The Highland Capital and the 'Official' start and finish of the NC500, although here at Scotland's Route 66, we believe that a trip to the Highlands should 'Start' at Culloden Battlefield to gain a true understanding about the Highlands and its History.
Inverness itself is a great place to visit for many reasons and is an ideal place to use as a base for 3-4 days.
Discover its flourishing culinary scene, and explore the Victorian Market or Eastgate Shopping Centre for a bit of retail therapy, catch one of the many events at Eden Court and other venues or a stroll along its wonderful River banks.
With our Maps you can find the right accommodation in this area, and you don't have to stay 'in' Inverness as you can easily change the itinerary to suit your base.
These itineraries are to be used as a guide and are designed to help you plan your days in Inverness and the surrounding area.
You can mix and Match and change the days around so you can plan the best days 'Out' depending on the weather forecast
A Day in Town
On your first day we recommend having a day in and around the City.
Inverness is the Capital of the Highlands and is stepped in History.
Its Old Town features 19th-century Inverness Cathedral, the mostly 18th-century Old High Church and an indoor Victorian Market selling food, clothing and crafts. The contemporary Inverness Museum and Art Gallery traces local and Highland history.
Inverness has the River Ness flowing through the heart of the city and can make for great walks along its banks, but it also contains a wee hidden gem.
A short walk from the city centre are the Ness Islands, a beautiful natural park.
This group of islands in the middle of the River Ness are connected by suspension bridges, built in Victorian times.
The paths around the Islands are level and suitable for all abilities.
The walk will take about one hour but you can always take a bit longer and have just go with the flow, why rush such a Great wee walk.
Inverness also has its own Castle, currently it is used as the starting point for the North Coast 500 with its statue of Flora MacDonald, (who aided Bonnie Prince Charlie after the Battle of Culloden).
Only the castle grounds and the north tower are the only parts open to the public.
They have a fairly new Viewing Tower which for a small fee you can gain excellent panoramic views of the City.
How you spend your day is entirely up to you but there is plenty to see and do and you won't be able to squeeze it all in.
Be prepared for the Highland Weather which may well change your plans, especially for time to be spent out doors.
Understanding the Highlands
Many people come to the Highlands because of the huge success of the North Coast 500.
A vast majority who travel the route, make many mistakes, they travel the route as shown on the official Map, make no detours and spend one day at each location missing out on so much in each area.
Spending time at each location allows a more relaxed and more enjoyable experience.
We firmly believe that a trip to the Highlands MUST, include a trip to Culloden Battlefield.
A 15-minute trip from the City Center it is easy and well sign posted to get to.
From here you will gain an understanding of what the Highlands are, and who the Highland people are.
The battle that took place here is of so much importance not only to the Highlands, but the events probably changed the history of the UK, Europe and even beyond.
The visitors centre is magnificent and the charges may seem steep but is certainly well worth every penny for the experience.
You can if you wish, not use the Visitors Center and walk around the Battlefield which is fairly informative and an experience on its own.
Not far from Culloden and well worth a visit are the fantastic Clava Cairns. This is a 5-minute drive from the Battlefield Center, so too close not to visit.
The Clava cairn is a Bronze Age circular chamber tomb cairn, named after the group of three cairns at Balnuaran of Clava.
There are about 50 cairns of this type in an area round about Inverness.
Where Clava-type tombs have still contained burial remains, only one or two bodies appear to have been buried in each, and the lack of access to the second sub-type suggests that there was no intention of re-visiting the dead or communally adding future burials as had been the case with Neolithic cairn tombs.
There are three burial cairns at Balnuaran, and they are part of a line of seven dotted along the south side of the valley of the River Nairn. These together form part of a group of some 50 very distinctive cairns in northern Inverness-shire, all called Clava Cairns after this location, which is where they were first studied.
The next port of call on this day trip is to the amazing Fort George. Less the 30mins from Culloden it is very easy to reach.
The fort built after the Battle of Culloden it was designed by Lieutenant-General William Skinner and built by the Adam family of architects. Fort George took 22 years to complete, by which time the Jacobite threat had subsided. But it has served the British Army for the almost 250 years since.
You will be amazed at what there is to see and do here.
You can walk around the main rampart, more than 1 km in length, which encloses an area the size of five football pitches
There is also the Highlanders Museum, Scotland’s largest regimental museum outside Edinburgh, where you can learn all you need about the regiments and much more.
Enter the grand magazine, designed to hold 2,672 gunpowder barrels and now home to a superb collection of weapons
Visit the historic barrack rooms to see a graphic recreation of soldiers’ living conditions in centuries gone by
There is also a garrison chapel, probably designed by Robert Adam
And certainly not to be missed is the dog cemetery – one of only two in Scotland – the resting place of regimental mascots and officers’ dogs
It is a great day out for the whole family and along with Culloden and Clava Cairns you will now have a greater understanding of what the Highlands are Really about.
A Highland Drive
There are plenty great drives that you can have leaving from Inverness.
Ours is one that tries to give a bit more in the way of scenery and a look at the Highlands and Cairngorms. This is a great opportunity to get a part of Scotland fitted in before you travel the Northern Highlands or the NC500.
Leaving Inverness you head to Tomatin Distillery. If you have never been to one then this is one of the Best. Driving further on you turn heading to Carrbridge with the great family area of Landmark, great for the kids.
The scenery is just great and from the heights of Tomintoul it is downwards to Glenlivet famous the world over for its Single Malt.
Carrying on you come to Ballindalloch Castle and Gardens and many more great wee places.
It is a great drive with much to see and do and will take an early start to get round the route.
Like all our itineraries feel free to use them how you like, they are intended as a guide and hopefully, the information provided will help you plan your trip and make it unforgettable.