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Come to Inverness and enjoy the best of both worlds on a visit to remember


By John Davidson

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The Greig Street Bridge is one of two pedestrian suspension bridges that span the River Ness in the heart of Inverness.
The Greig Street Bridge is one of two pedestrian suspension bridges that span the River Ness in the heart of Inverness.

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Visitors to Inverness really can have the best of both worlds.

The vibrant small city offers all the benefits of a bustling centre while access to the surrounding glorious countryside means you’re never far from a great day out.

It’s what helps make the Highland capital the perfect place for a staycation this year.

Take your time to relax and wander around the city’s historic streets, explore hidden corners and visit some of the many attractions that are open and welcoming visitors once again.

Why not stop for a coffee and a bite to eat in one of the many cafes or book a table for an evening meal in one of the city’s award-winning restaurants?

You won’t have to travel far from your hotel room or B&B, as the city itself has so much to offer.

Discover the delightful Victorian Market, with its fantastic selection of specialist, independent and traditional shops and traders. Visitors can discover unique gifts and crafts under the roof of this 150-year-old market.

First built in the 1870s, the original gas-lit covered market arcade was destroyed by fire in 1889, although the original sandstone entrance in Academy Street survives to this day.

Inverness Town Council rebuilt the market in 1890/91 and its spirit has been carefully preserved under the Victorian cast-iron and wooden-domed pavilion roof.

The Victorian Market is situated in the Old Town area of Inverness, which has its own unique identity. Explore the streets between the River Ness and the railway station and discover the city’s oldest residence, Abertarff House, built in the 15th century.

There are some wonderful treasures to find in the Old Town, from an ice cream parlour, a traditional butcher’s shop, welcoming bars, specialist shops and more. Church Street is home to Leakey’s bookshop, Scotland’s largest second-hand bookshop, which is located in the former Gaelic Church which was built in 1793. It boasts more than 100,000 selected books, so there’s bound to be something to suit your taste!

Whisky lovers should seek out the amber nectar at the Malt Room - a specialist whisky bar tucked away just off Church Street, while Castle Street is home to Grahams of Inverness, a traditional sporting goods store established in 1857.

At the bottom of Castle Street lies the pedestrianised High Street, home to a mix of local shops and national chains, as well as banks and a tourist information centre. The Eastgate Centre is Inverness’s modern indoor shopping centre, with Marks and Spencer and Debenhams two of its flagship stores.

The city’s art gallery and museum is tucked away below the castle, and hosts a range of artefacts and collections that celebrate Highland life and heritage. It is currently open to visitors with advanced booking.

Head towards the Bught area of Inverness to enjoy some open green space. There’s a large grassy park here, with the nearby Whin Park the perfect place for children to let off some steam!

Talking of steam, there’s also a miniature railway at Whin Park. The Ness Islands Railway is owned and operated by Highland Hospice, with any profits going towards providing their vital services across the region.

Crazy Golf, Bught Park. Picture: Alasdair Allen.C
Crazy Golf, Bught Park. Picture: Alasdair Allen.C

Kids and adults can enjoy a ride on the sit-on-top locomotive, which takes a half-mile journey through the trees and over a 140ft-span iron bridge, built in about 1837, which once was a footbridge on the River Ness.

You can also get up to scratch at the crazy golf course or take a wander around the Botanic Gardens, which include the impressive Cactus House as well as the Tropical House with its collection of plants from Mexico, the Bahamas and Brazil, including coffee, banana and pineapple plants.

Research your family history at the archive centre or head up to the canal to watch the boats or enjoy a walk.

Just a short trip from the city, the visitor centre at Culloden Battlefield is now fully reopen, telling the story of the last pitched battle on British soil in 1746. The nearby Clava Cairns are also a big draw, these 4000-year-old burial chambers being the inspiration behind some scenes in the popular TV series, Outlander.

Cullodenn Battlefield Visitors centre..Clea Warner,National Trust for Scotland general manager for the north-west region and Raoul Curtis-Machin, Operations Manager for Culloden Battlefield..Picture: Gary Anthony..
Cullodenn Battlefield Visitors centre..Clea Warner,National Trust for Scotland general manager for the north-west region and Raoul Curtis-Machin, Operations Manager for Culloden Battlefield..Picture: Gary Anthony..

Loch Ness is only a short distance from the city, with popular spots such as Dores and Drumnadrochit as well as many hidden spots which are worth seeking out. There are many walks to be enjoyed on both sides of the loch and, for those who enjoy hill walking, a number of Munros are easily accessible in a day from Inverness.

After a day of activity, return to the city centre to enjoy a relaxing meal in one of the many restaurants, all of which have adapted to the new safety guidelines to ensure a great experience for visitors.

You’ll have a wealth of choice, from traditional Scottish fare made with local produce to Turkish, Indian, Spanish and more. Then why not sample a dram or two in one of the city’s great bars?

The message is that Inverness is open for business and its people are ready to welcome you to the capital of the Highlands.

For more information contact Inverness BID on 01463 714550 or info@inverness.uk.com


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