aeriel view Inverness scotland and the best things to do

Things to do in Inverness

Get ready to explore the enchanting city of Inverness, teeming with history, culture, and stunning landscapes. Explore top attractions like Culloden Battlefield, Inverness Castle, and Loch Ness. Pack your bags and get ready for an outdoor adventure in the highlands. Let's get to it.

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Ah, Inverness, Scotland – the Highland capital where Scottish history and mystique blend together like a fine single malt whisky. visit Inverness, a land where tartan-clad warriors once roamed, and the elusive Loch Ness Monster hides just around the bend, this charming city has enough charisma to charm the kilts off a bagpiper.

Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a city that has seen its fair share of historical drama. Known as the site of the infamous Battle of Culloden, it was here that the Jacobite Rising of 1745 met its tragic end during the last battle ever fought on British soil.

The beautiful River Ness runs through the city’s core, providing an enchanting backdrop to the ancient castle perched high on a hill. As you meander through the cobblestone streets, the echoes of Celtic history resonate through the air, mingling with the buzz of modern life.

Inverness is where the old meets the new, where bagpipes serenade shoppers and haggis dishes tantalize the taste buds. Rich in history and brimming with Scottish charm, this city offers a plethora of activities and sights for visitors to explore.

So, grab your sporran, dust off your kilt, and embark on a Highland adventure in the captivating city of Inverness. Just remember, if you catch a glimpse of Nessie, be sure to snap a photo – the world’s still waiting for a believable shot.

Ready to explore the best things to do in Inverness, Scotland? Let’s go.

Top 22 Things To Do & See In Inverness, Scotland

1. Loch Ness Monster Hunting

Best for: Adventure seekers, families, and mystery enthusiasts

lake loch ness with a castle in view
Photo credit: getyourguide.co.uk

What it is: A thrilling boat trip excursion to search for the elusive Loch Ness Monster, Nessie, while exploring the stunning surroundings of the legendary Loch Ness.

Why go: Searching for Nessie is one of the most iconic activities to do in Inverness for families and curious minds alike. Loch Ness is not just about mythical creatures; it offers captivating landscapes, rich natural history here, and a chance to immerse yourself in Scotland’s fascinating folklore.

Opening times: Various, depending on the tour operator. View the most popular tours here.

Website URL: https://www.lochness.com/

Entrance cost: Prices vary depending on the tour operator and package

Highlights:

  • Cruise along the mysterious waters of Loch Ness

  • Explore the historic Urquhart Castle

  • Learn about local legends and folklore

2. Culloden Battlefield

Best for: History buffs, families, and culture enthusiasts

culloden battlefield best places to visit in inverness for adults
Photo credit: Dave Lessard (Getty Images)

What it is: The historic site where the Battle of Culloden took place, marking the end of the Jacobite Rising in 1746.

Why go: Culloden Battlefield is a popular place to visit in Inverness for those interested in Scotlands past. Take a step back in time as you wander through this hauntingly beautiful landscape, learning about the battle that shaped the course of Scottish history.

Opening times: Daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/culloden

Entrance cost: £11 for adults, £9 for concessions, and £6.50 for children

Highlights:

  • Immerse yourself in the interactive visitor center

  • Walk the battlefield with an audio guide

  • Reflect at the emotive memorial cairn

3. Inverness Castle

Best for: Architecture enthusiasts, history lovers, and couples

inverness castle best romantic things to do in inverness for couples
Photo credit: northlightimages (Getty Images)

What it is: A 19th-century castle built on the site of an 11th-century fortress, offering panoramic views of Inverness city centre.

Why go: Inverness Castle is a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring the city. With its striking architecture and stunning location overlooking the River Ness, it’s one of the most romantic things to do in Inverness.

Opening times: Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Website URL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverness_Castle

Entrance cost: £5 for adults, £3 for children

Highlights:

  • Enjoy panoramic views from the castle viewpoint

  • Learn about the castle’s history in the North Tower

  • Stroll through the castle grounds

4. Clava Cairns

Best for: History enthusiasts, families, and fans of the Outlander series

stones at clava cairns
Photo credit: JanBer405 (Getty Images)

What it is: A well-preserved Bronze Age cemetery, featuring stone circles, burial cairns, and standing stones.

Why go: Clava Cairns is a perfect destination for those seeking something a little more unusual things to do in Inverness. The site’s mysterious atmosphere and ancient history make it a fascinating place to explore, especially for fans of the Outlander series.

Opening times: Open 24/7

Website URL: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/clava-cairns/

Entrance cost: Free

Highlights:

  • Explore the atmospheric stone circles

  • Discover the prehistoric burial cairns

  • Imagine the stories and lives of those who built them

5. Ness Islands Stroll

Best for: Nature lovers, families with kids, and couples

exploring ness islands fununique things to do in inverness for families
Photo credit: Unknown

What it is: A tranquil haven in the heart of the city, offering picturesque walking paths along the River Ness, connecting a series of small islands making up Ness islands and close by Whin Park.

Why go: A walk around Ness Islands is one of the most enjoyable free things to do in Inverness. The peaceful surroundings provide a perfect escape from the bustling city centre, making it an ideal spot for leisurely strolls, picnics, and family outings.

Opening times: Open 24/7

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Free

Highlights:

  • Traverse the charming Victorian bridges

  • Spot local wildlife, including squirrels and herons around the islands and Whin Park

  • Enjoy the picturesque views of the River Ness

Why not check out these out the below city guides close to Inverness

  1. Keswick, Lake District Guide
  2. Dundee, Scotland Guide
  3. Swansea, Wales Guide
  4. Newcastle Guide

6. Dolphin Spotting at Chanonry Point

Best for: Wildlife enthusiasts, families, and couples

people watching out for dolphins at chanonry point in inverness
Photo credit: Kaysgeog (Flickr)

What it is: A renowned location on the Black Isle to spot bottlenose dolphins in their natural habitat, just a short drive from Inverness.

Why go: Dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point is a truly magical experience and a super popular activity to do for families and nature lovers. Witness these majestic creatures as they play, feed, and socialize in the nearby waters.

Opening times: Best visited around two hours after low tide

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Free (parking charges may apply)

Highlights:

  • Watch dolphins in their natural environment

  • Take in the stunning views of the Moray Firth

  • Visit the nearby historic Fortrose Cathedral

7. Inverness Botanic Gardens

Best for: Plant enthusiasts, families, and couples seeking relaxation

inverness botanical gardens fun things to do in inverness with kids
Photo credit: highlifehighland.com

What it is: A beautiful oasis within the city right next to Whin Park, featuring a tropical house, diverse collection of plants, flowers, and a peaceful Japanese-style garden.

Why go: Inverness Botanical Gardens is an ideal destination for those seeking a serene escape, offering a delightful array of plants, flowers, and water features around a wild flower meadow. It’s one of the best activities to do in Inverness for anyone looking to unwind in a stunning natural setting.

Opening times: Daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.highlifehighland.com/inverness-botanic-gardens/

Entrance cost: Free (donations appreciated)

Highlights:

  • Marvel at the tropical plants in the glasshouses

  • Wander through the lush outdoor botanic gardens

  • Find tranquillity in the Japanese-inspired garden and cactus house

8. Haggis Tasting

Best for: Foodies, adventurous eaters, and families

places to eat in inverness with haggis tasting
Photo credit: neiljlangan (Getty Images)

What it is: An opportunity to sample Scotland’s national dish, haggis, at local eateries and restaurants in Inverness.

Why go: Haggis tasting is obviously an essential part of visiting Inverness to immerse yourself in Scottish culture. This unique culinary experience will introduce you to the rich flavours and textures of haggis, allowing you to truly savour a taste of Scotland. Check out The Caste Tavern or the family-run Urquharts Inverness for some outstanding options.

Opening times: Various, depending on the restaurant or eatery

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Prices vary depending on the venue

Highlights:

  • Savour the rich, savoury flavours of haggis

  • Experience a traditional Scottish meal

  • Discover new takes on this classic dish

9. Urquhart Castle

Best for: History lovers, families, and photographers

urquhart castle best paces to see in inverness scotland
Photo credit: rfwil (Getty Images)

What it is: A majestic ruin perched on the banks of Loch Ness, offering stunning views and a glimpse into Scotland’s turbulent past.

Why go: Exploring the atmospheric ruins of Urquhart Castle is one of the best things to do in Inverness with kids and history buffs alike. The castle’s dramatic location and fascinating history make it a must-see attraction when visiting the Highlands.

Opening times: Daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/urquhart-castle/

Entrance cost: £12 for adults, £9.60 for concessions, £7.20 for children

Highlights:

  • Wander through the evocative ruins

  • Learn about the castle’s tumultuous history

  • Enjoy breathtaking views of Loch Ness

10. Leakey’s Bookshop

Best for: Book lovers, bibliophiles, and families

the magnificent leakeys bookshop in inverness
Photo credit: Tripadvisor (Unknown)

What it is: Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop, housed in a former church and filled with an extensive collection of books, maps, and prints.

