Activities & Adventure 10 MINS READ

17 Bucket List Things to do in Inverness, Scotland

17 Bucket List Things to do in Inverness, Scotland

Activities & Adventure 10 MINS READ
The skyline of the city of Inverness, in Scotland.

Spiked like a gem at the mouth of the River Ness, Inverness is a wonderful travel destination for both nature lovers and history buffs. While exploring the city, visitors will be graced by lush landscapes — from botanical gardens to golf courses and rolling hills—as well as age-old castles and ancient sites that document Scottish history.

Tried and true activities in Inverness — the largest city of the Scottish Highlands — include exploring the well-preserved Old Town, visiting the history-filled Inverness Castle, and discovering century-old whisky distilleries.

Outdoor enthusiasts can’t pass up the chance to visit the Inverness Nature Park, home to scenic nature trails, rolling hills, and picnic areas.

To help you plan a memorable trip, we’ve created this thoughtful guide to the top 17 things to do in Inverness, Scotland. Read on to learn more!

The 18 Best Things to Do in Inverness, Scotland

Visit The Mighty Inverness Castle

Mighty Inverness Castle, in Inverness, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Shutterstuck/Iowsun

Perched atop a cliff overlooking the River Ness, at the endpoint for the Great Glen Way, the Inverness Castle is a must-see on any trip to the capital of the Highlands. Built-in red sandstone, the castle dates back to the 19th century and has been occupied by several noble families in Scotland.

The interiors of the Inverness Castle are not open to the public, but both the view from the cliff and the majestic exteriors of the building makes this attraction a must-visit.

Address: Castle, Inverness IV2 3EG

Go For A Bite In The Victorian Market

Victorian Market, in Inverness, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Shutterstuck/Ondrej_Novotny_92

Nestled in the historic Inverness City Centre, the Victorian Market is a charming shopping arcade standing still since the 19th century. Erected in 1890, the building is a spectacle, with stunning historic features such as ornate cast-iron, wooden domed roofs, and round-headed shop fronts.

The market boasts over 30 independent businesses, many of which have been trading for generations. Visitors can explore tiny stores for gifts and souvenirs and grab a hot cup of coffee and a quick snack at one of the many cafes and eateries.

Address: Academy St, Inverness IV1 1JN

Marvel At The Stunning Inverness Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral, in Inverness, Scotland.

Standing proudly on the west bank of the River Ness, the Inverness Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral Church of Saint Andrew, is a stunning example of nineteenth-century Scottish Episcopal Churches.

This impressive cathedral was designed by the renowned architect Alexander Ross and built of red tarradale stone, with a nave of five bays divided by columns of Peterhead granite.

The cathedral’s fine location and beautiful architecture make it a must-visit destination in Inverness.

One of the cathedral’s main highlights is the ring of 10 bells, with the tenor weighing a whopping 16cwt 3qts 12lbs and in the key of Eb. The bells were cast by John Warner and Sons of Cripplegate, London, with the tenor being cast in 1869 and the other ten in 1877.

Being the most northerly Anglican Cathedral in the UK, the Inverness Cathedral is a unique and remarkable place to visit.

Address: Ardross St, Inverness IV3 5NN

See The Rare Plants Of The Inverness Botanical Gardens

Inverness Botanical Gardens, in Inverness, Scotland.

The Inverness Botanic Gardens is a lush oasis that provides visitors with a serene escape from the busy city streets. This lush oasis is home to a vast array of colorful flowers from around the world, offering visitors a visual feast in any season.

The gardens boast several highlights, including the Cactus House, where visitors can marvel at the carefully arranged cacti and succulents planted amongst 75 tonnes of rock. Another must-see is the Tropical House, which features a vibrant collection of plants native to countries such as Mexico, the Bahamas, and northern Brazil. Here, visitors can discover exotic specimens like coffee, bananas, ginger, and pineapple plants.

Address: Bught Ln, Inverness IV3 5SS

Explore The Imposing Fort George

Fort George, in Inverness, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Phillip Bird LRPS CPAGB

Fort George is a commanding military fortress located near Ardersier, just northeast of Inverness. Commissioned by King George II in the wake of the Battle of Culloden, this imposing structure is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most outstanding fortifications. 

Built over 22 years, the fort is a testament to the skill and expertise of Lieutenant-General William Skinner and the Adam family of architects. 

Visitors can explore the fort’s rich history by walking around the main rampart, which is over 1km long and encloses an area the size of five football pitches. The Highlanders Museum, Scotland’s largest regimental museum outside Edinburgh, is also located on-site and boasts an impressive collection of military artifacts. 

