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26 Top Things to do in Inverness You’ll Love

Lovely Inverness in Scotland is the gateway city to the stunning Scottish Highlands. But it would be a huge mistake to only have a flying visit to Inverness.

As you will see in this article, there are loads of fantastic things to do in Inverness and around the city. It definitely warrants a couple of days of your visit to Scotland at least.

North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness
North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness

26 Things to do in Inverness

1. See Inverness Castle

inverness castle
inverness castle

As it is Scotland there are of course many castles to visit. Inverness Castle unsurprisingly has an amazing location on top of Inverness with the views you would expect. The castle is currently undergoing major renovations and it isn’t possible to go inside.

View from Inverness Castle
View from Inverness Castle

However, it is possible to walk around Inverness Castle and to take in the beautiful views over Loch Ness.

2. Visit St Andrews Cathedral

St Andrews Cathedral, or Inverness Cathedral as it is sometimes known, sits close to the River Ness. It was the first new Protestant cathedral to be completed in the United Kingdom since the Reformation. Work on Saint Andrew’s Cathedral began in 1866 and was completed in 1869.

Inverness Cathedral has 10 bells. Their claim to fame is that they are the most northerly change-ringing bells in a church in the world.

st andrews cathedral
st andrews cathedral

3. Take a stroll along Ness Walk

Ness Walk is the road that runs alongside Ness River in Inverness. It is a lovely walk particularly in summer. Start your walk from just below Inverness Castle and enjoy the beautiful houses, restaurants, churches and even Ness Islands (see later in this article) as you walk and wander.

4. Enjoy a Specialty Coffee

Velocity is both a cafe and a bicycle shop in Inverness. It is a very cute café and most importantly it has very good specialty coffee. I must confess based on previous trips to Scotland I wasn’t feeling confident about finding good coffee so I was delighted to find Velocity. They also have a tasty vegan menu and it is a very cosy cafe.

velocity
velocity

5. Rent a Kilt

You can rent a kilt in Inverness! And why wouldn’t you? Imagine how much more fun your photos would be if you were wearing a kilt? Check out the giant Scotsman later in this article who took me out on a wonderful tour while I was in town (who always wears a kilt) for photographic evidence.

Hire a Kilt
Hire a Kilt

6. Go shopping at Victorian Market

This covered market sits right in the centre of Inverness. The Victorian Market first opened in 1870. Today it is home to shops, cafes and restaurants and even two barbers.

Victorian Market
Victorian Market

The market is currently being refurbished and will be opening an exciting new food mall.

Victorian Market
Victorian Market

7. Search for a treasure at Leakey’s Bookshop

Scotland’s largest second hand bookshop feels like something out of Harry Potter. This family owned bookshop opened in 1979 in an old Gaelic church. Leakey’s Bookshop stocks over 100,000 books and has a wonderful wood burning fire in the middle of the store.

Leakey's Bookshop
Leakey’s Bookshop

8. Visit Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

If you’re keen to learn more about Inverness and the Scottish Highlands then head to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. The permanent collection about the museum covers all elements of life in the Highlands and the heritage of the area.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

The galleries are a mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Where possible local artists are featured.

Learn about Bonnie Prince Charlie, Inverness silver or check out the museum’s fantastic collection of over 10,000 negatives and prints from all areas of the Scottish Highlands.

9. Explore Ness Islands

This small collection of natural islands sits in the middle of the River Ness only a 15 minute walk from downtown Inverness. The first bridge to the islands was built in 1828.

ness islands
Ness Islands

The islands are a wonderful burst of nature so close to the city of Inverness. Head over the suspension bridge and enjoy the sounds of the babbling brooks and seek shade under the beautiful trees. You’ll be sure to see locals walking their dogs, going for a run or fishing.

Ness Island Suspension Bridge
Ness Island Suspension Bridge

10. Visit Inverness Botanical gardens

Inverness Botanical Gardens
Inverness Botanical Gardens

Only a 15 minute walk from Ness Islands is another way to explore nature in Inverness, the Inverness Botanical Gardens. This is the UK’s northern most botanic garden. The gardens are a mix of ponds, a tropical house, formal gardens, a cactus house, wild flower meadow and more.

