Must-Visit Attractions in and Around Inverness, Scotland

Inverness | © Dave Conner/Flickr
Inverness | © Dave Conner/Flickr
In the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is surrounded by a wealth of places to visit. From naturally beautiful areas like Loch Ness to man-made marvels like Cawdor Castle, the scope of things to see and do can be dizzying. To help, Culture Trip has outlined 25 of the very best attractions in the area.

Loch Ness

Natural Feature
Couple looking out over the southern end of Loch Ness in Fort Augustus, Highland, Scotland, UK
© Ian Dagnall / Alamy Stock Photo
As it’s the most famous loch in the world and home to Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, Loch Ness needs little introduction. Whether you decide to drive the short distance here from Inverness or walk or cycle along the canal and river, this is one place you need to see when visiting the area.
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Eden Court Highlands

Theatre
With several different shows every year, two theatres, two cinema screens, three galleries and various workshops, Eden Court Highlands is the pre-eminent arts venue in northern Scotland. It underwent a refurbishment and extension between 2004 and 2008, and many people travel to Inverness for the sole purpose of seeing one of the performances it hosts.
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Munlochy Clootie Well

Park
Clootie wells, the eerie and ancient Celtic tradition of hanging rags from trees, are seen in a few spots around Inverness, such as near Culloden. However, the main place to see this is at Munlochy, just north of the city, where there are thousands of scraps of fabric ominously decorating the trees.
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Beauly Priory

Ruins
Beauly Priory in Scotland
© Jan Holm / Alamy Stock Photo
Disestablished in 1634, the ruins of this 13th-century monastic settlement are still surprisingly preserved and worth exploring. The monks, originally from France, gave the priory the name Beauly, from the French beau lieu, meaning “beautiful place”. Upon visiting, you can certainly understand why.
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Inverness Botanic Gardens

Park
A subtropical wonderland in northern Scotland, the Inverness Botanic Gardens grow an astounding array of plants, from cacti to pitcher plants, with added fish ponds and even a waterfall. The sheltered outdoor garden is also colourful and an excellent place to walk around on a sunny day; as they sit between the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness, the opportunities to walk further are tempting.
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Glenmorangie Distillery

Distillery
It isn’t easy to select one distillery to recommend, simply because there are so many excellent options on offer. However, Glenmorangie is an excellent choice. It has three different tours and experiences, and a visit can potentially be combined with a day trip to Dornoch, Tain and the Seaboard Villages. Just be careful not to have too many wee drams on your visit.
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Nairn

Natural Feature, Architectural Landmark

Apart from the miles of sand, the challenging golf course, the walks, the shops and the excellent places to eat, the beauty of this little seaside town is that it’s only a 15-minute train ride from Inverness. Actress Tilda Swinton lives here, and with good reason; it’s a lovely corner of the world.

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Glen Affric

Park
The beauty of Scotland Glen Affric Scottish Highlands Scotland UK
© Martin Birchall / Alamy Stock Photo
If you are looking for classic Highland scenery, somewhere away from the bustling crowds and full of incredible natural beauty and an abundance of wildlife, then Glen Affric is worthy of a visit. To get there, it’s a short trip to Cannich from Inverness, and you can then walk or cycle along the stunning glen.
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Leakey’s Bookshop

Bookstore
Inside Leakey's Bookshop, featuring an enormous collection of second-hand books, sprawling over two floors in Inverness, Scotland
© Hugh Mitton / Alamy Stock Photo
Among the largest bookshops in Scotland and built inside a former church, Leakey’s Bookshop is a literature lover’s dream. With everything from rare prints to classic editions, there is sure to be something that catches your eye. The shop also houses a café, which is perfect for taking a break.
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Highlanders’ Museum

Museum
Showcasing the rich military history of Scotland’s Highland regiments, the Highlanders’ Museum is a must-visit for any history buff. Chronicling the Highland soldiers’ history from the nearby Battle of Culloden straight through to today’s active regiments, the museum shares the lives of the soldiers as well as the stories of some of their greatest victories.
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Fairy Glen

Natural Feature
A short trip out of the city, the Fairy Glen is a magical spot in the Highlands, complete with two picturesque waterfalls. The glen was once used for a traditional ceremony where children would decorate the pond with flowers to keep the resident fairies happy. Part of a nature trail, the walk to the glen leads you through some terrific woodland.
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Ness Islands

Natural Feature

Lying in the middle of the River Ness, the Ness Islands are the perfect destination for a leisurely Sunday stroll. Crossing Victorian suspension bridges over to the islands, you’ll find several nature trails that will lead you around the area and past other local attractions, such as the Inverness Botanic Gardens and Whin Park.

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Hogwarts Express and the Scenic Highlands Tour

Natural Feature
tour_img-1698207-24
© GetYourGuide

For any Harry Potter fans who fancy a treat, why not take a trip on the real-life Hogwarts Express? Travelling from Inverness on the famous Jacobite steam train, the tour of the Highlands will take you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country. As a bonus, you’ll travel over the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct, a feat of Victorian-era engineering.

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Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

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These recommendations were updated on September 14, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.