Nestled on the shores of Loch Ness, Inverness is often seen as the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. It's the perfect starting point when driving the NC500, but there are also heaps of great things to do in Inverness at the start of your trip.

Over the years, we have explored Inverness many times; Staying in town to the nearby Cairngorms National Park and further north.

This whole area of ​​Scotland is so beautiful and unspoiled; And while you can't make the trip to the Scottish Highlands just for Inverness, it's worth staying a day to explore this small Scottish town.

So, to help you make the most of your time, I'm presenting some of the top things to do in Inverness or from the city itself. Have the best time visiting Scotland.

1.) Inverness Cathedral

When exploring Inverness, make sure to visit the city's cathedral on the banks of the River Ness. Now, it's free to enter, but you can choose to make a small donation (around £2) that helps maintain the cathedral.

A visit to Inverness Cathedral It won't take more than 20 minutes, but it's worth some attention if you're interested in some of the city's iconic buildings. If you feel uncomfortable, pop into the discomfort Cafe Ness by the cathedral. Their lemon drizzle cake is so good.

Not only this, you can easily visit the 'Ness Walk' along the banks of the river Ness and Bishops Road.

Read more: Best places to visit in Scotland on NC50o

2.) Inverness Castle

interview Inverness Castle Easily one of the best things to do in Inverness when you visit. That said, it won't reopen until 2025 for essential functions. Fear not though, you can still get some fantastic views of Inverness from the River Ness area below.

For the best views, head to the corner of Bishops Road and Ardros Street (outside the cathedral). Inverness Castle is on the other side of the River Ness and looks very beautiful.

If you prefer to explore beyond Inverness, Book this Isle of Skye tour It is a day trip from Inverness. It's an early start, but they organize all transport to and from the Isle of Skye before returning you to Inverness. It's all very simple.

Just make sure Book this Isle of Skye tour from before. Tickets for this are selling fast.

Read more: Best things to do on the Isle of Skye

3.) Urquhart Castle

Perched on the shores of Loch Ness, a visit to Urquhart Castle is one of the best things to do on a short day trip to Inverness.

About a 30-minute drive from the center of Inverness, the ruins of Urquhart Castle date back to the early Middle Ages. Nowadays, you can visit Urquhart Castle and explore the grounds and shores of Loch Ness while you're here.

To simplify things, Book the Urquhart Castle tour From Inverness which you will find within the castle grounds. Not only is the castle great to visit, but you'll also run a large section along the banks of Loch Ness. Well worth it for an afternoon tour.

4.) Falcon Square

Now, you don't make a dedicated trip to Falcon Square when visiting Inverness. You see, Falcon Square is right outside Inverness train station and will probably be the first port-of-call you see after getting off the train.

Now, Falcon Square is relatively new (about 20 years old) but you will see one of the city's unicorns standing on top of the plinth. It is just small but beautiful to look at.

If you're looking for high street stores, head to Eastgate Shopping Center near Falcon Square. You will see regular names that are on high streets across the UK.

Looking for more local stores and cafes? Then head to the Victorian Market. Inside, it is home to a collection of local craft shops, cafes, restaurants and boutiques. It's only small, but you'll notice it's more 'local' than Eastgate Shopping Centre.

5.) Loch Ness

I mean, you can't visit Loch Ness when you're in Inverness. It is very easy to see and probably the most famous loch in the whole world!

Now, you can easily drive around Loch Ness (if you're renting a car) but you can also Book this Loch Ness tour Which will take you to some of the main places to visit. Alternatively, Book this tour from Inverness It also includes a visit to Urquhart Castle and a cruise on Loch Ness itself.

If you're driving, pop into the Glenmoriston Arms for their delicious fish and chips. Alternatively, if you're driving the entire length of Loch Ness, stop by Fort Augustus. It is a small canal area that is worth a stroll. We loved Loch Inn For her homemade pies.

Read more: Best things to do in the Scottish Highlands

6.) Inverness Dolphin Tour

One of the benefits of a day stay in Inverness is that you can join a dolphin tour to see bottlenose dolphins. Went on tour together Dolphin Spirit Inverness which will take you up the Firth of Moray.

Now, you're not always guaranteed to see dolphins; But they love to play in the water here. Be sure to choose a calm day, with good weather. I think it's easier to find them with smaller waves.

Read more: Best places to visit in Scotland on NC50o

7.) Eden Court Highlands

Visiting Eden Court Easily one of the best things to do in Inverness is if you want to book a local performance. You see, not only is Eden Court a major art venue in the city, but it also has performing spaces that you can book tickets for.

The entire complex may seem small but it still houses two theaters and various workshop spaces.

Read more: Best things to do in the Scottish Highlands

8.) Cairngorms National Park

In many ways, as I mentioned earlier, Inverness acts as a gateway city to the great outdoors in the Scottish Highlands. If you're heading east, make sure to drive up to the Caringorms National Park and explore.

Once here, make sure to visit Rothiemarchus and either rent some bikes (like we did) or go quad biking. We did both of these and had the most incredible time. It's the perfect activity if you're just visiting for a day or overnight.

Oh, and if you're staying longer, take a hike in the great outdoors. The area around Ben McDui Mountain is beautiful.

That being said, you need to be an experienced hiker as some of these trails can be difficult. If you are unsure of your abilities, don't go. After all, no one likes a reckless hiker.

Read more: Best things to do in the Scottish Highlands

9.) Glenmorangie Distillery

There are many distilleries to visit in the Scottish Highlands, but the most famous (and close to Inverness) is the Glenmorangie Distillery.

Glenmorangie Whiskey has been distilled ever since. 1800 on this site and it is well worth a visit. Just be sure to book your ticket before arriving; Tickets are not readily available if you stop by now.

Once here, you will be able to learn more about the distillation process, which is what makes Glenmorangie unique and what it is. It's worth a trip; Even if you don't drink whiskey.

10.) Cawdor Castle

About a 20-minute drive from Inverness, a visit to Cawder Castle is one of the best things to do in Inverness while heading east. Also, if you are arriving or departing from Inverness by flight, the airport is only 12 minutes from Cawdor Castle.

Dating back to the 1400s, Cawder Castle's history spans centuries. The entire fort buildings are very beautiful to see and you can also learn about how the fort was built.

You see, the buildings were built around a small holly tree. At the same place a donkey was resting under a tree. It contained heaps of gold and is said to have selected the site for the construction of the fort. However, to this day, you can still see the remnants of Holly in the lower reaches of Cawder.

Afterwards, be sure to explore the Walled Gardens and see the beautiful grounds.

The visit will take around 2 hours and is well worth exploring while visiting the wider Inverness area.

11.) Nairn

If you're following the A96 road eastwards, you'll come across the small highland village of Nairn. The city, overlooking the North Sea, is well worth a visit for a few hours' drive; Especially for Nairn Beach.

Now, the water in Nairn is cold. That being said, the beach is gorgeous and the town is lovely to walk around. Just be sure to stop by for the sunset and book a table Sundancer for dinner. Their king scallops are very tasty.

Read more: Best places to visit in Scotland on NC50o

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