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What to See and Do in Inverness - Ways to Enjoy the City and Surrounding Scottish Highlands

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The compact historic center of Inverness is encircled by dramatic Highland scenery. From the snowy peaks of the Cairngorm mountains to the pine forests of Glen Affric and the misty shores of Loch Ness, you can pick a landscape to suit your mood and head out for the day. Inverness itself can be explored on foot, by bike, and even by boat, with plenty to occupy indoor types too.

Ancient, medieval, and Victorian Inverness


A short stroll around the center of Inverness will take you through more than a millennium of local history. Castle Wynd orbits the core of the original 6th century settlement, while Church Street is lined with the city's oldest surviving buildings - including Abertaff House, erected in 1593, and Inverness Steeple, an 18th-century tollgate. To hear the colorful stories attached to the Gothic architecture you can book a guided walk with Happy Tours. They also run a Crime and Punishment tour that visits some of the city's darker Victorian corners to tell you grim tales of murders and executions.


  • Happy Tours, Tours begin outside Inverness Information Centre, Castle Wynd, Inverness, IV2 3BJ,; Tel: +44 7828 154683; Website: Happy Tours

Hill-walking and Munro-bagging


The hills and mountains of the Scottish Highlands are tantalizingly close to Inverness, practically calling out to be explored and conquered. You need not be much of a hiker to reach the summit of nearby Ben Wyvis. It’s among the shortest of the Munros - Scottish peaks over 915 meters, named after Sir Hugh Munro, the first man to climb, or “bag”, all 248 of them. You can bag your own Munros a little further out in the Cairngorms and Wester Ross, or take it easy on gentler slopes at lower altitudes.


Catching salmon, watching dolphins


With the River Ness running right through the city, both experienced and first-time anglers can buy a day permit through the Inverness Angling Club to have a go at catching fresh Atlantic salmon without even leaving town. Local marine life is so rich that large pods of dolphins are regularly seen in the Moray Firth and around the mouth of the River Spey. The Scottish Dolphin Centre puts you close to where they swim and play, while providing expert information on their habits and movements. You might also spot seals in the water and ospreys soaring overhead.


  • Inverness Angling Club, Permits and information from Graham's Tackle Shop, 37/39 Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU ; Tel: +44 1463 233178; Website: Inverness Angling Club

  • WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre, Spey Bay, Fochabers, Moray IV32 7PJ; Tel: +44 1343 820 339; Website: WDC Scottish Dolphin Centre


Navigating the Caledonian Canal


Running almost 100 km straight across Scotland from Inverness to Fort William, the Caledonian Canal is a renowned feat of 19th-century engineering. More importantly for many visitors, it also makes a shimmering waterway for transport and sightseeing purposes. You can rent some wheels from Inverness Bike Hire to enjoy a scenic cycle down the towpaths alongside the canal. Or take to the water in a rented boat from Caley Cruisers and make your leisurely way to Loch Ness through an easy-to-operate system of canal locks and gates.


  • Inverness Bike Hire, Caledonian Gifts, 12 Church Street, Inverness IV1 1EA; Tel: +44 1463 710664; Website: Inverness Bike Hire

  • Caley Cruisers Ltd, Canal Road, Inverness IV3 8NF; Tel: +44 1463 236328; Website: Caley Cruisers Ltd


Distillery and brewery visits


Inverness is the capital of whisky country, with world-famous distilleries benefitting from the local abundance of pure, soft water and rich, peaty soil. In recent years the area has also become known for producing high-quality craft beers. You can sample these delicacies just a few miles from Inverness on the Black Isle, a windswept peninsula with spectacular views across the waters of the Moray, Cromarty, and Beauly firths. There you'll find the long-standing Glen Ord whisky distillery, and the all-organic, farm-based Black Isle Brewing Co. Both sites offer tours and tastings of their very fine products.


  • Glen Ord Distillery, Glen Ord, Muir Of Ord, Ross-shire IV6 7UJ; Tel: +44 1463 872004; Website: Glen Ord Distillery

  • Black Isle Brewing Co., Black Isle, Scotland IV8 8NZ; Tel: +44 1463 811 871; Website: Black Isle Brewing Co.