The Highlands of Scotland have a long history of hospitality. With distances between communities being so large, the tradition of inns — a place to eat, drink and sleep — became firmly established, and continues to this day. As these communities are small and dispersed, these pubs usually exhibit a mixed clientèle of locals and visitors. Stories are shared, local ales and whiskies sampled, fiddles and other instruments can appear by magic for impromptu music sessions, and fires lit to keep guests warm in winter. Here are five of the very best pubs in the Scottish Highlands. It should be noted that all opening times listed are for the bars only, please check with each venue for meal times.
The Clachaig has been an overnight stop for travellers for over 300 years, giving visitors a place to rest and refill empty stomachs, enjoy a wee dram or pint and generally relax after a long day. With three different bars, excellent food, a very warm welcome, fantastic craic, different accommodation options, and an outstanding location, this award-winning pub will weave its magic and pull you back time and time again.
Another ancient pub, this time opened in 1695, the small village of Moulin is just outside the outdoor hub of Pitlochry and there has been a settlement on the site since the Bronze Age! The inn itself is the oldest part of The Moulin Hotel, which also includes a microbrewery that has been producing its own ales since 1995, one of the first such modern microbreweries in Scotland. Also serving bar meals, this pub is a favourite among visitors and locals alike.
The Dores Inn is enviably located on the south shores of Loch Ness, about eight miles from the capital of the Highlands, Inverness. The building is a traditional stone construction, and the welcome also traditionally warm. With outdoor seating all the way down to the shore (keep your eyes peeled for Nessie!), an outstanding menu, and local beers, whiskies, and gins, this is a must-visit if you are in the area.
Located on the A87 (the road to the Isle of Skye) and surrounded by some of the most photogenic peaks in Scotland (21 different Munros, to be precise), the Cluanie Inn is another pub that draws in those who love the outdoors. There is a bar serving modern Scottish food and another whisky bar for the connoisseur of the Scottish national spirit, serving over 200 different malts. Expect to see many red deer around the pub, especially during winter and early spring.
A truly special pub, the view is one of the best in Scotland, the menu is mouth-watering, the selection of local drinks outstanding, and the service exactly what you want it to be. The Applecross Inn is multi award-winning, and with good reason. The local Bealach na Bà mountain pass is legendary and brings visitors down to the shores, which is where the Inn is to be found. Watching a sunset from here is an experience never to be forgotten.