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Our guide to Inverness holiday cottages

Our guide to Inverness

Jemima 15 May 2024

Inverness is Scotland’s most northerly city, often described as being the gateway to the Highlands. Being the final stop before you reach the most rugged and wild parts of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness makes a good stop-off location for those looking to enjoy some city conveniences before heading into the wilderness.

With a wealth of culture and a welcoming centre, the city is full of things to do and see. Marvel at the elevated historic castle overlooking the River Ness, walk amongst trees and fairy lights on the river islands, catch a show in the sophisticated Eden Court Theatre, stroll along the Caledonian Canal, wander around Inverness Cathedral and Inverness Castle, or enjoy meals out at the many lovely restaurants. The central town is dotted with many shops, pubs and eateries, as well as music shops, bookshops and the Victorian market. There is a leisure centre, a cinema and some lovely play parks which are perfect for play time with the kids and walking the dogs. 

In this guide, we aim to share all that is great about Inverness, covering great places to eat, some of the best tourist attractions and things to do in Inverness and The Highlands. We hope we inspire you to come and stay.


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FAQs

Inverness is probably most known for being the gateway to the Highlands, and the perfect spot for starting your holiday in the north. With easy connections from London, Edinburgh and Glasgow it is easy to get to and many flock here to then go further north. The NC500 has grounded it on the map with the famous driving route becoming a worldwide sensation! But let’s not forget Loch Ness and its monster too…

Inverness is a lovely spot for a holiday. Not only is the city full of things to do and see, it is close to the likes of the Black Isle, the Cairngorms National Park and the Isle of Skye which makes it perfect for those who want to explore further afield. If you plan a visit here you can create a rich itinerary that includes both city-life entertainment and countryside explorations. With the bus and train stations being centrally located, and with great connections to Inverness Airport, Glasgow and Edinburgh, it is an easy city to get to and well worth a visit. 


Best visitor attractions in Inverness 

Inverness has a wealth of attractions which are all great for filling up your adventure itinerary. From its historic castle to its impressive cathedral and stylish theatre, there is plenty here for you to explore. Here are some of the highlight attractions which, in our opinion, shouldn’t be missed.


Best for history | Fort George

Dolphins swim past Fort George | Fort George seen from the approach

 

Just east of Inverness lies the formidable and imposing military fortress, Fort George, the largest in northern Europe. Fort George was built for Bonnie Prince Charlie following the ferocious Battle of Culloden in 1746. Surrounded by over 1 mile of thick walls, it is still an awe-inspiring sight. The fortifications encompass battlements with cannons, barrack rooms, a regimental chapel and a collection of weapons. You can visit the Highlanders’ Museum which is situated at the fort, a perfect holiday distraction for historians and armed forces enthusiasts; the museum covers three floors of Fort George’s former Lieutenant Governor House. It is the largest regimental museum in Scotland, outside of Edinburgh. 

Also spend time getting to know other historical buildings like Inverness Cathedral and Inverness Castle, both close to the city centre.

Good to know

  • Address: Fort George, near Ardersier, Inverness, IV2 7TD 
  • Prices: Adults £10, Children £6. For more information visit the website.
  • Opening times: Daily 9.30am–5.30pm (29 March to 30 September) | 10am–4pm (1 October to 28 March)
  • Stay nearby: River Lodge | sleeps 14 + 1 dog

Best for wildlife | Spot dolphins on the Cromarty Firth

Painterly shot of old oil rigs on Cromarty Firth at dawn in winter | Dolphins at play in the firth

Not far from Inverness there is a wonderful spot for spotting Bottlenose Dolphins – Chanonry Point (21 miles). Whilst there are many spots along the Moray Firth Coast to see dolphins, it’s safe to say a visit here will promise a sighting of the playful sea creatures as it’s one of the best places for them to find food. 

The Moray Firth Coast is also famous for its harbour porpoises and whales, specifically the Minke Whale. You can drive here in 30 minutes or you can get the bus from the centre of Inverness to Chanonry Park.

