Top things to see and do in Inverness

Top things to see and do in Inverness

Abandoned castles, ancient ruins, tasty food, whisky galore and even their very own mythical monster from the deep, there are many brilliant things to see and do in Inverness.

The capital of the Highlands and the starting point for the famous North Coast 500 driving route, Inverness is a busy little city with lots to explore. With breath-taking Highland scenery, friendly locals, epic history and lots of things to see and do, Inverness is a great city for a weekend break.

Discover the top things to see and do in Inverness below:

1. Spot the Loch Ness Monster

No trip to Inverness would be complete without a visit to Loch Ness. A large, deep, freshwater loch (lake), famous for the alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, or affectionately known as Nessie. The existence of the mythical creature, often described as long necked and with one or more humps protruding, has been debated since the 1930s. Deeper than the North Sea and with more water than all the lakes in England and Wales put together, it’s easy to understand why so many believe there’s a monster lurking beneath the dark expanse.

Why not try and spot Nessie for yourself? Go for a wild swim (don’t forget your wetsuit as the water is bitterly cold all year round), cruise the loch on a boat trip or head to the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition to discover more about the loch and the explorations conducted to find this mysterious monster.

2. Uncover history at Urquhart Castle

Although now just ruins, Urquhart Castle is one of Scotland’s most beautiful castles. Dating back to the 13th century, this medieval fortress is set on the banks of Loch Ness. The remains include an impressive tower house and provide excellent views over Loch Ness and the Great Glen. Visitors to the castle can delve into its history at the visitor centre and even see a large-scale model of how the castle would have looked in its prime.

3. Climb to the top of Inverness Castle

Located on the banks of the River Ness, a visit to Inverness Castle is one of the top things to do in Inverness. Perched on a cliff, the red sandstone castle was built in the 19th century. However, there was a succession of castles on the same site for many centuries. Climb to the top of the North Tower to enjoy panoramic views of the whole city.


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4. Take a tour of a whisky distillery

It’s no secret that Scotland is the home and birthplace of whisky. And with so many distilleries located in the Highlands region, whisky enthusiasts will find themselves in liquid gold heaven. What’s more, whisky from the Highlands has a huge diversity of flavours and characteristics, so why not visit a couple of distilleries whilst you are in the area to develop your whisky palette.

Glenmorangie, Glen Ord, The Dalmore, Tomatin and Dalwhinnie are just a handful of some of the distilleries located within driving distance of Inverness. Many distilleries offer group or private tours and tastings. Luckily, there are also many chauffeur and taxi services in the area so leave the car at home and have fun!


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5. Explore the city

It may be small, but you will find plenty of things to see and do in the city of Inverness. Go on a walking tour to see the city’s main highlights, such as the River Ness, the Victorian Market and St Andrew’s Cathedral. Stop at Leakey’s Bookshop, a second-hand bookshop with beautiful architecture which has become an institution. Stroll to the Ness Islands – a group of small islands in the middle of the River Ness, connected by Victorian suspension bridges. After this, stop by Inverness Botanic Gardens and enjoy a tranquil break from the city.

A major tourist destination, and the only city servicing the Highlands, Inverness can get very busy, especially during the summer months. It is advised to book any accommodation and restaurants well in advance.


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6. Taste the local cuisine

Make your trip to the Highlands even more authentic with some traditional Scottish food. Home to lots of top eateries, you will find many restaurants offering haggis on their menu. One of Scotland’s most famous traditional foods, haggis is a savoury pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs). Expect to see Scottish salmon, seafood, wild game, beef and lamb on the majority of menus too. Wash it all down with a pub crawl to some of the great bars in the city.


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7. Visit Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield was the site of a bloody battle between the Jacobite army and the British Government. The last pitched battle to be fought on British soil, it took place on 16 April 1746. Today, you can explore the grounds and the visitor centre to uncover exactly what happened on that fateful day. Experience the sights and sounds of the battle in the 360-degree theatre, visit the restored 18th century Leanach Cottage, see artefacts from the battle itself and delve into the history of this pivotal day.

8. Escape the city with a day trip

Inverness is known as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, so why not use Inverness as a base for exploring this gorgeous region. The famous Eilean Donan Castle, featured in many movies, is only 1.5 hours’ drive away and is certainly worth a visit. Or go on a day trip to one of Scotland’s islands, such as the Isle of Skye, and visit magical places such as the Fairy Pools, The Old Man of Storr and Portree.


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