Home to stunning surroundings and lots of Scottish charm, Fort William is at the top of many travellers’ lists while visiting beautiful Scotland. This guide looks at the top things to do in Fort William next time you take a trip down to the Outdoor Capital!
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Things to Do in 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.
Fort William is a popular base for tourists on the ‘Road to the Isles’ route, so make sure you stop here for a night or two. There are many things to see in the town and its surrounding areas while travelling through the United Kingdom.
From the outside, it may look like a haven for a quiet weekend away in one of its many lodge offerings, but you should take time to explore Fort William and see why there is so much more than meets the eyes.
Explore the Outdoor Capital
There are plenty of things to do in Fort William if you seek adventure or crave luxury. Places like Glen Coe, Glen Nevis, The Mammores and Glen Sheil make Fort William a climber’s paradise.
Enjoy some time away from your luxury hotel and discover why Fort William is known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’.
Whether you are looking for unique outdoor activities on land or water or a famous railway station or the highest mountain in the UK, you will find everything you can wish for while in the town of Fort William.
Climbers will be missing out on a major bucket list item if they don’t consider climbing Ben Nevis. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to summit the highest mountain in the UK?
If you want a challenge, this mountain is a popular spot for walking and climbing, but make sure to bring an anorak with you and sensible hiking shoes. Ben Nevis is part of a beautiful range of mountains that grant unparalleled views of Fort William and the north end of Scotland.
“The Ben”, as locals call it, hosts an annual race every September if you fancy enjoying the views from the sidelines. We highly recommend that you aim to reach the summit of this spectacular mountain.
One of the most popular things to do in Fort William is hiking to the impressive Steall Falls.
Getting to Steall Falls is a fairly straightforward walk if a bit rocky at times. This waterfall is Scotland’s second highest, second only to Eas a’ Chual Aluinn in Sutherland, but Steall Falls’ magical atmosphere more than makes up for it.
You must experience this walk to one of the grandest natural exhibits amongst the mountains of Fort William but make sure not to go in winter!
Learn Essential Skills at Survival School
Fancy yourself as the next Bear Grylls? Book a space at a nearby survival school! You won’t receive the creature comforts of a hotel here.
This experience is perfect if you want to enjoy a weekend of pure Scottish wilderness. Pupils who take part get to learn from experienced bushcraft and survival trainers. Study intricate skills that will allow you to survive anywhere in the world, summer or winter.
The survival school is in Lochaber, where you will get to trail through the woodlands in Glen Nevis, just north of Fort William, whilst picking up your new bushcraft skills.
Jacobite steam train
You may be lucky enough to see the Jacobite Steam Train and Railway Station on your drive to Glenfinnan. It’s considered the most beautiful railway station in the world.
Potter-heads from all over flock to Fort William and its surrounding areas to see the train featured in the Harry Potter film series.
The Jacobite steam train runs north from Glenfinnan train station to Fort William and onwards over the iconic Harry Potter bridge and hills, a magical highlands country route for those that want to see more of Scotland.
The best place to see the Jacobite steam train is in Glenfinnan. Although, remember that you are on a public highway, so don’t stop in the middle of the road to take pictures if you do.
West Highland Museum
A simple dream to create a museum that captures the fascinating history of the West Highland region of Scotland led to the creation of the West Highland Museum in 1922. Today, it is one of the best places in Fort William, Scotland, to learn about local history and the beautiful region.
The Museum holds a vast collection of archaeological, Jacobite, and Victoriana history. It offers insight into the lives of people in the West Highlands many years ago.
There’s no doubt that the history of Fort William and the Scottish Highlands will engage all those who visit the West Highland Museum. Make sure to take a trip down to this enriching centre.
Fort William High Street
The High Street in Fort William is a port of call for those who visit Scotland’s West Coast. This town centre is a hub of activity and welcomes visitors to explore its restaurants and stores.
It’s worth visiting the information centre for excellent hotel room suggestions, local information, and to learn about what events you should be booking in the small village.
The High Street also offers the best accommodation and restaurants in town, with the Crannog Seafood Restaurant ranking at the top.
Gordon Square is also an excellent place to explore and plan your day trips into the highlands north and south of the town centre. Most of the must-see destinations within the centre are accessible by taking one of the local buses from the high street.
Overall, Fort William High Street is an excellent place to start each day with a great breakfast before you begin your journey through the highlands.
Ben Nevis Distillery
Founded in 1825, the Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland and boasts some of the finest craft malt whisky. They pair excellently with views of the towering Ben Nevis Mountain behind the distillery.
The Ben Nevis Distillery prides itself on collecting only the finest water from the top of the largest mountain ranges in Scotland and distilling it with grains and time. You can book one of the exquisite tastings and indulge yourself in the high-quality Scotch of Ben Nevis.
You won’t want to miss out on one of the best ways to experience this aspect of highland culture, so ensure that you make the trip to the distillery.
Fort William nestles on the banks of Loch Linnhe, from where several boat tour operators offer amazing tours up and down Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil. There is another world once you leave the shores that you can only experience on a boat trip.
