Inverness in Scotland is known as the “Capital of the Highlands” and is one of the most popular destinations to visit while in the gorgeous country of Scotland. Featuring many attractions within the city centre and in the area that surrounds it, you’ll find that there are many things to do in Inverness.
Inverness has been steeped in history since its Pictish origins. It is filled with fascinating places to see and things to do and is one of the largest cities in Scotland. Thousands of tourists travel to Inverness every single year, drawn to this beautiful city upon the Firth of Moray and Beauty, all connected to the staggeringly large Loch Ness.
If you’re new to our beautiful country and are interested in getting to know the Highland Region, then there’s no better place to start than Inverness.
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Things to do in Inverness
Inverness is one of the best places to visit in Scotland and has many things to do that will make a holiday here well worth the trip! So if you’re travelling via Inverness Airport or just starting your road trip to explore the Nort Coast 500, we bet that there will be something in Inverness that will pique your interest.
Inverness is stocked full of beautiful and unique attractions. Whether you’re interested in discovering the highland region’s history at Clava Cairns, want to try Scottish dishes at an award-winning restaurant, or just aim to enjoy a calm day amidst might castles and botanic gardens, Inverness is the place for you!
There are so many activities and events are going on in Inverness that it’s difficult to discern what should be at the top of your to-do list while you’re here! See our guide for the top things to do in Inverness!
The mighty Inverness Castle sits next to the River Ness and is an outstanding sight to see while you’re visiting Inverness.
One highlight you’ll notice immediately is the beautiful red sandstone bricks that the Castle is made from, a unique feature that makes Inverness Castle one of the most spectacular castles in Scotland.
Built in the 1800s, the Castle boasts a fantastic view of the River Ness and Inverness city centre and a bountiful garden to explore when you visit its grounds. History buffs will be treated to the very Castle that William Shakespeare cites as where Duncan is murdered in ‘Macbeth’!
Inverness Castle is currently not open to the public but make sure to check out their website for updates.
Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
Inverness is jam-packed with exciting history and culture, and nowhere else can you fully realise this fact than at the Inverness Museum & Art Gallery.
Here you can learn about and explore a vast range of artefacts and exhibits covering every inch of the Highland’s heritage and way of living. You can also immerse yourself in the ever-rotating galleries that feature excellent pieces made by local favourite artists and craftspeople.
The Inverness Museum & Art Gallery is the best way to garner an unparalleled understanding of the city and the surrounding area – we highly recommend you attend!
St Andrew’s Inverness Cathedral
Inverness Cathedral, sometimes known as St Andrew’s Cathedral, is a stunning church building on the edge of the River Ness and is at the centre of Inverness’ religious sites.
St Andrew’s Cathedral is undoubtedly one of the most fantastic venues to visit. The interior is just as jaw-dropping as the staggering exterior, with your attention being automatically drawn to the stained glass windows and the Cathedral’s towers which almost reach the sky!
Even if you’re not interested in attending one of the weekly masses, this Cathedral is still one of the most popular attractions in Inverness.
The Ness Islands are a slice of nature amidst the bustling city of Inverness, the perfect getaway if you want a bit of peace for an afternoon.
You can access the Ness Islands through a series of picturesque Victorian footbridges in multiples place from Inverness’ river banks. On Ness Islands, you can look forward to seeing towering pines, a host of small critter wildlife, quaint benches, and many more sights!
Keep a lookout for the fallen tree Nessie sculpture, a great reminder that this city sits ominously close to the mysterious Loch Ness.
Inverness Botanical Gardens
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from many of the incredible attractions in Inverness are the Inverness Botanic Gardens, home to thousands of fantastic flora and one of the most popular destinations to visit while you’re in the royal burgh of Inverness.
Whatever season you’re visiting, the Botanic Gardens is always open and free to enter! Exploring the greenhouses and gardens is a delight to the senses, even more so when you cap off your visit by sampling the excellent lunch options available at the cafe – there’s even a cactus house!
Budding florists and plant parents will be sorely tempted to take home one of the darling buds from the nursery to take home with them!
The Victorian Market
Located in the heart of Inverness city centre, the Victorian Market is a covered market home to a plethora of shops, cafes, and services, with an incredible range of products and services available here. It’s one of the best places to try traditional Scottish dishes too!
A staple marketplace since the late 19th-century and now holds a fantastic amount of things to do here, including arcade gaming, shopping for souvenirs, or even grabbing a haircut! The market is open year-round, so whenever you plan to visit Inverness, the Victorian Market is sure to be available to you!
