Known as the capitol of the highlands, and the start and end point for the famous North Coast 500, Inverness is a city on the northeast coast of Scotland where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth.
It’s beautiful landscapes, medieval ruins and prehistoric sites as well as its proximity to the famous Loch Ness attracts tourists to explore the city and the highlands beyond.
What is Inverness famous for?
Undoubtedly Inverness is best known around the world for being the hub of the Highlands as well as the closest town to the renewed Loch Ness, home to the legend of the Loch Ness monster.
More recently it has been brought to peoples attention in the TV series Outlander as in the story it’s where Claires story begins in the 1940’s, however the scenes were actually filmed in Falkland, just north of Edinburgh.
Historically, Inverness is best known for the Battle of Culloden where the Jacobite army was defeated by the British government force in 1746 in the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising.
In literature, Inverness was the location where Macbeth murdered King Duncan in the Shakespeare play of Macbeth.
The city was also voted one of the happiest places on earth with its high level of wellbeing amongst its residents, the nature and it’s culture.
What’s the history of Inverness?
The meaning of the name Inverness is ‘mouth of River Ness’, it’s an ancient settlement where the Pictish king Brude lived in his fortress which St Columba is rumoured to have visited. Later, in 1040 as immortalised in the Shakespeare play, Macbeth is thought to have King Duncan at his castle, which stood on the site of Auld Castlehill.
In the 12th century, Inverness was announced as a royal burgh. In the 13th century a shipbuilding industry rose here and by the Middle Ages it was a busy port.
During the 16th and the 17th century it was a busy port and market town and in the 18th century the fort was taken by the Jacobites who were then defeated by the Battle of Culloden. The late 18th century also welcomed whiskey distilling to the area.
The town really started growing in the 19th century with many new buildings being built and a new ‘castle’ being erected. In 1808 gaslight and a water supply was available in the city and it even got its first newspaper. Industries such as shipbuilding, sail making, tanning and wool were up and coming in the area.
By the 20th century the town had a population of 21,000 and Inverness was made a city in 2000.
What is there to do in Inverness?
- Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle – Only a 30 minute drive or bus ride from Inverness, this legendary and iconic area of Scotland is one of the Highlands main attractions. Enjoy a boat ride across the lake and hear all about the tales of the Loch Ness monster and no visit to the Loch is complete without exploring the ancient ruins of Urquhart Castle and taking in the spectacular views.
- Culloden Battlefield – Learn all about some of Scotlands most important history by exploring the final site of the Jacobite Risings and it’s interactive visitors centre, just 15 minutes drive from Inverness city.
- Inverness Castle – Overlooking River Ness, right in the heart of the city is this 19th century castle built on the cliff-top site of an 11th century fortification. Filled with history, this sites has tales of power struggles, battles and murder.
- Walk the River Ness Circuit – Perfect for the nature lover, this 3-4 hour circuit takes you along the banks of River Ness where you can spot seals and seabirds, you can also explore the Inverness War Memorial, Inverness Cathedral and floral flower gardens along the way.
- Clava Cairns – Free to visit, this well preserved prehistoric site dates back an amazing 4000 years to the Bronze Age. The complex passage graves, ring cairns and standing stones has been a sacred place built to house the dead for millennia.
Can you wild camp in Inverness?
As with most areas in the Scottish Highlands, its legal to wild camp on unenclosed land in and around Inverness. Make sure you read the Scottish Outdoor Access Code before you camp out and remember to leave only footsteps!
Which is the best neighbourhood to stay in Inverness?
- Dalneigh – Situated on the western bank of the River Ness, this is a mostly residential area.
- Raigmore – Although there is little in the way of attractions in this area, being mostly residential it does provide some cheaper options for those on a budget.
- Inverness City Centre – Great for nightlife, a wide selection of restaurants and being close to all the main action and attractions that Inverness has to offer.
- Foyers – A little out of the main city, this small village is a great spot to relax and take in the stunning scenery and we highly recommend it for your first nights stop after picking up your Highland Overland truck.
- Drumnadrochit – Perfect for families, this village located on the western shore of Loch Ness is one of the most popular villages outside of Inverness.
Top 5 Caravan Sites in and Around Inverness
- Bunchrew Caravan Park – A dog and family friendly caravan park surrounded by 20 acres of parkland with a selection of pitches to choose from including beach front or set back amongst the tress. Just 3 miles outside of Inverness.
- Ardtower Caravan Park – Close to Culloden Battlefield and a short drive to Loch Ness, this park as a large range of pitch types and uninterrupted views out towards the Bonnie Black Isle.
- Culloden Moor Caravan Club Site – Only 6 miles east of Inverness, this dog friendly site offers unspoilt views, sheltered camping and access to Culloden Forest and the historic site of Culloden Battlefield.
- Lochness Shores Camping and Caravanning Club Site – A quiet spot on the southern shores of Loch Ness near Foyers, this year round caravan site offers panoramic views across the loch and has a bistro on site.
- Barns Highland – A peaceful family run site situated on a working farm between Inverness and Nairn. This dog friendly side has several walks on its grounds and stunning countryside views.
Top 5 Glamping Sites in and Around Inverness
- Inverness Glamping – A chic glamping site with double and bunk beds sleeping 4 as well as en-suite bathrooms. Enjoy a campfire, BBQ or relax on the outside deck of your pod.
- Daviot Luxury Pods – 6 miles outside Inverness city centre, your private en-suite pod has everything you need including an excellent kitchenette with stovetop toaster, microwave, kettle, fridge, smart TV, underfloor heating and Alexa speaker.
- GlamNess Luxury Shipping Containers – An adult only glam-site on 5 acres of pretty riverside gardens. Their 6 recycled shipping containers are en-suite with comfy beds and flat screen TV’s.
- Delny Glamping – Situated in the grounds of an enormous Highland mansion, these picturesque, pet friendly surroundings are a beautiful stop for the whole family to enjoy with its wide range of sleeping options and petting zoo for the kids.
- Camping Pod Heaven – Set in a peaceful village, just a short drive from Inverness and a few minutes from Loch Ness, the Camping Pod Heaven has excellent facilities with underfloor heating and insulated pods with electricity.
Top Hotels in and Around Inverness
- Foyers Lodge – An 1800’s building which has been lovingly resorted and modernised by it’s owner’s for a homely and sophisticated B&B stay amongst beautifully kept grounds and unrivalled views of Loch Ness.
- Glenmoriston Town House – Situated on the banks of River Ness, an ideal gateway to the Highlands this hotel has an authentic, local touch and an award winning Contrast Brasserie restaurant as well as a Piano Bar serving over 260 malt whiskies.
- Rocpool Reserve Hotel – A renovated Georgian mansions, this sleek and snazzy boutique offers beautiful views over the River Ness and is ideally located just a few minutes walk from Inverness Castle and the city centre.
- Pentahotel Inverness – An ultra modern budget hotel with a kitsch communal space with cocktails, glitter balls, billiards and beer and just minutes away from the railway station.