Good to know

  • Address: Chanonry Park, Fortrose, IV10 8SD
  • Facilities: Parking. No WCs or cafes. Dogs allowed.
  • Stay nearby: The Clubhouse | sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Best for shopping | The Victorian Market

Inverness seen from above on a sunny day | The roof and flagpole of the Victorian Market in Inverness

The Victorian Market is housed in a shopping arcade that plays host to over 40 different types of independent shops and cafes. Head in for delicatessens, clothing, and local foods. Amazingly, the market clock hasn’t stopped ticking since 1890 – now that’s Victorian engineering for you! Hire out a kilt at the Highland House of Fraser. With the help of their friendly staff, they’ll have you blending in with the locals in no time.

Good to know

  • Address: Academy Street, Inverness, IV1 iNJ
  • Opening times: Daily from 8am–5.30pm
  • Stay nearby: Tangle Tower | sleeps 4

Best for evening entertainment | Eden Court

Small boy enjoys a show at Eden Court | Inverness as seen from the river in the early morning

If you enjoy world cinema and live performance, check out what’s on the programme at Eden Court. One of the Highland’s leading venues for the arts, it’s the place to catch some superb events that you may not expect to find this far north. Live events cover the whole entertainment spectrum from theatre, dance, music, and comedy. For big blockbusters and family films, head to the Vue cinema complex. A sure bet for entertainment if the weather closes in.

Good to know

  • Address: Bishop's Road, Inverness, IV3 5SA
  • Facilities: Theatre, cinema, cafe, WCs, parking
  • Stay nearby: Pebble Beach | sleeps 10 + 2 dogs

Best for enjoying Loch Ness | Jacobite Cruises

Rippling surface of Loch Ness against backdrop of forested Munros | Black and white boat on Loch Ness

You can’t come to Inverness and not hunt for Nessie. If you don’t know who Nessie is, she is the mythical monster who resides in the depths of Loch Ness. There have been over 300 reported sightings of the Loch Ness monster which would suggest she is not a myth, but we have to leave that down to you to decide. 

It is safe to say, we are believers! If you want to hunt for Nessie yourself, make sure you check out Jacobite Cruises which take you on an adventure down the length of the loch, with a stop at the end to explore Urquhart Castle, a 1300s castle which was once home to Robert the Bruce. Dogs are also welcome aboard the cruise boats, so bring your four-legged friends along.

Good to know

  • Address: Dochgarroch Cottages, Dochgarroch, Inverness IV3 8JG
  • Duration: 2 hours 
  • Prices: Ticket prices start at £31.50
  • Stay nearby: Nessie's Nest | sleeps 4 + 2 dogs

Best places to eat and drink in Inverness

One of the best things about being on holiday is the lack of cooking, and the joy of eating out. Inverness serves up a variety of pubs and restaurants which cover a wide range of tastes and preferences. Here are some places to keep in mind. 


Best restaurant for good value meals | The Black Isle Bar

Images of sausages and seafood over fire

This pub specialises in good old-fashioned Scottish food made from local ingredients. This is a great Highlands pub to enjoy a good value meal with everything from sausages and mash to sizzling stir-fries. The delicious wood-fired pizzas are made fresh to order. The Black Isle Bar is a side-business to the award-winning Black Isle Brewery, which opened in 2021 and offers a lovely environment to enjoy craft beers and good food. 

Good to know

  • Address: 68 Church Street, Inverness, IV1 1EN
  • Why not try: The venison salami wood-fired pizza
  • Stay nearby: The Ardross Residence | sleeps 4

Best family-friendly restaurant in Inverness | Coyote Burger

Huge close up of a hamburger with beef pattie and salad | Woman with a bowlcut, sunglasses and a hat having ketchup poured over her box of French fries

The trendy Coyote Burger offers up simple but delicious meals which will fill the gap. Covering both meat eaters and vegetarians there is something for everyone here. You can either book a table in the funky restaurant or take away and enjoy your food on the river bank.

