The Best Things to do in Inverness
Inverness, or in Gaelic ‘Inbhir Nis’ has the meaning of ‘mouth of the River Ness.’ Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands and is famed for all flavours of history, romance and spectacular views. As I take residence in Aberdeen, I no longer fall under the spectacular views in Inverness…
Be the Best
We are always striving to be greater so we did some deep digging to piece together this ultimate guide to attractions in Inverness.
All of these epically epic places are in Inverness and do not require any hiking out with this top notch city. We believe that each place needs its own bragging so everywhere else can form an orderly queue in the to-do list.
So, you’re visiting Inverness? You could be hoping to meet a wild Scotsman (and there are many, trust me) or maybe you want to get some Outlander vibes and start your own rebellion.
Maybe you just want the bairns to give you as little grief as possible during the holidays. Well, lucky for you, we have ideas coming out of our eyeballs and this means you have a busy schedule ahead of you.
Check out these interesting Inverness points of interest and let us know how you get on. If you are planning to visit Inverness, drop us an email and we can give you even more information about the best of the best that is Inverness. We may even meet you for a dram and a chin wag!
Inverness Points of Interest
There are many castles in the Inverness area and each of these holds a wild, romantic Scottish past. Inverness Castle is in a perfect location for those visiting the area. The castle sits on a hill and can be spotted from the River Ness, giving it a majestic and eye catching exterior. There have been various successions of castle on this site.
The first Inverness castle was built of wood and was burnt down by King Robert 1, known more commonly as Robert the Bruce. He was Scottish…
The second castle was built by the fourth Earl of Huntly and was taken over by the Clans Munro and Fraser, both keen supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots. A nod to the Outlander fans out there. This castle was destroyed by the Jacobite Army. They were also Scottish…
It turns out that us Scottish like to knock down our own houses to prevent other people from knocking them down. Guess it makes sense…
Unfortunately the castle is home to the Sherriff court. This means that tourists can’t visit the castle and neither can the locals. However if you are charged with drink driving or the like, then you are welcomed with open arms.
Not all is lost however, the castle still looks pretty snazzy and you can wander round the grounds. In 2017 the castle opened to the public a new viewing platform which provides amazing views over the city. There is a big statue of Flora MacDonald and her dog at the front of the castle. Maybe one day there will be a statue of me and my dog there.
Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Opening Times as follows;
Tues – Thurs 12-4pm
Fri – Sat 11am – 4pm (November – End of March 2018)
I spent many a Saturday Afternoon in Inverness Museum as a child, partly due to the free admission and the too many school holidays. Often, we would walk round the stuffed animals and I would secretly be bricking it in case they weren’t stuffed and tried to eat me. This wasn’t helped by my dad jumping out on me when I was within two metres of one.
This is a lovely museum split over two floors and is an absolute delight to those interested in Scottish history, particularly the geographical formations of the Highland rock and the struggles faced during Pictish age.
There are many Pictish and Jacobite artefacts in the museum that are really old and in turn, really cool. Prepare to learn all about the Battle of Culloden, the Jacobite Risings and the questionable legend that is Bonnie Prince Charlie. You may find other Inverness points of interest in the museum. Outlander fans may as well set up camp, although I would advise against this as there are closing times in practice and you may get arrested. Hey, if you do get arrested, you might get to see the inside of Inverness Castle. Always a glass half full kinda gal.
Did I mention that they have a dress up section? Never mind the kids, the adults absolutely must get involved. There has been many a time that I have inappropriately made the children wait in line while I dressed up in the tartan plaid and loved every second of it.
There are two galleries located on the first floor that run a serious of temporary exhibitions all year round, showcasing all kinds of local and yonder talent. A little bit of something for everyone. Who knows? You may see the next Mona Lisa.
Culloden Visitor Centre
Dear Outlander, we would like to thank you personally for promoting our local history, tourism and Inverness points of interest in such an outstanding way. Yours Sincerely, an Inverness local.
Culloden Battlefield is one of the most impressive Inverness points of interest. Take the opportunity to explore the marshy, atmospheric location where the Jacobites met their tragic demise at the hands of the Duke of Cumberlands government troops.
Over 1200 of our finest men died that day in the short but deadly battle and Culloden Visitor Centre can tell you about it a number of different languages. Culloden visitor centre features a number of different tours, with an interactive exhibition featuring some of the characters involved in the battle (they are actors, the Scottish air isn’t that good). There is also a restaurant providing fine food and a shop for your to pick up a gift for granny.
For opening times and visitor information, including prices, please click here.
