Inverness (Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis, "Mouth of the River Ness") is a city at the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the principal centre for administration and commerce. It is the most northerly city in the British Isles.
Advertised as "the Gateway to the Highlands" by the local authority, and long regarded as the capital of the Highlands, Inverness is the centre for commerce and industry in the Scottish Highlands, with continuing new investment in traditional industries and new hi-tech industries. It is also said to be one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.
1 Inverness Airport (INV IATA). The airport is located between Nairn and Inverness and accessible from the Inverness-Aberdeen road. It is served by FlyBe flights (including to Amsterdam), Scottish-based airline Loganair (to Kirkwall, Sumburgh and a few Western Isles), Easyjet (to London Gatwick, London Luton and Bristol), British Airways (to London Heathrow) and some seasonal charter flights. A taxi from the airport into the city costs around £15. Stagecoach run a bus into Inverness city centre which runs every half hour during the day called the "Jet" service. There is also an hourly "Jet" service to Nairn. The airport has a choice of cafes, car hire and ATMs.
Inverness can be reached from the south by the A9 from the south (Perth & M90 from Edinburgh, Glasgow) and from Aberdeen, 110 miles (176 km) by the A96 road. The A82 reaches Inverness from the south-west, Loch Ness, Fort William and eventually to Skye. None of the roads to Inverness are entirely dual-carriageway. The A9 continues to Thurso on the extreme north coast of the Scottish mainland.
- See also: Rail travel in the United Kingdom
2 Inverness railway station (Gaelic: Inbhir Nis) is located at Station Square on Academy street right in the city centre. All trains call here. There are direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and London from the south and Aberdeen from the east. There are two scenic lines: to Thurso and Wick, and to Kyle of Lochalsh.
If you're travelling from London, the Caledonian Sleeper train is an excellent way to travel. It leaves from London Euston and arrives between 8AM and 8:30AM. There is sometimes an error with the booking system through the internet if you intend to sit rather than book a sleeping berth; if your ticket says 'no seat reserved', you need to either phone up Caledonian Sleeper or visit your nearest train station to reserve one (for free). If you don't have a reserved seat you may not be allowed on the train, despite having bought a ticket with the times and dates of the train printed on them, or at best be forced to pay £40 for a sleeping berth if there is one available.
LNER also operate a daily service to and from London King's Cross (known as The Highland Chieftain) which leaves at around 9AM (southbound) or noon (northbound). Journey time is around 8 hours.
3 Inverness bus station is in Farraline Park, a couple of blocks west of the railway station. The bus station has a ticket office which offers luggage storage (from £2), cafe and toilets.
- Buses from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Ullapool, Skye and Perth, operated by Citylink and Megabus
- Stagecoach Bluebird buses from Aberdeen
- National Express and Megabus run buses from England.
The Caledonian Canal links the Beauly Firth through Loch Ness to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.
There are around 50 bus routes travelling in and around Inverness, mainly operated by Stagecoach Inverness. It helps to know where your destination is, as some services do not have detailed information on the outside of the bus.
The 'Invernet' rail network provides commuter train services to Inverness from Tain, Dingwall and Beauly in the North, Nairn, Forres and Elgin in the East and Aviemore and Kingussie in the South.
This is probably the most efficient form of transport after hours, as most bus services cease or become less frequent at about 7PM. You will not pay a great deal for a taxi by UK standards as Inverness is rather small, and routes are very direct. Some black cabs exist, though the majority of taxis are minicabs. These are all fairly trustworthy.
Limos are available for hire from certain operators at a rate of about £70/hour.
There are a few cycle lanes on Inverness roads. However there are many combined cycle-footpaths where bicycles are welcome.
- 1 Inverness Castle. At the end of the western pedestrian zone. It is a relatively new castle built in 1847 to replace a medieval castle blown up by the Jacobites. It houses the Sheriff Court and cannot be seen as a visitor (you at least should try to never see it from the inside).
- 2 Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, Castle Wynd (base of Inverness Castle), ☎ . The museum has a collection of Pictish stones and wildlife dioramas, as well as historic weapons. Underwent a major refurbishment in 2006, and now contains many artefacts on loan from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
- 3 Old High Church, Church Street. Oldest Church in Inverness, the 'Town Church' of the city. Historic Tour each Friday at 11:30AM, June to August. Sunday services at 11:15AM, Prayers for Peace and Justice every Friday at 1:05PM, and occasional evening services in the summer, with guest preachers, as advertised.
- 4 Ship Space, 16 Clachnaharry Road, IV3 8QH, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Closed. An interactive and evolving museum in Inverness with nautical artefacts and large ships: for example a 1:10 scale Titanic, Buckie drifter, RNLI lifeboat and more. The museum closed in April 2018.
