16 Epic Day Trips from Inverness You Must Visit 

While there are plenty of amazing things to do in Inverness, this city also serves as a perfect base for exploring some of the most breathtaking landscapes and historical sites Scotland has to offer. 

There are plenty of lovely day trip destinations from Inverness – the capital of the Highlands.

From the world-famous Loch Ness to the rugged Cairngorms – Some of the best places to visit in Scotland are located only a short distance from this bustling city and are perfect for a day trip.

Most of the places mentioned in this guide can be visited by public transport. But if you want more flexibility, we would suggest renting a car from Inverness. 

Here is a curated list of some of the best day trips that you don’t want to miss. Be sure to add a few of them to your Scotland itinerary.

Best Day Trips Less Than One Hour from Inverness

1. Loch Ness

Famous for its breathtaking natural beauty, riveting history and the resident monster, Nessie, Loch Ness is one of the most popular day trip choices for all travellers visiting Inverness. There are so many incredible things to do and see in Loch Ness that will make you fall in love with this area of the Scottish Highlands.

Take a scenic boat cruise to admire the stunning landscapes around the loch. Loch Ness stretches over a length of about 23 miles. It holds more water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined. Peel your eyes out to catch a glimpse of the elusive Loch Ness monster.

The historic Urquhart Castle is one of the must-visit tourist attractions around Loch Ness. The impressive ruins date back to the 13th century and have a turbulent past. Many battles and sieges took place here over its ownership. Climb the Grant Tower for an outstanding panoramic view of Loch Ness and the Great Glen.

After exploring the Urquhart Castle, make your way to the picturesque village of Fort Augustus. Located midway between Inverness and Fort William, Fort Augustus is one of the most charming villages in Scotland. The beautiful Caledonian Canal passes through the heart of this village. There are various cycling and hiking opportunities around this area.

The stunning Falls of Foyer is a must-see visitor attraction of South Loch Ness. The waterfall drops dramatically 140ft into a deep gorge. A short walk through the woodlands will bring you to the viewpoint. 

Additionally, make a brief stop at Dores Beach. Stroll along the shore to admire the vast stretch of the loch. On a sunny summer day, It is a perfect place for a picnic. You can take a swim as well, weather permitting.

How to Reach Loch Ness: Loch Ness lies only a few miles from Inverness. Driving around the loch is a great way to explore this area. Alternatively, there is public transport available. Depending on where in Loch Ness you are travelling to, you can catch a local bus service.

2. Culloden Battlefield

Culloden Battlefield is one of the most important sites in Scottish history. Also, it is one of the best places to visit near Inverness for all history buffs.

On April 16, 1746, the Jacobites, led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and the government forces headed by the Duke of Cumberland, had a fierce combat at this historic site. Over 1500 Jacobites lost their lives in this brutal battle. 

It marked the end of the Jacobite uprising. The aftermath of this battle had a massive impact on Highland’s history. The government forces conducted brutal atrocities against the Jacobite supporters.

To learn about this place in depth, head to the visitor centre. You will get to witness many intriguing exhibits and displays offering a fascinating insight into the lives of the soldiers, the battle plans, and the political aftermath.

Later, stroll around the grounds. Here, you will find headstones indicating the graves of the Highlanders who had lost their lives on that fateful day.

Take a look inside the historic Leanach Cottage. It dates back to 1746 and was used as a hospital for the English armies.

How to Reach Culloden Battlefield: From Inverness Bus Station, catch bus number 27. It takes only 27 minutes to reach Culloden Battlefield. If you are driving, then it will take roughly 15 minutes.

3. Cawdor Castle

No visit to Scotland is ever complete without visiting one of its many castles. The historic Cawdor Castle lies close to Inverness and is a great day trip choice for all history lovers. Plus, it is one of the best castles in Scotland.

This Highland castle is well-known for its association with Shakespeare’s play Macbeth, even though there is no historical connection to the castle.

Cawdor Castle was built around a tower house from the 15th century. Back then, it was under the ownership of Clan Calder. But it later changed hands and belonged to the Campbells.

