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Inverness – The Hub of the Scottish Highlands
Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, is a city with a long history dating back some 1500 years. It’s the most northerly city in Britain but thankfully the close proximity of Inverness Airport and a mainline railway station makes it relatively easy to visit. Offering a good range of shops, restaurants and comfortable hotels, it also makes a great base for exploring this part of Scotland; attractions such as Culloden Battlefield, numerous whisky distilleries and Cairngorms National Park are under an hour’s drive away. It’s also conveniently close to Loch Ness, home of that most famous of monsters, Nessie!
Getting to Know Inverness
Inverness is a fairly compact city with many of its attractions within easy walking distance of each other. A great place to start a tour of the city is to visit the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery on Castle Wynd. It’s free to enter and offers plenty of interesting exhibits that explain the city’s history from its time as a Pict settlement, through the Jacobite risings to the present day. It also features an art gallery showcasing works by Scottish and international artists. After a coffee and a slice of cake in the on-site café, step outside to see the striking Inverness Castle, made of red sandstone. Unfortunately, it’s not open to the public but it is possible to explore the grounds where great views over the River Ness and beyond await. In fact, a highlight for many visitors is a simple walk along the banks of the Ness, taking in the lovely scenery with the chance of seeing dolphins in the mouth of the river.
Shopping, Eating Out and Entertainment
Inverness has a bustling city centre with plenty of shops, restaurants and hotels to choose from. Its two covered shopping centres are particularly popular: built in the 19th-century, Victorian Market features local independent traders, while Eastgate Shopping Centre is a more modern addition offering typical high street brands and fast food chains. For more refined dining, Rocpool on Ness Walk is recommended for its Scottish and international dishes that feature locally-sourced ingredients. Alternatively, the Fig & Thistle on Stephens Brae offers great cooking at reasonable prices. For post-dinner entertainment, the IronWorks on Academy Street is a popular live music venue hosting famous performers, tribute acts and musicals and, across the river near St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Eden Court is the place to catch a film or a play. A great way to round off a night out in Inverness is to enjoy the atmosphere of a traditional Scottish pub like Hootenanny on Church Street which provides live music and Scottish tipples.
Loch Ness, Nessie and Surrounding Attractions
Loch Ness is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Highlands and it’s easy to see why: stunning scenery, myths and legends and ancient monuments all just a pleasant drive from Inverness. For those without a car or wishing to leave their vehicle behind, one of the best ways to experience the landscape is to take a cruise along the Caledonian Canal into the heart of Loch Ness. Jacobite Cruises offers tours which include coach travel from Inverness Bus Station to Dochgarroch Lock with an onward cruise into Loch Ness. Depending on the cruise package chosen, there will also be the opportunity to visit other attractions such as Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition which gives a fascinating insight into the legend that is Nessie with videos of eye witness accounts. Also on the itinerary are Urquhart Castle, a ruin that was formerly a Clan stronghold during Scotland’s battles with England, and Corrimony Chambered Cairn, an interesting ancient burial chamber.
Other Day Trips from Inverness
As well as Loch Ness, there are plenty of other attractions an easy drive from Inverness. Culloden Battlefield is well worth a visit; it’s the site of the famous battle between the Jacobites and the Hanoverians on 16th April 1746 that resulted in the end of the Scottish uprising against the British Crown. Commemorative stones mark the graves of the Clans and the visitor centre and museum explain the reasons behind the conflict. On the coast to the north and near Inverness Airport is Fort George, which was rebuilt in its current form in the aftermath of Culloden. Still in use as a garrison, it incorporates the Highlanders’ Museum with over 30,000 artefacts, photos and documents. For those seeking outdoor activities, the Cairngorms National Park features walking and mountain biking trails as wells as high-end hotels. Of course, golf is very popular in this part of Scotland with Inverness Golf Club and Fairways Golf Course great options for those seeking a round.
A Wee Tipple – Scottish Whisky Distilleries
A trip to the Highlands wouldn’t be complete without sampling that most famous of spirits, whisky. This part of Scotland is known for its many distilleries, the nearest of which being Glen Ord on Black Isle, just north of Inverness. It’s one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland, founded in 1838, and offers tours of the distillery and tasting sessions. On the other side of Inverness, Tomatin Distillery Visitor Centre is another option, again featuring a selection of tours and the chance to taste their whisky, with reduced rates for designated drivers. If that’s not enough ‘water of life’ (from the Gaelic name for whisky ‘uisge beatha’), even more distilleries await alongside the River Spey, totalling over 50 in fact! It’s around 60 miles away from Inverness but fortunately there are several hotels in the area for those wishing to stay overnight. The Malt Whisky Trail recommends visiting seven of the most famous distilleries here including Glenlivet, Glenfiddich, Glen Grant and Cardhu.
Price rangefrom ₹2,109to ₹33,898
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