Inverness Things to Do Tips by JessH Top 5 Page for this destination
Inverness Things to Do: 122 reviews and 290 photos
Sign board for paths around Inverness (March 2009)
Every time we're in Inverness we do a lot of walking and on your initial visit to the city there's no better way to take-in the general layout of Inverness and some of its sights than by walking the Ness Islands and the Caledonian Canal. Every time we've walked along this path we've discovered new little sights: wooden sculptures, play areas and even a very old pet cemetery (this is a favourite area for dog walkers as well).
I will try to explain the route as best as I can here, starting from a very easy-to-find landmark: Inverness Castle. The short walk takes you around 1 hour... to include the Caledonian Canal and up towards the Moray Firth will take around 4 hours of walking. (I've included a link to a map of this walk at the end of this tip.)
From Inverness Castle, walk down along the river bank (with the water on your right) on Castle Road and follow the same street (name changes to Ness Bank after a while) and you'll find the Ness Islands, a welcome little tranquil forest and natural park with plenty of local wildlife. This area is great for walks, picnics and just for catching your breath and escaping the busy streets of the city in scenic and peaceful surroundings.
You can cross the river on various little pedestrian bridges, turn left once you reach the other side of the river and the path passes Whin Island (large playground for children, rowing boats and a miniature train) and Bught Park (venue for the Highland Games, football pitches and crazy golf course) and the Floral Hall; a sub-tropical horticultural hall that is open all year round. Not far from here is also the ice rink and the Inverness Leisure centre (swimming pool, gym, climbing wall, etc.)
--> (NOTE: for the shorter walk (approx. 1 hour), you now turn RIGHT once you've crossed the Ness Islands' bridges and head up along the Ness Walk with the river on your right. This will bring you past the Eden Court Theatre and eventually also the Highland House of Fraser and The Kitchen restaurant.)
Now, where was I? Oh yes: Turn left along the river bank (following signs for the Great Glen Way). At the Floral Hall turn right and walk up Bught Road. Then cross the main road via the small bridge over the Caledonian Canal (to your left). Continue along the tarmac tow-path beside the canal when the Great Glen Way heads off to the left.
Eventually you'll reach a small marina; the path has to leave the side of the canal here and run on the road through the yard (sign for Muirtown lochs); pick up the tow path once more on the far side. This path will bring you past the beach and eventually you can turn right and walk back down (south) along Kessock Road, with the River Ness on your left.
Kessock Road branches-off but you can stay on Anderson Street right by the water's edge - eventually this way will bring you back to the city centre...
Put on a good pair of walking shoes and enjoy!
Address: Inverness, Scotland - UK
Directions: MAP of this walk: http://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/maps/map2_2ln.shtml
Me, on the EcoVentures boat, Cromarty, 2011
You just gotta love dolphins, right? There are numerous companies offering tours of the Moray Firth and its dolphins, but we decided to go with the highly recommended EcoVentures on the Black Isle (not far from Inverness). Located at the heart of the Moray Firth Special Area of Conservation, EcoVentures offers a truly exhilarating and memorable boat trip experience & wildlife encounter.
First, you are given a short introduction to the route of the trip, safety instructions and a Q&A session. You are then given rather "sexy" (NOT!) full-body blue suits to wear over your clothes. Climb into the boat, straddle your seat, hang on and off we go!
--> This is a high speed, offshore RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with saddle-like seats: the tour may not be suitable for frail, elderly passengers, highly pregnant women or children younger than 5 yrs.
Our tour was conducted by the company's owner/skipper Sarah, who clearly loves her job and gives great information and insight into the Moray Firth's abundant wild inhabitants.
EcoVentures is an accredited operator both with the WiSe Scheme and the Dolphin Space Programme - a local, voluntary code of conduct designed to safeguard the welfare and future of the cetaceans in the Moray Firth. This was really important to me as I wanted to go on a tour that keeps the stress to the animals at a minimum, and doesn't give chase or "hunts" the dolphins down just so the tourists can get a good photo.
The Moray Firth is home to the most northerly colony of Bottlenose Dolphins in the world, one of only two resident populations in the UK. We found it quite cute that due to these cold waters, these dolphins are all a bit "chubbier" than other dolphins :-) The dolphins here in the Moray Firth are also the largest in the world growing up to 4m in length and sometimes living for over 40 years. There are currently believed to be approx. 130 individuals within the colony, some of which are seen as far a field as St Andrews and Aberdeen.
