Awesome tour, can't say enough good things about this tour! And our tour guide Stuart has the best humor too!
Mun_Y, Aug. 2022
Skye and Eilean Donan Castle Small-Group Day Tour from Inverness
The tour was insightful & educational, very timely-planned and the Eilean Donan Castle was a great place to visit including multiple scenic stops that Stuart stopped for our photo-taking spree as well as experiencing the scenic landscapes.
Best way to see Inverness and the surroundings
Paul_R, Aug. 2022
Loch Ness,Culloden Battlefield,Cawdor Castle & Much More From Inverness City
We were able to see and enjoy 10 times the sights and history in one day than we would have been able to do on our own.
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People Also Ask

What is Inverness popular for?

Yes. Reykjavik is expensive. The biggest hit to your wallet comes from hotels and eating and drinking. Iceland’s greatest attraction is nature and that doesn’t cost anything. Save money getting around by booking combination tours that combine activities. In Reykjavik, buy a pass that includes admission to multiple attractions.

What is there to do in Inverness?

Popular activities include exploring Inverness Castle, Inverness Museum, and Inverness Botanic Gardens. Nearby the battlefield of Culloden is worth a visit, and fans of Outlander should visit Clava Cairns. You can also depart on whisky-tasting tours to the Speyside region and tours to Loch Ness and Glen Affric.

How many days do you need in Inverness?

One day is enough time to see Inverness. If you plan to use Inverness as a base for exploring the Highlands, you'll need longer. In one day, you can visit the city's attractions and get a feel for local life at a restaurant and live music venue.

What is there to do in Inverness without a car?

Inverness is a compact city and you can easily explore its main attractions on foot. If you arrive by train, it’s only a 5-minute walk to Inverness Castle. From there you can walk another 20 minutes along the River Ness, or hop on a bus, to Inverness Botanic Gardens.

Can you walk from Inverness to Loch Ness?

Yes. But Inverness is eight miles (13 kilometers) from Loch Ness so it will take several hours. If you’d rather be in the fresh air than inside a car or bus, you can cycle there in less time. It’s a fairly flat route and you can rent bikes in Inverness.

Is Inverness worth visiting?

Yes. As the capital city of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness has plenty of history and culture to make it worth a visit. You’ll want to plan your trip to spend more time in the countryside than the city, but Inverness is worth a day of your time.


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