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Regarded as the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness lies along the River Ness and is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom. A vibrant cathedral city, Inverness is known for its proximity to the Loch Ness and many visitors make their way there each year to try and spot the infamous Loch Ness Monster (Nessie). It is a great base to explore the highlands and all the hidden gems dotted throughout the area. With wilderness on its doorstep, a charmingly beautiful city centre and that fresh highland air, Inverness is not to be missed.
What to See in Inverness
One of the most beautiful things about Inverness is that you don’t even need to leave the city to escape into nature. With its location on the shore of the River Ness, Inverness boasts a collection of mini isles in the middle of its river, known as the Ness Islands. You can access these via elegant Victorian bridges from the river’s banks. Once on the islands, you’ll feel like you are taking a stroll through a wooded forest thanks to the leafy scenery. It is a the perfect location for a walk or a picnic to relax after a day of sightseeing.
The Battle of Culloden refers to the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite army was decisively defeated by a British government force in one of the most harrowing battles of British history. The battle took place at Culloden Moor and today you can visit the excellent visitor centre on the site and experience the battlefield for yourself. Local guides provide tours of the battlefield and there is a 360-degree battle immersion theatre which transports you to the heart of the action. There are also unique artefacts from the time exhibited.
On the hill above the city centre stands the majestic Inverness Castle, a 19th-century pink sandstone fortress the overlooks the river. The present castle replaced a medieval castle at the north-eastern end of the Great Glen that was destroyed by the Jacobites in 1746. Today, the castle houses the Inverness Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court but the lush grounds are open to the public and provide a great view of the city. The castle’s tower, the highest vantage point on Inverness Castle, is open to visitors and provides an insight into the history of Inverness and some of the city’s more quirky characters (like Loch Ness). The views from the tower offer an amazing view of the city.
Close to Inverness are two other castles worth seeing. Urquhart Castle is a loch-side, ruined 16th century fortress which is a popular Nessie-hunting spot thanks to its panoramic views of Loch Ness. There is an impressive visitor centre which exhibits medieval items discovered in the castle as well as a gift shop and restaurant. The castle is just over half an hour from Inverness’ city centre.
Dunrobin Castle is the family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland, and is one of Britain’s oldest continuously inhabited houses dating back to the early 1300s. It is the most northerly of Scotland’s stately houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms. The castle is open for visitors between April and October.
For a more ancient sightseeing experience, visit the Clava Cairns, an exceptionally well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery complex of passage graves; ring cairns, kerb cairns and standing stones near Inverness. The site is thought to be about 4,000 years old and provides a fascinating insight into the ancient history of Scotland and should definitely be a part of your highland experience. The cairns are less than seven miles from the city centre.
Nearby to the cairns, one will find Cawdor Castle, known for featuring in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, where Macbeth is given the title of Thane of Cawdor. In reality, the real Macbeth, an ancient Scottish king who died in 1057, couldn’t have lived here. The castle was built in 15th-century around a tower house. The castle is set amid beautiful gardens including the Walled Garden, planted in the 17th century, and the Wild Garden, added in the 18th century. The castle is still home to the Cawdor family to this day but it is possible to take a guided group tour of the castle or gardens. Inside, the castle is filled with beautiful furniture and some amazing tapestries and paintings. Visiting the cairns and the castle is an example of one of the great day trips from Inverness.
Running for 59 miles (94 km), from Corpach to Inverness, the Caledonian Canal links the east and west coasts of Scotland in order to avoid the dangerous sea passage around Cape Wrath. Along the canal, you will find 29 locks, four aqueducts and 10 bridges. At Fort Augustus, about an hour’s drive from Inverness, you can watch boats being raised up from and lowered into the canal by a ‘ladder’ of five consecutive locks. It can be fun to drive down and watch this unique event while sitting along the canal banks. It is a great spot from which to admire the beautiful scenery and the mountain ranges that surround the area. At the Caledonian Canal Centre you can discover more about the interesting history of the canal and how and why it was built.
For lovers of whisky, Inverness is an ideal location. There are many local distilleries around worth visiting. Twenty-five minutes from Inverness is the Glen Ord Whisky Distillery and Visitor Centre. The distillery was founded in 1838 and the only way to buy The Singleton of Glen Ord is to visit the distillery itself. An hour train journey from Inverness will take you to Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery. The distillery stands in the Cairngorm National Park and the surrounding landscapes are a sight to be admired.
For those who love to be by the coast, there are a few beaches close to Inverness. One of the loveliest nearby beaches is Nairn East Beach, backed by low sand dunes. It is popular with families and offers spectacualr views across the Moray Firth to Black Isle. Further north, you will find Brora Beach, where you can find some seals, dolphins and minke whales swimming around the seas nearly everyday.
If you’re interested in a tour of Inverness, please take a look at our two tours that travel there. The History of the Jacobites small group tour spends two nights in Inverness and visits important sites relevant to Jacobites history including the Culloden Moor. Tracing 5,000 Years of Scottish History also visits Inverness and the Culloden Moor before heading to the island of Skye and stopping at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness on the way.
Articles about Scotland published by Odyssey Traveller.
The following list of articles published by odyssey Traveller for mature aged and senior travellers to maximise their knowledge and enjoyment of Scotland when visiting;
- Visiting Scotland
- Scotland & Scotch Whisky
- Visiting Edinburgh places to consider visiting
- Country Spotlight; Scotland
- Nelson Mandela Place; a Glasgow story
- Peat and Scotland
- Glasgow’s Architectural heritage
- Stone circles
External articles about the City of Edinburgh and Scotland for travellers.
We also publish articles to give more information to our loyal and prospective clients. You can start by reading our our country spotlight on Scotland.