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If you’re looking for spots to add to a Scottish road trip, here’s one more! Visiting Inverness was one of the highlights of my trip. It’s more than just a base to visit Loch Ness!
The Scottish countryside in this region is wonderful. Inverness is the biggest settlement for miles around meaning trekkers and walkers have a cosy base to return to at the end of the day.
During my recent trip backpacking the UK, I planned to visit Glasgow and Edinburgh but found the prospect of the rolling Highlands too tempting to stay down south (you know you’re going far north when those places are ‘down south’!).
Reasons to visit Inverness
So why should you add Inverness to your Scotland itinerary? Here are 10 solid reasons which I hope will also act as your guide to visiting Inverness…
1. It’s the gateway to the Highlands
For most people, visiting Inverness isn’t really about the town: it’s about the surroundings. Some of the incredible spots that can easily be visited from Inverness are:
- Loch Ness
- Urquhart Castle
- Culloden Battlefield
- Culver Castle.
2. It’s a great place to try the Scottish cuisine
All that Highland walking means one thing – foodie rewards! My favourite place during my trip was Rendezvous Cafe, a vintage movie-themed cafe paying homage to the big screen… and big portions!
I ate the Scottish fry up which consisted of sausages, black pudding, fried egg, black pudding, a tattie scone, baked beans, mushroom and tomato. Oh, and toast and coffee (Well, I wouldn’t want to go hungry!)
3. It’s just 20 minutes from Loch Ness
This famous Loch is probably the most popular reason for coming to Inverness. Tales of the mysterious monster that allegedly lurks under the surface has travellers coming from all over the globe.
Read next: A Loch Ness travel guide
Nope, I didn’t see Nessie but the shores and waters of the UK’s deepest lake (sorry, loch!) were worth it alone.
4. The cute shops & cafes in the Victorian Market
I didn’t come to Inverness for the coffee (does anyone?) but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found.
Whilst wandering inside the atmospheric Victorian Market, I stumbled across Milk Bar where I had a delicious matcha latte and chatted to the owner about how we’d both first tried it in Japan. All the other coffee blends and cakes looked amazing – I’d have been a regular for sure if I’d been around longer!
5. Urquhart is castle goals
Nestled on the edge of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle which dates back to the 13th Century. It has a rich history and was once lived in by royals and raided by the MacDonald clan on a few occasions. Much of it has fallen down but you can still clearly see where the kitchen and stables stood and climb one of the towers for views of Loch Ness.
Entrance is £9 at the main entrance or you can include it on a Loch Ness boat cruise (for an extra £9 – you’re not dodging that one!). The cruise drops you at Urquhart for an hour before you re-board.
6. The river walk is stunning
I spent a gorgeous afternoon strolling the riverbank opposite the castle. My visit in May coincided with pink blossom and tulips flowering – very picturesque!
7. There’s a solid foodie scene
Everything I ate in Inverness was really tasty, especially the wood-fired pizzas at Black Isle Bar. I went with a blue cheese, courgette and red onion pizza which was so good, although I had trouble choosing as there was such a long list of options. The lively bar also seems like a good spot for nightlife.
8. The castle viewpoint
Looking for the best view in town? I got ya! Head up to Inverness Castle where you’ll look out over rolling countryside and snow-capped mountains.
For £5 you can climb the tower, something I deemed too expensive when I was already paying £25 a night for a dorm bed – UK prices, eh? However, a trip to the castle is free and it’s gorgeous even if you don’t climb the tower.
9. Friendly hostels
Inverness isn’t packed with accommodation options but I really liked staying at Black Isle Hostel. It has a comfy lounge area and you get pizza vouchers for Black Isle Bar around the corner (remember those wood-fired pizzas I mentioned earlier?).
Browse all Inverness hostels on Hostelworld.
10. Whatever way you get there, the journey is incredible
I’ve heard the train journey to Inverness is beautiful and I can confirm the bus route is also stunning. From Glasgow or Edinburgh, you’ll have to drive through Cairngorms National Park which is a highlight in itself.
From what I saw, there are endless mountains and guesthouses offering adventure packages and tours. Apparently, Nat Geo even voted it one of the top 20 places in the world to visit. If you aren’t able to stop off, seeing it en route to Inverness is a great alternative.
Browse trains to Inverness and buses to Inverness.
Visiting the UK?
Guidebooks – LP always get my seal of approval. Use the latest copy of Lonely Planet Scotland / Lonely Planet Great Britain.
Flights (international and domestic): I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Car hire – use Rentalcars.com to compare car rentals and campers in the UK (and all around the world).
Confused about visas? I use iVisa to check visa requirements and apply for visas online.
For UK trains, I use Trainline. The search feature allows you to compare prices, and they show live departure times on the website.
For buses, I use Busbud. It’s the only site that compares UK coaches and buses. Find London to Manchester journeys for £1!
Use Omio to compare trains and buses in one search. It’s so handy.
For hotels and self-catering apartments, I use Booking.com. You can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.com.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
Browse UK tours and activities on GetYourGuide.
For food tours pairing travellers with passionate local chefs and foodies, check out EatWith.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Thanks for reading!
Planning a trip to Scotland? Check out my other posts:
- The Loch Ness travel guide
- How to spend a weekend in Glasgow
- A Glasgow street art guide
- Free things to do in Edinburgh
- A guide to Harry Potter Edinburgh
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked my Inverness guide? Pin it for later!