On the banks of beautiful Loch Fyne sits Inveraray, the capital of Argyll and the ancestral home to the Duke of Argyll. A busy hub for exploring the banks of the loch, and enroute to Oban and the Kintyre Peninsula, with a beautiful castle, bustling pubs, and a gorgeous waterside setting, Inveraray is well worth a visit. Here are the best things to do in Inveraray.
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The best things to do in Inveraray, Argyll
- Dun na Cuaiche – climb up above Inveraray for an incredible view of the town.
- Inveraray Castle – visit the ancestral home of the Dukes of Argyll.
- Inveraray Jail – A well-preserved 19th century jail complete with courtroom, Inveraray Jail. Completed in 1820, the jail is now a living museum.
- Ben Cruachan, the Hollow Mountain – climb the highest mountain in Argyll and discover its hidden depths.
- Fyne Ales – visit this hyper local brewery to try their real ales in a lovely courtyard.
- Auchindrain – a farming township preserved from the late 18th and 19th century highland clearances, visit Auchindrain to discover the traditional way of life in Scotland.
- Inveraray Woodland Walk – explore the Inveraray estate on a lovely woodland walk to find pretty follies.
- Pucks Glen – enter this spooky glen to stroll one of Scotland’s best wee walks.
- Ardkinglas Gardens – walk the Gruffalo Trail to explore the Ardkinglas Woodland Garden to find the wee mouse – great for kids.
Inveraray history – an 18th century new town
Sitting on the northern banks of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch, Inveraray was designed by 17th century Scottish architect William Adam (Hopetoun House, Duff House) for Archibald Campbell, 3rd Duke of Argyll, the head of the Campbell clan. The town was built by his son John Adam and Edinburgh architect Robert Mylne, between 1772 and 1800.
With a pier for herring fishing, a woolen mill, town house, Jail, Inn, and of course the spectacular Inveraray Castle – Inveraray is one of the best examples of an 18th-century designed ‘new town’ in Scotland.
A little bit about the Campbell clan…
One of the most powerful clans in Scottish history, The Campbells were big supporters of King Robert the Bruce, benefitting from his patronage – Sir Neil Campbell was even married to Mary, Robert’s sister. Generations of Campbell’s are related to the Kings of Scotland.
Clan Campbell’s chief rivals for control of lands in Argyll and the west coast of Scotland were the MacDonalds, and this rivalry led to one of the most famous massacres in Scottish history. In 1692, 38 unarmed members of the Macdonald clan were killed in the Massacre of Glencoe, part of a British Government initiative to suppress Jacobite risings.
With the clan leader killed and homes burned by Campbell soldiers, the men of the Macdonald clan hid in Coire Gabhail or ‘The Hollow of Capture’ – otherwise known as the Lost Valley in Glencoe. The Campbells went on to support the British Government in the Jacobite risings. Today the Duke of Argyll is a hereditary peerage – the nobility of Scotland.
Replacing a 15th tower house, Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell. Taking 43 years to complete, the castle was designed by celebrated Scottish architect William Adam and finished by his sons James and Robert Adam.
The castle is still lived in by the Campbell family and tours are available (book in advance) of the rather lavishly decorated interior. The castle has gorgeous gardens and woodlands which are free to explore. The castle is walkable from the village. Visit Inveraray Castle for booking information.
Other Campbell castles include Castle Campbell at Dollar, Kilchurn Castle on Loch Awe, Castle Sween, and Cawdor Castle near Inverness.
A well-preserved 19th century jail complete with courtroom, Inveraray Jail. Completed in 1820, the jail is now a living museum. Tickets for adults are £10.50, £6.25 for children and under 5’s go free.
A farming township preserved from the late 18th and 19th century highland clearances, visit Auchindrain to discover the traditional way of life in Scotland. An open air museum, there are 22 buildings to explore.
Explore the village with these walks – and get an incredible view of the town from Dun na Cuaiche.
Climb Dun na Cuaiche
Dun na Cuaiche (the hill of the cup, bowl or quaich) with its watchtower is a 248m-high hill which towers over Inverary. Climbing Dun na Cuaiche might be steep, but is well worth the climb for an incredible view over the town. Starting from the grounds of Inveraray castle, pass over the garden bridge designed by John Adam and up through the woodland.
On the top of the hill is the Dun na Cuaiche watchtower which was built in 1748 and is purely decorative. There are a few benches on the top from which to catch your breath and admire the view! A route map of the Dun na Cuaich walk and the Inveraray Estate is available to download.
Dun na Cuaiche woodland and forest circuit
Looking for a longer walk around Inveraray? Explore the town on this Dun na Cuaiche woodland and forest circuit, starting from the lochside. Explore the grounds of Inveraray Castle, past a pretty doocot, to a picnic hut on the river, before exploring the woodlands above the town. 6.5 miles, 2-3 miles, route map.
Ben Cruachan – the Hollow Mountain
One of Scotland’s Munros (mountains over 3000ft) Ben Cruachan towers over Argyll – it is the highest point in the region. The hill is a very steep climb and scrambly (1126m) and is usually climbed with its neighbour Stob Daimh over an 8 hour walk. Underneath the hill hides a huge underground hydro-electric power station. Tours of the power station are available, if you don’t fancy climbing the hill!
Dare you enter the dark and spooky Puck’s Glen, home to a mischievous sprite? Go on – the stroll through Puck’s Glen is one of the best wee walks in Scotland following a path laid down by the Victorians in the 1800s (they loved a gothic walk!) through a waterfall-filled spectacularly-deep gorge filled with tropical plants and an otherworldly atmosphere. There is free parking at Puck’s Glen car park.
Walk the Gruffalo Trail to explore the Ardkinglas Woodland Garden to find the wee mouse – great for kids. Price £5 per adult, £3 per child (4-16yrs) 3 & under free. £15 per family.
Where to stay in Inveraray
- Recommended place to stay – The Loch Fyne Hotel – a dog-friendly spa hotel on the lochside with a pool, restaurant and bar.
- The Inverary Inn – opened in 1755, this is a traditional scottish inn, in the heart of town.
- Brambles of Inverary – traditional rooms alongside a popular bistro and bakery
Where to eat in Inveraray
- Fyne Ales – It is well worth popping into Fyne Ales Brewery for a pie and a pint – or to pick some beer up for later if it’s too early; their beer Jarl is award-winning.
- Grab fish and chips to eat on the lochside – just find a bench and don’t feed the seagulls!
- The George Hotel – is famous for food and drink and a great atmosphere. They have a great beer garden out the back.
- Recommended place to eat – Loch Fyne Hotel – fine dining on the banks of the loch.
More places to eat near Loch Fyne
- Benmore Botanic Garden Cafe
- Botanica at the Barn
- The Oystercatcher, Otter Ferry
- Recommended – Marina Restaurant, Portavadie
- Inver Restaurant
How to get to Inveraray
From the south drive along the banks of Loch Lomond to Arrochar before tackling one of Scotland’s most famous roads, the Rest and be Thankful. The road then winds its way through the Arrochar Alps to Loch Fyne and Inveraray.
Love, from Scotland