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15 Fun and Interesting Things to Do in Inverness 😄

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Are you looking for ideas for things to do in Inverness?

Well, I’ve got 15 of my favourite activities and places to visit right here to help you.

Let’s get started!

PS – This list of things to do in Inverness includes some places to eat as well, because in my family we consider eating an activity 🙂

river ness inverness things to do

1. Things to Do in Inverness – River Ness Circular River Walk

Bonny bridges and an easy route.

The lovely River Ness has two footbridges that cross it. They are quite historic being built in 1880 and 1881 and offer a great view of the river, which depending on the time of year can be fast or like a torrent.

One bridge connects Bank Street with Huntly Street. Bank Street is the side of the river nearest the castle.

The other bridge connects Ness Walk (castle side) with Ness Bank.

This makes for a pleasant walk around the river and depending on your walking speed and the amount of photos you take would be around 30-45 minutes to do.

Whichever side of the River Ness you are walking you will have to navigate across a junction with the main road which crosses Ness Bridge (the main road bridge across the River Ness in the city centre, located close to the castle).

Take care when going from Huntly Street to Ness Walk as this is a bit trickier and there is not an island in the middle of the road for pedestrians.

Find out more about the River Ness on Tripadvisor

Things to Do in Inverness

2. Explore Ness Islands

Islands in the stream, that is what these are (well in the river actually)

The River Ness not only has a monster (oh please!) – it actually has a series of lovely islands in the wider section of the river.

This is one of my favourite parts of Inverness because it is just a few minutes from the centre of the city but it is lovely and green, and there is a river rushing by too.

These islands are connected to either side of the river by footbridges so if you want to extend the circular walk above to a longer walk, but still easy to do, you can extend it by including crossing at Ness Islands.

From the Cathedral side of the river, you continue walking alongside the river, with the river on your left. You will go past a series of buildings including a community hospital, the RNI. The area opens out into a series of sports fields on your right. Keep going and you will come to a footbridge that takes you over onto Ness Islands.

This is a popular locals spot and also very popular with local dog walkers. It’s a nice spot for a picnic too.

There is another footbridge of one of the islands that connect back to the riverside, Island Bank Road. Following this with the river on your left will bring you back to the city centre and the castle area.

This is one of the Inverness activities where you get to meet lots of local doggies too!

Read more about Ness Islands on Tripadvisor

Recommended Walking Tour of Inverness

Why not get to know more about Inverness from a Scottish Tour Guide Association guide and local Cath?

Cath has got fantastic reviews on Tripadvisor, and rightly so. She is a great guide, with wonderful knowledge about Inverness.

walking tour inverness activities the professional traveller

Things to Do in Inverness

3. Have Fun At Bught Park

Fun for big and little kids, plus grown-up ones too.

Bught Park is a large park with a good selection of play equipment in it for all ages. There are some great slides built into a hill too. It is a very popular local family spot.

However, this park has more attractions. One of them is a boating lake where you can hire a rowing boat or pedalo and go around in circles.

The other attraction is the miniature train. This is now run by volunteers to raise money for the local hospice which makes it even better. The track winds through the woods and there are various things to spot in the woods along the way.

There is a small car park at the entrance and a little kiosk selling refreshments making this the all round perfect place to chill out with a picnic on a nice day so everyone can let off some steam.

You can take dogs into the park as long as you keep them under control and clean up after them of course.

Cycle Tour of Inverness?

Want to explore Inverness with a local guide and see much more than you can cover on foot? Why not try a 2 hour cycle tour? Max 10 people per group and easy rider bike so suitable for all abilities.

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leakeys bookshop things to do in inverness
A beautiful bookshop in an old church

Things to Do in Inverness

4. Browse Used Books at Leakeys

Floor to ceiling books to browse!

Leakeys is the largest secondhand bookshop in Scotland and it’s actually bigger than it used to be. It’s housed in an old church which gives it a really nice feel. Books are organised into categories and spread across the ground floor and the mezzanine.

There are books on all sorts of topics – it is easy to spend a very long time browsing and buying!

If I want to find a secondhand book on a specific place or topic this is the place I will head for.

It’s well worth the wander down to the bottom of Church Street to find this great bookshop.

mieles gelato  things to do inverness the professional traveller
Ever changing flavours with freshly made gelato from a family business

Things to Do in Inverness

5. Enjoy Some Homemade Gelato

A real taste of Italy in Inversneckie

Miele’s is a family-run business, that has really lovely gelato. If you are wondering what the difference is between ice cream and gelato – they have a different textures, with gelato being softer. Gelato also has much less fat than ice cream (which I’m sure makes it healthier, let’s just not mention the sugar).

Miele’s has an ever-changing range of 24 different flavours. They also do hot waffles and other treats and they are open until about 9 pm.

If you are staying in Inverness why not wander down to Miele’s for ice cream instead of a pudding at your restaurant? It’s a lovely treat to enjoy.

(In my family eating gelato is one of our favourite Inverness activities!)

Things to Do In Inverness

6. Take A Walking Tour of Inverness

Get some local knowledge from a local expert

If you want to learn a bit more about Inverness, with a wonderful local guide then you need to take a walking tour of Inverness.

Cath is a great guide, famous for wearing her red tartan hat.

Cath has got fantastic reviews on Tripadvisor, and rightly so. She is a great guide, with wonderful knowledge about Inverness.

walking tour inverness activities the professional traveller
black isle brewery things to do in inverness
Dog friendly, people friendly, wood fired pizza and local beer!

Things to do In Inverness

7. Enjoy Local Beer & Pizza at the Black Isle Bar

Dog friendly delights (with children allowed too!)

If you do like beer then this would be a great spot in Church Street. The beer is made locally on the Black Isle, hence the name. There are various organic beers available such as Red Kite. I have been told that they are nice beers by guests (I’ve never tried beer so I have no idea myself!).

There is a pizza oven at the bar and there is a range of pizzas including a vegan option. None of that doughy rubbish you get at some famous pizza chains, proper pizza and yummy too.

This bar is also dog friendly, plus they also let children in as well. As such you can hang out with the kids and dogs while feasting on pizza and beer – that’s got to be good!

christy asking about pizza the professional traveller inverness activities

Note from Christy:

What Mum? There is a bar in Inverness where we can go and get pizza. When are we going?

Things to Do In Inverness

8. Visit Inverness Museum

Interesting exhibits to while away an hour or so

Inverness Museum is small but it has regularly changing exhibits to help keep things interesting.

It’s located just below Inverness Castle beside the Tourist Information Centre which is at the lower end of the High Street (closer to the River Ness).

The entrance to the Museum is tucked round between the Tourist Information Centre and the castle.

It has art and craft exhibitions as well as changing exhibits.

It is free to enter with current opening times as follows;

Till 31 October 2020
Tuesday – Saturday: 10.30-13.00 and 13.45-16.00  (last booking at 15.00)
Sunday & Monday: CLOSED

(This is also one of those Inverness activities that is good if the weather isn’t.)

Find out more about the Museum and Art Gallery on Tripadvisor

inverness castle things to do in inverness

Things to Do in Inverness

9. See the View From Inverness Castle

The new castle, that replaced the one the Jacobites blew up

Inverness Castle certainly occupies a lovely position, looking down across the River Ness. However, the main part of the castle is not open to the public.

It was, for many years, the court. It is now being reconfigured and will open to visitors in 2024.

In the meantime, you can visit a little part of the castle and that’s a new addition. It’s a glass viewing tower that was built to give visitors a good view of Inverness.

Visiting requires online booking and it is £6 per adult, £4 per child.

It may be worth checking the view from the castle terrace first, to see if you want to commit to visiting the viewing tower itself?

Things to do In Inverness

10. Research Your Family History

Find your family for free

Set down beside the River Ness, not far from Ness Islands, is the lovely new Archive centre. This is where you can do some research into any family connections you have to the area.

There are people there to help you with your research. There is plenty of free parking if you need it, although the centre is around a 10-15 minute walk from the centre of Inverness.

Read more about the Archive Centre on Tripadvisor

botanical gardens things to do in inverness

Things to do In Inverness

11. Visit the Floral Hall (Now Called the Botanical Gardens)

Floral delights with tempting bites

Inverness Botanic Gardens are small but cute and a great place to visit on a cold day, a wet day or any other day in fact.

There is a main hall with a lovely water feature and a pond which is lovely for all ages. It’s a great spot just to sit and enjoy the sound of water for a little while.

The cactus house is really interesting too – who knew there were some many varieties!

It’s also a great place for photographers too!

The gardens are open 7 days a week 10 am-4 pm.

Entry to the gardens is free, although donations are much appreciated. There is also a cafe on site should you fancy a quick bite while you are there too.

(This is one of those Inverness activities that is great in cold or really bad weather as it’s always toasty inside the floral hall.)

Things to do In Inverness

12. Be Entertained at Eden Court Theatre

The comfiest cinema seats and puntastic Panto

If you want to enjoy a coffee and perhaps catch up on some work the free WIFI and booth seating areas make the bar area a good spot to head for. You can also enjoy some good bar snacks including lovely chips with mayo and a nice vegan option or two.

If there is a film you fancy seeing then you should definitely go along. It has the comfiest seats of pretty much any cinema I have been in. The friends of the theatre got to test out several seat designs and my goodness they booked some great seats.

The cinemas are a little smaller and I like that. They also tend to show a different mix of films than the Vue multiplex which is out of town.

There is paid parking around Eden Court with paid parking at the Cathedral car park next door, and at the Highland Council car park behind the theatre.