Other animals you may spot are:
> Harbour Porpoise.
> Common and Grey Seals.
> Minke Whales.
We got some great video footage of the dolphins playfully jumping and spinning out of the water, and a mother and her calf swam right up next to our boat and looked at us curiously... what an amazing experience!
If you're an animal & nature lover and care for environmentally responsible tours, then I highly recommend EcoVentures... we've done the tour twice and really love it!
PRICES 2011: Adult £24, Children (5-12 years) £18.
Address: Victoria Place, IV11 8YE Cromarty, Scotland
Directions: From Inverness, take the A9 North across the Kessock Bridge. Approx. 6 miles north of the bridge at the Tore Roundabout, take the A832 east to the Black Isle and Cromarty. Their Harbour Workshop is located exactly next to the Sutor Creek cafe.
Visitor's Centre, Culloden, Scotland
Culloden is an evocative place for many people... and I was unprepared for the emotions it evoked in me. As I sit here writing this tip, we approach the 266th anniversary of this great battle and the subsequent awful defeat. Not only is it the site of the last hand-to-hand combat to take place on British soil and the last stand of an ancient Gaelic royal dynasty, but it is also the place where the Highland clan culture of Scotland cried out one last time in utter defiance... the battle of Culloden on April 16th 1746 meant - quite simply - the end of an era for Scotland.
Much has been done over the past years to restore the battlefield (Drumossie Moor, to the north east of Inverness) to its original state and to preserve the mass graves which lay dotted throughout the land, and the new and very informative visitors centre was opened in the year 2007.
When we first arrived John and I took a walk around the field outside. Without having seen the exhibits and really been immersed in the horror of this battle yet, the field seemed gloomy and melancholic enough. But nothing could have prepared me for the feelings and the tears that welled-up when we walked through the field again after having toured the inside of the centre.
The exhibits include an amazing battle immersion film, where you stand in a room with 4 projector screens an all sides, so you feel like you are right in the centre of the fight. There is also a large animated battle table and a rooftop viewing area. Visitors can also walk the battlefield itself with portable GPS-enabled audio guides.
> The Battle of Culloden was the last of the great Jacobite risings – attempting to reinstate a Stuart monarch on the throne of Britain - and was led by Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) against the Duke of Cumberland and his "Hanoverian" government army: made mostly of English, along with a significant number of Scottish Lowlanders and Highlanders, men from Ireland and a small number of Hessians from Germany and Austrians.
> From the beginning, Stuart's plan was doomed: he was inexperienced, and most of the Jacobites fighting for him were already on the brink of exhaustion and starvation when they arrived in Inverness. Also, the ground at Culloden was a "moor": marshy swamp land making every step arduous and grueling, and effective battle almost impossible.
Highlanders were renown for their full-on charge of the enemy, but on this soft ground the Duke's heavy artillery and cavalry were of great advantage. The artillery decimated the clans as they awaited the command to charge. Many fell simply because the command to charge came too late from the inexperienced Charles, whereas the government troops just kept firing and decimated the Jacobite army. It was - quite frankly - a slaughter.
> On this day, heavily outnumbered (approx. 9000 to 6000) and despite only a grim and narrow chance of success, brave men fought for their beliefs and their land... and they shall never be forgotten.
Even though I am merely an "adopted Scot" (i.e. I've married a Scotsman) I see Scotland as my second home and my love for this country and its people runs deep. I left Culloden with both a heavy heart, but also with a sense of pride and joy in the knowledge that even after this heartbreaking defeat and centuries of oppression, the defiant nature of the Scottish people was never quite extinguished, and that they remain patriotic and insubordinate to this day.
If you are Scottish, have Scottish ancestry or are merely interested in the history of this great country, you cannot miss a visit to Culloden. The battlefield is open all year, every day, but the opening timings for the visitor's centre are:
24 January - 31 March: 10am-4pm.
1 April - 30 September: 9am-6pm.
1 October - 31 October: 9am-5pm.
1 November - 23 December: 10am-4pm.
Closed: 24 December - 23 January.
Entrance is free if you are a member of the National Trust for Scotland.
Hire of a battlefield tour PDA is included in the price of admission.
Address: Just off the A96, near Inverness, Scotland UK
Inverness Castle, Scotland (July 2009)
Inverness Castle cannot be missed: it sits atop Castle Hill right in the heart of the city, and its red stone gives a gorgeous contrast to the (often) blue sky above.
Unfortunately the building is not open to the public, but the grounds around the castle provide a great viewpoint over the city (and let's not forget the nearby Castle Tavern where you can visit and rest for a while ;-)
Various castles have stood here since the year 1057, most likely constructed of timber and rocks. Like most castles and fortresses in the UK, Inverness Castle saw many battles and was repeatedly destroyed and re-built. Eventually, it was blown-up after the battle of Culloden in 1746.
The neo-Norman castle we see today was built in 1836 and houses the Sheriff Courthouse and County Hall. All that remains of the medieval castle are a deep resorted well and part of the bastion wall.
Some Interesting Facts:
> The castle was featured on the reverse side of £50 notes issued by the Royal Bank of Scotland, which were introduced in 2005.
> Shakespeare's tragedy "Macbeth" was supposedly based in the earlier 11th century Inverness Castle, the location of Duncan's murder.
> In front of the castle, you will find the statue of Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald and her dog, which was erected in 1899.
> If you stand below the hill on which the castle stands, you can watch dozens of wild rabbits playing in the grass... bunnies! In the middle of a city! I just love it :-)
Address: 41 Castle Street, Inverness IV2 3DU, Scotland
Eden Court Theatre, Inverness (March 2009)
This building is the Scottish Highland's main entertainment venue (well, let's also not forget the Inverness Caledonian Thistle football stadium, of course!) and it's a theatre and a cinema rolled into one.
Located by the bank of the River Ness, near the (St Andrew's) Cathedral and Northern Meeting Park, Eden Court was opened in April 1976.
The theatre is sited in the grounds of what was once the official residence of the Bishops of Moray. Built in the 19th century for Bishop Robert Eden, the house was incorporated into the new arts centre providing dressing rooms and offices and later on, a small cinema. It gave up its name to the arts complex and was renamed the Bishop's Palace.
Intriguingly, the theatre is said to be haunted: the most commonly seen ghost is the Green Lady. It is thought that she was the wife of one of the bishops who hung herself…
Apart from screening movies, musicals and comedy shows, the theatre also provides a vital space for many classes and activities for the community (such as dancing or art classes for children, etc.).
Upon entering the theatre there is a large cafeteria/restaurant area where you can sit by the huge glass windows on a rainy day, sipping a hot coffee whilst waiting for your movie / show to start, or (as we did!) just as an excuse to get out of a sudden downpour whilst out for a walk around the Ness Islands. They serve a proper full lunch and dinner menu here.
The Tickets and Information office is located just inside the front doors of Eden Court and is open each day from 10:00am until 09:00pm.
Address: Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SA, Scotland - UK
Phone: 0044-(0)1463-234 234
The Inverness Highland Games, Aug. 2009
This is an annual event that takes place in July in Bught Park Arena, just south of the city centre on the bank of the river Ness.
Nobody knows exactly when the first Inverness Highland Games took place, but we do know is that back in 1822 the Inverness Courier newspaper reported that fundraising was taking place in the town to revive those primeval competitions and give Inverness games that its residents could be proud of. Thanks to the efforts of those early fundraisers, 186 years later the Highland Games are still alive and well as one of the largest and most enjoyable Highland Games in the North of Scotland.
There are numerous Highland Games every summer, all over Scotland and even in other countries! The competitive element is a major attraction in itself, but combine it with the spectacle of Highland dancers and pipers, the grandeur of the Scottish scenery and last but not least, the highly enthusiastic crowds make Highland Games a *must* if you're in Scotland in summer!
Here are a few of the "heavy competitions:"
> Caber Toss: A long tapered log is stood upright, balacned vertically in the competitor’s hands who then runs forward and, well, tosses it as far as he can.
> Stone Put: This event is similar to the modern-day shot put in the Olympic Games, but instead of a steel shot a large stone of variable weight is often used.
> Scottish Hammer Throw: A round metal ball (16-22 lb for men; 12-16 lb for women) is attached to the end of a shaft about 4 feet long. You spin, you whirl it around your head and then throw it for distance over the shoulder.
> Sheaf Toss: A bundle of straw weighing 20 lb (9 kg) for men and 10 lb (4.5 kg) for women is tossed vertically with a pitchfork over a raised bar, similar to the one used in pole vaulting.
> There is also a Wrestling Competition and although it might not look like it: there ARE rules!
> It might be something you remember from your days in the school yard, but the Tug-Of-War at the Highland Games gets gritty & muddy!
Other Entertainment / Competitions:
> Competitive Highland Dancing is a very technical dance requiring many hours of training for several years. It actually has more in common with ballet than with social dancing of Scottish Country Dance. In addition, the Highland dances are performed solo (and often over swords!)
> And last but not least, everyone at the games enjoys the Bagpipes blaring-out "Scotland the Brave" or "Flower of Scotland" accompanied by thundering applause and sing-along. But the pipes and drums are not the only music which can be heard at Highland games: you'll hear fiddling, harp circles, Celtic bands and other forms of musical entertainment.
We visited on the 2nd day of the games (adult ticket is £4.-) and had a fantastic time! We were greeted by the "Haggis family" at the gates (the kids loved this), saw many of the Heavies competing, the adorable Highland dancing children, plenty of great food and all in all the event was perfectly organised. We spent quiet a few hours at the Highland Games and everyone had a fantastic time.
I even saw a bunch of "German" highlanders but am sorry to say that they seemed rather skinny compared to the heavies from Scotland, New Zealand, America, etc.! haha!
There are plenty of food & beverage options (both John & his dad tucked into a hot portion of Stovies, whist the rest of us enjoyed fish 'n' chips, Haggis and freshly made ice creams), stalls that sell Highland craft & souvenirs, also plenty of toilet facilities and a play area to keep smaller children occupied. I'd definitely go to the games again next year!
--> For more photos, click here: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/tt/ad214/#TL
Update 2010: This year, we visited the Highland Games and they took place in the Northern Meeting Park, a slightly different venue along the River Ness.
Address: Bught Park Arena, Inverness, Scotland - UK
Directions: There are plenty of signs & parking possibilities near the games. Another option is to park at the Rose Street parking bldg. and walk (approx. 20min)
Phone: 0044-(0)1463-663 823
Leakey's Second Hand Bookstore, Inverness (2009)
For some reason this place seems to be almost somewhat of a little, well-kept secret - I have met numerous people who have visited Inverness and most of them had never heard of Leakey's before. So let me tell you about it!
This is Scotland's largest second-hand bookstore. Opened in 1972 and formerly home to St Mary's Gaelic Church (built 1792), the historic premises are a perfect environment to browse through rows of tall wooden shelves stuffed with books on every subject imaginable.
We spent 2 rainy afternoons in Leakey's, trying to choose how much money we'd would and could spend, and on which books exactly. The wood burning oven near the entrance made the whole space even more inviting and cosier, if that's at all possible.
John found collections of all of Shakespeare's works, another on the history of the United Kingdom - leather-bound and over 80 years old! I spotted the entire collection of Jane Austin novels, as well as limited edition travel books from National Geographic... the choices are endless! Here, you can find anything from an antique book worth hundreds of pounds, right down to a tatty and used paperback novel for a couple of pounds that will make an entertaining read on your next train or plane trip.
We finally made our minds up & treated ourselves and purchased one of "the classics": 9 volumes (Folio Press) collectible edition of Sherlock Holmes novels for £130.-
Leakey's also stocks antique (guaranteed over 100 years old) prints, photographs and maps with prices starting from £65.- and up. I spotted a gorgeous antique pencil sketch of the apprentice pillar inside Roslin Chapel... maybe I'll get it next time!
The staff are very helpful and will try to assist if you are looking for something in particular.
Opening Hours: All year, Mon.-Sat. 10:00-17:00.
Throughout the day you can enjoy home-baked scones and various cakes with a lovely coffee or tea selection at reasonable prices.
Lunch menu (daily soup, sandwiches, salads, baked potatoes etc.) is served from 12 onwards.
The cafe seats approx. 40 people and also doubles as a small art gallery for local artists.
And you shall be full of delights
Let them be your mattress
And you shall sleep restful nights."
