Are you wondering what are the best things to do in Inverness, Scotland? I visited Inverness during my British Isles Cruise and had a great time exploring this charming Scottish city. During my visit to Inverness, I also had a chance to go visit various local attractions including a visit to Loch Ness. It was a memorable experience, I would like to share with you some of the best things to do in Inverness in this article.
Inverness is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom and is commonly referred to as the “capital of the Highlands.” Inverness is a convenient home base from which to explore many of Scotland’s most famous landmarks, such as Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, as well as its own unique offerings.
Starting and ending in Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, the North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast. Travellers can explore wild landscapes, relax on sandy beaches, look for wildlife, learn about the area’s history at museums and historic sites, stay in regal castles, enjoy fine whisky and regional cuisine, and mingle with friendly locals. In an effort to attract more tourists to this sparsely populated part of Scotland, the route has been a huge success.
I wrote another article here on Ways How to Get from Edinburgh to Inverness. You might find it useful in planning ahead for your trip to the Highlands.
There are also a lot of things to do in the city of Inverness itself, and it is highly recommended that visitors spend at least a day exploring the city and the areas immediately surrounding it. I wrote an article that will help visitors to plan a day tour in Inverness from Edinburgh.
Additionally, Inverness is a wonderful location from which to embark on day trips to the surrounding area’s attractions. You may check a comprehensive guide on the best places to visit in the UK. Let’s look at the best things to do in Inverness, Scotland.
Best Things to Do in Inverness, Scotland
1. Inverness Castle
Even though only a small section of Inverness Castle is currently accessible to the general public, you should still make it a point to include it on your itinerary of things to see and do in Inverness. It was constructed out of native sandstone, and it features lovely grounds that are well worth exploring. Additionally, it looks out over the River Ness.
In addition to that, there is a wonderful vantage point that looks out over the river and the city. Those who want a great photo to take with them after they leave should be prepared to climb up some steep stairs; however, the effort will be well worth it.
Additionally, jot down a reminder in your journal to go back to the castle at some point in the near or distant future. It is currently undergoing revitalization in preparation for its transformation into “The Spirit of the Highlands,” a multi-million dollar tourist attraction that will highlight the cultural history and natural beauty of the region while also giving the castle a new lease on life.
However, there are only a few activities that you can participate in at Inverness Castle at the moment. To begin, you are free to walk around the grounds as much as you like. Second, if you are willing to pay a fee, you can ascend the north tower of the castle, which provides excellent views of the city as well as the countryside that surrounds it.
I wrote another article about Inverness castle and other palaces and castles in Scotland. I encourage you to read it to see more of these majestic castles in Scotland.
2. Inverness Cathedral
The Inverness Cathedral is the most northerly cathedral in mainland Britain, and it can be found directly across the river from the Inverness Castle. Red stone was used in the building’s construction, and it was designed and built in the Gothic style. Construction on the structure was finished in 1869. Alexander Ross was the cathedral’s architect, and it was the first cathedral in Great Britain to be finished construction and consecrated after the Protestant Reformation.
The first cathedral in Scotland was built in Inverness. It is undeniably an impressive structure, and a trip there would be well spent.
This Scottish Episcopal Church is a very active place of worship, hosting a variety of events in addition to the weekly mass that it is best known for, including weddings, baptisms, and other ceremonies. Additionally, it welcomes guests and features a gift shop as well as a café for their convenience.
3. Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
Inverness offers a wide variety of entertaining activities, and those interested in art and culture will not be disappointed. If this describes you in any way, you should make sure to include a visit to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on your schedule.
The beginning of the museum collection can be traced all the way back to the year 1881, despite the fact that the museum’s current location is considerably more recent than that!
This fascinating facility, which was recently renovated, mixes exhibits of local history with displays of important works of art related to the Scottish Highlands. It is located just a few steps away from Inverness Castle, which is where it gets its name. Important works of art that are currently on display include a series of portraits of the Stuart clan. These portraits include one of Bonnie Prince Charlie, which Oliver Cromwell is infamous for having hung the wrong way up as a form of insult.
It discusses everything from the region’s geology and natural history to the history of the people who have made this area their home over the course of several centuries. It is an excellent place to get your bearings on the area, and it is organized in a way that enables you to follow a timeline of the evolution of the culture and the landscape.
The museum has an impressive collection of Highland artifacts, bagpipes, and weapons, all of which are well worth viewing. On-site dining is provided by a café.
4. Inverness Botanic Garden
Since its opening in 1993, taking a leisurely stroll through the Inverness Botanic Gardens has become another one of the most well-liked things to do in the Capital of the Highlands. Due to the fact that the gardens are situated only a few minutes walking distance away from the Ness Islands, it is possible to include a visit to the gardens as part of a stroll along the network of trails that runs parallel to the River Ness.
There are two primary indoor areas: a cactus house and a tropical house. The tropical house is especially enjoyable to visit during the winter months. In addition, there are gardens outside that feature more plants native to the area. In addition to that, they sell plants here as well.
Exploring the park’s many vibrant flowerbeds is one of the most enjoyable aspects of a trip during the spring and summer months, while the park’s glasshouses are open throughout the year. These indoor plant collections feature specimens of plant life native to arid environments as well as those native to tropical rainforests.
In addition, there is a beautiful waterfall feature as well as a large fish pond on the property. Guided tours are available but require advance notice. Visits to the botanic gardens do not cost anything, but any donations are gratefully accepted.
5. Fort George
In the aftermath of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, George II established the most effective line of defence against further Jacobite unrest. The finished product, known as Fort George, is widely considered to be the most powerful artillery fortification in all of Britain, if not all of Europe. To the restless Scots, it served as a reminder that London and the English monarchy were firmly in charge.
It is the largest artillery fortress in the British Isles, and it stretches for nearly a kilometer in length. Its distinctive shape was designed to enable its defenders to fire their weapons in pretty much any direction in which an enemy might approach. Many of these original weapons can still be seen here, including an impressive collection of cannons and other weaponry such as muskets, pikes, and swords. Also on display are a number of artifacts from the American Revolution.
Other highlights of a visit include exhibits that reveal the lives of ordinary soldiers during the time period, including a peek into their barracks, the armoury, and other areas of the facility. In addition to that, there is a visitor centre that features a gift shop as well as a museum that is devoted to the Queen’s Own Highlanders.
Access is gained by traveling across level ground; however, there are a few sections of granite sets to traverse, and guests using wheelchairs will require assistance. The battlements are accessible via six ramps made of concrete and grass that slope at an angle of twenty degrees. The entrance to the barrack rooms, which contain all of the audio buttons and displays, is approached via a short flight of stairs.
6. Highlander’s Museum
Any individual with an interest in history should definitely pay a visit to the Highlanders’ Museum, as it presents the extensive military history of Scotland’s Highland regiments. The Highland Soldiers Museum chronicles the history of the Highland soldiers from the nearby Battle of Culloden all the way up to the active regiments of today.
It shares the lives of the soldiers as well as some of the greatest victories that the soldiers have achieved throughout their history.
7. Urquhart Castle
You can spend a day at Urquhart Castle, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful castles in Scotland, exploring its medieval architecture and taking in the stunning scenery that surrounds the castle. This fortress dates back to the middle ages and was constructed along the banks of Loch Ness between the 13th and 16th centuries.
You can take the winding staircase that winds its way to the top of Grant Tower in order to take in the panoramic views of the Great Glen and the freshwater loch below. The stone drawbridge, dungeon, and full-scale trebuchet siege engine at Urquhart Castle are some of the other notable features of the castle that provide a glimpse into Scotland’s medieval times.
8. Loch Ness
In Scottish Gaelic, the name of the city of Inverness is Inbhir Nis, which translates to “mouth of the river Ness.” In English, the name of the city is Inverness. This river links the Loch to the sea and is a component of Scotland’s Great Glen, which is a glen that is approximately 62 miles in length and extends from Fort William to Inverness.
It is possible that Loch Ness is the most well-known loch (the Scottish word for lake) in all of Scotland. In terms of volume, it is the largest body of fresh water in the United Kingdom, and it is also the location of one of the most well-known cryptozoological creatures in the world: the Loch Ness Monster. Alongside the water, you’ll also find the well-known Urquhart Castle, which has since fallen into disrepair.
There is a lot to see and do in the general vicinity of Loch Ness, such as going on a cruise through the lake or exploring an old castle. It is possible to drive to Loch Ness from Inverness, which is only a distance of 8 miles away or take a bus that offers a convenient hop-on, hop-off service.
9. Cawdor Castle and Gardens
Cawdor Castle and Gardens are located a half-hour east of Inverness (or an hour if you take public transportation), and they date back to at least the year 1454. However, some parts of the castle may be even older than that.
In the late 14th century, the Thanes of Cawdor constructed the magnificent Cawdor Castle and Gardens as a private fortress. Today, the Cawdor Castle and Gardens are one of the most popular places for tourists to visit while they are in Inverness.
Since the 16th century, members of the Campbell family have owned the castle, which is now used as a residence for members of the Campbell clan.
The public is welcome to visit both the inside and outside of the castle. It is particularly well-known for its gardens, of which there are three, namely the Walled Garden, the Flower Garden, and the Wild Garden. You are also welcome to tour a good number of the castle’s principal rooms.
While you are out immersing yourself in the rich history of Cawdor, stop by the Castle’s excellent cafe and shop for a bite to eat before continuing your journey through time. Cawdor Castle & Gardens is home to a variety of avian species, and it is well worth your time to investigate these gardens after you have finished your meal at the cafe. The gardens feature rare species of flora and fauna, particularly birds.
10. Scottish Kiltmaker
Regarding purchases, nothing says “I’ve been to Scotland” quite like a genuine Highland-made kilt. Walking down Huntly Street, you’ll come across the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre, a one-of-a-kind store that offers a fascinating look into the background of Scotland’s national formalwear.
Scotland’s national dress includes the kilt, a skirtlike garment worn by men that is typically knee-length. It is a piece of woven wool that is permanently pleated except for small sections at each end. When worn, the pleats are massed at the wearer’s back, and the flat, unpleated ends overlap at his front, creating a double layer.
The féile-breacan, a long piece of woolen cloth, had its pleated first half wrapped around the wearer’s waist; the (unpleated) second half was then wrapped around the upper body; and the loose end was thrown over the left shoulder. This garment evolved into the kilt and plaid ensemble in 17th-century Scotland. The kilt and the plaid were originally one and the same garment, but by the 17th century they had evolved into two distinct pieces.
The only national costume in the British Isles worn for everyday purposes rather than just for special occasions is the plaid and kilt. Scottish regiments in the British army wear Highland dress as their uniform, and kilts were worn in combat as recently as World War II.
Guests can see kilts being made before their very eyes in the on-site workshops, and there are also displays of tartans from various clans. You should know that highland dress and tartan were used as part of a clan’s identity and that today Scottish clan tartans can still be seen at Highland games or at traditional Scottish weddings. Authentic, handmade kilts are also for sale.
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