Take a tour of this castle to learn about its past. The rooms are decorated with several photos, paintings and tapestries. Take a look inside the bedroom, dining room and the old kitchen.

Legends have it that this castle was built around a 14th-century holly tree. Surprisingly, you can still see it in the dungeon.

After stepping out of the castle, stroll around the beautifully maintained gardens and grounds. Spend some time in the walled garden and the flower garden.

How to Reach: To reach Cawdor Castle, you can travel by car or take a bus from Inverness. If you’re driving, the castle is located about 12 miles northeast of Inverness, and the journey takes approximately 25 minutes. To get here by public transport, you can take the bus or train to Nairn, then get a local bus from there.

4. Aviemore

Surrounded by rugged landscapes of the majestic Cairngorms National Park, Aviemore is one of the most charming towns in Scotland. It is one of the best day trips from Inverness for all nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

This bustling town is a perfect base to explore the Cairngorms. You can catch a local bus service to visit the Cairngorms Mountain Railway, home of the only funicular railway in Scotland. From the top, admire a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes.

If you are visiting Inverness in winter, you can easily spend a day enjoying various snow sports and winter activities in the Cairngorms. The national park is home to three ski resorts.

Also, make a brief stop at the scenic Loch Morlich, which is surrounded by a beautiful sandy beach. It is a hub for various water sports. The magnificent Rothiemurchus Forest is also located quite close to Aviemore.

There are many walking trails around this area, with hikes for all abilities. Expert hikers can climb Ben MacDui, the second-highest mountain in Britain.

How to Reach Aviemore: It takes only 34 minutes by train from Inverness. Alternatively, you can catch bus services operated by Megabus and Scottish Citylink. It takes only 38 minutes by car.

5. Fairy Glen and Chanonry Point

Tucked away in a beautiful woodland on the Black Isle, the magical waterfalls of the Fairy Glen make one of the best family-friendly nature walks near Inverness.

From the village car park, follow the winding path along a small stream. Soon, you will find two beautiful waterfalls plunging into a pool below. The hike only takes an hour.

Legend has it that the fairies residing here used their magical powers to keep the water clean for the residents. Local children would decorate the pools with flowers in past to thank these mythical creatures.

After the hike, follow along the coast to visit Chanonry Point, one of the best sites in Britain for dolphin-watching. When we came here, we managed to spot a few Bottlenose dolphins jumping from the water and playing.

Although you might see them all day long, try arriving about an hour after low tide to increase your chances. Dolphins come here during the rising tide to feast on salmon and sea trout. You might also spot harbour porpoises, whales and other sea creatures from here.

Even if you can’t spot any dolphins, the splendid view over the Moray Firth, Fort George, Rosemarkie village, and the lovely beach would make your visit worthwhile.

How to Reach: To reach Fairy Glen, catch bus number 26 by Stagecoach. The journey lasts for about 32 minutes. For Chanonry Point, catch the same bus but alight at the Chanonry Park bus stop and walk for about 25 minutes.

6. Clava Cairn

Shrouded in mysteries and myths, Clava Cairn is a must-visit site for all history enthusiasts. It is an intriguing and important archaeological site, offering a glimpse into the life of our ancient ancestors.

Clava Cairn lies only a mile away from the Culloden Battlefield. So, you can easily combine both of them in a day trip from Inverness.

Clava Cairn is a prehistoric burial site. It consists of three circles of standing stones with burial chambers in the middle, which dates back to the Neolithic period.

Archaeologists believe that the passages of the cairns are aligned towards the southwest, where the sun sets on the winter solstice. Therefore, there might be some astronomical significance.

Apart from their use to bury the dead not much is known about the cairns. So, you never know what rituals they performed here. 

For all Outlander fans visiting Inverness, Clava Cairn is an unmissable attraction. In recent years, this site has gained popularity amongst the fans of this historical drama TV show.

This prehistoric stone circle was said to be the inspiration for the fictional Craigh Na Dun in the Outlander novel series, where Claire Randall touches the mysterious stone and is transported back in time.