Stopping by the Victorian Market after a day of travelling through the city or the surrounding area is a must. There’s no better place to refresh and wind down!
Dolphin Spirit Inverness
As you approach the Moray Firth from the city centre of Inverness, hop aboard the Dolphin Spirit if you’re feeling adventurous!
This wildlife boat trip takes you aboard and then to the Moray Firth to see Inverness’s extraordinary sea life. You could see dolphins, whales, seals, and bird species, but the dolphins would are undoubtedly the stars of the show!
If you’re feeling lucky and want to see the best sea life that Inverness has to offer, then climb aboard the zooming Dolphin Spirit Inverness!
If you want a more relaxed destination and an option for your family or children to enjoy, then look no further than Whin Park in Inverness.
Whin Park has four separate adventure parks, including zip lines, climbing structures, slides, a boating pond, and many more brilliant attractions to ensure your children are entertained through and through!
Cap off the day with some ice cream, and your children will be begging you to come back here!
Climb up Craig Phadrig, and you’ll find one of the best views of the city centre. Craig Phadrig is also one of the best ways to enjoy the impressive history of Inverness just south of the city.
Today, you can still make out the fortress once home to the mighty Pictish King in Scottish history. The oval-shaped mound is a dead giveaway, and it may be difficult to take your eyes off this fantastic site to check out the beautiful view of Inverness below.
Craig Phadrig is the perfect journey for an early morning walk before tackling the Highlands!
The mighty Urquhart Castle is situated on the Great Glen a few miles south of Inverness. This attraction is located along the Loch Ness coast and has hidden secrets covering over 1000-years of Scotland’s most significant historical moments.
Urquhart Castle contains many unique attractions; the staggering Grant Tower, artefacts left behind like Urquhart Ewer, and a trebuchet! Accompanied by some of the best views of the Loch Ness in Scotland – what else could you ask for?
You can explore Urquhart Castle at your own pace or use the audio-guided tour that comes with the ticket. All you need is access to the internet!
As you head out to explore the eastward side of Inverness, make sure not to miss the Clava Cairns, a 4000-year old burial site!
The Clava Cairns are the only ancient sites around Inverness, so they should be on the top of your bucket list. You can explore what remains of Clava Cairns and its standing stones and envision what rituals and society built this prehistoric structure so many years ago.
The Cairns are also home to many other Bronze Age artefacts and sites for you to explore, from graves, cairns, and standing stones!
The Clava Cairns is set against the River Nairn, and the flowing water and mysterious atmosphere make for a beautiful picnic spot when the weather’s nice.
Cawdor Castle & Gardens
The magnificent Cawdor Castle & Gardens were built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor in the late 14th-century and is one of the most popular attractions to visit while in Inverness.
At the Castle’s very centre sits a legendary holly tree, said to have been a part of the estate since 1372 AD! The Castle also holds an excellent cafe and shop that is the perfect place to grab lunch as you explore the immersive history of Cawdor.
After lunch at the cafe, it’s worth your while to explore the stunning Castle Gardens, home to unique flora and wildlife, especially the birdlife that makes its home at Cawdor Castle & Gardens.
St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church
Your first look at St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is jaw-dropping and is undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching churches of the historic buildings that line the River Ness.
The Church welcomes visitors from all over the world to its wonderfully decorated interior. The Church is built in the Victorian Gothic Revival style of architecture, which boasts a stunning resemblance to some of the grandest Medevil buildings.
The spectacular design and atmosphere of this Church will undoubtedly draw you in and is well worth a visit.
Inverness Ice Centre
Keen to pick up a new skill while on holiday at Inverness? The Inverness Ice Centre is the best place to learn how to ice skate or the basics of sports like curling and ice hockey!
If you’re already a recreational skater, the Ice Centre will be happy to let you strut your stuff and let loose on its immaculate ice rink arena! It’s a great place to take the family and children too, and you can spend a whole afternoon messing around on the ice as you explore new skills.
Best of all? The first lesson is free at the Inverness Ice Centre, so you have no reason not to try something new!
Inverness Highland Games
If you find yourself lucky enough to be visiting Inverness during the summer month of July, then the Inverness Highland Games should be at the top of your list of things to do!
These traditional games started in 1822 and have some classic Scottish games to look forward to. You can look forward to piping competitions, Highland dancing, live music, stonemason’s stone, and many more! Finding out who is the strongest man and woman is a particularly thrilling event that you can’t miss.
