Located where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth, Inverness is the small cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands. Home to some of the most outstanding landscapes between the mountains and the sea, the city has some great museums and galleries to discover as well as a tumultuous history of the Jacobite Risings. Then of course there is Loch Ness where you can go hunting for Nessie and see the remains of Urquhart Castle.
The region has a great array of locally grown ingredients to tempt you at any number of highland restaurants. A famous tipple or two is more than likely on the cards as you will find some of the world’s most famous whiskies but also some great Scottish gins and organically brewed ciders and beers. There are so many distilleries to visit in the area but Glenmorangie is an excellent choice and visits can be combined with day tours of the neighbouring seacoast villages.
The imposing 19th Century Inverness Castle sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness and the best way to see this red sandstone castle is by walking along the river itself. The Ness Islands are situated in the middle of the River Ness and can be reached by crossing the Victorian suspension bridges. The islands make for a relaxing destination and there are also several trails through the unspoilt nature.
Some of the sites to be seen in Inverness include the 19th Century Inverness Cathedral, which stands as a monument to the religious beliefs of the region. The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery houses artefacts and heritage of the area and has exhibits from local artists. To enjoy a subtropical utopia in the city, a visit to the Inverness Botanic Gardens that has a surprising collection of plants, fishponds and a waterfall. The Leakey’s Bookshop is one of the largest bookshops in the whole of Scotland. The bookshop houses a vast collection of second hand books, rare prints and classic editions and is situated over two floors.
For anyone wanting to see the military history of Scotland then a visit to the Highlanders’ Museum is a must as here you will find the chronicled details of the nearby Battle of Culloden. Not too far away from Inverness is the Culloden Battlefield, a windswept moorland where the Jacobite cause altered the course of world history.
The 19th Century Victorian Market is a quaint picturesque market and is home to trendy craft shops and boutiques. There is also a great selection of cafés and restaurants where you can relax, people watch and enjoy.
Loch Ness would have to be one of the most visited and famous places when up in the Scottish Highlands and is home to Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. Only a short distance from Inverness, Loch Ness is a great day out where you can cycle or walk along the river front. The impressive fortress of Urquhart Castle sits on the banks of Loch Ness near to the village of Drumnadrochit. The fortress is mainly in ruins but is supposed to be one of the best places to spot the illusive Nessie. Remember to take your camera as the views are outstanding.
While in the Scottish Highlands a must visit is to the 15th Century Cawdor Castle and Gardens, which was made famous by William Shakespeare’s cursed play Macbeth. The castle is full of history and stunning gardens including a walled, wild and flower garden. For the most beautiful Highland scenery, Glen Affric west of Loch Ness has incredible natural beauty with also an abundance of wildlife. Fairy Glen is another great spot, with woodlands and picturesque waterfalls. There is no shortage of stunning scenery to relish in the Highlands of Scotland.
For any Harry Potter fans who fancy a last minute delight, why not take a trip on the famous Jacobite Steam Train the real life Hogwarts Express. The journey takes in some of the most stunning scenery throughout the Scottish Highlands and over the magnificent Glenfinnan Viaduct.