How to Reach Clava Cairn: From the Inverness bus station, hop on bus 27, operated by Stagecoach. Clava Cairn is about a 25-minute walk from the bus stop. It takes only 16 minutes to drive here.

7. Fort George

Sitting strategically on the Moray Firth, Fort George is the mightiest military fortification in Britain. It is one of the best tourist attractions near Inverness.

After the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie in the Battle of Culloden during the Jacobite Rising of 1745, construction of this fort began. Named after King George II, Fort George was built as a strong army base for the English forces to prevent further unrest and rebellions in the Scottish Highlands. 

It is located at the northeast of Inverness. Even after 250 years since its construction, Fort George is still in use as a military garrison.

While here, you can explore the vast complex and learn about the intriguing military history. Pop inside the Highlanders Museum, where you can find various photographs, memorabilia, weapons, uniforms and medals, showcasing the past of the regiments, their relationship with Scottish clans and stories about regimental members.

You can also explore the grand magazine, barrack rooms and the garrison chapel. Don’t forget to visit the dog cemetery. From the ramparts, you will get a stunning view of the surrounding area. If you are lucky, you might even spot some dolphins.

How to Reach Fort George: Catch bus service 11 to the village of Ardersier. From the bus stop, take a walk along the coast to reach Fort George. It takes only 22 minutes to drive here.

Day Trips Between One to Two Hours From Inverness

8. Glen Affric

Glen Affric is a nature lover’s paradise and one of the most beautiful spots in Scotland. It is one of our favourite places close to Inverness. The word ‘glen’ means valley in Scotland.

Dramatic vistas, extensive lush woodlands, tranquil lochs, magnificent mountains and numerous hiking trails make this area perfect for day-trippers from Inverness. Glen Affric is home to some of the large and ancient Caledonian pine woods in Scotland.

For one of the most breathtaking views over the glen, hike to the Am Meallan viewpoint. It takes only 10 minutes to get there from the car park. Admire the magnificent view of Loch Affric and the surrounding mountain peaks. Keen walkers can walk the Loch Affric Circuit.

Glen Affric has a rich and diverse wildlife. Watch out for golden eagles, red squirrels, osprey and red deer.

A visit to Dog Falls is not to be missed. Follow the trail along the river to reach the viewpoint. From there, you can admire the cascading waterfall running through a rugged gorge.

Next, drive to the spectacular Plodda Falls – the highest waterfall in the area. From the viewing platform, you can see the water tumbling down fiercely.

How to Reach Glen Affric: There is no public transport option here. Getting here from Inverness is quite an adventure in itself. This area is quite remote, and the roads here are mostly single-track. So, drive carefully and pull over at the passing places.

9. Dunrobin Castle

Nestled on the east coast of the Northern Highlands, Dunrobin Castle is one of the must-visit castles in Scotland. You can easily visit this fairytale castle on a day trip from Inverness. 

Due to its conical spires and charming towers, Dunrobin Castle looks like a French chateau. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited castles in Scotland and is the home to the Dukes of Sutherland.

Dunrobin Castle was designed by renowned British architect Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Palace of Westminster in London. It was later renovated by Scottish architect Sir Robert Lorimer.

During the First World War, Dunrobin Castle was used as a naval hospital. It was later converted into a boarding school.

While here, meander around the beautiful garden and grounds. It looks simply stunning in full bloom in summer. You can also watch the falconry shows in the garden.

How to Reach Dunrobin Castle: If you are using public transport, you can get to Dunrobin Castle by bus and train from Inverness. The bus takes about an hour and 23 minutes, and the train takes around two hours. It takes around an hour and 10 minutes to drive here.

10. Fort William

Located about 65 miles from Inverness, Fort William is known as the outdoor capital of the UK. From distillery tours to castle hunting, boat tours to gondola rides, mountain biking to Munro bagging – there is an array of incredible things to do in Fort William.

This bustling town sits under the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the United Kingdom. If you are an avid hiker, you can try climbing it.

