Inverness – All You Need to Know
Are you coming to visit Inverness?
Here’s all you need to know to plan your visit, including how to get here, things to do and places to stay.
Why is Inverness Popular?
Inverness is popular as it acts as a gateway to the Scottish Highlands. On the doorstep is Loch Ness and Culloden Battlefield, alongwith distilleries and the gorgeous Cawdor Castle. It is also easy to reach the stunning West Coast, the Isle of Skye and it’s the starting point of the North Coast 500 driving route.
Introduction to Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Highlands of Scotland. It is quite a small city with a population of around 75,000 people.
Often referred to as the ‘gateway to the Highlands’ it is a great base to stay and explore, with plenty of things to do in every direction.
6 miles away is Loch Ness which attracts a huge number of visitors each year, all keen to see the elusive Nessie.
Inverness itself is a small city with a compact city centre that is easily explored on foot. The main shopping street is Inverness High Street.
There is an indoor shopping centre, the Eastgate Centre, and also an indoor shopping arcade, the Victorian Market.
There is also a small museum located close to the River Ness.
There are pleasant river walks and some nice places to eat in the city.
The weather is generally a little milder than in other parts of the Highlands.
Winters can be cold with temperatures dropping well below freezing. There can be snow but this is not as common as snow in other parts of the Highlands.
Spring comes a little later, as it does in the rest of the Highlands. Lambing season is a few weeks behind the South of England.
Summer temperatures are generally warm as opposed to hot. High temperatures will generally not go about 30 degrees, except on very rare occasions.
Nights are bright until much later during the summer months given how far North Inverness is. Make sure you have good curtains or blinds at your accommodation or bring a good sleep mask!
Autumn is a really fantastic time to visit the Highlands. The colours are amazing with heather on the hills in August too.
Temperatures are generally pleasant. There can be occasional cold snaps later in Autumn and lots of rain.
Here is the current and forecasted weather for Inverness;INVERNESS WEATHER
Getting to Inverness
Getting from Edinburgh to Inverness
There are several ways to get from Edinburgh.
Scotrail runs regular train services. Some services change trains at Perth and some are direct. The journey takes around 4 hours depending on whether there is a change or not.
There are buses from Edinburgh bus station. Some of these require a change of bus at Perth, some are direct. The journey is around 4 hours by bus.
You can also drive from Edinburgh in around 3 hours and 15 minutes. You need to cross the Queensferry crossing and head North to the A9. There are average-speed cameras from Perth all the way up to Inverness. This can mean the A9 can get quite congested with queues of traffic. The journey is 156 miles.
Getting from Fort William to Inverness
There is a regular bus service from Fort William to Inverness.
You can drive from Fort William in around 1.75 hours. The road isn’t brilliant so allow plenty of time. It can be a very busy route, with lots of tourists and timber lorries too. The journey is 70 miles.
Getting from Aberdeen to Inverness
There is a regular train service from Aberdeen. The journey takes around 3 hours.
There is a regular bus service from Aberdeen.
You can drive along the A96 and it takes around 2.5 hours. The road can get very busy as there are only small sections of dual carriageway. It can take a while to get through Elgin and Nairn at busy times, so allow plenty of time for your journey. The journey is 105 miles.
Flying to Inverness
The airport is located 9.5 miles East of Inverness.
There are direct flights from the following places in the UK;
- London Luton
- London Stansted
- London Gatwick
- London Heathrow
You can find all the airline details and price guides in my Flight to Inverness article
Inverness Airport Hotel Review – there is a great hotel right next to the airport building, ideal if you have an early departure
The City Centre
The city centre is pretty compact. You can easily explore the main shopping streets in half a day, with time to enjoy a good browse and a coffee too.
The Victorian Market is an indoor shopping arcade that has a food court inside it too. There are also pop-up food stalls offering different food and drink options as part of the Highland Food and Drink trail.
There are some pleasant walks by the river.
Hotels in Inverness
There are plenty of hotels to choose from. There is a 5-star hotel, Ness Bank, which is located beside the River Ness.
