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.
Inverness Castle has long played an important role in Scotland’s story, and is a must-visit for history buffs. Thanks to its elevated setting at the summit of Castle Hill, it also affords views over the river and Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. Most visitors explore independently, strolling around the grounds to see a Flora MacDonald statue and informational plaques detailing the site’s history. It’s a good place to get a primer on local historical information before venturing to nearby sites with Jacobite connections, such as the Culloden Battlefield or Urquhart Castle. Guided sightseeing tours of the city typically include a glimpse of the castle exterior, while hop-on hop-off bus tours also stop at the castle site.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes to explore the castle grounds.
- Bring a camera, as the castle’s viewpoint overlooks the city and makes an excellent backdrop for vacation photos.
- The castle grounds are wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
Inverness Castle is located on the east side of the River Ness in Inverness city center. The castle is a 15-minute walk from Inverness rail station. Local buses stop at nearby Castle Street and on Castle Road.
When to Get There
The views from Inverness Castle are best on clear, sunny days. The grounds are busiest during warm summer weather, but even then, crowds are rare. The setting is romantic at sunset, when the sun’s soft rays hit the surface of the River Ness.
The History of Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle has long played a prominent role in the lore of Scotland, with a history that stretches all the way back to the 11th century. It features in both fiction and history books, having been the setting for part of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the Jacobites razed the castle to the ground just weeks before their final defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746.