From Fort William, you can catch the famous Jacobite Steam Train. It was featured in the popular Harry Potter movies. The train ride is one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. Also, it runs through the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Plus, we would suggest taking the scenic gondola ride at the Nevis Range Mountain Resort. It is the only mountain gondola in the UK, and it transports visitors at an elevation of 650m in no time. From the top, you can feast your eyes with stunning panoramic views over Fort William, Loch Linnhe and the Great Glen.

Before heading back to Inverness, make a pit stop at the Commando Memorial in Spean Bridge. You will get a spectacular view of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor from there.

How to Reach Fort William: Citylink runs a direct bus service to Fort William, which takes approximately two hours. A82 connects Inverness to Fort William. It typically takes around an hour and forty minutes to drive there.

11. Plockton

Nestled on the banks of Loch Carron, Plockton is a picturesque village on the west coast of Scotland. There are many wonderful things to do in Plockton on your trip from Inverness.

Plockton is known for its postcard-worthy sceneries. Due to the Gulf Stream, the climate here is mild and you will even find palm trees. Also, this fishing village was the filming location of the TV series Hamish Macbeth.

Take a leisurely stroll around the village. Admire the neatly lined whitewashed cottages and the stunning gardens.

For a spectacular panoramic view over the village and the surrounding mountains, hike to the nearby Carn na Frith-Aird Viewpoint. On a clear day, you can see the Cuillin ranges of the Isle of Skye and the mountains of Applecross.

You can also take a boat trip from Plockton to discover the rich and diverse wildlife of this area. On the tour, you can spot seals, otters, dolphins, porpoises and numerous sea birds.

How to Reach Plockton: The train from Inverness takes about two hours and 26 minutes to reach Plockton. By car, it takes about an hour and 50 minutes.

12. Cullen

For outstanding coastal vistas, take a road trip from Inverness along the coastline of Moray Firth towards the charming village of Cullen. On your way, you can visit the beautiful beaches of Nairn and Lossiemouth. Also, stop by Elgin to visit the historic ruins of Elgin Cathedral.

Nestled on the Moray coast, Cullen is one of the lovely seaside villages in Scotland. There are plenty of activities to do in Cullen. This village is famous for being the birthplace of Cullen Skink, a traditional Scottish soup made with smoked haddock, potato and milk.

One of the main tourist attractions in Cullen is the Cullen Beach. In summer, you can swim and sunbathe here.

If you continue walking along the beach, you will reach the village of Portknockie. You will find the dramatic Bow Fiddle Rock here. It resembles the tip of a fiddle’s bow.

Another must-visit attraction here is the Old Viaduct. It was built in the late 19th century. Today, the viaduct is used as a pedestrian walkway. You will get a stunning view of the coast and the village cottages from there. Keen hikers can also hike along the coast to visit the dramatic ruins of Findlater Castle.

How to Reach Cullen: From Inverness, it takes around an hour and 20 minutes to reach Cullen by car.

13. Speyside Distilleries

No visit to Scotland is ever complete without taking a distillery tour. There are quite a few whisky distilleries not too far from Inverness.

Situated in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, Moray Speyside is renowned worldwide for its whisky production. 

This area around the River Spey is home to more than half of malt whisky distilleries all across Scotland. Most of them offer guided tours and tasting sessions. Speyside whiskies are known for their rich, fruity notes and complex profiles.

One of the must-visit distilleries on your day trip from Inverness is the famous Glenfiddich Distillery. Established in 1886, Glenfiddich is one of the few remaining family-owned distilleries in Scotland. Today, it is one of the most famous single malt whiskies in the world. 

In the guided tour, you will learn about the history of this distillery and its whisky-making process. The tour lasts one and a half hours and ends with a tasting of four whiskies from their collection.

Only a 12-minute drive from Glenfiddich will bring you to the Macallan estate and distillery. You have to book an experience in advance to access it. Macallan is celebrated for its sherry-cask-aged whiskies.

Another famous distillery here is the Strathisla distillery. It is the oldest working distillery in the Scottish Highlands, dating back to 1786. Strathisla is the spiritual home of Chivas Regal.

If you have time, you can also visit Aberlour, Glenlivet and Balvenie distillery.

How to Reach: You might be able to visit some of the distilleries by public transport from Inverness. But, it is best to explore this area by car.