Inverness Botanical Gardens
Inverness Botanical Gardens

All of the plants have been raised locally and at the back of the formal gardens is the GROW project. A group of adults with special needs has transformed what was barren patch of land into a beautiful garden.

Inverness Botanical Gardens are a charity and entrance to the gardens is free.

11. Go for a cruise on Loch Ness

Taking a cruise on Loch Ness is an absolute must do when visiting Inverness. Several companies run cruises and there are a range of options around the length of the cruise, whether it is hop on/hop off for Urquhart Castle, combined with a bus tour etc etc etc.

cruise port

I went on a Jacobite cruise. My hotel was good enough to take me to the Clansman and then it was a walk under the road to get to the harbour.

Once on board, the route is printed onto the tables inside and a commentary runs during the tour filling you in on what you are seeing the background.

The cruises have coffee, tea and snacks facilities and are very comfortable. My cruise pulled up to Urquhart Castle (which was great for photos) and allowed passengers to get off or be picked up.

Cruise Boat
Cruise Boat

Book your Loch Ness Cruise from Inverness

Inside the Cruise Boat
Inside the Cruise Boat

12. Urquhart Castle

The ruins of Urquhart Castle have a fantastic location on Loch Ness. The castle was founded in the 13th century and played a part in the Scottish Wars of Independence in the 14th century. It went on to become a royal castle but was abandoned in the 17th century.

urquhart castle
Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is one of the largest castles in area in Scotland. It is possible to climb to the top of Grant Tower and gain some great views of Loch Ness as well as the ruins.

As mentioned, many of the cruises along Loch Ness pass Urquhart Castle and offer a hop on hop off option.

13. Get your photo taken with Nessie

We have of course all heard of the Loch Ness monster. So of course you can’t leave Inverness without getting a photo with Nessie himself. I got this shot at The Clansman before heading out on my Loch Ness cruise.

lochie
lochie

14. Visit Fortrose Cathedral

Fortrose Cathedral
Fortrose Cathedral

Fortrose Cathedral dates back to the 13th century. This red sandstone ruin is now a scheduled landmark in Scotland. Whilst it might not be holding mass anytime soon the ruins are quite stunning and worth a visit.

Fortrose Cathedral
Fortrose Cathedral

15. Enjoy the view and dolphins at Chanonry Point Lighthouse

chanonry point lighthouse
chanonry point lighthouse

The second thing that Fortrose is best known for is its very picturesque lighthouse Chanonry Point. There are some stunning views and best of all this is a popular spot for spotting dolphins.

Chanonry Point
Chanonry Point

16. Marvel at pretty Fairy Glen Falls

Fairy Glen Falls
Fairy Glen Falls

Lovely Fairy Glen falls are in Rosemarkie and a short walk from the main road. The location was once used for well-dressing ceremonies. The children of the village decorated a pool next to the spring with flowers. This was said to ensure that the local fairies kept the water clean.

Fairy Glen has two twin waterfalls. It is possible to swim in the falls but gosh it would have to be very very warm outside!

Fairy Glen Falls
Fairy Glen Falls

17. Visit the town with the most heritage buildings in Scotland

cromarty
cromarty

Cromarty is at the tip of the Black Isle and this little town has more heritage buildings than any other in Scotland. The town is a mix of small cottages and more substantial buildings. Head to Church Street to see some of the most significant buildings.

Cromarty
Cromarty

18. Enjoy a Scottish Whisky Tasting

inverness whiskey
inverness whisky

One of the most popular things to do in Inverness is a Scottish Whisky tasting. The whisky tasting can take many forms from visiting distilleries to combining tasting with some local sight seeing. If you’re going to take a whisky tour in Inverness then I highly recommend booking with Inverness Whisky Tours.

The owner of Inverness Whisky Tours is Gavin, a 6 foot 7 inch proud highlander. He is the very tall man in some of my photos in this article. His passion for the Scottish Highlands and the area is infectious. He is great fun and he wears a kilt. Plus he is great at finding quirky and different whiskys. Just let Gavin know what you like and he will find the Scottish version!

drinking whiskey
drinking whisky

19. Visit Beauly Firth

Beauly is a very cute little village about 5 miles from Inverness. Beauly Firth is a small estuary that is the outlet for the River Beauty and the River Ness. It make for some lovely photography particularly at sunset.

