Welcome to our Inverness, Loch Ness and Black Isle travel guide! Plan and book your perfect holiday with local tips, places to stay, things to do, holiday inspiration & destination info.
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Inverness, Britain’s most northerly city, is the capital of the Highlands and straddles the River Ness at the northern end of the Great Glen. The area is popular with people searching for the Loch Ness monster and visiting Chanonry Point on the Black Isle to see the bottlenose dolphins. The city is worth visiting for a walk to the islands in the River Ness, a cruise on Loch Ness, and a meal in one of the city’s great restaurants.
Inverness is situated at the northeastern end of the Great Glen (Gleann Mòr) where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth. Inverness comes from the Scottish Gaelic, Inbhir Nis, meaning “Mouth of the River Ness”.
Loch Ness lies to the south of Inverness and the Black Isle (not actually an island) is to the north of the city across the Kessock Bridge. The Black Isle’s villages include Rosemarkie, Fortrose and Cromarty.
The best time to visit depends on what you want to see and do on your Outer Hebrides holiday.
Winter is a less popular time of year so there will be less tourists but it will be colder. There may also be snow.
The weather starts to improve during the spring and there still aren’t many holidaymakers so it’s a good time to visit. Prices for accommodation will be cheaper than in the summer too.
Wildlife lovers should plan a trip for July and August. You have more chance of seeing the bottlenose dolphins during the summer.
In the summer you will also find cultural events including the Inverness Highland in July.
As with anywhere, it can be hard to get accommodation at short notice during the summer holidays and the prices increase. Scotland’s school holidays run from the start of July to mid-August.
As the nights get longer, there are less people on holiday so it’s less busy and accommodation is cheaper. The leaves start to change colour on the trees giving the area a different feel.
There are plenty of options when it comes to travelling to the Highland capital.
Inverness has good rail links. The Caledonian Sleeper service is an overnight train service running between London and Scotland. It leaves from Euston station in London and there is a Highland route which serves the Highland destinations of Fort William and Inverness plus Aberdeen, visiting various stations on the way.
The area has train links with Glasgow and Edinburgh and there’s a direct service from London and the south.
Trans Pennine Express – check timetables and fare prices for anywhere in the UK. On this website you can buy rail tickets in advance to get the best deals. They don’t charge booking and credit card fees unlike some other websites.
You can cruise to Inverness by boat via the Caledonian Canal. Hoseasons have a selection of boats for hire.
You can fly to Inverness Airport from various destinations across the UK and Europe.
The two main airports in Scotland are in driving distance of Inverness:
Megabus run coach services across the UK including to Inverness, Aviemore and Fort William. Find out more and book on the Megabus website.
The area is easily accessible by car. From the south, the A9 is the main route, connecting the city with Perth, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Alternative routes are great if you have more time to explore. But whichever route you choose, you won’t be disappointed by the scenery. You can hire cars from various companies in the Scottish Highlands including local businesses and Hertz UK and Thrifty UK.
If you prefer to travel without a car or fancy a day off from driving, there are several options including public transport. The city centre is quite compact so it can be easy to explore on foot.
There are public bus services provided by Stagecoach and you can see timetables on their website.
Cycling has grown in popularity around the HIghlands. Bring your own bike and use one of the bike and bag transfer services or cycle the Great Glen Mountain Bike Trail to Fort William. You can also hire a bike for a less demanding day tour.
You can hire taxis in Inverness and the surrounding area.
If you love walking, the challenge of the Great Glen Way could be your ideal way to explore this stunning area.
We hope this Inverness travel guide has inspired you to start planning your holiday. Also on our website, you can find holiday accommodation In Inverness, Loch Ness and the Black Isle and don’t forget to get your Lonely Planet Scotland’s Highlands and Islands guide book. If you buy direct from Lonely Planet you can buy just the chapters you need in digital pdf or the whole book. Also available from Amazon.
The best tips on what to do and see and where to go from the people who know this area best.