You can experience the highlands of Fort William in a way you have never before as you explore the North and South end of the West coast of Scotland. Here are our picks for some of the best boat trips you can take in and around the town.
Loch Linnhe Cruise
Departing from Fort William, the passenger boat “Elsie” can accommodate up to 65 lucky passengers on trips that last 2 hours. You have plenty of time to enjoy spectacular views of Ben Nevis and the surrounding area while aboard.
Along the way, passengers will come across a mussel farm and salmon farm and learn how these local businesses supply quality ingredients to Scotland. There is also a huge variety of wildlife from seagulls, sea eagles, golden eagles, and otters!
Elsie has indoor and outdoor seating, including an elevated viewing deck and onboard toilet. Tea and coffee facilities with snacks and juice are also provided to keep you refreshed during your cruise.
Souter’s Lass Boat Trips
If you are looking for some peace after all that adventure, sail away on one of the informative boat trips provided by Souter’s Lass.
During the summer, you can cruise down south of the Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, take in the scenery, and snap some shots of the Scottish skyline. There is nothing more tranquil than admiring arching highlands and rolling hills from this gently rocking boat.
The boat trips also offer a deeper look at the often ignored islands that dot the lochs and inform visitors of the history of each one while onboard.
Enjoy this relaxing sail due west from the highlands aboard Souter’s Lass and you will be surprised by how much of Scotland you’ll discover away from its shore.
Black Isle Bar
The first of its kind in Fort William, the Black Isle Bar is one of the best places to spend an evening reminiscing about the day’s travels. Here, you can enjoy a variety of craft beers, organic wines and whiskies with great wood-fired pizzas.
The Black Isle Bar prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients, which is the perfect excuse to get you out of your hotel room and straight into socialising with the cheery locals of Fort William.
It’s also dog friendly, so feel free to bring your pets along to enjoy the wondrously warm atmosphere available at the Black Isle Bar.
Situated within the High Street of Fort William, the Highland Bookshop is a hub for travellers who love books! Search through the intricate collection of novels and tomes written by Highland natives. Who knows, you may find your next favourite amongst the dusty artefacts!
There is nothing more comforting than a book on a long journey, so take some time to explore the shelves and find a great story to occupy yourself with the next time you’re getting on a flight back home.
The bookshop also has a busy schedule of events, from exclusive book releases to historical recollections and more! You will be thoroughly entertained on any visit to the Highland Bookshop.
One of the greatest feats of engineering in Scotland, Neptune’s Staircase is a series of locks that raise boats a staggering 19-metres over a quarter of a mile. You should definitely visit this impressive attraction on the northern end of Fort William.
Built in 1822, Neptune’s Staircase is the longest staircase lock located in Scotland. Witnessing the Staircase in action will take your breath away as you watch ships ascend the locks until they finally reach the top of the staircase 90-minutes later.
Neptune’s Staircase is an incredible structure of engineering that you should check out while visiting the north part of Fort William.
Lime Tree An Ealdhain
One of the most beautiful hotspots near the south of Fort William is the Lime Tree An Ealdhain! This attraction has it all — it’s a hotel, an art gallery, and an excellent restaurant.
The Lime Tree building was converted from Macintosh Church Manse to its current opulence in 2006 and serves as a place for creativity and art for the town.
Enjoy one of the most incredible dining experiences with views of the stunning landscapes of Fort William and Loch Linnhe. You won’t regret an outing to Lime Tree An Ealdhain!
Old Inverlochy Castle
Located about half an hour north of the town of Fort William, the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle await. These ancient remnants of Old Inverlochy Castle stand as one of the most important castles in Scotland.
Originally dating back to the 13th century, Old Inverlochy Castle has played a part in so many wars that it’s hard to keep track. No wonder it’s in ruins!
You can immerse yourself in this detailed historical site as you walk through the ruins of Old Inverlochy and learn about how this castle led to many victories.
Treasures of the Earth
In the town of Fort William, you can find one of the largest collections of crystals, gemstones, and fossils in all of Europe! The Treasures of the Earth centre has been a family-owned collection of the rarest geological and archaeological artefacts for over 20 years.
The collection has something for everyone — you can learn about the largest gold nugget found in the world, touch the tall amethyst crystals, and admire the sabre-tooth tiger skull.
Explore a collection that has been 500-million years in the making while in the beautiful town of Fort William.
Fort William Golf Club
Nothing beats a round of 18-hole golf on a sunny day, even more so when it’s one of the finest Golf Clubs in the council area of Fort William.
The Fort William Golf Club is on the north end of the town, with incredible views of Fort William, Scotland. After your round, enjoy food and drink at the cafe as you relive the highs and lows of the game.
Keep your eye on the website for any competitions that may be taking place at the golf club while you’re in town. Make your booking ahead of time if you’re interested!
The Fort William Golf Club offers the opportunity to experience a series of courses nestled between mountain ranges and Loch Shiel, so why not test your abilities while at Fort William.
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 Arisaig
- Things to do in Aviemore
- Things to do in Carrbridge
- Things to do in Drumnadrochit
- Things to do in Fort Augustus
- Things to do in Gairloch
- Things to do in Inverness
- Things to do in Lochinver
- 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