Beauly Firth
Beauly Firth

And if you ever wanted to own some tweed the town of Beauly is the place to go. Campbell’s tweed shop has been outfitting most of the Highland estates as well as royalty for many years.

Beauly Firth
Beauly Firth

20. Eat some serious Scottish treats at the Bad Girl cake shop

Bad Girl Muir of Ord
Bad Girl Beauly

Scotland is famous for its intense sweet treats like deep fried mars bars. If you’re keen to try some insanely rich and delicious baked treats head to the super cute Bad Girl cake shop in Beauly and get ready for a major sugar rush.

bad girl
Bad Girl

21. See some Highland Cows while you do some shopping

cows
cows

Seeing Highland Cows is an essential part of any trip to the Highlands. Head to Robertsons Farm Shop in the village of Beauly. This lovely store features lots of tasty local delights as well as some very nice souvenirs.

The paddocks around the shop and across the road are home to quite a few Highland Cows and in summer there is a petting zoo.

cows
cows

22. Walk along Loch Ness

North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness
North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness

Another way to experience the beautiful Loch Ness is to stroll along its shores. Just north of Drumnadrochit pull the car over and you will be able to walk down to the edge of Loch Ness.

North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness
North of Drumnadrochit Loch Ness

23. See the longest masonry viaduct in Scotland.

Culloden Viaduct Railway Bridge is longest masonry viaduct in Scotland. I appreciate that might not sound extremely exciting but it is a very picturesque bridge and worth a stop – make sure you have your wide angle lens ready to go.

Culloden Viaduct Railway Bridge
Culloden Viaduct Railway Bridge

24. See if you can travel through time at Clava Cairns

I had never heard of Clava Cairns before visiting Inverness. This pre-historic site has a circular chamber tomb cairn. Cairn comes from scottish gaelic and means a man made pile of stones put together for a purpose.

Clava Cairns is said to be 4,000 years old and was a cemetery. This made it a sacred place and many ceremonies and rites have been held here for many years.

Whatever you do don’t take any of the stones with you. Firstly and foremostly to do so is strictly forbidden. The second reason is that apparently someone once did take some stones from Clava Cairns home. She ended up mailing them back as she had experienced nothing but bad luck since taking some of the stones as a souvenir.

clava cairns
clava cairns

More recently, Clava Cairns has increased in popularity due to the tv series Outlander. Clava Cairns has appeared in the show albeit with the name Craigh na Dun. The site serves as the physical place where time travel takes place on the show.

clava cairns
clava cairns

25. Learn the story of Culloden Battlefield

The battlefield of Culloden was the location of the last, and one of the most bloody, battles of the Jacobite Rising in 1745. In less than one hour 1600 people were killed, most of them Jacobites. It was the last pitched battle on British soil.

The story of the battle is a harrowing tale best told by a guide or experienced in the 360 degree battle immersion theatre. The museum on site has some of the weapons from the battle, unique artefacts and letters written just after the battle by Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Culloden Battlefield things to do in inverness
Culloden Battlefield

26. Afternoon Tea at Ness Walk

ness walk afternoon tea
Ness Walk afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is always a good idea and if you’re looking for a fantastic afternoon tea option whilst in Inverness head to the lovely Ness Walk hotel on the banks of the river.

Afternoon tea began with a savoury selection including a smoked salmon tart, cauliflower veloute and a selection of sandwiches.

ness walk scones
Ness Walk scones

The sweet course consisted of a scone with jam and cream, a mini lemon tart, a deconstructed strawberry cheesecake in a tall shot glass and a chocolate torte. As you would expect there was a large selection of tea on offer and for a little extra a glass of chilled champagne.

ness walk afternoon tea
Ness Walk afternoon tea

How to Get to Inverness and how to get around

Inverness International Airport is only 20 minutes from the centre of the city. There are good connections with London, Dublin and Amsterdam.

Book your flight to Inverness

Trains from both Glasgow and Edinburgh run at least once an hour and both take about 3 1/2 hours. I took the train between Edinburgh and Inverness and it was an absolutely beautiful journey.

Book your train journey

The centre of Inverness is very walkable, particularly if you are staying at Ness Walk (see below). If you want to explore some of the places in this article that are outside Inverness a tour will be needed or hire a car.