Why go: Leakey’s Bookshop is a treasure trove for book enthusiasts, offering an eclectic mix of rare, unusual, and vintage titles. Visiting this iconic bookshop is one of the most delightful things to do in Inverness city centre for anyone who appreciates literature and charming interiors.

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 10:30 am – 5:30 pm

Website URL: https://www.leakeysbookshop.com/

Entrance cost: Free (book prices vary)

Highlights:

  • Browse the vast selection of books, maps, and prints

  • Warm up by the cozy wood-burning stove

  • Admire the charming, historic setting

11. Tomatin Distillery

Best for: Whisky enthusiasts, couples, and history buffs

inside the tomatin distillery
Photo credit: whisky.com

What it is: A historic distillery in the heart of the Highlands, producing award-winning single malt Scotch whisky since the 19th century.

Why go: A visit to Tomatin Distillery is an essential experience for whisky lovers where you can discover the distillery’s rich history, learn about the whisky-making process, and sample their exquisite range of malts. If you’ve got the taste for you, you can also take a private tour of the top 3 whiskey distilleries in the whole of the Highlands.

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Sunday, 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.tomatin.com/

Entrance cost: Tours start at £10 per person

Highlights:

  • Take a guided tour of the distillery

  • Sample a variety of Tomatin whiskies

  • Bring home a bottle of your favourite malt

12. Abertarff House

Best for: History enthusiasts, architecture lovers, and families

white walls of abertarff house
Photo credit: nts.org.uk

What it is: The oldest secular building in Inverness, dating back to 1593, featuring a unique crow-stepped gable design.

Why go: Abertarff House is a hidden gem that showcases Inverness’s architectural heritage. Visiting this historic building is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the city’s past and admire its distinctive design.

Opening times: Currently closed for renovation

Website URL: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/abertarff-house

Entrance cost: N/A

Highlights:

  • Admire the house’s unique architectural features

  • Learn about Inverness’s history

  • Explore the building’s interior when it reopens

13. St. Andrew’s Cathedral (Inverness Cathedral)

Best for: History lovers, architecture enthusiasts, and families

inverness cathedral ruins
Photo credit: Orietta Gaspari (Getty Images)

What it is: A striking Gothic-style cathedral, built in the 19th century, located on the banks of the River Ness in Inverness. Also called Inverness Cathedral.

Why go: Visiting Inverness Cathedral is one of the most inspiring free things to do in Inverness. The cathedral’s beautiful architecture and serene atmosphere make it an ideal place for quiet reflection and admiration of the craftsmanship.

Opening times: Daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.invernesscathedral.org/

Entrance cost: Free (donations welcome)

Highlights:

  • Explore the stunning Gothic architecture

  • Admire the beautiful stained-glass windows

  • Enjoy the peaceful ambience by the River Ness

14. Eden Court Theatre

Best for: Theatre enthusiasts, families, and couples

inside the eden court theatre in inverness
Photo credit: eden-court.co.uk

What it is: A contemporary arts venue in Inverness, featuring a theatre, cinema, dance studio, and gallery spaces, hosting a wide variety of performances and events.

Why go: Eden Court Theatre is an excellent destination for those seeking fun things to do in Inverness, Scotland, as it offers a diverse program of live performances, films, and exhibitions. From musicals and plays to stand-up comedy and ballet, there’s something for everyone at this vibrant cultural hub.

Opening times: Varies depending on the event

Website URL: https://eden-court.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Ticket prices vary depending on the event

Highlights:

  • Attend an engaging live performance

  • Catch a movie at the on-site cinema

  • Explore the rotating art exhibitions

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15. Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Best for: History buffs, art enthusiasts, and families

exterior of the inverness museum and art gallery
Photo credit: Tripadvisor (Unknown)

What it is: A museum and art gallery showcasing the rich history, culture, and art of the Highlands, featuring permanent and temporary exhibits.

Why go: Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a must-visit attraction for those looking to delve into the history and culture of the region. This fascinating institution offers both informative exhibits and captivating artwork, making it one of the most enriching things to do in Inverness city centre.

Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.highlifehighland.com/inverness-museum-and-art-gallery/

Entrance cost: Free (donations appreciated)

Highlights:

  • Discover the history of the Highlands

  • Admire the diverse collection of artwork

  • Enjoy the interactive exhibits for children at Inverness Museum

16. Whisky Bars Tour

Best for: Whisky aficionados, couples, and friends

whiskey tasting in scotland inverness
Photo credit: kingsmillshotel.com

What it is: A self-guided tour of Inverness’s best whisky bars, where you can sample a wide range of single malts and blended whiskies from Scotland’s famous distilleries.

Why go: Exploring Inverness’s whisky bars is an essential experience for any whisky lover. Discover the unique character of each bar and sample a diverse selection of Scotland’s finest drams, making it a great afternoon activity to do in Inverness for adults. make sure you stop off at the Kingsmill Hotel for a great selection of Whiskey.

Opening times: Varies depending on the bar

Website URL: N/A

Entrance cost: Free (whisky prices vary depending on the bar)

Highlights:

  • Sample an extensive range of Scottish whiskies

  • Experience the distinctive atmosphere of each bar

  • Learn about the whisky-making process and flavour profiles

17. Inverness Old High Church

Best for: History buffs, architecture enthusiasts, and families

inverness old high church on a clear summer day
Photo credit: Tripadvisor (Unknown)

What it is: A historic church in Inverness, dating back to the 18th century, featuring a beautiful Georgian façade and an array of fascinating historical artifacts.

Why go: Visiting the Inverness Old High Church is a wonderful opportunity to explore a piece of the city’s history and marvel at its elegant architecture. The church’s serene atmosphere and rich heritage make it a must-visit destination for history lovers and families alike.

Opening times: Sunday services at 11:15 am; visit the website for other opening times

Website URL: https://www.oldhighststephens.com/

Entrance cost: Free (donations welcome)

Highlights:

  • Explore the church’s beautiful Georgian architecture

  • Learn about the history of the church and its role in the community

  • Discover the array of historical artifacts on display

18. Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre

Best for: Families, couples, and those interested in Scottish culture

the highland kilt maker visitor centre in inverness city centre
Photo credit: theayelife.com

What it is: An interactive visitor centre that provides an insight into the history and craftsmanship behind Scotland’s iconic garment, the kilt.

Why go: The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre is one of the most unique and engaging things to do in Inverness for families and anyone interested in Scottish culture. Learn about the history of the kilt, witness traditional kiltmaking techniques, and even try on a kilt for yourself.

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.scottishkiltmaker.com/

Entrance cost: Free

Highlights:

  • Discover the history and significance of the kilt

  • Watch skilled kiltmakers at work

  • Try on a kilt and capture the moment with a photograph

19. Jacobite Cruises

Best for: Families, couples, nature lovers, and Loch Ness enthusiasts

enjoy a boat trip jacobite cruise
Photo credit: jacobite.co.uk

What it is: A range of guided boat cruises on the famous Loch Ness, offering stunning views, interesting commentary, and the chance to spot the elusive Nellie – the monster of the lake.

Why go: Embarking on a Jacobite Cruise is one of the most popular things to do in Inverness for families and visitors looking to experience the breathtaking beauty of Loch Ness. Enjoy the fresh air, captivating tales, and the thrill of possibly catching a glimpse of the legendary monster. There are loads of boat trips to choose from, but the excursions that travel down the Caledonian Canal are the most popular.

Opening times: Cruises run daily; visit the website for specific departure times

Website URL: https://www.getyourguide.co.uk/loch-ness-l1886/

Entrance cost: Prices start at £14 for adults, £12 for seniors, and £9 for children

Highlights:

  • Experience the beauty and mystery of Loch Ness

  • Listen to engaging stories and local legends

  • Keep an eye out for the fabled Nellie

20. Highland Ghost Tours

Best for: Adventurous spirits, history buffs, and families with older kids

the highland ghost tour in inverness
Photo credit: visitscotland.com

What it is: A guided tour of Inverness’s most haunted locations, led by a knowledgeable guide who shares chilling tales of the city’s paranormal history.

Why go: A Highland Ghost Tour is a quirky activity to do in Inverness, offering a unique and spine-tingling experience that delves into the city’s supernatural past. Explore the eerie locations and listen to the haunting stories as you uncover a different side of Inverness.

Opening times: Tours run daily at 8:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.getyourguide.com/inverness-l1935/private-inverness-dark-side-tour-t449516/

Entrance cost: £10 per person

Highlights:

  • Discover the city’s haunted sites and chilling tales

  • Learn about Inverness’s dark history

  • Experience a truly spine-tingling adventure

21. Victorian Market Shopping

Best for: Shoppers, families, and anyone interested in history and architecture

victorian market shopping centre in inverness town centre
Photo credit: victorianweb.org

What it is: A historic indoor market in Inverness, dating back to the 19th century, featuring a variety of independent shops and eateries.