- 5 Inverness Botanic Gardens (formerly: Floral Hall and Gardens), Bught Lane (next to the sports centre), ☎ . Glasshouse and gardens, with a range of exotic plants, plus a cafe. Free.
- 6 Inverness Cathedral (St Andrew’s Cathedral). Scottish Episcopal (Anglican) cathedral, built in 1869.
- 7 Clava Ring Cairn. Bronze Age circular chamber tomb
- Located on the south side of the Moray Firth with picturesque River Ness flowing through the city, it is worth taking a walk to the Ness Islands or the Caledonian Canal. From the castle, walk upstream along the River Ness for less than 1 mile. The Caledonian Canal towpath is also good for walking.
- Or take a walk along the river with the Churches Along the River leaflet, available from hotels, tourist offices, churches or downloadable from the website.
- Inverness offers activities from golfing to watersports.
- A bicycle ride through the Ness Islands and along the waterfront is highly recommended.
- Inverness has a very busy music & theatre scene. Inverness also has regular ceilidh nights and new indie nights in various venues across the city.
- Jacobite Cruises (Jacobite cruises on Loch Ness), Tomnahurich Bridge, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness. IV3 5TD (Take the Loch Ness road out of the city), ☎ . A selection of Inverness tours and cruises on Loch Ness and the Caledonian canal pick up in city centre in various locations. Cruises run 7 days a week throughout the year.
- 1 Glen Ord Distillery, Muir of Ord, Ross-shire, IV6 7UJ, ☎ . A Diageo-owned distillery about 22 km west of Inverness in Muir of Ord. Offers tours. Standard tour £8.
- 2 Black Isle Brewery, Black Isle, IV8 8NZ (located on the nearby Black Isle penninsula), ☎ . Independent brewery that produces a range of organic beers. They offer tours.
- 3 Eden Court Theatre, Bishops Road, IV3 5SA, ☎ (box office). A theatre, arts and cinema venue.
The main shopping area of Inverness runs from the Eastgate centre through a pedestrian precinct down to the River Ness - adjacent to the train station. You'll have no limit to the number of tartan and Scottish souvenir shops you can find along the strip. As well there are the usually range of department stores and services along here.
- Eastgate Centre. Inside modern shopping mall - connected to the station. Contains a Marks and Spencer and Debenhams, and a normal range of chain stores.
Inverness has a wide selection of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There are a number of high quality restaurants serving a mixture of traditional Scottish food and modern cuisine using locally sourced produce. Worthy of a mention are:
- 1 The Heathmount Hotel, Kingsmills Road, IV2 3JU, ☎ . A boutique hotel with informal restaurant and a lively bar at Crown just minutes walk from city centre. Mains around £11-15.
- 2 The Mustard Seed, 16 Fraser Street, IV1 1DW, ☎ . Daily. An independently owned restaurant in a former church. Dinner main £16.
- 3 Rocpool, 1 Ness Walk, IV3 5NE, ☎ . Dinner mains around £20-25.
- 4 Glenmoriston Town House, 20 Ness Bank, IV2 4SF, ☎ . Hotel and restaurant. Dinner mains around £20.
- 5 Cafe 1, 75 Castle Street, IV2 3EA, ☎ . Beside Rileys and simply a bit of an institution. Mains £14-20.
- The Old Town Deli, Strother Lane (Beside Bus Stop). Great bagels and coffee.
- Castle Restaurant. Cheap, cheerful and popular. Also very convenient for the High Street.
- 6 La Tortilla Asesina, 99 Castle Street, IV2 3EA (opposite the road entrance to the castle), ☎ . The tapas bar where lovers of all things Spanish meet. Tapas between £4.50-6.
- Numerous Curry Houses, including Cinnamon near the Eastgate Shopping Centre and Rajah in Post Office Lane.
- 7 The Bakery, 72 Tomnahurich Street, ☎ . M-Sa 6AM-3PM, Su closed. A local bakery offering a wide range of loafs, pies, sweet pastries and more.
There's plenty of live music and good lively atmospheres around so have fun exploring.
As in all Scotland, all enclosed public places - which includes all eating places and bars - are non-smoking. A few have outside seating areas.
- 1 Hootananny, 67 Church Street, IV1 1ES, ☎ . Is the chief of live music (almost every night), offering (predominantly) Celtic entertainment. The offer good Thai food (in a Scottish-themed pub) relatively cheaply.
- 2 Dores Inn, Dores, IV2 6TR (8 miles south of Inverness on the B862), ☎ . On a warm summer's evening, the Dores Inn on the northern shore of Loch Ness (east side) is a particularly pleasant place to linger over a beer. They do good, traditional pub food, too. For customers they offer a free shuttle bus within a 10 mile radius from the pub which has to be booked at least 24h in advance.
