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17 Must-Visit Attractions in and Around Inverness, Scotland

Inverness | © Dave Conner/Flickr
Inverness | © Dave Conner/Flickr
Situated at the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is surrounded by a wealth of places to visit, from internationally-renowned natural wonders to man-made marvels, the scope of things to see and do can be dizzying. To help, here are 17 of the very best.

Loch Ness

Natural Feature
Loch Ness by Sail
Loch Ness by Sail | © bobrayner / Flickr
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, if there is one place every visitor to the city needs to see, this is it.
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Urquhart Castle

Ruins
Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle | © John Robinson / Flickr
On the banks of Loch Ness stands this ancient fortress. Now mostly ruined, it is still supposed to be one of the best places to spot Nessie. There is a full-sized trebuchet siege engine, a pier for boat tours of the loch, and an excellent visitor centre.
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Sun:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Mon:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Tue:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Wed:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Thu:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Fri:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm
Sat:
9:30 am - 8:00 pm

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Historical Landmark

Falcon Square

Building
Falcon Square Mercat Cross
Falcon Square Mercat Cross | © Haydn Blackey/Flickr
The new mercat cross for Inverness was designed by Gerald Laing and is made from sandstone with bronze castings. Featuring a falcon on each side, stooping to catch its prey, it is also topped by Scotland’s national animal; many visitors to Scotland, and quite a few Scots too, do not know that this is a unicorn.
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Highland Wildlife Park

Park, Zoo
Scottish Wildcat
Scottish Wildcat | © Chris Parker/Flickr
Specialising in native Scottish wildlife and other colder weather creatures, the Highland Wildlife Park has received acclaim for its Scottish wildcat breeding programme, as they try to save the species from extinction through inter-breeding with domestic cats.
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Sun:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Mon:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Tue:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Wed:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Thu:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Fri:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sat:
10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Cawdor Castle

Building
This 15th-century castle was the home of the Thane of Cawdor, a title mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. With beautiful gardens and a rich history, it is a must-see for visitors to Inverness.
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Sun:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Mon:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Tue:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Wed:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Thu:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Fri:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm
Sat:
10:00 am - 5:30 pm

Beauly Priory

Ruins
Beauly Priory
Beauly Priory | © Sobelevnrm/Flickr
Disestablished in 1634, the ruins of this 13th-century monastic settlement are still surprisingly extensive and definitely worth exploring. The monks were originally French, and gave Beauly its name, from ‘Beau Lieu,’ meaning ‘beautiful place’.
More Info
Sun:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Mon:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Tue:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Wed:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Thu:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Fri:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Sat:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm

Botanic Gardens

Park
A sub-tropical wonderland in the north of Scotland, these 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; sited between the Caledonian Canal and the River Ness, the opportunities to walk further are tempting.
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Sun:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Mon:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Tue:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Wed:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Thu:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Fri:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Sat:
10:00 am - 4:00 pm

Glenmorangie Distillery

Distillery
Glenmorangie Barrels
Glenmorangie Barrels | © Martin Thomas/Flickr
It is difficult to select one distillery to recommend, simply because there are so many excellent options on offer. Glenmorangie has three different tours, and a visit can potentially be combined with a daytrip to Dornoch, Tain and the Seaboard Villages.
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Sun:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Mon:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Tue:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Wed:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Thu:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Fri:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm
Sat:
9:45 am - 5:00 pm

Nairn

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

Hootananny

Church
For visitors to Inverness who want to sample traditional Highland hospitality, drink, music and dance, this is perhaps the best option. On Fridays and Saturdays some of the tables are cleared to enable ceilidh dancing, bringing with it many smiles, laughter and a feeling of accomplishment when you remember the steps.
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Sun:
4:00 pm - 12:00 am
Mon - Tue:
12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Tue - Wed:
12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Wed - Thu:
12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Thu - Fri:
12:00 pm - 1:00 am
Fri - Sat:
12:00 pm - 3:00 am
Sat - Sun:
12:00 pm - 3:00 am

River Ness and the Castle

Bridge, Building
The best way to see Inverness castle is to walk along the River Ness, which provides several perfect angles to take the best photos of the building. The river walk is a good opportunity to explore the heart of the city, walking along the banks as people have been doing since before St. Columba preached here, in 565AD.
More Info
Sun:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Mon:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Tue:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Wed:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Thu:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Fri:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sat:
9:00 am - 8:00 pm

Fort George (and dolphins)

History Museum
Possibly the largest artillery fortification in Europe, Fort George dates from the late 18th century and was built to deter another Jacobite rising. There is an excellent museum and the walls are also a wonderful place to watch wild dolphins.
More Info
Sun:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Mon:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Tue:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Wed:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Thu:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Fri:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm
Sat:
9:30 am - 5:30 pm

Atmosphere:

Touristy, Historical Landmark
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