8 Things to do in Inverness – the capital of the Scottish Highlands
We flew to Inverness to begin our 500-mile journey through the northern tip of Scotland, but before we hit the road, we spent a couple of days exploring the area.
Inverness may not be as well known as Edinburgh or Glasgow, but that will soon change with the opening of Scotland’s answer to Route 66 America.
8 Things to do in Inverness, Scotland
With the rich history of the Highlands, ancient legends, abandoned castles and stunning coastline, pretty soon everyone in the world will start saying “I want to go to Inverness,” and here are eight things to do in Inverness that just shouldn’t be missed.
1. Visit Loch Ness.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wanted to go to Loch Ness to find the Loch Ness Monster.
Growing up, the myths and legends were heard all over the media.
Loch Ness Visitor Center.
Nessie sightings date back to the 5th century, and if you ask the locals, they believe she is lurking somewhere in the deep, black waters.
Loch Ness is not to be missed.
Our first stop took us to a popular tourist spot in Drumnadrochit.
This is the main tourist stop, where you’ll find an information center and Nessiland, where you can watch a documentary about monster sightings through the ages.
The town is typically touristy, but be sure to check it out.
2. Visit Urquhart Castle
While visiting Loch Ness from Drumnadrochit, continue driving a few more miles to see Urquhart Castle, standing proudly on the banks of the Loch.
This castle changed hands between the Scots and the English and was the center of many battles for 1,000 years.
Visitors can tour the castle inside and outstanding in a beautiful setting offering uninterrupted views of the massive lake.
Thinking about driving the North Shore 500, check out our complete guide to the NC500.
3. Taking in the sunset over Loch Ness from Dores
Watch the sunset over Loch Ness.
Dores seems to be where the locals hang out on the beach.
We caught the most spectacular sunset and even met Nessie Hunter himself! This is where his camp was set up for 25 years as he kept a close eye on Nessie.
A trip to Scotland? You can check out these movies
4. Learn about the battlefield of Culloden.
Inverness is filled with Highland history, and you must stop to explore the Battlefield of Culloden.
In 2008, the Scottish National Trust opened an impressive visitor center where you can stroll through a museum that tells the story of the Highlands and the rise of the Jacobites.
What to do in Inverness: learn about Scottish history at the battlefield of Culloden
This is where the Scots lost the battle with Great Britain in 1746, and more than 1,500 men were killed in the final battle.
Memorial to those fallen on the battlefield of Culloden
Give yourself time to visit this center. The museum has a lot to see, including a 360-degree video surrounding you with the sights and sounds of the Battle of Culloden.
You instantly feel the chaos of the battle and can only imagine the fear the soldiers faced.
Learn more about the Battlefield of Culloden and our experience: The Battlefield of Culloden, Scotland: an exciting tribute to an epic battle!
Looking back at the battlefield
After touring the museum and learning about the battle from an English and Scottish perspective, visitors can walk around the vast battlefield while listening to GPS-enabled headphones and talk about what happened on this bloody day in history.
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Culloden Battlefield’s incredibly informative visitor center
Dave and I couldn’t imagine dragging through the moors at full speed, only to encounter a wall of soldiers waiting to fight.
The Highlanders were known for their tough tactics on the battlefield, and this attack was their specialty, but after several mishaps and bad choices, they met their fate on this day, and monuments were erected throughout the area to honor their sacrifice.
For more information, see: Visit Culloden National Trust
5. Discover Clava Kearns
A visit to Clava Kearns is free.
It was used as an Inspiration for Outlander, and Clava Cairns has a magical feel.
The Bronze Age graves date back 4,000 years. The site is free to visit, and you can walk right into the center of the two passable graves.
The 4,000-year-old Clava Kern.
There are large stones set in and around the stone pyramids, believed to be for astronomical purposes, and if you arrive early, you’ll have a place to yourself.
6. Follow the trail of malt whiskey.
It’s no secret that Scotland has great scotch, and there’s no shortage of distilleries near Inverness.
Enjoy a whiskey tasting tour of
Dalwhinnie, Glenlivet and Glenmorangie may be the most famous, but we stopped at Glen Ord for a day to sample their impeccable Singleton scotch.
The Glen Ord Distillery tour was one of the best
This is one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, and it still produces its own barley. This distillery tour was one of the best we’ve ever taken, and trust me, we took a lot.
What I found unique to us was how the fermentation barrels were made of wood, not stainless steel.
Our guide, Alastair, told us that wooden slats are easier to install in the windows than changing the roof of the building.
Glen Ord uses wooden barrels.
The wood is all pressed together. There are no nails or bolts, and they stick together, creating a perfect seal.
We bought two bottles of 15-year-old singleton, which you can only get from a distillery or in Asia.
To book tours, visit their website or go in to buy a bottle at their store.
7. Walk around the Ness Islands.
When the weather is nice, Scots love to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
Go for a walk around the Ness Islands
We were lucky during our stay in Inverness as the skies were blue and the weather was nice.
We took advantage of the afternoon and enjoyed a leisurely three-mile walk along the footpaths and suspension bridges in the Ness Islands.
Built in Victorian times, this park attracts locals walking their dogs, going for a run, or just spending the day with family hiking the trails.
8. Play a round of golf.
Golf originated in Scotland
Golf was invented in Scotland. It dates back to 1457, where the first documented mention of the sport can be found.
But stick and ball sports go even further back in history. Shinty has been a Scottish tradition for 200 years!
If you’re going to try it anywhere in the world, this is the place to do it.
Check out our video highlighting the scenes and the best of Inverness
There are over 500 golf courses in the country and at least 15 near Inverness.
Popularly rated Royal Dornoch and Nairn are popular choices, and the newest addition Castle Stewart is located near the Battle of Culloden Course.
So get a grip and enjoy an authentic Scottish experience.
#9 Pamper Yourself at the Kingsmills Hotel Spa
When visiting any city, Dave and I like to relax in a hotel and spa. A great choice for accommodations is the Kingsmills Hotel and Spa.
Kingsmills Hotel and Spa in Inverness
When choosing accommodations in Scotland, I want something authentic and historic.
Kingsmills Hotel and Spa is just that.
Arriving straight from Inverness airport, we were delighted to see our hotel located in a huge mansion just minutes from downtown.
The old mansion was exactly what I expected when thinking about hotels in Scotland, and it did not disappoint.
It was grand, historic and luxurious in the lobby, but the rooms were modern and sophisticated. Our room overlooked the golf course and the bed was pure comfort.
Visit the Kingsmills website for reservations and accommodations
Welcome to the Scottish Highlands.
Inverness is the perfect town to start your journey through northern Scotland. We flew from Heathrow to Inverness and were met at the airport when we rented a car from Arnold Clark Depot.
We highly recommend renting a car to explore Inverness and the Scottish Highlands, as everything is in every location.
Also, you want to be able to stop often to admire the scenery whenever you wish.
The mountainous terrain around Inverness is some of the most picturesque scenery on earth, so take your time and enjoy the view!