(This is one of my personal favourite Inverness activities – Eden Court is great and I particularly love the cinema here.)

dolphin spotting things to do in inverness
Bottlenose Dolphins in Scotland are some of the largest in the world

Things to Do in Inverness

13. Go Dolphin Spotting

Watch wildlife from the waves

Living not too far away from Inverness are dolphins – bottlenose dolphins to be precise, and actually some of the largest bottlenose dolphins in the world. (They are bigger because they have more fat due to the colder waters.)

If you want to see if you can spot some dolphins then you can easily take a trip out with the local company Dolphin Spirit.

They run shorter trips on their bigger boat and longer trips on their fast inflatable boat.

This is a good opportunity to spend time with some local wildlife watchers. Depending on the season you may see an Osprey too and of course, there is lots of information about the local surroundings.

The people at Dolphin Spirit are lovely and this is something I’ve enjoyed doing too – plus I learned lots that I didn’t know about this stretch of water.

nessie spotting things to do in inverness
Not the Real Nessie Shown 🙂

Things to do in Inverness

14. Try Some Nessie Spotting

Monster spotting underwater without getting wet

If you are looking to spot something a little bigger than a dolphin then why not take a trip to Loch Ness?

There is a pickup point in Inverness centre which will take you to the boat. There are a variety of options with longer trips going through the canal and then onto Loch Ness, as well as combination trips that include a visit to Urquhart Castle perched on the side of Loch Ness.

The boat trips include a commentary, plus they all have sonar on them so you can see what is beneath the water as you glide across the top.

There is also a small bar service on the boats where you can enjoy a snack or a drink. There is outside and inside seating depending on how brave you feel and what the weather is doing.

The views are lovely from the loch and it’s a great place to get some lovely photos too.

loch ness boat trips featured

Check out all the Loch Ness Boat Trips available and find the perfect one for you

Things to do in Inverness

15. Take A Day Tour From Inverness

Sit back and enjoy a happy tour!

If you are looking for someone to take the wheel and show you the local sights then I would highly recommend Happy Tours. Run by Cameron, famous for wearing a kilt no matter the weather and how white his legs, Happy Tours is a local company with local guides.

They have a variety of tours and at the time of writing are booking private tours only for up to 6 people. Their tour options include the Isle of Skye, Glencoe, Cairngorms & Whisky, Outlander and Loch Ness with Culloden battlefield.

Whenever I have sent guests on these tours they have been very happy with their experience and their guide, telling me they have had fun and learned a lot, a very happy tour experience infact!

happy tours reviews inverness activities the professional traveller

Looking for Inverness Accommodation?

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Further Reading

If you have found this post about Inverness Activities useful then you might also like;

Loch Ness Tour – a guide to a lovely circular tour of Loch Ness

10 Things to Know Before Visiting the Highlands – for an even better trip

You can find more information on my Inverness page

Other Articles

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inverness history inverness activities the professional traveller

Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is now Scotland’s youngest city, a vibrantly growing community and the main destination for all tourists who seek their Highland roots or that more elusive creature – Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster. Inverness’s history, however, belies its peaceful present. Founded by Scotland’s monarchs as a strategic outpost on a wild frontier, the royal burgh on the Ness has been caught up time and again in the struggles that mark Highland and British history. Over the centuries, rebels against Lowland rule, the forces of Robert Bruce, followers of the Lord of the Isles, the English soldiers of Cromwell’s army, and Jacobites have swaggered through its streets. Here, too, have come some of the great figures in Scotland’s story – from St Columba, Mary, Queen of Scots and the Marquis of Montrose to Prince Charles Edward Stuart and Johnson and Boswell.

secret inverness inverness activities the professional traveller

The city of Inverness sits at the northerly end of the Great Glen, a fault line in the earth’s crust that runs from one side of Scotland to the other. The current city’s origins date back to Pictish times; however there is evidence of the area being habited long before then, with the Clava Cairns, which sit just a short distance from the city, dating back to between 1500 and 200 BC, giving it a long and often forgotten history. Inverness has connections with several major figures in early Scottish history including St Columba, who ‘tamed’ the fabled Loch Ness Monster; MacBeth, who lived in a castle in the city; and David I, who built the first stone castle on the site of the earlier timber stronghold. The city grew to become an important trading port, which in turn brought conflict with others including the Vikings and Clan MacDonald, the Earls of the Isles. Despite this the city continued to grow, yet due to its remoteness from Edinburgh it was notable for not bowing to the political powers of the country. This was perhaps best demonstrated when Mary, Queen of Scots visited and was forced to stay in a small house after having been refused entry to the castle. The ‘Capital of the Highlands’ has many secrets just waiting to be discovered. In Secret Inverness, author Gregor Stewart pulls back the curtains of history to peer into the distant and not-so-distant past to reveal the forgotten, the strange and the unlikely.

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