Culloden Moor Inn
We will be providing an insight into all the local eateries in Inverness in the coming months. However, this one had to be chucked in as it is in an excellent location for visiting Culloden Battlefield and the Clava Cairns. Set against a fully fledged Scottish backdrop, Culloden Moor Inn (known locally as the Keppoch inn) provides hearty, big plates of home made food. The perfect antidote to a hungry belly and the ideal energy boost for trekking onwards to Clava Cairns.
Clava Cairns are also known as the Prehistoric Burial Cairns of Bulnuaran of Clava. If you are visiting we would advise asking the Taxi Driver for ‘Clava Cairns’ or he might add an extra few quid to your journey. Clava Cairns are underrated in every sense of the word and they do not get the recognition they deserve. Clava Cairns is a bronze age cemetery consisting off a complex of graves, ring cairns, kerb cairns and standing stones. They are around 4000 years old, that is around 16 times older than America. This is some serious Highland History.
For the Outlander fans reading, if you are looking to meet your very own Jamie Fraser, these are the stones you want to be hanging around.
Culloden viaduct was constructed as part of the Inverness and Aviemore direct railway line. The 549 metre viaduct in the largest viaduct masonry in Scotland. It opened in 1898 and crosses the valley of the River Nairn. It can be found by walking a further 10 minutes from the Clava Cairns deeper into the country side and is very similar to the Harry Potter Hogwarts bridge in the Chamber of Secrets film.
If you haven’t skipped past this point then you have expressed a slight interest in exercise and we congratulate you on that. If you are visiting Inverness then you have most likely tucked in to some of the local eateries. We like our food and we like our portion sizes even more. This is why there are so many walks around Inverness, to help the locals keep in shape. The walks are usually fairly quiet…
Culloden Woods is loaded with history as it is situated on the Battle of Culloden site. Sometimes, as the sun starts to go down in Culloden Woods, people have said they have heard the cries of Jacobite soldiers shouting ‘voooooooote SNP’…
On a more serious note, make sure you take some change with you for a wish at the St. Marys Well. We are not superstitious but we aren’t willing to take any chances.
The Caledonian Canal is 60 miles long and cuts right through the famous Great Glen. It was constructed by Thomas Telford and Inverness were such a fan that they named a street after him. Telford Street, which features a Co-op Shop and in that shop they have what is known locally as the best bakers in the world, Harry Gows. You will order a ‘marzipan apple’ and you will not regret a second of it.
The Caledonian Canal can be explored in various ways. You can tackle it by boat (like a god), paddle boat, cycling, walking or running. If you can run the full length of the canal, the marzipan apples are on me. We would advise against swimming in the canal as it can be quite dangerous. Also, there are cousins of the Loch Ness Monster which reside there known as the Caledonian Creepers. You don’t want to be at the mercy of these bad boys.
There are areas of the Caledonian Canal that are quite popular for fishing. If you are looking for a cheap and easy way to entertain the kids, I have the perfect solution. Buy a fishing net and hold on to your child while they catch teeny little fishies at the side of the canal. This involves no scary worm hooking and kept me entertained as a child for around 14 years.
Further details for exploring the Canal can be found here.
Caledonian Canal to Dochgarroch Walk
This is a great walk for a sunny day, it is 12km to the canal locks at Dochgarroch and back. The whole walk is flat and great for letting the dog off the lead. Take a picnic and stop at Dochgarroch for a munch and a photo opportunity.
There have been a few occasions where I have braved the walk out to Dochgarroch and then the blisters and laziness have kicked in and I have phoned someone to pick me up and take me home. So keep the Inverness Taxis number handy in case you have a change of heart. 01463 222222, save that number.
The Jacobite Cruise
I couldn’t resist but to share this photo. We took our dog on the Jacobite Cruise and she did everything in her power to prevent me from getting the typical Scottish travelling ‘loch in the background’ selfie. Jacobite Cruises are the lords of Loch Ness. They have a number of different, comfortable boats with various tour guides which travel over Loch Ness.
Whin Park is the largest outdoor park in Inverness and is open 365 days a year. Parking is free but limited so arrive early during weekends and holidays to avoid disappointment. Whin Park is only a 20 minute walk from the city centre along the banks of the River Ness. It has various play areas for all ages including the big kids reading. I would advise letting the kids go before you in the queue though or you will get looks from other adults. We live in a judgemental society.
Whin Park has an epic boating pond slap bang in the middle of the park which has 27 boating and Paddle Boats for hire. The paddle boats are great for a quad workout, it isn’t as easy as it looks! If you choose to hire a boating boat (ha-ha) then make sure you keep a firm grip to those oars because if you lose one then you will be stranded, kids will laugh at you and you will be embarrassed when the boat man comes to save you in front of everyone. I am speaking from experience.
