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Thurso

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Thurso from the hill at Mountpleasant

Thurso is in the Scottish Highlands.

Understand[edit]

Delightful small town on the far north of Scotland. There are lots of shops and nice places to eat in the area. There aren't many places this north in Scotland where you can stop off for provisions so Thurso really is ideal for that. Worth a walk around (approximately 2 hours). There is a lovely beach with some beautiful views over Thurso Bay where you can see lots of birds. There are occasional visits by whales. Surfers can be seen all year round. Waves are regularly over 10 feet (3 m).

Walk up river from the harbour and you could see seals fishing in the river or resting on an island in the river. Pick your time right and you can see otter there too. The Thurso River is a good salmon fishing river.

Thurso is a very good base for exploring the North Coast, with The Stacks of Duncansby, John O'Groats, Dunnet Head, the Castle of Mey and lots of spectacular cliff scenery nearby.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Thurso is at the northern end of the Far North mainline which runs from Inverness and splits into two branches, one going to Thurso and the other going to Wick. The 1 train station is located a very short walk west of the town centre.

By bus[edit]

Stagecoach Highlands runs the X99 5 times daily (4 on Sunday) to and from Inverness. Onward connections are available throughout Scotland.

By ferry[edit]

The ferry in nearby Scrabster links Thurso to Stromness on Orkney.

By car[edit]

At the end of the A9 110 mi (180 km) north of Inverness

Get around[edit]

Map of Thurso (Scotland)

Local bus services are run throuout Caithness by Stagecoach Highlands - however some services, in particular to the west of Thurso, are infrequent.

See[edit]

  • 1 Caithness Horizons (Thurso Heritage Centre), Old Town Hall, +44 1847 896508. Mon-Sat 10:00-18:00, Sun 11:00-16:00. A lovely little museum with lots of information and displays focussed on Thurso and its surroundings. Viking remains, details of the nuclear plant in Dounreay, wildlife, culture, town history and many other topics are all covered. It also serves as the Tourist Information Centre and can help with getting accommodation. Free.
  • Down by the Harbour/River mouth. A good place to watch for the aurora borealis (Northern Lights), surfers, seals, otter, sea birds, boats and sunsets/sunrises.
  • 2 Old St Peter's Church. ruined parish church dating back to 1125 Old St Peter's Church, Thurso on Wikipedia Old St Peter's Church, Thurso (Q18708724) on Wikidata
  • 3 Holburn Head Lighthouse. Holborn Head on Wikipedia Holborn Head (Q5878693) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

Buy[edit]

  • Groceries are available at
    • 1 Lidl, Castlegreen Road (across the road from the Campground on the Scrabster Road). Mon - Sat 8:00 - 21:00, Sun 8:00 - 19:00.
    • 2 Co-operative, Meadow Lane. daily 7:00 - 22:00. also at Mountpleasant North Road
    • 3 Tesco, Millbank Rd, KW14 8PS. Mon - Sat 7:00 - 21:00, Sun 9:00 - 20:00. supermarket with cafe (closes at 17:00)
  • J. A. Mackay, 4 Traill Street, +44 1847 892811. Has a very good selection of local produce from jams, cheeses, biscuits, chocolate to an extensive range of whiskies.
  • Caithness Biscuits make excellent shortbread and other biscuits.
  • Reid's of Thurso make excellent oatcakes, shortbread and cakes.
  • Caithness Summer Fruits make excellent jams and marmalades.
  • 4 Wolfburn Distillery, Henderson Park, KW14 7XW. Buy whisky from this distillery which started their production in 2013 and released their first whisky in 2016.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Le Bistro, Traill Street. A small restaurant with a busy atmosphere. Serves excellent Cullen Skink.
  • 2 Cafe Tempest, KW14 8DE (down by the harbour), +44 1847 892500. Does lovely salads and excellent cake. Has free WiFi.
  • 3 Reid's, Riverside Pl., +44 1847 893574. For take away Fish 'n' Chips use Reid's down by the river.

Drink[edit]

  • 1 Skinandi's, Sir George's Street, KW14 7AW. 22:30 open. Thurso's only nightclub and it's a nice enough place. Two dancefloors, not unreasonable prices for drinks, hot food snack bar, free cloakroom. Music's standard UK nightclub fare. It's also used for live music. £8 entry.

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Sandra's Backpackers Hostel, 24/26 Princes Street, KW14 7BQ, +44 1847 894575. One of two backpackers places in town. Prices include breakfast. Hot showers, free internet. Reception is the chip shop underneath! Beds from £14 per night, rooms from £34.
  • Thurso Hostel, Ormlie Road, Thurso, Caithness, KW14 7DP (Directly opposite train station), +44 1847 896888.
  • 2 Thurso Bay Caravan & Camping Park, Scrabster Road, +44 1847 892244. The campground has an excellent, if potentially windy, location overlooking the Bay to the Islands of Orkney. Facilities include a cafe/restaurant, lounge, TV, hot showers and a laundry, with a clothesline.
  • 3 Pentland Lodge House, Granville Street, KW14 7JN, +44 1847 895103. A beautiful listed building with contemporary style rooms. Conveniently situated with ample parking.
  • 4 Pennyland House B&B, KW14 7JU (On the mainroad west of the town just after Lidl.), +44 1847 891194. Spaceous rooms and filling breakfast. £70/£90.

Connect[edit]

If you are staying at the Thurso Bay Caravan & Camping Park, WiFi is available in the Park's cafe and lounge.

Go next[edit]

  • Thurso is only a couple of miles from Scrabster, which is the ferry terminal for a route to Stromness on one of the Orkney Islands. The trip takes about an hour and a half and passes by the Old Man of Hoy.
  • Relatively nearby, within the general scale of Scotland (about 15 miles or so), is Dunnet Head. The most northerly point in the UK, the Head is home to a lighthouse and many species of seabird including puffins, fulmars, razorbills, kittiwakes and guillimots.
Holburn Head Lighthouse
  • From Scrabster, a footpath leads up onto Holborn Head, a more accessible point from which one can see Dunnet Head and much of the local scenery. It is also home to a lighthouse.
Routes through Thurso
ENDS  N UK road A9.svg S  HelmsdaleInverness


This city travel guide to Thurso 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.