The capital of the Highlands, Inverness is Scotland’s most northerly city – with excellent places to eat, and all the outdoor activities you could wish for.
The train to Inverness is spectacular. Whichever direction you arrive from, the city is surrounded by some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. There’s the Speyside whisky country to the east, the Highlands to the west and the Cairngorms to the south.
And once you’re based in Inverness, there’s the beautiful Black Isle, the famous Loch Ness, and the Beauly firth to explore. The city itself isn’t short of attractions either: take a look at the castle, the museum and art gallery, the theatre, or the botanic gardens. And don’t miss the exclusive offers you get when you travel by train – from discounted entry to Kids Go Free tickets.
Getting to and from Inverness by train
- Aberdeen to Inverness – approx 2 hours 15 minutes
- Edinburgh to Inverness – approx 3 hours 30 minutes
- Glasgow to Inverness – approx 3 hours 20 minutes
- Perth to Inverness – approx 2 hours
One or two days in Inverness
Inverness is a small and compact city, which makes it perfect for getting around on foot. The River Ness cuts through the city, and makes the beautiful Greig Street suspension bridge, a 19th century crossing exclusively for pedestrians, a great starting point. You’ll get a good view of the city from there – but the best views of Inverness Castle are from Young Street Bridge further upstream.
Dip into the city’s history. The Inverness Museum and Art gallery is just next door to the castle, and brings together the art, history and heritage of the Highlands. There’s a good café too.
Along Church Street you’ll find some of the oldest buildings in Inverness, including Abertarff House, a late 16th century home with distinctive white walls and traditional gable ends on its roof.
Don’t miss the Victorian Market, in the centre of town, for a pretty arcade of small shops. For the bigger stores, there’s the Eastgate shopping centre. And if you’re after a bite to eat, head to chef Albert Roux’s Chez Roux, at the Rocpool Reserve Hotel just south of the city centre, one of a number of excellent restaurants in town.
Days out from Inverness
Hop on the train Elgin, and you’ll be right at the heart of whisky country. Book on a distillery tour for the full experience – and getting the train back to Inverness means everyone can have a dram.
The brilliant visitor centre at the Culloden Battlefield brings the history of the Jacobite rising to life. It was the last hand-to-hand battle on British soil, and proved to be pivotal in Scotland’s history. The museum gives full context not just to the combat, but also the events leading up to it.
There are plenty of tour operators who will take you deep into the Highlands – as far as Skye, if you like. Almost all of them stop at Loch Ness, home of the world-famous Nessie, the Loch Ness monster. It’s the deepest body of water in the UK, so there’s plenty of space in there for beasties to hide. Find out more on VisitScotland.
Catch the bus from Inverness towards Cromarty for a day of dolphin spotting. You can stop off at Chanonry point to watch them from the beach – but even better, book a guided boat trip from Cromarty to get up close these beautiful animals.
Find out more
Travelling from Inverness?
The Far North
Inverness is the starting point for two Great Scenic Rail Journeys: the Far North and the Kyles of Lochalsh. Head north for the vast expanse of Caithness, the best salmon fishing in the UK, and the northern outposts of Wick and Thurso.
Head west, and you’ll travel deep into the Highlands towards the Isle of Skye. Watch red deer canter over the heather, or the Torridon Peaks loom in the distance – there’s no better way to experience Scotland at its wildest.
You can also get the train east towards Aberdeen. Stop off in Elgin to experience Speyside whisky at its finest. And If you’re heading south, the train takes you through the outdoor hub of Aviemore, and on to Perth, Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Ways to save...
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass: 1-2 weeks of train, ferry and coach travel covering the whole country
- Rail & Sail: combine train and ferry travel into one ticket for more convenience and better value
- Kids for a Quid: travel off-peak and for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards: see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard