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Inverness Tourism And Travel Guide
15° C / 59° F
May to September
2 to 3 Days
Inverness Railway Station
Located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is an ancient cathedral city that serves as the capital of the Highlands. The name Inverness means ‘mouth of the River Ness’ in the native tongue; the amazing location of Inverness near the river, the serene beauty of the surroundings and the historical gems of the city make this place a wonderfully ideal base from which to explore the Highlands. Inverness is compact enough to be explored on foot or bicycle and yet packs enough tourist attractions to appeal to all kinds of travellers. Inverness is mostly known world-wide for its proximity to the famous Loch Ness region; however, the city itself is a treasure trove of sights and wonders that contribute to its uniqueness and flourishing tourism. Read our travel guide to know more about the thriving city of Inverness and the tourism it offers.
How to Reach
Inverness has its own airport that is located around 15 kilometres or a 20-minute drive away from the city centre. It is a small airport that operates flights to mostly within the UK, including several cities nearby like London, Bristol, Birmingham, Amsterdam, Dublin and Edinburgh. There are buses and cabs available from the terminal to the city. Travellers from outside the UK may find better flight options to Glasgow International Airport or Edinburgh Airport, from where they can access buses and cabs directly to Inverness.
A rail journey to Inverness is one of the best ways to travel in the Highlands. There are direct train services from several cities nearby to Inverness Railway Station, which is located in the city centre itself. Trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow run every couple of hours and reach Inverness within 3-4 hours. Trains from Aberdeen run every 2 hours as well and cover the journey in just around 2 hours and 15 minutes. The best way to travel from London is on the Caledonian Sleeper; travellers get to spend an indulgent night on the train and simply wake up to a beautiful morning in the Highlands.
Inverness can be reached from northern and southern Scotland, Perth, Glasgow and Edinburgh via the A9, from the west or from Fort William via the A82 and from the east or from Aberdeen via the A96. The bus station in Inverness is located right next to the train station in the city centre. Buses are regularly available from London, Glasgow and Edinburgh. Buses also run from towns near Inverness like Fort William, Spean Bridge and Drumnadrochit, including the Loch Ness region. Travellers can also choose to drive themselves or hire a rented car to travel to Inverness.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Summer (June – August):
Summers are the peak season for tourists, with local families making the most out of the school summer holidays and preferring to spend most of their time outdoors as well. The warm sunny days have daytime temperatures averaging around 19⁰C, with daylight hours lasting up to 18 hours or more – getting to watch sunsets after 10 pm is one of the main highlights of planning a trip to Inverness in the summers. Expect to find higher rates in hotels and other accommodations due to heavy influx of tourists.
Spring (April – May) & Autumn (September):
Spring and autumn are considered shoulder seasons and are a fantastic time to visit Inverness. The weather is mild and enjoyable and the colours of the changing seasons add to the existing beauty of the Highlands. The town is less crowded with emptier roads; even hotels and accommodations are more readily available and also cheaper.
Winter (October – March):
Winter in Inverness is usually considered off-season for tourists. The weather gets quite cold with temperatures ranging close to the freezing point; evenings and nights get even colder. The daylight hours also last only about 6-7 hours, which does not leave much time for travellers to enjoy the attractions of the town within the daytime. The only advantage of visiting in winters is the cheaper rates and good deals that can be availed in hotels and accommodations.
Things to Do
Stroll by River Ness and Ness Islands:
Located at the mouth of River Ness, Inverness has a lot of tourist attractions situated close to the river itself. Travellers can simply enjoy a casual stroll along the river or cross over to the other side through one of the suspension bridges here. The Ness Islands are located in the middle of the River Ness and are also a natural park; visitors will often be able to observe local wildlife thriving on the islands. Apart from tourists, even locals love to spend evenings jogging or walking their dogs along the river and on the islands.
Walking Tour of the City:
Walking tours are offered by several companies in the city. Expert guides accompany travellers on their tour of the city, which can be availed as a group or private tour. Most walking tours last one to two hours and cover major spots in Inverness like the Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, the Botanic Gardens and the Victorian Market.
Visit Loch Ness:
The Loch Ness region attracts large crowds of tourists each year because of its famed association with its namesake monster, and since Inverness is the nearest commercial town from the city, taking a trip to Loch Ness while in Inverness is one of the top things to do here. There are numerous other tourist attractions here like Nessieland, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and the Urquhart Castle.
Where to Shop
Shopping spots in Inverness will appeal to all kinds of travellers; people with a variety of tastes are sure to find whatever appeals to them the most. The Eastgate Shopping Centre located right in the heart of the city has all the high-end brands in clothing, jewellery stores and shops that sell a wide range of other items, including a bunch of great places to eat. The Victorian Market is an indoor market that sells fresh produce and locally made goods; there are also several gifts and souvenir shops here that will appeal to most tourists. Inverness High Street is a pedestrianized street that connects most of the shopping destinations in the city and also features several international and national chain stores. Don’t forget to pay to Leakey’s Bookstore; even if you are not into buying books, this second-hand two-storey book shop has a lovely homey feel and is sure to make you feel like you have stepped onto the set of Harry Potter.
Where to Eat
The Dores Inn is by far one of the most popular bars and restaurants in the region that features exceptional food and drink options. Classic dishes like steak, mussels, fish and chips are some of the highlights of the inn. Café 1 located close to the Inverness Castle features contemporary cuisine made from brilliant Scottish ingredients sourced from within the Highlands. Some popular dishes worth trying here are wood pigeon with haggis mash, the 24-hour smoked salmon and the Moray Firth crab. Aspendos is a must-visit if you crave some Mediterranean and Turkish cuisine in the heart of the Highlands. Try the chicken dish Rakili Tavuk, the lamb dish Kuzu Guvec and the Karniyarik (eggplant stuffed with minced lamb).
Rocpool is known for its interior décor just as much as it is for its delectable food. Highland beef, Speyside venison, and Black Isle pork are some of the best items on the menu here. If you are homesick and would like to indulge in some Indian food, stop by the Indian Ocean restaurant; if its seafood you crave, try the Riverside Restaurant.