Planning a visit to the highlands of Scotland? Then you shouldn’t miss a visit to Lochaber and Fort William. Often called the outdoor capital of the UK, Fort William sits at the end of the 96-mile West Highland Way and is home to Scotland’s highest mountain Ben Nevis. Here are the best things to do in Fort William.
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Located on the main route from Glasgow to the Isle of Skye and Glencoe to Inverness, there are few towns in Scotland more famous than Fort William.
Sitting on the stunning Loch Linnhe and under the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis, the town is a hub for exploring the dramatic landscapes of the Lochaber region of Scotland.
What to do in Fort William
Did you know that more than 150,000 people a year visit just to climb Ben Nevis! Even if you aren’t planning to visit to climb the Big Ben, there are lots of things to do in Fort William.
1 day in Fort William – the top things to do
If you have 1 day:
Climb Ben Nevis – fancy climbing Ben Nevis the UK’s highest mountain? A climb up the Mountain Path to the top can be done in a day! Read more – climb Ben Nevis.
Hike up to Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge – don’t fancy mountain climbing? The hike up to Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge will take around 2 hours and is one of the best walks in Scotland. Read more – Steall Falls.
Visit the Ben Nevis Distillery – like whisky? The Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland.
Ride the Nevis Range Mountain Gondola – want to get up in the mountains without the effort? The Nevis Mountain Cable Car takes you up the north face of Aonach Mòr, the 8th highest mountain in Scotland.
Walks and Munro bagging
Here are the best walks near Fort William:
Hike from Glencoe to Glen Nevis – hike a marathon and take in 5000 ft of hill climbing, through Glencoe, Scotland’s most famous glen and along the most beautiful section of the West Highland Way to Glen Nevis.
Nevis Range Gondola – viewpoint walks – take the cable car 650m to the top of Aonach Mòr and explore the Nevis Range viewpoints of Sgurr Finnisg-aig and Meall Beag overlooking the Nevis Range.
Hike to the North Face of Ben Nevis – famous with true mountaineers, the North Face of Ben Nevis is its most dramatic, climb up with this walk to the Charles Inglis Clark (CIC) Hut (private hut) and view the Tower Ridge. For non mountaineers, this is not a walk up Ben Nevis.
Explore Glen Nevis and Polldubh Falls – Glen Nevis is one of the most beautiful glens in Scotland, and this 8 mile walk takes you up the glen to the Polldubh Falls.
The Pap of Glencoe – Giving a truly stunning view over Loch Leven, climb the Pap of Glencoe for a view over the giant peaks of the Mamores, Ben Nevis and down to Loch Linnhe.
The Lost Valley – Deep between the imposing peaks of the Three Sisters lies a path that leads to a valley with a grim history which led to the Glencoe massacre – today the valley is more commonly known as the Lost Valley, one of the best walks in Glencoe.
Fort William boat trips
Sitting on the edge of Loch Linnhe and connected to the famous Caledonian Canal, there are lots of options for Fort William boat trips.
- Sail the Caledonian Canal – hire a cruiser and tackle the 62 mile Caledonian Canal, or take a day trip out on the water at Loch Ness
- Visit Loch Linnhe – with Souters Lass from Crannoch Cruises and sail up Loch Eil for bviews of Ben Nevis
- Sail out from Glenfinnan – with Loch Shiel Highland Cruises – to spot Scotland’s incredible wildlife including Golden Eagles
- Visit Loch Nevis and the Sound of Sleat with Western Isles Cruises
Want to get more active? Here are my favourite adventure activities:
- Go canyoning and gorge walking Fort William – or try Via Ferrata at Kinlochleven
- Strap on the skis or the snowboard, The Nevis Range also offers winter activities on Aonach Mor piste with 35 runs and, for non-skiers, the only gondola in Scotland – the Nevis Gondola.
- Go ice climbing – did you know the world’s best indoor ice climbing is actually in Scotland? At Kinlochleven is the Ice Factor, where 400 tonnes of snow make up their 12m high ice wall.
- Great Glen Cycle Route – the 80 mile Loch Ness 360 trail which can be both walked and cycled in around a week and connects paths all around the whole of Loch Ness including part of the 73 mile Great Glen Way and the 26.5 mile South Loch Ness Trail. Read more – things to do at Loch Ness.
Things to do near Fort William
Thinking of making the area your base and looking for the places of interest near Fort William?
- Visit Ardnamurchan – one of Scotland’s most remote regions and home to Sanna, one of my favourite beaches.
- Drive to Glenfinnan to watch the Jacobite Express/Harry Potter Train go over the Viaduct overlooking Loch Eli.
- Drive up to Eilean Donan – probably Scotland’s most famous castle!
- Visit the eight canal locks at Neptune’s Staircase on the Caledonian Canal.
- See the Commando memorial dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces in World War 2.
- Head to the gorgeous Camusdarach Beach & Silver Sands of Morar on the way to Mallaig.
- Explore Old Inverlochy Castle – explore this castle ruin on Loch Lochy.
Things to see in Fort William when it rains
- Drink Whisky – visit the Ben Nevis Distillery – one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries, take a tour of the Ben Nevis Distillery founded in 1825.
- The Highland Cinema – a great escape for a rainy day, the Highland Cinema is a state of the art independent boutique cinema and café bar in the centre of town.
- Learn about the Jacobites – Visit the West Highlands Museum – explore the fascinating history of the west highlands of Scotland including Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites.
- Find out about Lochaber’s volcano – visit the Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre to discover Lochabers volcanic caldera – some of the rocks found in Morvern are 60 million years old!
Where is Fort William?
Fort William is located in the west Highlands of Scotland, on the shores of Loch Linnhe.
- Fort William to Edinburgh – 3 hours via A82
- Aberdeen to Fort William – 3.5 via A96
- Fort William to Aviemore – 1 hr 30 min via A86 / A9
- Fort William to Portree – 2 hr 25 min via A87
- Dundee to Fort William – 2 hr 42 min via A9
- Pitlochry to Fort William – 1 hr 40 min via A9 / A86
Where to stay in Fort William
Here is where to stay near Fort William
- How about staying in a Hobbit House?
- The Hideaway – a one bedroom flat situated on the Caol shorefront with uninterrupted views of Ben Nevis
- Taigh Deag – a newly renovated annex in a quiet residential area
- Looking for family accommodation? Stay at this house with views of Loch Linnhe
- Looking for a luxury highland flat?
- Achintee Farm – a self-catering apartment at the foot of Ben Nevis
- How cute is The Wee Highland Shack?