Welcome to Inverness, Scotland. Sitting on the banks of the beautiful Caledonian Canal and the River Ness, with views of the Moray Firth, Inverness is the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. Both the gateway to the North Coast 500 and a hub for exploring the mighty Loch Ness, the city is great place to visit in its own right. Here are the best things to do in Inverness Scotland.
Things to do in Inverness – city centre
Start your day by visiting the grounds of the historic Inverness Castle overlooking the River Ness. The castle is currently closed to the public (opening in 2025) but you can climb up to a small viewing area for fabulous views of the city. Next, visit the most northerly cathedral in the UK, Inverness Cathedral, otherwise known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew is a beautiful place of worship with intricate stained glass windows.
Why not take a walking tour of Inverness?
Grab a coffee and then take a leisurely stroll along the picturesque Ness Islands, connected by pretty footbridges which cross the River Ness. Then explore Inverness Botanic Gardens to visit the Cactus House, Tropical House and the Floral Hall which showcase a diverse collection of plants. The Caledonian Canal is also a great spot for a leisurely stroll along to watch boats navigate the locks.
After lunch, visit the Victorian Market with its 30 shops, boutiques, and stalls offering everything from crafts to local produce. The head to Leakey’s Bookshop, Scotland’s largest second-hand bookstore, housed in a converted church is a paradise for book lovers, offering an extensive collection of used books and a cosy cafe.
Looking for culture? Visit Inverness Museum and Art Gallery – immerse yourself in Highland history, culture, and art through a range of 100,000 artefacts, exhibits, and interactive displays. Eden Court Theatre is a cultural hub offering theatre performances, concerts, cinema screenings, and art exhibitions. Families will love Whin Park – family-friendly park with a boating pond, miniature railway, and play areas.
Where to stay in Inverness
Looking for a hotel? My favourites include (affiliate links)
- Heathmount Hotel
- the five star Ness Walk,
- the River Ness Hotel (Radisson)
- the Redcliffe Hotel
- the AC Hotel by Marriott
- The Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel
- Rocpool Reserve Hotel.
Where to Eat and Drink in Inverness
- Rocpool Restaurant: A contemporary restaurant known for its high-quality Scottish food.
- Mustard Seed Restaurant: Housed in a former church, this restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring locally sourced ingredients.
- Cafe 1: A family-friendly option with a wide range of dishes, including vegetarian and gluten-free choices.
- Hootananny: Experience traditional Scottish music and hearty pub food in a lively atmosphere.
- Black Isle Bar: A local brewery and bar with a selection of organic beers and a cozy setting.
Map of Inverness Scotland
Things to do in the wider Inverness area
Got time to explore further afield? Here is where to visit near Inverness.
Read more > the best Loch Ness and Inverness walks
- Visit Culloden Moor where the Battle of Culloden took place. The visitor centre provides a detailed and interactive history of the Jacobite uprisings – and a walk on the battlefield is a sobering experience. Nearby are the Clava Cairns, prehistoric burial cairns that date back over 4,000 years and are surrounded by a stone circle. This tour takes you Culloden Battlefield and Loch Ness and this Inverness day tour takes you to the lovely Glen Affric as well.
- Go Dolphin Watching – head to Chanonry Point, a short drive from Inverness, for a chance to spot bottlenose dolphins. Best times are during a rising tide.
- Visit Loch Ness – no trip to Inverness is complete without a visit to the famous Loch Ness. Take a boat cruise, explore Urquhart Castle, and keep an eye out for the elusive Loch Ness Monster.
- Climb Craig Phadrig – walk up Craig Phadrig hill for panoramic views of Inverness and the Moray Firth. The hill also has an ancient fort to find.
- Explore Fort George – explore this well-preserved 18th-century fortress and its historical exhibitions, located near Inverness. Located within Fort George, the Highlanders’ Museum provides insights into the history of Scotland’s Highland regiments. After visiting Fort George, head to Nairn with its beautiful sandy beach. A short distance outside Nairn is Cawdor Castle a mediaeval fortress surrounded by beautiful gardens. Explore the Moray Firth with this tour.
- Discover The Cairngorms National Park – take a day trip to the Cairngorms National Park, offering hiking, wildlife spotting, and incredible mountain views. The Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie has native and exotic animals.
- Try a dram at the Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre – learn about the whisky-making process and sample Highland single malt at this historic distillery, or visit the Black Isle Brewery – take a tour of this renowned organic brewery just north of Inverness and learn about the brewing process while sampling their award-winning beers.
- Head off on the North Coast 500 – the most epic road trip in Scotland. Inverness is the start and finish to the North Coast 500.
Did you know?
What does ‘Inverness’ mean? The name Inverness is derived from the Scottish Gaelic “Inbhir Nis,” and translates to “mouth of the River Ness,” referring to its location at the confluence of the River Ness and the Moray Firth.
Where is Inverness located? Inverness is situated in the Scottish Highlands, in the northern part of Scotland. It lies at the mouth of the River Ness and the Moray Firth.
How do you pronounce “Inverness”? It’s pronounced “in-ver-NESS.
How do you get to Inverness? Inverness is accessible by train, bus, car, and air. The city has its own airport, the Inverness Airport, which connects to various cities in the UK and beyond.
What are the top attractions in Inverness? Some top attractions in Inverness include Inverness Castle, Culloden Battlefield, Leakey’s Bookshop, the Ness Islands, Inverness Botanic Gardens, and the Victorian Market.
What’s the best time to visit Inverness? The summer months (June to August) are popular for tourists due to the milder weather and longer daylight hours.
Love from Scotland x
I’m Kate – a travel writer and photographer living in Scotland. Love, From Scotland is the Scotland travel guide that shows you where to stay and how to get outside in Scotland.