My granny has given me many pound coins over the year so I could relive the epic experience that is the Whin Park Miniature Railway. The trip takes a few minutes and travels over half a mile through a designated woodland area and over an iron bridge. The railway is open air so other adults will see you, give them a wave! This is a cheap, cheerful and frankly, pretty cool way to keep the kids entertained.
Inverness Aquadome and Leisure Centre
Inverness Leisure Centre, better known locally as The Aquadome is a superb place to visit for all ages. The combination of the wave machine, the lazy rizer and the outdoor pool along with the adrenaline boosting flumes are sure enough to bring out the big kid you. My partner often makes it clear that we have to go to The Aquadome whilst visiting Inverness. He insists on going on the flumes about 17 times in a row, this is all fine and well but walking up all those flights of stairs for only a few minutes of fun is hard going on the thighs.
Top Tip – We would advise on wearing secure swimwear as some of the flumes can cause everything to go North when arriving at the bottom. Usually there are a crowd of onlookers and having to adjust your costume in front of them all, is not a laughing matter.
Indoor Car Boot Sale
Inverness Leisure Centre (directly next door to The Aquadome) is not only home to lots of different classes and sports halls, they also have an indoor car boot sale on the last Sunday of every month. Why not pop in for a nosy and come away with an inflatable dragon and a DVD player that you don’t need?
Opening hours and visitor information can be found here.
Inverness Ice Centre
The Ice Centre is brilliantly located beside the Aquadome and Ness Islands and has a bar which means you can send the kids down to keep themselves amused while you point and laugh. Don’t let them see you though, I still haven’t gotten over many a fall as a child.
Top Tip – Avoid trying to replicate anything you have seen on Dancing On Ice, this only ever ends in tears.
On a sunny day, Inverness comes alive. In Scotland, we like to make the most of even the slightest sunshine, it doesn’t come round often. Bught Park is a large outdoor area which provides the backdrop to the Inverness Highland Games. It is situated directly beside the Ness Islands, Whin Park and The Aquadome along with Inverness Ice Centre. Why not have a kick about or bring a picnic and watch others do the hard work?
Inverness Botanic Gardens / The Floral Hall
The Botanic Gardens were opened in 1993 by Prince Edward and have been a bonnie little asset to Inverness ever since. Follow the trail around the beautiful sub-tropical gardens and green houses and take in the calm and relaxing ambience while you admire the splendid plant life and attractive waterfall. I had a summer job here when I was 14, serving up the best cheese toasties. Although I think I probably I eat more toasties than I actually served. So if you are visiting, pop into the cafe. This will help me make up for the Summer that my appetite caused a loss in earnings.
There is an enchanting little pond within the gardens that is home to some very touchy feely koi carp. Make sure you stick your hand in the water as they are very friendly and will give you little kisses. This is great for some comfort when you have not yet found your wild Scotsman.
River Ness, a nearly 20 kilometre river which flows from the northern end of Loch Ness, through Loch Dochfour through Inverness and ending in the Beauly Firth. It is the winning sight to be seen in Inverness (you can’t really miss it) and is home to the seal and the really big fish.
In October 2007, a local fisherman caught what he thought was the Loch Ness Monster however it turned out to be a really big salmon. The weight was never recorded however and the fisherman never achieved the official record.
Ness Islands, known locally as ‘the islands’ is just across the road from Bellfield Park and within walking distance from Whin Park. We really do look after our readers. The Ness Islands are a collection of small islands surrounded by acorn trees and beautiful views on to the River Ness. Access to the Ness Islands is available on either side of the river and both entrances are by suspension bridges. Bouncy bridges people! So, why not bounce on down to the Islands for an ice cream and a relaxing walk?
My favourite park in our Inverness points of interest. Bellfield Park is an amazing place to relax, have a picnic or read a book on a sunny day. It is only a ten minute walk from Inverness City Centre and has a wealth of things to do. Along with a paddling pool for the kids, there are also various play areas and the most beautiful bandstand. There is also a tennis court at the back of the park which is a perfect spot to practice your backhand. Andy Murray won’t be the only tennis legend to come out of Scotland.
Craig Phadrig Forest to Clachnaharry
This is an excellent undiscovered and underrated walk and is perfect for all abilities and ages.
My parents told me that the woods are enchanted and home to dwarves and fairies. I choose to continue believing this as an adult because magic is real. There are lots of really pretty red and white mushrooms like the kind you see in Fairytales. These are also poisonous so look but don’t touch. If you are reading this, please share this story with your children and help me keep the magic alive.
Also, if your kids are acting up, you can tell them that the big bad wolf is going to come and get them if they don’t behave. Worked for me.