Good to know

  • Address: 27 Bank Street, Inverness, IV1 1QU
  • Why not try: The Big Bite burger 
  • Stay nearby: The Coorie-In | sleeps 2 + 2 dogs 

Best restaurant for a romantic meal in Inverness | Fig and Thistle

Seafood pasta | Cauliflower surprise

Enjoy a relaxed meal at the Fig and Thistle, a smart, stylish bistro set in the heart of Inverness. Both family-friendly and perfect for romantic meals, this small but impressive establishment can cater for all. Enjoy a sophisticated menu of Scottish dishes created from fresh local produce. 

Good to know

  • Address: 6 Stephens Brae, Inverness, IV2 3JN
  • Why not try: The wild mushroom linguine with grilled chicken breast and pancetta
  • Stay nearby: Nessies Nest | sleeps 4+ 2 dogs 

Best walks in Inverness 

There are some lovely walks to take in and around Inverness offering a mixture of city-scape, fields and moorland, beaches and waterfalls. If you are keen walkers, exploring the outskirts of the city is probably the best option, but here are some to mull over and take note of.


Best walk for families | Ness Islands

The heart of Ness Islands | The white bridge over to Ness Islands

This is one of the prettiest walks in the city centre and can be started on either side of the river. It is not an overly long walk but is a lovely way to start the day, or get that afternoon fresh air which is often needed after a big meal. Ness Islands are two islands, connected by a footbridge on the River Ness. 

Walk along Bishops Road and Ness Walk where you will pass the cathedral and theatre, and continue onto Bught Road where you will pass the big park and eventually find the bridge onto the islands. You can either loop back on yourself, or exit the islands on the other side and return down the other bank of the river. This walk is ideal for those with young children, for elderly visitors, and owners of older dogs.

Good to know

  • Distance: 1.75 miles | Difficulty: Easy 
  • Nearest car park: Fisherman's Car Park, Bught Road, Inverness, IV3 5TH
  • Stay nearby: Balnain Farmhouse | sleeps 12 + 5 dogs 

Best for woodland walks | Plodda Falls in Glen Affric

Plodda Falls lookout | Bird's eye view of Plodda Falls

Starting in the small village of Tomich, the walk to Plodda Falls is an extremely pretty one. Glen Affric is home to one of the largest ancient pine woods in Scotland and is a beautiful place to take the walking boots out for a wander. Lochs, moorlands and nature await you here and the walk to Plodda Falls will put you through your paces. 

Over 40m high, this spectacular waterfall is one of the highest in the area, and you can admire it from a purpose-built wooden platform which you can walk to. Although an hour from Inverness, this makes for a lovely round trip and you can reward yourself with a tasty lunch in the Tomich Hotel. 

Good to know

  • Distance: 0.5 miles | Difficulty: Moderate
  • Nearest car park: Close to the Coach House Cafe, Tomich, IV4 7LY
  • Stay nearby: Lochan View | sleeps 2

Best for views and climbs | The Glen Strathfarrar Munros Circuit

A lake on the Glen Strathfarror Munros Circuit | Fawn in the Scottish wilds

If you are looking for something a little longer and a bit more challenging this walk might be just for you. Taking in four Munros this will be a full day excursion, probably a tiring one at that, but the incredible views will make it worth it. The drive to Glen Strathfarrar is very pretty but you will not be able to take your car up the glen as it is a private road which makes it feel even more wild and remote. Park here and off you go.

Good to know

  • Distance: 15.5 miles | Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Nearest car park: Parking (IV4 7JX) just off Glen Strathfarrar road between Deanie Power Station and Loch a'Mhuillidh where track heads north
  • Stay nearby: The Bunker | sleeps 2 

Map of our top places in Inverness 

Use our handy map to see each of the places in this guide to Inverness.

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Stay in a self-catering holiday cottage in Inverness

We hope you have enjoyed this guide to Inverness and you have found it helpful in your journey to planning your next break. It is safe to say there is plenty in and around the city to keep you busy. If you are looking for a place to stay, remember to check out our lovely range of Inverness and Highlands cottages which are just waiting to provide you with the perfect base for explorations. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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