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Nairn (Gaelic Inbhir Narann) is a seaside resort east of Inverness in The Great Glen and Strathspey Region of Highland Scotland. In 2020 it had a population of 10,190.

Understand[edit]

A96 bridge over the River Nairn
"At Nairn we may fix the verge of the Highlands; for here I first saw peat fires, and first heard the Erse language."
— Samuel Johnson, A Journey to the Western Isles of Scotland (1775)

James VI had earlier remarked on a visit of 1589 that Nairn High street was "sae lang that the inhabitants of the one end did not understand the language spoken at the other" - though that would simply reflect property prices. The town is in a fertile region on the road from Inverness towards Aberdeen, and grew from 1820 when a fishing harbour was constructed. By 1861 Nairn was also connected to the railway network, and became a seaside resort, and still is. It was the county town of Nairnshire, if anyone could say where that was - until 1889 there were many exclaves elsewhere, until local government boundaries were reformed. The county was in turn subsumed into Highland Region in 1975.

Charlie Chaplin often took his summer holidays in Nairn. Willie Whitelaw, UK deputy Prime Minister 1979-88, was born in Nairn, and the actress Tilda Swinton came to live here.

Get in[edit]

Trains run every hour or two from Inverness, taking 20 min to Nairn. They continue to Forres, Elgin, Keith, Huntly, Inverurie, Dyce and Aberdeen. A walk-up single from Inverness was £7 in 2022.

1 Nairn railway station is just south of town centre. There's a staffed ticket office and machines, and a cafe and waiting room with toilets. Platform 1 northside towards Inverness has step-free access. Platform 2 for Aberdeen is via the footbridge, no lift, or lump across rough ground from Balblair Rd southside.

Stagecoach Bus 10 runs every 30 min from Inverness, taking 40 min to Nairn and continuing to Forres and Elgin. There alternate buses turn back, with an hourly service trundling cross-country through Fochabers, Keith, Huntly and Inverurie to Aberdeen.

By road follow A96: Nairn is 17 miles from Inverness and 78 miles from Aberdeen.

Get around[edit]

The town is compact and the bus will get you along A96, but you need your own wheels for anywhere else.

Taxi operators are Nairn Taxis (+44 1667 451111) and ATB (+44 1667 455757).

See[edit]

  • 1 Nairn Museum, Viewfield Drive IV12 4EE, +44 1667 456791. Apr-Oct M-F 10:00-16:00, Sa 10:00-13:00. Child-friendly museum and local archive. Adult £4, conc or child free.
  • 2 Fort George, Ardesier IV2 7TE, +44 1667 460232. Daily Apr-Sep 09:30-17:30, Oct-Mar 10:00-16:00. Large star-pattern fortress built in the aftermath of the 1745 rebellion, to ensure no repetition (which its predecessor in Inverness had lamentably failed to achieve). It's been in continuous use since as an army base, and is therefore in good condition, but as the MoD don't expect further Jacobite attack it's expected to close in 2032. The ramparts are almost a mile long and there's a regimental museum, an arsenal of old weapons, chapel and military dog cemetery. Adult £9.50, conc £7.50, child £5.50. Fort George, Highland on Wikipedia
  • Rait Castle two miles south of Nairn is a 13th century ruin. Only if you happen to be passing along the road to Cawdor, it's not worth a special trip.
  • 3 Cawdor Castle: see Culloden for this castle associated with Macbeth.

Do[edit]

Rait Castle
  • Beaches: the east beach is long and sandy, west beach is narrower and more stony.
  • Nairn Community & Arts Centre contains the Culbin Theatre and other spaces. It's on King St near the museum.
  • Little Theatre is further east along King St.
  • Golf: Nairn GC is west side of town, and Nairn-Dunbar is east.
  • Football: Nairn County play soccer in the Highland League, Scotland's fifth tier. Their home ground is Balblair (capacity 2250) just south of the railway station.
  • Cinema Nairn have screenings. They may restart the annual film festival in mid-Feb.
  • Jazz Nairn hosts regular events.
  • Nairn Agricultural Show is nowadays held at Davidson Park on Grantown Road. The next is probably Sa 29 July 2023, tbc.
  • Nairn Highland Games are held on The Links, with the next on Sa 20 Aug 2022.

Buy[edit]

Sainsbury's is the main store, east ege of town on A96. It's open daily 08:00-22:00 and has a filling station.

Eat[edit]

  • High Street has Royal Bengal, Mr Tan, Thai Cottage, Lorenzo, Dolphin Fish & Chips, Ozzy's, Nairn Tandoori, Fusion Cafe and Lucky House.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Fort George officer quarters
  • B&Bs and small hotels are along Marine Rd turning into Seafield St. They include Invernairne, Clubhouse Hotel, Muthu Newton, West End, Wetherby House, Hay Lodge and Sunny Brae.
  • 1 Nairn Camping and Caravanning Club Site, Delnies Wood, Nairn IV12 5NX (2 miles west of Nairn), +44 1677 455281. Bosky friendly site open year-round, good facilities, some noise from busy A96. Tent £12.
  • 2 Golf View, 63 Seabank Rd, Nairn IV12 4HD, +44 1677 452301. Grand trad hotel, great reviews for comfort, the cuisine sometimes misses. B&B double from £340.
  • 3 Boath House, Auldearn, Nairn IV12 5TE (2 miles east of Nairn), +44 1677 454896. More like a miniature stately home than a country house, wonderful comfy place in parkland with great dining. B&B double from £220.

Connect[edit]

As of Aug 2022, Nairn and the A96 have 4G from all UK carriers, though with some dead spots out of town. 5G has not reached this area.

Go next[edit]

  • Inverness is a pleasant Victorian city.
  • Culloden was where the Jacobite rebellion was crushed in 1746.
  • Forres east, where Macbeth encountered the witches, has ancient stones and a whisky distillery.


This city travel guide to Nairn is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.