The capital of the Highlands
It’s been many years like to try and make memory, but it’s always a good idea to return to places we can not hardly remember! Back then, perhaps year 2010, reaching Inverness was the farthest city in a huge Scotland road trip we did: Glasgow, The Forth, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Huntly, Dufftown, Elgin, Inverness, Fort Augustus, Fort William, Glencoe, Oban, Loch Lomond and who knows how many more in between. That was an incredible trip, the most beautiful ever anywhere withing the United Kingdom. But ever since, we’ve kept returning to Glasgow as a base for visiting other places, or just simply for revisiting the city itself as was the case only 2 weeks before this trip to Inverness.
Our plan was very different in any case: a road trip through the Isle of Skye. But, where’s the nearest airport? You’ve guessed it, Inverness. I will take nevertheless this chance for creating a nice travel guide for what is becoming at giant steps such an important tourist destination in Scotland. After all, who does not want to tick the checkbox in their travel bucket list, the Loch Ness? Well, while most of the people’s desires is this, let me tell you that Loch Ness, while being beautiful, cannot be compared to the most secluded and off-the-beaten path anywhere else through Scotland. Believe me when I tell you there are incredible places out of this world much more worth than Loch Ness itself, and what’s best in all this? Your main gateway to such incredible landscapes is right here! Inverness: The capital of the Highlands.
As for the city itself, it is really small when compared to the great Scotland cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to name the biggest, but it’s nothing more beyond the riverside, its castle and a charming yet tiny medieval old town.
This city is only the stop-over along anyone touring through the region or Scotland as a whole; a perfect base for visiting some of the most impressive landscapes, lakes and castles, or the many whiskey distilleries and of course, the Isle of Skye to which it is linked via a bridge to mainland Scotland. Other than this and as explained before, there is not much more to be said for this brief introduction to the city.
For more information about Inverness check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. The United Kingdom’s currency is the British Pound (£). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Inverness
- Greig Street Bridge One of the city’s landmark, the pedestrian iron bridge over the River Ness, offering nice views to the city, north and south.
- Old High Church Across the Greig Bridge on the eastern bank of the river, is the oldest building in the city still standing, from the medieval times built on top of a previous Celtic worship place.
- Castle On the eastern banks of River Ness, was built in 1835 on the site of the former medieval predecessor. It is now a sheriff court and cannot be visited inside, however the best views are from the opposite banks of the river (Cathedral) where you see it in full, higher in the hill.
- Saint Andrew’s Cathedral Along the western banks of the River Ness with its characteristic silhouette of the squared towers as funds run out at the time of construction hence their abruptly termination.
- Loch Ness South of the city, along the River Ness, is the northernmost shore of this world famous lake. If you have your own transportation then its best to drive it through to the south, you will pass great landscapes and castles along the way.
- Urquhart Castle Dating from the 16th century, it is one of the most picturesque places along the Loch Ness offering spectacular views of the entire lake. It is around 25 kilometres south of Inverness and you can get there by bus, to the nearest village of Drumnadrochit.
- Fort George Northeast of the city, beyond the airport, it is considered as the strongest of any fortresses in Great Britain. Built in the 18th century to pacify the Scottish Highlands in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, replacing the earlier for that was also built with the same aim after the 1715 Jacobite rising.
- Dunrobin Castle Some 50 kilometres north of the city, it is the largest of its kind this far north in the United Kingdom, right by the beach and beautiful gardens in between.
The International Airport, 15 kilometres east of the city is the main gateway and most convenient way for arrival, unless you are in a wider tour for what it would make sense you will be getting here overland. The city is very well connected to the rest of the United Kingdom’s major cities and an ever expanding European network, notoriously growing thanks to the low-cost carriers. From the airport, the bus number 11 from Stagecoach heads towards the city centre every 30 minutes, at either 11 or 41 past the hour for £4.20 single.
Coming overland by railway, there are direct connections to Edinburgh, Fort William, Glasgow, Aberdeen and south to London with the intermediary stops through the Midlands. By bus you can get from pretty much every corner of the country along the most important cities. While of course, if you plan to do a Scotland tour, it is highly likely you are renting a car so no farther need for explanation here.
Once in the city, distances are extremely short and concentrated around the small medieval old town and riverside, and the Loch Ness in the southern part of the city. There is no need for taking any public transportation, which in any case are only buses, and commuter trains to the nearby villages.
Scotland in general, but as higher north you go, it becomes the most expensive to get a hotel, and even a B&B. Of course I am here talking about a nice place with good reviews and breakfast included. It is incredibly costly, aggravated during the summer months (as the time of our trip, right by the summer solstice). Then bear in mind this is a region extremely popular, and not just the city, but the entire region and even farther beyond as the Isle of Skye to give you an example from hand to hand experience. Majority of the hotels were already fully booked as we started doing our hotel research a month before the trip. Seriously difficult situation. Fair enough you can venture without booking, and drive around in search of the many B&B’s which majority are not advertised on the internet, yet we like to have everything in order to avoid surprises and losing any time.
A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, LateRooms or Ebookers. Believe me when I tell you we really exhausted these websites, and finally got something nice and modest, in the heart of the city.
We managed our stay at the Alban and Abbey Guest House. A really nice family run B&B although unfortunately they did not have anymore rooms at the building they provide breakfast, so we stayed at their second building very near the main one, but without breakfast. As mentioned before, prices are in general very high and this was not exception, but was a really well cared place, nice and comfortable, quiet and enjoyable. The owners were very friendly and flexible too, and the location at just few minutes’ away from the riverside and the city centre itself could not be any better. We can strongly recommend this place to anyone.