- Author Unknown
"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?"
Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887)
"The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
"Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it."
P. J. O'Rourke
Address: Church Street, Inverness, Scotland - UK
Directions: Greyfriars Hall, Church Street.
Phone: 0044-(0)1463-239 947
More Reviews (32)
- Local Customs? What would you like to...
- A great spot for dolphin watching...
- See All The Quality Gentlemen's Outfitter in...
- See All For a spot of afternoon tea... (and...
- Danger from Above - Seagulls
JessH's Related Pages
Inverness Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "With both feet on the ground in Inverness"
- "Inverness - Near Loch Ness"
- "Inverness Travel Tips - Loch Ness - Worth One Day"
- "Circumnavigating Scotland"
- "Visit Inverness"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Inverness
- Hotels in Inverness
- Transportation in Inverness
- Nightlife in Inverness
- Restaurants in Inverness
- Shopping in Inverness
- Warnings and Dangers in Inverness
- See All...
Explore the World
- Yabucoa Hotels
- Ruhpolding Hotels
- East Houston Hotels
- Tecpán Guatemala Hotels
- Kostromskaya Oblast'
- Sainte-Lucie de Porto-Vecchio
Badges & Stats in Inverness
- 39 Reviews
- 136 Photos
- 6 Forum posts
- 10 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (22)
Have you been to Inverness?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Inverness
- Posted in Miscellaneous Forum "Re: Toblerone chocolate"
- Uploaded a Photo to "Ceilidh! And a portion of Kaow Rad Nah, please!"
- Wrote a Review Local Customs? What would you like to know? in Inverness Local Customs
- updated a Inverness Travel Page "With both feet on the ground in Inverness"
- Commented on one of Kaspian's Inverness travel pages
Photos in InvernessSee All Photos (136)
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Dubai Intro, 175 reviews, 631 photos, 5 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Scotland Intro, 82 reviews, 348 photos, 10 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Heidelberg Intro, 54 reviews, 178 photos, 2 travelogues
- Edinburgh Intro, 45 reviews, 157 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Inverness Intro, 39 reviews, 136 photos, 3 travelogues
- Goa Intro, 31 reviews, 116 photos, 2 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination Karachi Intro, 22 reviews, 81 photos, 1 travelogue
- Top 5 Page for this destination Ko Samui Intro, 19 reviews, 45 photos, 1 travelogue
- Warsaw Intro, 12 reviews, 49 photos, 1 travelogue
- Mühlhausen Intro, 12 reviews, 48 photos, 2 travelogues
Travel InterestsSee All Travel Interests (5)
Latest Inverness hotel reviews
- Bunchrew House Hotel
- 260 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 12, 2013
- Royal Highland Hotel
- 531 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 17, 2013
- Ness Bank Guest House Bed and Breakfast
- 44 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 18, 2013
- Trafford Bank Guest House
- 395 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 9, 2013
- Felstead Guest House
- 13 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 6, 2006
- Avalon Guest House
- 579 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 24, 2013
- Golf View Hotel
- 488 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 16, 2013
- Inverness Student Hostel
- 51 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 13, 2013
- Kingsmills Hotel
- 615 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 17, 2013
- Smithton Hotel
- 53 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 27, 2013
- Serendipity Bed and Breakfast
- 270 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 28, 2013
- Clach Mhuilinn Bed and Breakfast
- 9 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Jul 30, 2007
- Glen Fruin Guest House
- 3 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Oct 23, 2011
- Heathcote Bed and Breakfast
- 64 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Dec 2, 2013
- Moyness House
- 337 Reviews & Opinions
Latest: Nov 24, 2013
- Fort George- 18 Reviews, 45 Photos
- Culloden Battlefield- 12 Reviews, 31 Photos
- Castle- 6 Reviews, 17 Photos
- Urquhart Castle- 6 Reviews, 16 Photos
- Clava Cairns- 4 Reviews, 12 Photos
- Loch Ness- 8 Reviews, 22 Photos
- Dolphins- 3 Reviews, 4 Photos
- Cawdor Castle- 3 Reviews, 4 Photos
- St. Andrew's Cathedral- 2 Reviews, 5 Photos
- Culloden Moor- 2 Reviews, 6 Photos
See All Inverness Things to Do