Are you looking for new or exciting things to fill up your weekends? The Inverness Loch Ness area is packed with fascinating history, dramatic castles, great family adventures, stunning scenery and unique wildlife including the infamous Nessie.
These suggestions are not just for visitors - if you're lucky enough to call this region home, then these ideas are for you too!
On the outskirts of Inverness, head up Craig Dunain following a series of zigzags leading you to the summit where you can enjoy views to the Cairngorms, along the Great Glen and across the Moray Firth. Start the walk at Craig Dunain Hospital, where you can then wander through woodland, climbs through an old pine and larch forest to the summit of Dunain Hill (281 m).
Nearby routes include:
- Craig Phadraig
- River Ness & Ness Islands
- Abriachan Forest Trails
Explore Craig Dunain.
Cycling around Inverness
Get on your bike and soak up the scenery from the saddle as you whizz along picturesque roads and trails.
Explore quiet family forest trails, paths along mysterious lochs and majestic glens, or challenging mountain bike routes up steep hills and peaks. Experience the flat cycle trails along the Caledonian Canal or go for a more challenging ride along the Great Glen Way. You could even get a taste of the epic 80-mile Loch Ness 360° Trail.
Along the way you will discover mind-blowing nature and pretty picnic spots. Don't forget to stop for a coffee and cake at a some of the excellent cafés providing takeaways during lockdown.
Did you know?
- The quiet lanes and country roads on the Black Isle offer some perfect spots to pause, including Chanonry Point, one of the best places in the UK to spot dolphins.
- Cycle to the 2,000-year-old burial chambers of Clava Cairns, said to be the inspiration for Outlander.
- Cawdor Castle Gardens is a peaceful haven also accessible by bike. Take a walk in the walled garden full of flowers and contemporary sculptures, or explore the nature trails in the Big Wood.
- For scenic views of the infamous Loch Ness, you can walk or mountain bike along the Loch Ness 360 circular route. Keep your eyes open for Nessie!
- Don't miss some great mountain biking trails including Learnie Red Rocks, Balblair and Laggan Wolftrax, once the trails start to re-open.
Find out more about cycling around Inverness and Loch Ness.
Dolphin spotting at Chanonry Point
If you love a bit of nature spotting, then we recommend that you head down to Chanonry Point! The narrow peninsula is the perfect location to take in the beautiful views across the Moray Firth to Fort George and if you're lucky enough, you may even catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two. The best time to see these magnificent creatures is usually on a rising tide, which is 1 hour after low tide, when it turns allowing dolphins to appear and chase fish in.
Did you know?
- On average, bottlenose dolphins reach a length of 10 to 14ft and weigh around 1,100 pounds.
- Dolphins feed mainly on fish, but also hunt shrimp, cuttlefish and molluscs.
- Chanonry Point is located near the village of Fortrose, known for its pretty harbour, peaceful beach and beautiful ruins of an early thirteenth-century cathedral.
Find more information on dolphin spotting near Inverness.
Step back in time at Clava Cairns
If you can't get enough of Scotland's historic past, then make sure to check out Clava Cairns Ancient Burial Grounds.
Dating back about 4,000 years, this atmospheric prehistoric site was built to house the dead throughout the Bronze Age and is a prime example of the distant history of the Highlands. Set within the Balnuaran of Clava, a beautiful wooded area, Clava Cairn is said to be the inspiration for Craigh na Dun, featured in Diana Gabaldon's series of novels and now TV series, Outlander.
During your visit, discover:
- Balnuaran of Clava, a beautiful spot within a small wood which comprises two passage graves, a kerb ring cairn and a central ring cairn and standing stones.
- Milton of Clava is just a short distance to the south-west and includes the remains of a medieval chapel, another cairn and possible standing stones.
- Further west, visit the impressive Corrimony Chambered Cairn. Walk among a circle of standing stones and discover this ancient passage grave, dating back 4,000 years.
Go green at Inverness Botanic Gardens
Take a wee break from everyday life with a bit of escapism at Inverness Botanic Gardens, a green emerald in the heart of the city. From beautiful formal gardens to wild-flower meadows, you will come across many different species of flora while on your visit here.
- One of the garden's hot spots, the Tropical House! Experience warm and humid conditions and a vibrant and colourful collection of plants native to countries such as Mexico, the Bahamas and even Brazil.
- Stop by the Cactus House where you will be greeted by Agave, Aloe Vera, Crassula and even Euphorbias.
- The ever-changing seasons brings new life around the Gardens. Whenever you decide to visit, the bursts of bright colours and variety of plants and flowers will certainly add something extra to just your average walk!
Paddle the Great Glen Canoe Trail
With its dramatic scenery, open seas and fast flowing rivers, it really is no surprise that the Highlands are so popular for keen adventurers. Take to the water for a relaxing paddle in an open canoe with an expert guide on the legendary Loch Ness. For a longer expedition, why not try the Great Glen Canoe Trail, a long-distance kayaking challenge of a lifetime? Support local businesses and learn the ropes from one of the many specialist instructors and outdoor guides in the area.
- A unique opportunity to paddle from the Atlantic to the North Sea.
- The chance to view beautiful Highland scenery from the fantastic vantage point of the water.
Find out more about canoeing and kayaking in the Highlands.
Re-live history at Culloden Battlefield
Revisit the atmospheric battlefield where the 1745 Jacobite Rising came to a tragic end. Join a guided tour of the battlefield where an expert guide will lead you around the key areas of action on Culloden Moor, as well as visiting the memorial cairn around which lie the graves of 1,500 fallen Jacobite soldiers.
Did you know?
- The bloody battle took place on 16 April 1746 and was the last and most harrowing pitched battle to be fought on British soil.
- In less than an hour, around 1,500 men were slain - more than 1,000 of them Jacobites.
- Both Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Duke of Cumberland were 25 years old at the Battle of Culloden.
- Further east, you can visit Nairn, sometimes nicknamed the Brighton of the North due to its long and sandy beaches and promenades.
Visit the Culloden Battlefield.
Take a wild walk in Glen Affric
Enjoy long walks for miles and discover the magnificent circuit of Glen Affric in all its glory! Pass through fine pinewood and moorland scenery, before reaching the summit and filling your lungs with fresh air and glorious mountain views.
Did you know?
- Described as the most beautiful glen in Scotland, Glen Affric stretches for some 30 miles from Kintail in the west to within a couple of miles of Cannich in Strathglass.
- Glen Affric was part of the Clan Chisholm lands from the 15th to the mid-19th centuries.
- In 2001, Glen Affric received full National Nature Reserve (NNR) status.
Explore Glen Affric.
With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new? Share your ideas and fascinating facts on Inverness & Loch Ness in our iKnow Community or on social media.