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  • Writer's pictureLena Claeys

Inverness, Scotland: A Travel Guide To The Centre Of The Highlands

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Inverness is located on Scotland’s northeast coast and is considered the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. It’s a fairly small and compact city with an abundance of places to stay, eat, and shop. And while there aren’t as many beautiful historic buildings as you find in Edinburgh, Inverness has a lot of character and is the gateway to the Highlands and the famous Loch Ness. In this article, we highlight the most important things to know, best places to stay and eat, and 10 fun things to do in and around Inverness, which are best combined in a 2 to 3-day visit. We’ll first outline things to do in the city itself, and afterwards show some historic places to visit nearby.


Check out our video on Inverness to see the best things to do through our camera!

Table Of Contents

Important Things To Know

Best time to travel to Inverness

The best time to visit Inverness is between May and September. In these months you'll have the least chance of having rain the whole day. Do know that July and August are very busy and can get crowded.

Cost and currency

Inverness is an expensive travel destination. Food and accommodation will take a big bite out of your budget.

Where To Stay In Inverness

Where To Eat And Drink In Inverness

Inverness has many good pubs, for recommendations read on because we'll cover some later on in the article.

  • The Mustard Seed Restaurant: this restaurant has one of the best steaks in the city!

  • River House: great local seafood

  • Cafe One: good local cuisine

Best Things To Do In Inverness

Inverness has so many fun things to do in and around the city, unfortunately, we didn't have the chance to visit all of them. After our top 10 things to do in Inverness, we highlight some other nice things to do in the city that didn't make it in our top 10 but are definitely worth a visit.

If you're traveling to Inverness and want to save time searching for directions to all of the places we mention in this article, then look no further than our custom map. Simply click on a point in the map below to get directions there for yourself!

10. Walk the waterfront & Ness Islands

One of the most peaceful things to do in Inverness is to stroll around its beautiful waterfront area to the Ness Islands. You can start your walk in the city center and follow both river banks in an easy 3 kilometers or 2 mile loop. From the waterfront, you’ll have some great views of the Ness Bridge and Inverness Cathedral, which we’ll highlight later. Once you get to the Ness Islands, you can relax and enjoy a picnic. This series of small islands are located in the middle of the river and marked halfway of the trail.

waterfront ness islands inverness scotland
Walking towards ness islands

9. Hit the pub at night

Inverness is a great place to immerse yourself in Scottish culture. One of the best ways to do that is to hit one of the local pubs at night. For a classic Highland pub experience, head to one of the many pubs on Church Street. Highlander and Hootananny offer Scottish live music every night. That said, you can find pubs all around the center, and the oldest pub is Gellions Bar on Bridge Street, which opened its doors in 1841.

pub inverness scotland

8. Visit Inverness Cathedral

Another fun thing to do in Inverness is to visit Inverness Cathedral, also called St. Andrew’s Cathedral, located on the banks of the River Ness. Built in 1869, this historic building is one of the prettiest cathedrals in all of Scotland. You can also visit the inside for a small fee. Here, you’ll be able to admire the fine stained-glass windows as well as stone carvings. There is also a small café and gift shop on the cathedral grounds. And while the cathedral is a fun cultural activity, you’ll definitely want to stick around for our recommendation at number 5 for a true Scottish experience.

Inverness cathedral
Inverness cathedral

7. Admire Leakey’s bookshop

If you’re into reading books, then Leakey’s bookshop is a must-visit. This is Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop and you can find anything here, from contemporary paperbacks to vintage prints, books, and maps. Interestingly, this store is housed in an old Gaelic church and you can notice some church remains such as stained-glass windows.

Leakey's bookshop inverness

6. Do a whisky tasting

Scotland is famous for its whisky and Scottish people are very proud of this sophisticated drink. In Inverness, you can find whiskey at any bar or pub. But if you haven’t done so, we recommend doing a whiskey tasting. In this way, you’ll be able to taste a variety of whiskies from different areas in Scotland. You’ll be surprised by how different each one tastes! We did a whiskey tasting at the Malt Room, which offers over 200 different malt whiskies for tasting.

Scottish Whisky Inveress Scotland

5. Shop souvenirs at the Victorian Market

Right next to the Malt Room, you can find the Victorian Market. Built-in 1890, this is a covered market that houses a variety of shops selling unique handmade gifts, art, and crafts. There are also a number of cafés and dining experiences here. It’s a great place to shop for Scottish souvenirs.

4. Wonder around the Isle of Skye

You must visit the beautiful Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle. Skye is the second largest island in Scotland and has the most picturesque views you’ll encounter. Some incredible sights include the Old Man of Storr, Quiraing, the Fairy Pools, Fairy Glen, and Kilt Rock. You can do a full day tour from Inverness, which takes you to most of these sights. But if you want to spend more days here, make sure to check out our Isle of Skye blog or watch our Isle of Skye video.

Old Man of Storr on Isle of Skye

3. Visit the nearby Clava Cairns & Culloden Battlefield

For many travelers, visiting Inverness isn't necessarily about the town: it's about the surroundings. The Clava Cairns are located 11 kilometers or 7 miles outside of Inverness city center. This prehistoric site is a well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery complex that dates back to around 2000 BC. There are three different large cairns that can be visited and it’s entirely free. Nearby, you can also find the Culloden Battlefield & Viaduct, which played a significant role in Scottish History. It’s easy to combine both in one visit.

Clava cairns inverness scotland
These are the Clava Cairns

2. Spot Nessie at Loch Ness

Located only a short drive from Inverness, Loch Ness is one of Scotland's most famous places. This freshwater loch is home to the legendary monster called Nessie, which is said to live in the deep, murky waters. The visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the soil, but there have been various claimed Nessie sightings over the years. And although many of the encounters have been discredited over time, it’s still a thrill to head to the lake. Fort Augustus is situated on the southern tip of Loch Ness, offering boat tours and spectacular views. But if you want to learn more about this legend, head to the Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition near Urquhart Castle, which we’ll discuss next.

Loch Ness

1. Visit Urquhart Castle

Finally, along the north shore of Loch Ness, you’ll find the ruins of spectacular Urquhart Castle. This is one of the most picturesque scenes in Scotland and a must-visit in our opinion. The castle’s history dates back over 1000 years and has witnessed some of the most dramatic events in the nation’s history. You can learn about it in the visitor’s center, which houses a short film, exhibits, and artifacts relating to the castle’s important role in Scottish history. You can also walk around the ruins itself and climb the different towers.

Urquhart Castle Inverness Scotland
The Urquhart Castle

Some other places to visit:

There are a few things to do in Inverness that we didn’t mention because we didn’t have enough time, the weather didn’t allow us, or some were simply closed, like the Inverness Castle which was under reconstruction at the time of our visit.

  • Fort George

  • Inverness Castle

  • Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

  • Eden Court Theatre


Use These Websites To Save Money On Your Trip To Inverness


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Other Top Inverness resources:

If you're looking for some other suggestions and tips on Inverness, here are some great articles that will help you:

Need more travel inspiration? Check out our other destinations or other articles about Scotland:

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Hi! We are Ine & Zac. An international travel couple from Belgium and the US. We created World Wild Hearts to inspire new adventures and help you plan your next trip. Use these tips, stories, and guides to inspire your next adventure of a lifetime!


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