Inverness is only Scotland’s 12th largest city. The bustling metropolis of Cumbernauld has more people. But regardless of its size, it’s one of the most important destination cities in the country for two reasons. First, it serves and the capital of, and many travelers’ introduction to, the vast Scottish Highlands. Second, Inverness sits right next to one of Scotland’s most famous and visited sites, Loch Ness.

Inverness and the River Ness, Creative Commons photo by Dave Conner.

Inverness and the River Ness, Creative Commons photo by Dave Conner.

Getting to Inverness

Inverness is rarely the first stop on an international trip, though there is a direct flight from Amsterdam and seasonal flights from Bergen (Norway) and Geneva. Most arrivals to Inverness Airport (INV) come from London, Bristol or Manchester. There is excellent rail service to most major cities in England and Scotland, including the Caledonian Sleeper, one of only two sleeper trains in the UK, which runs between Inverness and London Euston station each night. The drives from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Inverness, up the A9, both take about three hours.

What to Do in Inverness

If you’re looking for bustling nightlife and cutting-edge popular culture, maybe Glasgow is more your speed. Inverness is a lovely, quiet little city, highly walkable and consistently voted one of the happiest and friendliest places in Britain. A visit to Inverness Castle should certainly be on the list for most visitors, and there’s a beautiful walking path along the River Ness. The river itself is fantastic for fishing.

>> Check out our list of upcoming events and festivals in Inverness to help plan your trip.

But what makes Inverness truly special isn’t what’s in the city, but what’s around it. As capital of the Highlands, the city is a great launching point for trips out into the countryside. Of course, Loch Ness is the most popular day trip, but there are so many castles, hiking trails, fishing spots and golf courses within a short drive from the city. There are ruined castles, like Urquhart on the shore of Loch Ness, as well as more intact ones like Cawdor, mentioned prominently in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. If you enjoy the outdoors, you’ll never run out of options here.

Places to Stay in Inverness

Unlike the larger cities, your options for hotels in Inverness are somewhat limited. But what it lacks in luxury resorts, it more than makes up for with some of the best bed and breakfasts in the country. There are more hostels and guest houses than you’d expect for a city this size too, but don’t look for raucous party hostels. Things are much more relaxed and at Inverness’ dorms – still very social, but mellower than in the big cities.

A few recommended hotels:


Glasdair Bed
and Breakfast


Townhouse Hotel


Columba Hotel