Through the trees are some amazing views over the Beauly Firth and there are remains of a 4th century vitrified fort believed to have been occupied by King Brude, Leader of the Pictish Nation. The walk begins in Scorguie (pronounced as ‘scor-gooey’) and finishes at Clachnaharry.
Inverness Cathedral / Saint Andrews Cathedral
Saint Andrews Cathedral is one of the spectacular, historic buildings situated on the banks of the River Ness. Both the exterior and the interior are tastefully designed and truly breathtaking. Even for those who are not religious, this really is a wonder to behold. The foundations were put down by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1866 and the cathedral was finished in 1869. It is the most northern cathedral in mainland Britain. For the keen photographers out there, this is a great photo opportunity.
Bogbain Farm is a quirky and in turn, pretty funky venue for events on the outskirts of Inverness-shire near Inshes Retail Park. They are infamous locally for providing a whole new and unique take on the traditional wedding venue.
If weddings aren’t your thing and because turning up at a strangers wedding is just plain creepy, Bogbain Farm also host various music events as well as a whole host of activities. If you are visiting Inverness during the summer months, it is worth checking the Bogbain Farm schedule which is available here.
The Ironworks is a live music venue and conference centre in Inverness city centre. It has played homage to acts such as Kasabian, Runrig and Biffy Clyro amongst many others. There is usually at least one event on in the Ironworks at the weekend, check out the upcoming events here. I have spent many a good night in the Ironworks and if you happen to be in Inverness over New Year then the Ironworks is the place to be on Hogmanay.
Watch this space as we will be going into this in some serious depth over the next few months. For now, check out our Inverness Pubs post.
Many a good afternoon I have spent at Rollerbowl as a kid and many a good afternoon I have spent losing at Rollerbowl. Hopefully you have better ball tactics than me, even pigeons have better ball tactics than I do. Rollerbowl is the indoor bowling centre in Inverness with various arcade games, pool/snooker and a bar. Scottish weather can be spontaneous to say the least so this is a good option to have on hand in case the rain ruins your plans.
Top Tip -The bar makes the bowling part even better…
Ship Space (Titanic Museum)
We are not very sure how the Titanic has ended up contributing to the Inverness tourist industry but we like random and this a great place to take the kids for an afternoon of climbing about boats, dressing up and viewing lots of different equipment and well constructed replicas. The owner of the museum proudly presents his 1:10 scale model of the Titanic itself which took him 11 years to build. That is dedication and we love what he is doing for both children and adults alike.
Hop on Hop off City Tours
What better way to find your bearings and enjoy the Inverness breeze than on the top deck of an Inverness Sightseeing bus? With all of the activities and attractions that Inverness has to offer, you are going to want to cram in as much as possible. The famous ‘hop on hop off’ bus is the best way to get around as many sights as possible whilst not having to spent a minute worrying about travel.
Moray Firth Dolphin Tours
Moray Firth is renowned for its local dolphins and if you get a warm day in Inverness then you will want to get out and see them. The only problem with dolphin tours is that dolphins don’t give you a time to meet up so you cannot guarantee that you will see them. However, boats are great fun and you will get a nice view of the coastline that many don’t. There are an abundance of bottle nosed pals in the Firth so keep your eyes peeled. You can also spot otters and herons amongst other wildlife. The Moray Firth is one of the Inverness points of interest that provides a platform for studying local wildlife.
The dolphin tours leave from the Inverness marina therefore you will get some great views of the 1000 metre long Kessock Bridge.
Eden Court sits on the banks of the River Ness and is an asset to Inverness. The theatre has gone through some huge renovations over the last few years and looks beautiful inside and out. Along with attracting visitors from far and wide, there are also various classes and theatre groups which take to the venue to practice their own stage skills.
Musicians and West End shows often take to the stage to provide the audience with a first class experience. If you happen to be visiting Inverness during the winter months, be sure to catch a pantomime showing. If not for the songs then for the brilliant Invernegian banter.
This is an option for when the weather is not working well with your plans. The VUE cinema is located in the Inverness Retail Park and you can check out times and listings here.
The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre
Located centrally on the banks of the River Ness, The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre is the only visitor attraction in Scotland that celebrates the world famous Highland get up, the kilt. The history behind the Scottish dress is explored and celebrated by those who are dedicated to creating and exporting the kilt. You will not only have the opportunity to dive into the origin of the kilt but you will be able to ask the experts any questions that come to mind. What does the Scotsman wear beneath the kilt?
Happily Ever After
We have put serious blood, sweat and beers into this guide. We really hope that you enjoyed reading our Inverness points of interest and things to do guide and will share it with others. Inverness is a beautiful city with attractions for tourists and locals alike. Please feel free to leave us comments and get in contact with us if you are visiting Inverness and are looking for further information.