Inverness is the capital of the Scottish Highlands and an excellent stopping point while travelling around Scotland.
I was lucky enough to have been raised here, and I would like to show you some of my favourite sights in and around my home city …
Inverness Castle is the focal point of the city and towers high above the River Ness. The castle suffered siege and destruction throughout its history and its current form was built in 1836 in red sandstone.
A newly-opened viewing platform in the North Tower offers a wonderful panorama of the surrounding area, with views stretching south towards Loch Ness and north towards the Moray Firth and the Black Isle.
Perhaps the most famous body of water in the world – Loch Ness is only a couple of miles south of Inverness. The first sighting of the mysterious monster was by St Columba in 565 AD, and sightings continue to this day!
Impressive Urquhart Castle sits on its shores and was the site of countless battles and bloodshed. The romantic ruins of the castle offer breathtaking views across Loch Ness, and an excellent visitor’s centre that tells the turbulent story of the castle.
My favourite spot on Loch Ness is Dores Beach – just 5 minutes drive from Inverness on the quieter southern side of the loch. A favourite of many Invernesians; this small pebble beach enjoys a wonderful setting looking down the loch towards the Great Glen. The Dores Inn sits on the shore serving delicious meals and local Loch Ness beer. Be careful not to indulge too much or you may begin to see something in the water …
Looking for an adventure? We highly recommend the Loch Ness 360 – a superb long-distance walk that traverses the entire length of Loch Ness and which stays overnight in picturesque Dores.
A short drive north is the Black Isle (not actually an island as the name suggests, but a peninsula home to charming seaside villages and rolling fields). Chanonry Point on the outskirts of Fortrose is one of the finest places in the UK to view the world’s most northerly population of bottlenose dolphins. There are thought to be over 130 dolphins in the Moray Firth and people come from far and wide to watch them frolic in the waters. If you want a closer look you can take a boat tour.
‘Save the planet and drink organic!’ is the slogan of The Black Isle Brewing Company, which is becoming more macro by the day! Staff at the Brewery will happily give you a tour and show you where the magic happens. It would be rude not to sample some of their delicious beers (my personal favourite is their Yellow Hammer).
An evening in the Scottish Highlands wouldn’t be complete without paying a visit to a few local pubs, chatting to locals, and enjoying what the Scots call ‘the craic’.
In Hootananny Ceilidh Bar, musicians regularly gather in the centre of the bar with locals and visitors alike enjoying traditional Scottish music (whilst enjoying a wee dram or two of their favourite whisky).
In 1746, Culloden Moor on the outskirts of Inverness saw the last battle fought on British soil. Bonnie Prince Charlie and his loyal Jacobite troops clashed with the Duke of Cumberland’s British Government forces, with the Jacobites aiming to reclaim the British throne for the Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father. The conflict split families across Scotland, with fathers and sons facing each other on the battlefield.
The highly recommended 5* Visitor Centre at Culloden uses state-of-the-art technology to tell the story of the battle, with an immersive film that places you at the centre of the action. A must visit!
In the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden, the British government ordered that an impenetrable fortress be built near Inverness to quell any future Jacobite risings. Thankfully, there was never a shot fired, and Fort George is still used today as an impressive military base for the British Army.
Fort George also hosts the Highland Military Tattoo which is linked to the famous display held every August in Edinburgh.
A short distance from Culloden is a fascinating historical site dating to 2,000 BC – the Clava Cairns. Three Bronze Age burial cairns are almost frozen in time and grant us a glimpse into the mysterious world of the ancient people who built them.
The cairns are surrounded by trees in an intimate setting and are said to be an inspiration for Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels.
Inverness and its surroundings really do have it all – world-class historic sites, fabulous food and drink, stunning scenery, and even a legendary monster!
P.S. Inverness is perfectly placed for further travel in Scotland, with the acclaimed North Coast 500 beginning and ending here, the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail to the east, and one of Scotland’s best long-distance walks – the Great Glen Way – ending in the city. Endless opportunities for your next adventure!