Take a trip to the UK’s outdoor capital. With stunning surrounding and lots of Scottish charm, Fort William is at the top of many visitors’ lists when they visit our beautiful country. This guide looks at the top things to do in Fort William and includes a few hotels.
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Your complete guide to Fort William
Whether you are looking to explore the descents of some of Scotland’s most stunning mountain ranges or go muggle-spotting on the famous Jacobite steam train, there is pleanty to do in Fort William.
Where is Fort William?
Fort William is tucked away in Lochaber in the West Highlands of Scotland. The town lies at the confluence of two of Scotland’s most secluded lochs, Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil,
If you are looking to explore while you are visiting this part of the UK, Fort William is a popular base for tourists that are on the ‘Road to the Isles’, so make sure you stop off here for a night or two as there are many things to see in the town and its surrounding areas.
Things to do in Fort William
From the outside it may look like a haven for a quiet weekend away in one of its many lodge offerings, however, there are plenty of things to do in Fort William. And the enchanting part of Scotland that surrounds the outdoor capital of the UK.
There are pleanty of things to do in Fort William if you seek adventure. Easy access to Glen Coe, The Mammores and Glen Sheil, Fort William is a hillwalker’s paradise. There is a reason why fort William is known as the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Whether you are looking for unique outdoor activities on land or water, you will find many adrenaline-packed things to do in Fort William.
You can book the options mentioned below with local providers:
- White Water Rafting
- Gorge Walking
For hillwalkers one of the most obvious things to do in Forth William is to climb Ben Nevis.
Ben Nevis is the UK’s highest mountain.
If you fancy a challenge, this mountain is a popular spot for walking and climbing, just be sure to bring an anorak with you and sensible hiking shoes.
“The Ben” as it is known by locals, hosts an annual race which occurs every September if you fancy enjoying the views from the sidelines.
One of my personal favourite things to do in Fort William is to take a walk up to the impressive Steall Falls.
The Steall Falls are a fairly straightforward walk, if a bit rocky at times, situated in Glen Nevis.
This waterfall is Scotland’s second highest, second only to Eas a’ Chual Aluinn in Sutherland.
Personally I love this walk as during the drive in you have the infamous Ring of Steall, 4 munros which can be climbed in one single day , straight ahead. Not to mention Ben Nevis to the north dominating the drive in.
Check out the detailed Walkhighlands Steall Falls and Nevis Glen Walk as well as this guide by Pink Cady Travelogue. If you are interested in climbing the Ring of Steall checkout The Ring of Steall Guide, another one from Walkhighlands.
As a side note, when driving out of Glen Nevis towards Fort William, you will pass a small pub called The Ben Nevis Inn. This is a brilliant wee find in the middle of Glen Nevis that I would highly recommend. Great for food and a few drinks after a day in the hills.
If you fancy yourself as the next Bear Grylls, book a space at a nearby survival school!
This experience is perfect if you are looking to enjoy a weekend of wilderness. Pupils who take part get to learn from an experienced bushcraft and survival trainer.
The survival school is based in Lochaber where you will get to trail through the woodlands in Glen Nevis, whilst you are picking up your new bushcraft skills.
Jacobite steam train
One of the most famous things to do in Fort William is to drive to Glenfinnan and see the Jacobite Steam Train.
If you know your forbidden spells inside out and the maunderers map like the back of your hand, then you cannot miss catching a glimpse of the famous Jacobite steam train.
‘Potter-heads’ from all over the world travel to Fort William and its surrounding areas to see the train which features in the Harry Potter film series.
The Jacobite steam train runs from Glenfinnan to Fort William to Mallaig, a magical route for those that want to see more of Scotland.
The best place to see the Jacobite train is in Glenfinnan. The above picture is of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Remember that you are on a public highway. As obvious as this sound, don’t stop in the middle of the road to take pictures. I nearly crashed here in early 2019 on the way to Mallaig with tourists stopping their cars to take pictures…
Also, the small church just past the viaduct is still in use. My brother got married here and a couple of tourists tried to enter the church during the ceremony. Mental eh?!
Fort William rests on the banks of Loch Linnhe. There are several boat tour operators offering amazing tours up and down Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil and the surrounding area.
Loch Linnhe Cruise
Departing from Fort William the passenger boat “Elsie” can accommodate up to 65 passengers.
Trips last 2 hours allowing plenty of time for you to enjoy absolutely spectacular views of Ben Nevis and the surrounding area. Elsie visits Black Rock which is home to common and grey seals before heading back up the Loch into Corpach visiting the entrance of the Caledonian Canal.
Along the way passengers will come across a mussel farm and salmon farm. On the tours there is also a huge variety of wildlife from Seagulls, Sea Eagles, Golden Eagles, Otters, and more.
This is a guided tour with live commentary of the area by the ship’s knowledgeable skipper Karl.
Elsie has both indoor and outdoor seating including our elevated viewing deck and onboard toilet. Tea and coffee facilities along with snacks and juice to keep you refreshed during your cruise.
Loch Linnhe Cruise’s boat also comes equipped with State of Art Sonar and a large screen in the passengers area to allow you not only to see what’s above the water but also what lies beneath.
One of the Directors of our Loch Linnhe Cruise owns and operates a Fishing Boat in Loch Linnhe and there will be a chance to see some live caught Langoustines from his boat “Kathleen M”.
Souter’s Lass Boat Trips
If you are looking to relax after all that adventure, sail away on one of Souter’s Lass boat trips. During the summer months you can cruise down Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, take in the scenery and snap some shots of the Scottish skyline.
More Things to do in The Highlands
We hope you have enjoyed our guide of the top things to do in Fort William. Check out the below guides for inspiration when visiting the surrounding area.
- Things to do in Aviemore
- Things to do in Carrbridge
- Things to do in Fort Augustus
- Things to do in Gairloch
- Things to do in Loch Ness
- Things to do in Nairn
- Things to do in Thurso
- Things to do in Ullapool
- Things to do in Wick