Why go: Visiting the Victorian Market is one of the most delightful things to do in Inverness city centre for shoppers and history enthusiasts alike. Browse the charming stalls, sample local produce, and admire the market’s beautiful architecture as you experience a unique piece of Inverness’s heritage.

Opening times: Monday – Saturday, 6:00 am – 6:00 pm

Website URL: https://thevictorianmarket.co.uk/

Entrance cost: Free

Highlights:

  • Shop for unique gifts, souvenirs, and local products

  • Sample delicious Scottish treats

  • Enjoy the market’s historic atmosphere and architecture

22. Fort George

Best for: History buffs, families, and military enthusiasts

aerial view of fort george top places to see in inverness
Photo credit: Tripadvisor (Unknown)

What it is: A massive 18th-century fortification located on a promontory by the Moray Firth, designed as a defence against Jacobite uprisings and now home to the Highlanders’ Museum and an active army garrison.

Why go: Fort George is a must-visit attraction for those interested in military history and the Jacobite era. Explore the well-preserved fort, gain insights into the lives of soldiers stationed here, and enjoy stunning views over the Moray Firth. Visiting Fort George is one of the best things to do in Inverness for anyone interested in a unique historical experience.

Opening times: April – September: daily, 10:00 am – 5:30 pm; October – March: daily, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Website URL: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/fort-george/

Entrance cost: Adults: £9.50, Concessions: £7.60, Children (5-15 years): £5.70, Under 5s: Free

Highlights:

  • Wander through the impressive fortifications and barracks

  • Visit the Highlanders’ Museum for an in-depth look at regimental history

  • Take in the stunning views of the Moray Firth and potentially spot dolphins

Other popular city guides in the United Kingdom;

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List of the top things to do in Inverness

  1. Loch Ness Monster Hunting

  2. Culloden Battlefield

  3. Inverness Castle

  4. Clava Cairns

  5. Ness Islands Stroll

  6. Dolphin Spotting at Chanonry Point

  7. Inverness Botanic Gardens

  8. Haggis Tasting

  9. Urquhart Castle

  10. Leakey’s Bookshop

  11. Tomatin Distillery

  12. Abertarff House

  13. St. Andrew’s Cathedral

  14. Eden Court Theatre

  15. Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

  16. Whisky Bars Tour

  17. Inverness Old High Church

  18. Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre

  19. Jacobite Cruises

  20. Highland Ghost Tours

  21. Victorian Market Shopping

  22. Fort George

FAQs

Is it worth it to go to Inverness?

Yes, Inverness is definitely worth a visit. The city offers a variety of various historical landmarks and sites, cultural attractions, beautiful scenery, and a lively atmosphere. It also serves as an excellent base for exploring the stunning Scottish Highlands, making it an ideal destination for all types of travellers.

What is the main shopping street in Inverness?

The main shopping street in Inverness is Eastgate Street. It is home to the Eastgate Shopping Centre and numerous high-street retailers. In addition, the historic Victorian Market offers a unique shopping experience with its independent shops and eateries.

What is Inverness popular for?

Inverness is a popular tourist destination for its rich history, picturesque setting along the River Ness, and proximity to the famous Loch Ness. The city boasts several historical attractions, such as Inverness Castle and Culloden Battlefield, as well as beautiful parks, engaging museums, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Is 2 days enough in Inverness?

While you can certainly explore the main attractions of Inverness in 2 days, it is recommended to allow more time if you want to fully experience the city and its surroundings. Three to four days would give you a better opportunity to really explore inverness and the nearby Scottish Highlands and partake in activities like Loch Ness cruises and whisky tastings.

Can you see the northern lights from Inverness?

Yes, it is possible to see the northern lights from Inverness, particularly during the winter months when the nights are longer and darker. However, sightings are not guaranteed and depend on factors such as solar activity and weather conditions. For the best chance of witnessing the aurora borealis, head outside the city to areas with less light pollution.

Is Inverness a walkable town?

Yes, Inverness is a walkable town. Many of its attractions, shops, and restaurants are located within easy walking distance of each other. The city also offers beautiful riverside walks and parks, making it a pleasant place to explore on foot. However, for attractions further afield, such as Loch Ness or Culloden Battlefield, you will need to arrange transportation.

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