Book your car hire

Where to Stay in Inverness

ness walk front

The charming Ness Walk hotel sits on the banks of Loch Ness and a is just short walk from the city centre of Inverness. It is a gorgeous five star property but what really makes Ness Walk stand out is the genuine warmth of its staff and the attention to detail.

ness walk car
ness walk car

I was picked up at Inverness Airport by the lovely Tony in a very nice car. He was waiting for me next to the baggage carousel and insisted on looking after me from the moment he saw me.

I’m not a big car person so I can only tell you that it was a lovely comfortable vehicle. I did, however, notice the soft Ness Walk branded blankets in the seat pockets that were dying to go on my knees.

My arrival at Ness Walk was wonderfully relaxed. I was taken into the drawing room and served a generous pour of champagne (Tony again) before being joined by a staff member at one of the tables.

ness walk tony
This is Tony

There are 47 rooms at Ness Walk which are divided into 3 room types or suites. I stayed in a lovely Oak room that had floor to ceiling windows facing the River Ness. The room was bathed in natural light.

ness walk bedroom
ness walk bedroom

The fixtures and fittings were all very high end and the design is a mix of soft colours with artwork from the area. The bed was fantastic – very large and comfortable with a suitably high thread count on the sheets.

ness walk bathroom
ness walk bathroom

My room contained a proper coffee machine and tea as well as fresh milk in the fridge which I love. I so hate grains of whitener.

ness walk toiletries

The bathroom had a separate tub as well as a walk in shower plus a heated towel rack. It is decked out in shades of grey and featured Arran toiletries.

The wardrobe was home to plus bathrobes and slippers of which I made good use.

ness walk cupboard

It was quite rainy while I was there but the windows still allowed in loads of natural light and made the room a lovely place to be at all times of day.

On to the food. Torrish is the restaurant at Ness Walk. It is named after the salmon fly commonly used by fishermen along the River Ness. The cuisine is modern european and heavy on local sourcing.

ness walk scallops
ness walk scallops

For dinner I enjoyed the Orkney hand dived scallops followed by the seared Scottish halibut accompanied with delicious big fat chips. Dessert was a deconstructued lemon meringue pie.

ness walk halibut
ness walk halibut

In addition to the more formal dining room, casual dining is also available in the bar with an offering of sandwiches and lighter fare. I had the tempura cod with chips which was perfect as a relatively light dinner

ness walk cod
ness walk cod

When I visited a pop up restaurant was open in the grounds of the hotel on weekends. Bruach focuses on cocktails and street food and looked great. I was visiting during the week so alas wasn’t able to try it for myself.

ness walk breakfast menu
ness walk breakfast menu

Unsurprisingly for a high end hotel in Scotland, breakfast was perhaps the best meal of the day. First up was an extensive high quality continental offer including pastries, local yoghurt, fruit etc.

There as a very impressive mix of hot disshes also available from the full Scottish breakfast of course (or a vegetarian version), grilled kippers, eggs benedict, french toast and more.

ness walk breakfast
ness walk breakfast

I decided to try the chargrilled sourdough with highland fruit pudding, spiced pear chutney, parma ham crumb with a soft fried egg. I had never seen this on a menu before so had to try it. It was tasty and different – not sure I would order it again but glad I tried it.

ness walk breakfast sausage
ness walk breakfast sausage

Morning two I enjoyed the vegetarian breakfast – although I did substitute the veggie sausage for a pork one – I can’t resist a Scottish sausage and I was well rewarded.

In addition to my wonderful room and eating, the staff at Ness Walk were just a delight. They manage to always check on you without it feeling intrusive. Staff are more than happy to organise activities for guests like cruises and happy to take care of drop off and pick ups.

I felt so well looked after at Ness Walk and it appeared genuine. I was quite sad to leave after my lovely two night stay and highly recommend you stay at Ness Walk when in Inverness.

Check Prices and Availability – Read more Reviews on Trip Advisor where it’s the #1 hotel in Inverness

Ness Walk were kind enough to cover the cost of my stay with them as well as breakfast, one dinner and afternoon tea – thanks! Inverness Whisky Tours gave me their amazing tour for free. I paid for my flight to Inverness and train ticket to Edinburgh and everything else I haven’t mentioned so far.

However, as always my opinions are my own. Also, this things to do in Inverness post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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