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Things To Do In Inverness
Located within the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is a charming little city that also serves as the capital of the Highlands. While the entire region is a splendid example of exquisite scenic beauty, two of Scotland’s significant battles were fought near Inverness as well; in this way, the city manages to perfectly combine history and landscape to offer visitors the trip of a lifetime. Inverness also serves as the perfect base to explore the Highlands and packs numerous tourist attractions within a compact city. Nature lovers will particularly love the vast expanses of stunning countryside and numerous opportunities for hikers and biking enthusiasts to explore the landscapes. Check out our guide for the top things to do in Inverness.
Visit Loch Ness
Scotland’s most famous lake, Loch Ness is situated in Drumnadrochit that is a 30-minute drive away from Inverness. The lake is one of the most popular tourist spots in the Scottish Highlands and is widely known all over the world for being home to the Loch Ness monster, a supposedly ancient creature that many believe resides within the depths of the lake. While there has never been any confirmation about the existence of the creature in spite of numerous claims of alleged sightings, the region still attracts thousands of visitors each year who look forward to catching a glimpse of the infamous Loch Ness monster themselves. There are also other attractions in the area like Nessieland which is a mini theme park centred around the creature; the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition; and the famous Urquhart Castle that lies on the shores of the lake. The castle lies mostly in ruins today but has been the centre of numerous battles for 1000 years.
Explore the Culloden Battlefield
Around 10-15 minutes away from Inverness, the Culloden Battlefield is another favourite among tourists where visitors get to experience history come alive right before their eyes. This is the site of the final battle of the Jacobite uprising that took place on April 16, 1746; a great battle that led to the defeat of the Scottish at the hands of the British and where more than 1500 soldiers lost their lives. In 2008, the Scottish National Trust opened a visitor centre and museum here where the Jacobite uprising and the history of the Highlands are explained in detail. Visitors can watch a 360⁰ video film that will surround them with the sights and sounds of the Culloden Battle.
The tour of the museum is followed by a walk of the battlefield where visitors can learn more about how the battle unfolded on this day through information relayed on GPS operated headsets given to each visitor. Gravestones of the Scottish clans are dotted all around the battlefield, including a six-metre-high memorial cairn that was erected in the year 1881 to commemorate the battle.
See Bronze Age monuments at Clava Cairns
A visit to the Culloden Battlefield can be combined with a trip to the Clava Cairns, which is located just a short distance away from the battlefield. A prehistoric cemetery that dates back to the Bronze Age, this 4000-year-old graveyard contains a collection of cairns, passage graves, and standing stones. The stones that have been erected in and around the cairns are believed to have been for astronomical purposes and appear to have been aligned to the midwinter sun; a walk through the cemetery is sure to fill you with a sense of wonder, especially if you arrive early enough to avoid the tourist crowds. There are two cemetery complexes here; the Balnuaran and Milton. Balnuaran is the more popular site out of the two for its massive cairns surrounded by stone circles. Milton contains the ruins of a medieval chapel.
Watch the Inverness Highland Games
The Inverness Highland Games is a long-running sports festival in the town, wherein athletes from all around the world gather to compete in a wide range of sporting competitions. The festival takes place at Bught Park situated along the western bank of River Ness and has been organised every July during the weekends since 1822. The lively atmosphere of the festival includes dance performances, talented bagpipers and fun locals who dress up in traditional costumes for the event. Some of the sporting events included in the festival are shot put, long jump, caber toss and track running.
Watch a Show at the Eden Court Theatre
The Eden Theatre is probably the most significant arts venue in northern Scotland. It has two theatres and two cinema screens, with several different shows and numerous workshops organised here every year that makes it one of the most prominent spots in the town worth visiting. The theatre was recently refurbished and extended in capacity, and there are people who visit Inverness solely to enjoy a performance in the Eden Theatre.
Stroll by the River Ness and the Ness Islands
A lot of Inverness’ attractions are located along the banks of River Ness, which makes taking a leisurely stroll along the shores of the river one of the most interesting things to do in this town. The Ness Islands are a group of islands located in the middle of the River Ness, which can be reached by walking upstream along the river. The Ness Islands are also a natural park, so don’t be surprised if you catch sight of some local wildlife that live on the islands. Suspension bridges and footpaths connect the islands to the river banks and locals can often be seen jogging, strolling or walking their dogs on these paths on a good weather day.
There are many places along the way where you can stop for breaks and enjoy a snack or two while admiring the riverside views. There are also options with bike rentals available if that’s something that interests you more than a walk.
Shop at the Victorian Market
The Victorian Market is located in the centre of the town and is a beautiful covered market that dates back to the late 19th-century. It mostly consists of small independently owned shops that normally won’t be seen elsewhere in Inverness and offer visitors a unique and alternative shopping experience. More than 40 shops sell a wide range of fares like spices, souvenirs, jewellery, beauty products, flowers and even fresh local produce. The building itself is an impressive-looking structure with an ornate Victorian-era roof made from wood and iron, red steel arches and lanterns that line the main thoroughfare, and an old yet well-preserved clock that is one of the most recognisable objects in the building. There are also two cafes here that serve light meals and coffees.
Play a Round of Golf
Golf may be considered a sporting choice for the posh, but not many people know that golf was invented in Scotland way back in 1457. The country boasts more than 500 golf courses, with Inverness alone having at least 15 of them. The Royal Dornoch and Nairn are some of the most popular choices for golfing in this town; Castle Stewart is the newest addition to the group and is located close to the Culloden Battlefield.
Nairn, in particular, offers wide stretches of sand that is great for not just golfing but also leisure strolls, with several shops and exciting eateries that make the 15-minute train journey from Inverness to Nairn totally worth it.
Walking Tour of the City of Inverness
One of the best ways to explore Inverness is through a walking tour, which is offered by several companies in the town and can be availed as a group tour or a private tour. Most walking tours last anywhere from one hour to an hour-and-thirty-minutes and usually begin from outside the VisitScotland iCenter. The tours usually involve a trip to the Inverness Castle, the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, the Abertarff House that is the oldest building in Inverness, the Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum with the largest model of the Titanic ship in the world, the Botanic Gardens, and the wrapping of the tour with a shopping trip to the Victorian Market.