Staying right in the centre is best if you are arriving by public transport and want to explore on foot and public transport.
If you are bringing your own vehicle then hotels outside of the city centre have more parking available.
20 Hotels in Inverness – all reviewed with helpful information so you can find your perfect stay
Inverness Hotels with Pools – find your favourite easily with this guide to them all
Find Cheap Hotel Deals Across Inverness with a Quick Map search
Self-Catering Accommodation Inverness
There is a great selection of self-catering accommodation in Inverness.
Holiday Cottages Inverness – A great selection of 21 holiday cottages in and around Inverness (these cottages don’t accept dogs)
Lodges with Hot Tubs Inverness – fabulous stays in and around Inverness
Dog Friendly Cottages Inverness – great stays in and around Inverness that all welcome doggie family members too
Things to Do
Inverness is a great base for exploring the Highlands of Scotland, but it is worth taking a little bit of time to explore Inverness itself.
Inverness Museum – this small, free, museum is located just below the Castle near the river. It’s worth a browse if you want to find out more about the area.
Inverness Castle – there is a viewing tower that visitors can access. The rest of the castle is closed to visitors but is due to open in 2024. It is currently being reconfigured.
River Ness – there are some lovely walks you can do around the river, including some nice circular walks using the bridges. Check out Ness Islands which is one of the loveliest parts of the river. It’s very popular with locals and dog walkers alike.
Eden Court Theatre – if you fancy a trip to the theatre or the cinema then Eden Court is worth a visit. The cinema seats are the comfiest ever. There is a bar and restaurant if you want to have something to eat too. It’s a great spot and very popular with locals too.
Inverness Botanic Gardens – these gardens are tiny but lovely and well worth a visit, especially if the weather is a bit damp as it’s always nice and cosy inside. There is also a small cafe in the gardens too.
Whin Park – if you have children then Whin Park is a great place to visit. In the summer months there is a miniature railway. It’s a popular place for family picnics. Whin Park is located close to Ness Islands and the Botanic Gardens and leisure centre which has a large indoor pool with flumes. There is also an ice rink there as well.
Dolphin Spirit Boat Trips – Dolphin Spirit run trips out on the Moray Firth to see the resident Bottlenose dolphins. These boat trips are suitable for all ages and abilities and have a guide on board to help point out wildlife and tell you about the area.
Walking Tour of Inverness – If you fancy taking a walking tour in Inverness then I would recommend taking a tour with Cath. She is a great guide, with so much local knowledge. She has fabulous review scores too. Find out more and book tours online here.
Tours from Inverness – If you fancy exploring the Highlands but don’t want to drive, or want to learn everything from a local guide then check out Happy Tours. They are a great local company with fantastic review scores. I highly recommend Happy Tours. Find out more here.
Things to Do in Inverness – check out my favourite things to do in Inverness
Check out more Things to Do in Inverness on Tripadvisor
Visiting Loch Ness
Loch Ness is a very popular place to visit given how close it is.
It is very easy to drive the whole way around Loch Ness in a day, it’s a lovely trip if you are staying in Inverness. The Eastern side of Loch Ness is much less visited than the Western side and there are some great places to see there.
16 Loch Ness Things to Do – Makes a great day trip from Inverness
If you fancy taking a boat trip then check out my review of all the boat trips available on Loch Ness so you can find your favourite.
Loch Ness Boat Trips – Compare All the Options easily and find your favourite
Visiting the Scottish Highlands
I’ve got lots more information on my Scottish Highlands page including what to pack, how to get around, places to visit and more.
Scottish Highlands – Loads of information to help you have an even better visit
Author Bio – Melanie Newdick, Highlands of Scotland Expert
I’m a Highlands of Scotland Expert because;
- I’ve been taking coach holiday tours around the Highlands for over 20 years
- I’ve lived in the Highlands for over 20 years
- I’ve worked as a cruise ship tour guide in Invergordon taking day tours
- I’m a private guide in the Highlands of Scotland
- Check out my top money saving resources
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