Don’t miss the grand magazine, which was designed to hold 2,672 gunpowder barrels, and now houses a superb collection of weapons.

Address: Near, Ardersier, Inverness IV2 7TD

Learn About The Scottish History In The Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle, in Inverness, Scotland.

Overlooking the famous Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle is simply one of Scotland’s most fascinating castles. The castle, now in ruins, has witnessed some of the most significant events in the history of Scotland, including the Wars of Scottish Independence in the 14th century.

While visiting Urquhart, make sure to go to the top of the Grant Tower and enjoy scenic views of Loch Ness. You might even spot “Nessie” (the Loch Ness Monster) from up there!

Address: Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ

Discover The Inverness Museum & Art Gallery

Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, in Inverness, Scotland.

The Inverness Museum & Art Gallery world-class institution that documents the rich history of the Scottish Highlands.

It boasts an impressive collection of approximately 100,000 artifacts spanning archaeology, natural history, geography., and fine arts. Among the treasures on display are Jacobite memorabilia, Inverness silverware, and other precious items!

Address: Castle Wynd, Inverness IV2 3EB

Learn About The Epic Battle of Culloden On Culloden Moor

Culloden Moor, in Scotland.

Protected by the Scottish National Trust, Culloden Battlefield marks the exact spot of the Battle of Culloden. Fought between the Jacobite army under the command of Bonnie Prince Charlie and British troops under the command of the Duke of Cumberland, the battle was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising.

There, make sure to visit the Culloden Visitor Centre, which houses artifacts and interactive displays depicting the conflict’s background. A fascinating spot for those who want to delve deep into Scottish history!

Address: Culloden Inverness IV2 5EU

Discover The Fascinating Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns, in Inverness, Scotland.

The Cava Cairns are a collection of Bronze Age chambered tombs built around 4,000 years ago at a sacred ancient cemetery east of Inverness.

The most formidable features of the Clava Cairns are the three circular burial chambers that date back to 2,000 B.C. and the remains of a medieval chapel.

Address: Inverness IV2 5EU

Go For A Stroll In The Lush Ness Islands

Ness Islands, in Inverness, Scotland.

The Ness Islands are a collection of woodsy natural islands in the middle of the River Ness, connected from the river banks and throughout by Victorian suspension bridges. A great place for a leisure stroll around nature with sweeping views of the River Ness!

Address: Great Glen Way, Inverness IV2 4QS

Explore The Majestic Cawdor Castle

Cawdor Castle, in Inverness, Scotland.

Steeped in history, the Cawdor Castle is one of the best places to visit in Inverness if you want to gaze at eye-popping scenarios. The castle, built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor, dates from the late 14th century, and it’s surrounded by three alluring gardens dotted with roses, rhododendrons, the rare blue poppy, spring bulbs, and sculptures.

Address: B9090, Cawdor, Nairn IV12 5RD

Watch The Iconic Inverness Highland Games

Men dressed in typical attire while playing pipes during the Inverness Highland Games, in Inverness, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Polar px

Watching the Inverness Highland Games is a spectacular way to experience the culture of the Scottish Highlands. Taking place in Inverness every year since 1837, the event is attended by thousands of people every year; it consists in several amazing performances like Highland dancing, caber tossing, strongest man and women competitions, piping contests, haggis hurling, and more age-old traditions!

When: Saturday 15th July at Northern Meeting Park

Address: 14 Ardross St, Inverness IV3 5NS

Go On A Day Trip To Fort William

Aerial View of Neptune's Staircase in Fort William, Scotland, UK.

Considered one of the most magical places to visit in Scotland, Fort William is a fabulous day trip from Inverness. The town is located on the northeastern shore of Loch Linnhe, less than a 2-hour drive from the Highlands capital, and is a wonderland for outdoor activities.

One of the top activities here includes hiking the Great Glen Way, a 77-mile trail that begins at the ruins of the Old Fort, Fort William, and runs Scotland’s longest glen, following the Caledonian Canal.

Adventurers will also love hiking Ben Nevis, U.K.’s highest peak, and visiting Steall Waterfall, Scotland’s second-highest waterfall with a single drop of over 300 feet.

Try To See The Mythical Loch Ness Monster

Loch Ness in Scotland.

Loch Ness is a must-see destination in Scotland, surrounded by myths and legends that continue to intrigue visitors worldwide. This expansive freshwater loch, located in the Scottish Highlands, is approximately 23 miles long and plunges to over 800 feet, making it One of Scotland’s largest and deepest bodies of water.

The mythical Loch Ness is also known for being home to the Loch Ness Monster, a legendary creature that has captured the imagination of people for decades.

