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10 Things to Do in Inverness

Inverness is the Gateway to the Highlands, a city on Scotland’s northeast coast where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. As the largest city and cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a hub of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a serene getaway, there’s something for everyone in this charming city. Here are ten things to see and do in Inverness that will make your visit unforgettable.

1. Explore Inverness Castle

Inverness Castle, soon to be transformed into the Inverness Castle Experience, will be a premier attraction celebrating the ‘spirit of the Highlands.’ This upcoming interactive visitor centre will take you on a journey through landscaped gardens to the South Tower, where a seanchaidh (storyteller) will reveal tales of the Highlands’ landscape, culture, heritage, and people. Opening in 2025, this experience will be a must-see for anyone visiting Inverness.

2. Stroll Along the River Ness

One of the most relaxing things to do in Inverness is to take a scenic walk along the River Ness. The Ness Islands, a group of mini-isles connected by Victorian suspension bridges, offer a tranquil escape right in the heart of the city. With towering trees, a Nessie-carved log, and the soothing sounds of the river, you’ll forget you’re even in a city. The walk from Chapel Street in the city centre to Ness Islands takes about 30 minutes, making for a perfect leisurely loop.

3. Visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

For a deep dive into the rich history and culture ofthe Highlands, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is the place to go. This free-to-enter museum covers everything from Pictish stones and the Jacobite risings to contemporary art by local artists. It’s an educational experience that’s both fun and informative, making it a must-visit.

4. Take a Whisky Tour

A stay in Inverness is not complete without a visit to at least one of the local distilleries. Just north of the city is Glen Ord Distillery in the village of Muir of Ord. To the east is Speyside, home to renowned distilleries like Glenfiddich and Balvenie. South of Inverness, the Tomatin Distillery offers the rare opportunity to fill a bottle directly from a cask (booking in advance is recommended). For whisky enthusiasts, there are also whisky tasting sessions in Inverness at the Highland Malt Whisky Experience and The Malt Room, a whisky bar located in the city. If visiting in April, don’t miss the Inverness Whisky and Gin Festival Big Day Out.

5. Wander Through the Victorian Market

Located in the heart of Inverness city centre, the Victorian Market is a delightful spot for shopping and dining. This historic covered market, dating back to 1890, features a variety of shops selling traditional Scottish crafts and modern gifts. With its ornate cast-iron and wooden domed roof and beautiful round-headed shop fronts, the market is a charming place to visit. It’s open every day from 8am, so be sure to stop by and explore.

6. Take a Tour of Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield is a poignant historical site where the last battle of the Jacobite Rising took place in 1746. The visitor centre offers an immersive experience with interactive exhibits, genuine character accounts, and a 360-degree battle immersion theatre. Walking the battlefield, now restored to resemble how it appeared on that fateful day, provides a moving experience. The rooftop viewing area and animated Battle table offer unique perspectives and insights into the battle’s events and significance. a close up of a large rock in the middle of a field at Culloden

7. Visit Leakey’s Bookshop

Leakey’s Bookshop, housed in the old Gaelic Church since 1979, is Scotland’s largest secondhand bookshop with 100,000 selected volumes. This family-owned shop is a treasure trove of used and antiquarian books, maps, and prints. The wood-burning fire that heats the shop adds to its unique charm. For book lovers and history enthusiasts alike, a visit to Leakey’s is a highlight of any trip to Inverness.

8. Explore the Clava Cairns

Just a few miles from Inverness lies the Clava Cairns, a well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery complex. This site, dating back about 4,000 years, features passage graves, ring cairns, kerb cairns, and standing stones in a beautiful setting. Free to visit and open year-round, Clava Cairns offer a fascinating glimpse into the region’s prehistoric past and the remarkable craftsmanship of the Neolithic people.

9. Discover Loch Ness and and Urquhart Castle

No visit to Inverness is complete without a trip to Loch Ness, home of the legendary Nessie. Just a short drive from the city, Loch Ness is the largest loch by volume in the UK, containing more water than all English and Welsh lakes combined. Visitors can enjoy breathtaking scenery, boat tours, and, of course, monster spotting—with a £1 million reward for anyone who provides documented proof of Nessie! While there, explore the ruins of Urquhart Castle, offering a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s medieval past and stunning views of the loch. a boat on a body of water at Loch Ness

10. Savour Scottish Cuisine

The food and drink scene in Inverness has never been better, thanks to the area’s amazing producers and Highland hospitality. For a great dining experience, visit MacGregor’s Bar, which embraces the very best of Scottish craft brewing and distilling, combined with a fantastic menu of local and seasonal dishes. Mix in local culture, traditions, music, and history, and you have one of the most authentic Highland pub experiences in the world. Or XOKO, a bakehouse and coffee bar offering the best artisan sourdoughs, pastries, and cakes. XOKO is also a fantastic spot for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, with all their bakes made from scratch in their open-plan bakery.

Exploring Nearby Attractions and Day Trips from Inverness

Inverness serves as an excellent base for exploring the wider Scottish Highlands. From here, you can discover the picturesque villages of the Black Isle, the rugged beauty of the Isle of Skye, or the Cairngorms National Park for outdoor adventures. Visit historic castles such as Dunrobin Castle and Eilean Donan Castle, or immerse yourself in the whisky-making traditions of the region by visiting local distilleries. Our guided tours offer both one-day and multi-day experiences, including trips to Skye (Fairy Pools, Portree, and Trotternish Peninsula), Orkney, the Hebrides (Lewis and Harris), and Loch Ness.

Inverness is a must-visit destination in the Scottish Highlands. From the iconic Inverness Castle to the legendary Loch Ness, the city and its surrounding landscapes will leave a lasting impression on all who visit. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, historical discoveries, or a taste of Highland hospitality, Inverness will captivate you with the magic of the Scottish Highlands.

Ready to explore Inverness? Book one of our guided tours from Inverness to make the most of your visit. Our knowledgeable guides will take you to all the top sights and hidden gems, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience. Book your tour today.

Come and find out why visiting Inverness is an adventure you’ll never forget!a castle on a cloudy day