The Highland Games are a Scottish spectacle that has been a part of the Scottish Highlands region for centuries. It’s worth it to plan your trip around accommodating this exciting tradition.
Inverness Library has a vibrant and fascinating history, and we’re not just talking about the expansive collection of books and archives the Library holds!
This Library was initially built as a school in 1841 before transitioning to a courthouse, police station, and then a theatre before finally becoming the Library in 1980! This tumultuous history is core to the building’s style and design, making it one of the unique attractions you can visit while in the city.
An extensive collection of books within its stunning architecture makes for an excellent afternoon of reading and relaxation if you want some quiet.
Chanonry Point is about a half-hour drive away from Inverness that treats you to stunning visuals of the Firths Moray and Beauty along the way! The Point overlooks the Firth and is well-known for the dolphins that can frequently be seen from its high vantage point.
The Point also features a beautiful beach, a romantic evening hotspot for those who want a bit of personal time with loved ones away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Explore the Moray Firth
The Moray Firth is a sea loch that you can find just north of Inverness and is host to numerous amounts of things to do!
The most prominent feature of this Firth is the regular occurrence of pods of bottlenose dolphins that make their home here! This, coupled with seals and the occasional Minke Whale, makes any boat trips you have along this Firth one of the most spectacular voyages you can have while visiting Inverness.
The Firth also holds many fascinating attractions along its shores, like the gorgeous Culbin Forest, Chanonry Point, and Fort George. We haven’t even spoken about the romantic walks you can take along its beaches!
Visit Loch Ness
Your mind will eventually wander to the Loch Ness and Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster, when you think of Scotland. While in Inverness, you have the chance to take a trip down to this infamous tourist attraction and see if the legends hold up for you!
Loch Ness is the largest freshwater loch in Scotland and has significant sights for you to see as you tour around its edge. Braver visitors may even be tempted to hop aboard a ship and explore the waters of the loch, excited for a chance to see the ever-elusive Loch Ness Monster.
Loch Ness is also revered for the beautiful vistas, rolling hills, and the fact that there are stunning castles and historical sites dotted all around it. So even if Nessie eludes you when you visit, we’re sure you won’t leave disappointed.
Inverness Kart Raceway
Experience the Highland’s #1 Indoor Racing Kart Centre while you’re in Inverness, and you’ll never want to race go-karts anywhere else!
Fulfil your need for speed at this excellent kart racing venue, perfect for the family and birthday parties and corporate events and stag and hen dos too! Inject some thrill into your holiday while in Inverness and see if you can grab one of the top places on Kart Raceway’s leader boards.
Inverness Kart Raceway is undoubtedly one of the most fun and exciting activities you can get up to as you wander through Inverness, so adding it to your to-do list is a must!
Flora MacDonald Statue
Standing in front of the Inverness Castle is one of the most detailed and intricate statues in Scotland depicting the famous Flora MacDonald.
Forever encased in bronze, this famous historical figure who helped Charles Edward Stuart escape is a marvel to look upon. Located conveniently near the Inverness Castle, you can take a several minutes’ walk and stumble upon her overlooking the city of Inverness.
Visit the statue at night, and the twinkling lights of the city centre are one of the most pretty ways to enjoy Inverness, with the Great Glen and Inverness Cathedral visible on clear days.
Explore Inverness City Centre
The city of Inverness is known as the Capital of the Highlands, and as you explore the winding cobbled streets and alleys, it’s easy to see why. From the high street to the city’s parks, you won’t be lacking in things to do in Inverness while you’re here.
Wander through the town, and you’ll find an excellent selection of cafes, shops, and restaurants to shop ’til you drop by and bring home a couple of souvenirs while you’re at it! You can use the affordable bus station terminals for accessible public transport between hotspots as you navigate the city.
As the sun sets, the city comes alive with nightlife and walking through the high street. It’s not uncommon to hear live music and an amicable atmosphere that begs you to mingle with the locals.
Merkinch Local Nature Reserve
One of the many hidden gems of Inverness is the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve, home to many incredible wildlife species like roe deer, weasels, and a wide range of bird species!
The Nature Reserve can take anywhere from an hour to two hours, depending on how quick you go through it but to fully enjoy the reserve, make sure to stop and sit for a bit. The friendly bird species may even take a liking to you and come closer – perfect for pictures!
This Nature Reserve is a fantastic destination for nature lovers and grants you a look at the wildlife of Scotland without having to leave the city!
As you explore Inverness, one attraction will undoubtedly catch your eye again and again – The Kessock Bridge, an example of one of Scotland’s most beautiful suspension bridges.