There’s a variety of ways to experience the stunning Loch Ness. A popular option is taking a boat trip, which allows you to see the beautiful natural landscapes of the area and hear captivating stories about the Scottish folklore surrounding the Loch Ness Monster.

In addition to boat trips, there are several viewpoints in Inverness where you can see the loch from afar. Inverness Castle offers a 360° view over the River Ness and the city and beyond into the Highlands, while the Grant Tower at Urquhart Castle provides a fantastic vantage point of the loch.

While there’s no guarantee you’ll spot the famous Loch Ness Monster, the breathtaking views of Loch Ness and its mysterious allure are worth it on their own!

Shop For Antique Books In Leakey’s Bookshop

 Leakey's Bookshop, in Inverness, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Leakey’s Bookshop

Looking for hidden gems to explore in Inverness? Then, make sure to add Leakey’s Bookshop to your travel itinerary. The largest second-hand bookshop in Scotland, Leakey’s has been family-owned and operated since 1979. The bookstore is located in an old Gaelic church and features over 100,000 volumes of used and antiquarian books, maps, and prints. 

These antique books are stacked on two floors, giving the shop a unique and cozy atmosphere. 

Situated in the heart of Inverness on Church Street, Leakey’s Bookshop will transport you to a world of literary treasures, making you feel like you’re wandering around the Hogwarts Library.

Address: Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY

Enjoy A Tasting Session In The Glen Ord Distillery

Different types of whisky in a distillery.

It’s no secret that the world’s very best whisky is produced in Scotland. One of the country’s top-producing regions is the Highlands, famous for diverse, full-bodied whiskies with notes like smoke, fruit cake, and dried fruit.

With that being said, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit the Glen Ord Distillery near Inverness. As the only remaining single malt scotch whisky distillery on the Black Isle, it’s a must-visit for anyone interested in learning about the history and production of this famous Scottish drink.

Founded in 1838, Glen Ord has a rich history, and visitors can take a guided tour of the distillery to learn more about the whisky-making process. During the tasting session, you’ll be able to sample some of the distillery’s finest offerings, including The Singleton brand, known for its whiskies of smooth and fruity notes.

Address: A832, Muir of Ord IV6 7UJ

Try Authentic Scottish Dishes At Urquhart’s Restaurant

A slice of shepherd’s pie, an authentic dish from the United Kingdom.

Set just off the River Ness, above the Tarry Ile, Urquhart’s Restaurant is famous for its home-cooked Scottish dishes. Visit this small family-run restaurant to try local staples like the beloved haggis (a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck) and their lip-smacking shepherd’s pie topped with cheddar mash.

Address: 2 Young St, Inverness IV3 5BL

FAQ

How do you spend a day in Inverness?

Top places to visit if you have 24 hours in Inverness:

  • Inverness Castle;
  • Victorian Market;
  • Ness Islands;
  • Inverness Walking Tour;
  • Fort George.

What is Inverness best known for?

Inverness is known for being the capital of the Scottish Highlands as well as the closest town to the famous Loch Ness.

Are two days enough in Inverness?

Yes, two days are enough time for visitors to explore Inverness’s main attractions. If you plan on going on a day trip to another city, three days are ideal.

How much time should I spend in Inverness?

To make the most out of Inverness’s attractions and explore other cities in the Scottish Highlands, plan for at least three days in the city.

What is the best time to visit Inverness?

Visit the Inverness between April to August. At this time of year, temperatures usually average 17ºC, which is perfect for gazing at the breathtaking natural beauty of the highlands, wandering through the streets of Inverness, uncovering the top attractions of the city, and strolling around the Great Glen Way.

What are the best things to do in Inverness?

The top things to do in Inverness are:

  • Visit The Mighty Inverness Castle;
  • Go For A Bite In The Victorian Market;
  • Marvel At The Stunning Inverness Cathedral;
  • See The Rare Plants Of The Inverness Botanical Gardens;
  • Explore The Imposing Fort George;
  • Learn About The Scottish History In The Urquhart Castle;
  • Discover The Inverness Museum & Art Gallery;
  • Learn About The Epic Battle of Culloden On Culloden Moor;
  • Discover The Fascinating Clava Cairns;
  • Go For A Stroll In The Lush Ness Islands;
  • Take A Hike In The Inverness Nature Park;
  • Explore The Majestic Cawdor Castle;
  • Watch The Iconic Inverness Highland Games;
  • Go On A Day Trip To Fort William;
  • Try To See The Mythical Loch Ness Monster;
  • Shop For Antique Books In Leakey’s Bookshop;
  • Enjoy A Tasting Session In The Glen Ord Distillery;
  • Try Authentic Scottish Dishes At Urquhart’s Restaurant.

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