- 3 Black Isle Bar & Rooms, 68 Church Street, IV1 1EN, ☎ . Daily 11AM-1AM. A bar and accommodation run by the Black Isle Brewery. They have around 10-15 beers on tap from their own organic brewery and some other breweries, and offer very good pizza from a wood-fired oven.
- 1 Inverness Youth Hostel (SYHA), Victoria Drive, IV2 3QB, ☎ . A modern 4-star hostel with excellent facilities. Some small rooms en-suite, internet, laundry. Open all year. Dorms: adults £15, children £13.50; rooms: from £30.
- 2 Bazpackers, 4 Culduthel Road, IV2 4AB, ☎ . Clean and informal. This hostel is quite small so booking in advance is advised. They have a resident cat called Polly. Dorm £18.
- 3 Bught caravan and camping site, Bught Lane, IV3 5SR (just off the main road out to Loch Ness and Fort William), ☎ . Open March to November, it is a very pleasant 20-minute walk along the river into the city centre.
- 4 Beach Cottage B&B, 3 Alturlie Point, Allanfearn, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Bed and breakfast on the shores of the Moray Firth with two guest rooms with sea views.
- Rookery Nook, 56 Culcabock Avenue, IV2 3RQ, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Rookery Nook is a comfortable, clean self-catering cottage 15 minutes' walk from Inverness city centre. Built with wheelchair users in mind. Pet-friendly, with its own private garden.
- 5 Dunhallin House, 164 Culduthel Road, IV2 4BH, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Dunhallin House offers extremely comfortable accommodation, in a quiet setting, which offers excellent value for money. The owners are extremely friendly and helpful; nothing is too much trouble.
- Pottery House, Dores, IV2 6TR, ☎ . A wonderful bed and breakfast just outside of Inverness in the village of Dores. Rooms offer views directly onto the Loch Ness.
- Park Guest House, 51 Glenurquhart Road, IV3 5PB, ☎ . Park Guest House is a substantial ivy-clad Victorian Villa, a hospitable bed and breakfast.
- The Avalon Guest House, 79 Glenurquhart Road, IV3 5PB, ☎ . The rooms are beautiful, having had a full refurbishment, and the owners are incredibly friendly and helpful.
- Inverness Guest House Association, Glenurquhart Road, IV3 5PB. Have a selection of 24 properties to choose from all of which have been graded 3, 4 or 5 stars by Visit Scotland or the AA.
- 6 Mercure Inverness Hotel, Church Street, IV1 1DX, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon.
- 7 Bunchrew House Hotel, ☎ . County house hotel on the waters edge of the Beauly Firth.
- 8 Culloden House Hotel, ☎ . Beautiful Country House Hotel set 3 miles (5 km) out of the city centre, great food, magnificent rooms. Culloden House is where Bonny Prince Charlie slept, the night before the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
- 9 Kingsmills Hotel, Culcabock Rd, ☎ . Four star hotel about 1 mile from the centre of Inverness.
- 10 The Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square (Next to the Railway Station), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A completely refurbished luxury Heritage hotel and a landmark of Inverness. Opened in 1856 and offers a true Highland ambiance. Their Ash Restaurant and Lounge Bar offers an extensive à la carte menu and free WiFi.
- 2 Inverness Library, Farraline Park, IV1 1NH, ☎ . Mon-Tue and Fri 09:00-18:30, Wed 10:00-18:30, Thu 09:00-20:00, Sat 09:00-17:00, Sun closed. Offers Internet access.
- Culloden — Site of the evocative Culloden Battlefied, scene of Bonny Prince Charlie's final defeat in 1746, and the Clava Cairns, a Bronze Age burial site.
- Loch Ness — not as close as many people think. Jacobite have buses travelling to Loch Ness from Inverness to link up with their cruise boats. Cruises may be joined at Tomnahurich, at the southern edge of the city. For the first 3/4 miles, these sail down the famous and scenic Caledonian Canal and then down Loch Ness itself. Alternatively you may board at Drumnadrochit for the return sail, having visited nearby Urquhart Castle and the Loch Ness Visitor Centre which carries the story of Nessie. For information with a more scientific slant see The Loch Ness Information Site.
There are two mountain resorts within easy reach of Inverness. Both started life as ski facilities but now cater for a wide range of year-round activities and have mountain-top restaurants and shops.
- Cairngorms National Park — Cairngorm Mountain is approx. 30 miles away near Aviemore and has Scotland's only funicular railway.
- Fort William — If you have a car you can also easily reach the Nevis Range in Fort William, some 63 miles away along the winding A82. At Nevis Range the mountain (which is called Aonach Mor and is 'next door' to Ben Nevis) is ascended by a cable-car gondola system.
|Routes through Inverness|
|Thurso/Wick ← Dingwall ←||N S||→ Carrbridge → Perth|
|ENDS ←||N S||→ Drumnadrochit → Fort William|
|ENDS ←||W E||→ Culloden → Aberdeen|