The Kessock Bridge extends over the Firths of Beauty and Moray and is the best way to travel into the north Scottish Highlands from the town centre. The Bridge itself is a spectacular feat of architecture and design and grants stunning views of the two Firths and the city of Inverness.
You’ll likely cross over the Kessock Bridge as you explore the many attractions around Inverness, but make sure to give some appreciation to this magnificent structure.
Enjoy Bught Park
Bught Park in the town of Inverness has stunning views of the River Ness as it flows through to the Firth of Moray.
Home to excellent pitches regularly filled with Inverness locals playing football or rugby, the Bught Park in Inverness is the go-to Park when you wind down your busy day exploring Inverness.
And if you’re looking to bring your pup along with you during your holiday, this Park will undoubtedly be their favourite attraction!
Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre
As you head westwards from the town centre of Inverness, make sure to stop by the Culloden Battlefield – the site of the last and most harrowing pitch battle in Scotland.
This fascinating historical site is maintained by the National Trust for Scotland and has an incredibly informative visitor centre that aims to recount the details of this Jacobite rebellion. Compete with interactive exhibits, an immersive sound experience, and even preserved artefacts from the battle!
Just nearby, you can also find the Clava Cairns, a collection of Bronze Age historical sites. Having both of these attractions is necessary for a full day of activities.
Taking an afternoon to visit the pinnacle attraction of Culloden Battlefield is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Inverness, so make sure to add it to your bucket list next time you visit.
One of the most awe-inspiring fortresses in Scotland is Fort George, sitting overlooking the waters for over 250 years!
Today, you can take a trip straight into the Fort’s centre and explore this extraordinary compound used by King George’s army. Some of its top hotspots are the Highlander Museum, the Dog Graveyard, and the Grand Magazine.
Peruse combat memorabilia and learn about soldiers’ lives over 200 years ago. We’re sure that you won’t have an experience quite like this while visiting Scotland anywhere else.
Leakey’s Second-Hand Bookshop is one attraction you don’t want to miss out on while exploring Church Street in Inverness.
Its interior is eccentric and extraordinary, filled with a mishmash of purples, blues, and greens – and of course, lots of books! Leakey’s is Scotland’s second largest second-hand bookshop and contains over 100,000 volumes to browse through. The bookshop has a warm and comforting atmosphere, partly given by the roaring fireplace that keeps Leakey’s nice and toasty!
Why not pick up or leave a copy of your favourite book at Leakey’s? We bet that it will be one of the highlights of your holiday.
Eden Court Theatre & Cinema
Do yourself a favour and grab a ticket to a show at the Eden Court Theatre & Cinema; it’s one of the most entertaining things you can do while in Inverness.
From Opera to comedy, this Court Theatre is adept at providing you with shows that will be the highlight of your evening! We especially recommend the Theatre’s live performances, as the atmosphere and immersion you receive from being within the stunning Theatre is unparalleled.
And if you’re looking for light snacks, the Court Theatre’s cafe and restaurant serve up a bounty of great food and drinks to enjoy an interlude between shows.
Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre
Tomatin Highland Single Malt Whisky is one experience you should certainly treat yourself to while visiting Inverness. Although it’s a little out of your way, taking just over 25-minutes to reach, it’s one of the best whisky distilleries in the Scottish Highlands.
You can receive one of the guided tours from one of the knowledgable and passionate distillery workers about the intricate and detailed process that creates their blend of excellent single malt whisky. Afterwards, you can sample one of the many tasting sessions that Tomatin Distillery offers and get a worldwide perception of whiskies.
We bet you’ll want to pick up one or two single malt whisky blends at the Tomatin whisky shop!
The Caledonian Canal takes you along the 60-miles of the Loch Ness and the River Ness. You won’t receive more of a thorough look at the beauty of Scotland’s largest loch than a trip aboard one of the many boat trips.
Whether you’re looking to purchase a ticket and be gifted with a fantastic tour of the Loch Ness or take your boat aboard its waters, the long stretch of this loch in Scotland is one attraction that you won’t want to miss out on.
Highland House of Fraser
The Highland House of Fraser is one of the most well-known shops in Inverness, famous for its custom and high-quality traditional Scottish kilts.
This family business has been in operation for 50-years and is steeped in the tradition of creating the Highland Dress. We encourage you to come and visit and peruse the wide variety of beautiful Scottish kilts available here – It’ll be tough to pick just one to take home with you!
Other Things To Do in Highlands
- 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 Fort William
- Things to do in Gairloch
- 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