The 6 Best Things To Do in Inverness

We loved our time in Inverness and would go back in a heartbeat to explore more. There are so many things to do in Inverness, so we are sharing some of our favorites! Nestled along the banks of the River Ness, this charming city offers a captivating blend of history, natural beauty, and rich cultural experiences. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a book lover, Inverness has something special for everyone. 

Inverness Castle

Within ten minutes of arriving in Inverness you will spot the beautiful castle that sits looking over the city. However, once on the premises you will quickly come to find that this majestic looking castle was actually built in the 1830’s and was home to the city’s prison and court house. That’s right! This castle has no interesting royal ties. 

Even though the castle has only ever been a prison and court house, people looking for things to do in Inverness would show up expecting to learn about this gorgeous building’s history, not realizing that it was a prison. Travel sites were even listing it as a must do in Inverness, when it was just a courthouse! You might be wondering “then, why are we talking about it now. Aren’t we doing exactly what those travel sites were doing”? Yes, but things are changing.

Because so many people kept showing up, the courts relocated to a new building in 2020 and construction is now underway turning the court house into a visitors center. The castle will open in 2025 and be home to the Inverness Castle Experience. Visitors will get to learn about the Scottish highlands and the past, present and future of Inverness. 

Even though this experience may not be open yet we find the whole situation so funny. There is the saying “if you build it, they will come”. Well this was the opposite, “if you come, they will build it” and it makes for a great story!

Leakey’s Bookshop

Leakey’s Bookshop is a must stop spot for any and all book lovers. It’s the largest second hand book store in all of Scotland. You’ll need to set aside time to peruse their 100,000 used and rare books along with their old maps, prints and other treasures.  

Leakey’s is housed in an old Gaelic Church which ads to its charm. The Church was originally built in 1649, then rebuilt in 1792 and reconstructed in 1822. The old building, mixed with the wood burning fire, will transport you in time as you explore every nook and cranny of the shop. 

Inverness Botanic Gardens

One of the perfect ways to spend the day in Inverness is to walk the Inverness Botanic Gardens. The Gardens are open all year round, 7 days a week with no booking required. So, if you find yourself with a bit of down time, this is the activity for you! Entry is by donation, and then you are able to explore the gardens and tropical house at your leisure. 

The Gardens are only a 30 minute walk from the town center and truthfully the walk there is half the fun! For a peaceful and scenic stroll, make sure to take the path through the Ness Islands. The Ness Islands are located on the Ness River and are connected via Victorian footbridges. Even if the Botanic Gardens are the destination make sure to enjoy the journey!

Culloden BattleField 

If you are a fan of history or a fan of the show Outlander, you have probably heard of the Jacobite Rising. In 1745 the Jacobites aimed to restore the Stuart monarchy to the British throne. The climax of this uprising was the Battle of Culloden in 1746, where the Jacobites faced the Duke of Cumberland’s government troops. In the end over 1600 men lost their lives. 1500 of them being Jacobites. 

Today, the Culloden Battlefield is preserved and open to the public. Visitors are welcome to walk the grounds and view the memorials which were built in the 1800s. On the grounds of Culloden also stands a museum that takes visitors through the journey of the Jacobite uprising. This museum is informational and interactive. Both sides of the uprising, the Jacobites and the British, get told simultaneously as you walk through the exhibits. The final room of the museum holds war artifacts found on the grounds themselves. 

This is the perfect experience for those looking for things to do in Inverness because it is only a 30 minute bus ride from the city center. Since Culloden is a popular destination, buses run every half hour and are super easy to get to. 

Clava Cairns

For all of our Outlander fans, the Clava Cairns are thought to be a possible source of inspiration for the standing stones featured in the show. Because it’s just a mile and a half away from the Culloden Battlefield, pairing these two excursions into one day is super convenient. The walk is very peaceful.

The Clava Cairns are a fascinating prehistoric site that offers a glimpse into Scotland’s ancient past.The ancient burial site dates back around 4,000 years and is home to three well-preserved cairns. The three circular stone tombs are surrounded by standing stones. Though this is not a filming location, the standing stones bear a similar resemblance to those found in the Outlander series.

Loch Ness Tour

Last but certainly not least, we recommend the Loch Ness Bus tour. In fact, our most highly recommended inverness adventure is a bus tour to Loch Ness. Many People have heard of Loch Ness because of the mysterious Loch Ness Monster that roams the deep, but the Loch is 23 miles of natural beauty and scenic views. 

This can’t forget experience will take you around the breathtaking loch and give you a chance to explore the Scottish highlands while learning about the land’s rich history. Tours from Inverness to Loch Ness will likely include light hikes and lunch at fort Agustus. You’ll wrap up your day with a boat tour on the Loch to Castle Urquhart. Our tour group wasn’t able to explore the castle on land, but if you get the chance to do so, don’t pass it up! 

Just a 30 minute drive from Inverness, the Loch Ness Bus Tour is the perfect day trip and an excellent way to learn about and explore Scotland’s beautiful landscapes.   

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