Day Trips Over Two Hours from Inverness

14. Isle of Skye

Can you believe, in about two hours, you can visit this magical island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland? There are plenty of spectacular places to visit in the Isle of Skye.

Honestly, we would suggest spending at least two to three days here. But, if you are short on time, a day trip from Inverness is certainly doable.

Explore the stunning Fairy Pool, one of the popular tourist attractions in Skye. It is a series of small cascading waterfalls. The water is clear turquoise blue. In summer you can even swim here.

Another unmissable attraction on the Isle of Skye is the Old Man of Storr. Located on the Trotternish peninsula, it is a popular spot for hill walking.

Next, make your way to the Kilt Rock. The 90-metre-high cliff features a beautiful waterfall. Some said that the rock resembles a kilt. Hence the name.

Not too far from the Kilt Rock is the Quiraing, one of the most surreal landscapes of the Isle of Skye. You can walk the circuit in about three hours.

On your way back to Inverness, make a brief stop at the iconic Eilean Donan Castle. It is one of the most famous castles in Scotland. It was once a stronghold of Clan Mackenzie.

How to Reach Isle of Skye: Citylink operates this route. The bus takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach Kyleakin on the east coast of Skye from Inverness Bus Station. Portee is about an hour from there. It takes over two hours by car, depending on where in Skye you are travelling to.

15. Braemar

Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Inverness, drive along the stunning landscapes of the Scottish Highlands to reach Braemar, a pretty village in the Cairngorms. There are enough things to do in Braemar to keep you busy for the day.

From history lovers to golfers, mountaineers to photographers, this wee village has something for all travellers. Additionally, Braemar has a rich wildlife. Look out for red deer and red squirrels.

Step inside Braemar Castle. It was built in the 17th century by the Earl of Mar. It played a prominent role during the Jacobite Uprising. Later, it became the family home of Clan Farquharson.

There is an abundance of hiking trails around this area. A keen walker can hike to Lion’s Face and Creag Choinnich Viewpoint. From the top, you will get an awe-inspiring view of the village and the surrounding mountains of Cairngorms.

If you are here in September, you can attend the Braemar Gathering, one of the most famous highland games in Scotland.

Also, the Balmoral Castle lies close to Braemar. It is the home of the British royal family in Scotland. You can take a guided tour of the castle on your day trip.

How to Reach: Driving is the easiest option to access Braemar from Inverness. It takes close to two hours to get here. It is not possible to do this day trip on public transport.

16. Applecross

If you love road trips, then a day trip to the spectacular Applecross Peninsula is certainly possible from Inverness. Although the journey time is quite long, the route is very scenic. Applecross Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places in Scotland.

On your road trip, you will come across serene beaches, rugged coastline, remote lochs and towering mountains. Plus, you will get breathtaking views of the Wester Ross, the bay to Raasay, the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides.

Getting to Applecross is an adventure in itself. The most famous part of this road trip is the Bealach na Ba. The winding path was originally built as a pass for cattle. Driving on this steep and twisting mountain pass is not for the faint-hearted.  It is one of the highest roads in Scotland, starting from sea level and rising to 2,053 feet.

Located on a beautiful bay, Applecross is one of the prettiest villages in Scotland. It has a rich wildlife and is perfect for nature lovers. On our visit, we spotted a herd of deer roaming freely at Applecross Beach. For lunch, pop inside the Applecross Inn.

You can also add Torridon, Shieldaig, Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve and Strathcarron to your road trip.

Map of the Best Day Trips from Inverness

Here is a map showing all the best day trip destinations around Inverness. Click on this link to open the Google Map. You can save it on your phone for future use.

From historic castles and tranquil lochs to picturesque villages and rugged coastlines – there are plenty of intriguing places just a short drive away from Inverness. Each trip showcases a different and unique aspect of Scotland.

We hope you have a lovely time exploring these beautiful places on your next Scottish getaway.

1 thought on “16 Epic Day Trips from Inverness You Must Visit ”

  1. Pingback: 13 Amazing Things to Do in Loch Ness, Scotland

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *