Inverness and Loch Ness Highlights – 4 day itinerary

Inverness and Loch Ness Highlights

4 Days

A visit to Loch Ness and Inverness combines the great outdoors with the warm vibrancy of the thriving capital city of the Highlands. Our highlights itinerary covers all the “must sees” of this captivating area of Scotland. A visit to Loch Ness and Inverness combines the great outdoors with the warm vibrancy of the thriving capital city of the Highlands. Our highlights itinerary covers all the “must sees” of this captivating area of Scotland.

Getting There

Inverness international airport is served by regular flights from Amsterdam, Dublin, Belfast and various UK airports. Inverness is just 90 minutes from London’s airports and there are daily flights from Gatwick and Heathrow.

It is also easy to travel to Inverness by train, either on the East Coast mainline operated by Virgin Trains East Coast or by ScotRail. For those wishing to travel overnight, the Caledonian Sleeper is a great way to travel from London Euston, and wake up refreshed in Scotland.

Day 1

Cawdor Castle and Culloden Battlefield

Cawdor Castle

Day one starts with a visit to Cawdor Castle – a fairy-tale castle, and home to the Dowager Countess Cawdor. With its low doorways, turnpike stairs, rare tapestries and original kitchen it offers a step back in time for those keen to learn more about Scottish history. Outside the castle walls, garden lovers can enjoy spending a few hours exploring the herbaceous borders, roses, rhododendrons and the rare blue poppy in Cawdor’s three outstanding gardens.

And after enjoying a nature trail amongst the splendid trees in Cawdor Big Wood, what better way to recharge one’s energy than with a delicious slice of cake, or a mouth watering meal, made from the finest local ingredients, at the Cawdor Courtyard Restaurant and Clubhouse Coffee shop?

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: From 1 to 90 – groups would be staggered through the Castle and gardens max capacity 20 per Castle room at one time
Frequency: The castle and gardens are open every day from 10am till 5pm from until October.
Outside of these times private tours are possible by arrangement.
Private tours: Yes – on request
Contact: info@cawdorcastle.com
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: German, French, Spanish, Italian

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Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre

On April 16th 1746, the historic battle of Culloden took place – the last pitched battle on British soil, and one which changed life in the Highlands and Islands for ever.

A visit to the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre is a chance to get a feel for this historic event. With a new interactive exhibition, a battle immersion theatre, and the battlefield itself now restored as close as possible as to how it was on the fateful day of the battle, this event is brought to life with audio and video guides.

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: 1 – several hundred
Frequency: 3 Jan – 31 Mar, daily, 10:00-16:00
1 Apr – 31 May, daily, 9:00-17:30
1 Jun – 31 Jul, daily, 9:00-18:00
1 Aug – 31 Aug, daily, 9:00-19:00
1 Sep – 31 Oct, daily, 9:00-17:30
1 Nov – 23 Dec, daily, 10:00-16:00
Private tours: Yes – on request – max 40 per group
Contact: culloden@nts.org.uk
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: French, German, Gaelic, Spanish, Italian

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Day 2

Inverness to Loch Ness

Cycling with Ticket to Ride

Day two starts with two wheels – and the chance to discover the stunning landscapes, wildlife and history of the Highlands with Ticket to Ride.

Starting from the cycle hire centre in the beautiful surroundings of Bellfield Park, right in the heart of Inverness, these self-guided tours avoid the traffic but ensure that
cyclists don’t miss out on all the great places to stop along the way.

For a gentle 2- 3 hour ride, Ticket to Ride suggests a trip through islands on the River Ness and the towpaths of the Caledonian Canal – a favourite route for day trips and especially popular with families.

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: 1 – 8 (larger subject to discusisons)
Frequency: Open 09:00 – 18:00 every day (Apr-Oct)
Closed Tuesdays September and October
Private tours: Yes – on request – max 40 per groupp
Contact: info@tickettoridehighlands.co.uk
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: No

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Loch Ness by Jacobite

After dropping the bikes back in Inverness, it’s time to head onward to Loch Ness, and a voyage of discovery with Jacobite.

With tours departing from a number of locations and covering historic sights, set within panoramic views and stunning scenery, Jacobite offers a wide range of tours to suit all interests, and time available, from 1 hour to 6.5 hours. For a taster of the region, we suggest the Discovery tour, of for those with more time to spend we suggest the Passion tour.

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: 1 – 200
Frequency: Summer:
First cruise: 09:00
Last cruise: 16:00Winter:
First cruise: 11:00
Last cruise: 15:00
Private tours: Yes – on request
Contact: Robbie@jacobite.co.uk
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: Printed information guides in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese

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Urquhart Castle

Either as a part of a boat tour, or as a trip in its own right, to visit Urquhart Castle is to discover more than 1,000 years of history perched on the edge of Loch Ness.

Once one of Scotland’s largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. Control of the castle passed back and forth between the Scots and English during the Wars of Independence. Blown up during the Jacobite Risings, Urquhart’s iconic ruins now remain, offering glimpses into medieval times and the lives of its residents. Visitors can climb the Grant Tower, peer into a prison cell and admire the full sized working trebuchet to get a real feel for how life was when the castle was a hive of activity and drama.

After the cruise, the pleasant bustling village of Drumnadrochit is a great place to stop for lunch – at either the Loch Ness Inn or Fiddlers Inn.

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: Unlimited
Frequency: Open:
1 April to 30 September:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 6pm1 October to 31 October:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5pm1 November to 31 March:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pmNew Year’s Day (1 January): 11am to 4.30pmLast entry is 45 minutes before closing.Closed:
25 and 26 December
Private tours: Yes – on request max 30 per guided tour
Contact: trade@hes.scot
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: No

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Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition

No visit to Loch Ness is complete without trying to spot the Loch Ness Monster! This afternoon begins at the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition – the perfect introduction to 5 million years of history, natural mystery and legend, and the famous Nessie story.

With translations in 17 languages and 11 language narrations, the exhibition explores the loch’s wider significance, including its geological past and research projects on the loch, as well as charting the history of the Loch Ness Monster.

And if Nessie proves to be elusive then the Loch Ness Centre has a great café and shop – the perfect place to take a break and buy souvenirs before catching some traditional Scottish entertainment ….

Tour Details

Min – Max capacity: Unlimited
Frequency: Open:
1 April to 30 September:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 6pm1 October to 31 October:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 5pm1 November to 31 March:
Monday to Sunday, 9.30am to 4.30pmNew Year’s Day (1 January): 11am to 4.30pmLast entry is 45 minutes before closing.Closed:
25 and 26 December
Private tours: Yes – on request max 30 per guided tour
Contact: trade@hes.scot
FIT or Groups: FIT or groups.
Translation: No

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Hootananny

After dinner in one of Inverness’ many fabulous restaurants, the final stop for the day is Hootanannay – an award winning pub and live music venue in the heart of Inverness. Ideal for anyone wanting to hear tradtional Scottish music, whilst enjoying a drink, or a bite to eat.

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Day 3

Three water based experiences!

Canoeing with In Your Element

An early start provides another chance to experience the beauty of the Highlands from the water – but this time by Canadian canoe.

A gentle flat water paddle through the impressive Aigas Gorge to look for otters and feeding osprey as the sun rises offers a truly memorable experience. Then, after a basic introduction to steering, the canoe trip continues down the River Beauly on a short but stunning journey to experience river life at sunrise – possibly catching sight of a family of roe deer, peregrine falcon fledglings, badgers or ospreys.

Supplier Information

Frequency: Open all year
Private tours: Yes on request
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: mike@iye.scot
Translation: No

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Glen Ord Distillery

There’s no doubt that all that canoeing will have built up a thirst! So with a welcome as warm as the whisky, it’s the perfect time to visit the Glen Ord Distillery.

Open all year, Glen Ord offers a range of informative and entertaining tours to suit everyone; from a relaxing guided tour and tasting for the whisky novice to a tutored nosing or a distillery tour for the connoisseur. With a visitor centre and exhibition that is open to the public and available for private events, Glen Ord is a popular attraction for one of Scotland’s finest exports.

The picturesque village of Beauly offers the perfect place to stop for a spot of lunch, after the tour – at the Priory or The Corner on the Square.

Supplier Information

Min-Max Capacity: Open all year
Frequency: Jan-Feb: 10:00 – 16:00
Mar-Apr: 10:00 – 17:00
May – Sep: 10:00 – 18:00
Oct: 10:00 – 17:00
Nov- Dec: – 10:00 – 16:00
Closed 1 & 2 Jan, 25 & 26 Dec
Private tours: No
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: glen.ord.distillery@diageo.com
Translation: No

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Dolphin Spirit

This afternoon we suggest a trip on the water to discover the region’s wildlife, departing from Inverness Marina – either at a sedate pace with Dolphin Spirit … or at speed with Dolphin Mischief!

Dolphin Spirit runs 4 trips per day, lasting 1 hour 15 mins, and offers a live guided commentary. Dolphin Mischief operates twice a day and involves a 2 hour RIB experience. With dolphins, seals, otters and a rich variety of birds all living in this stunning setting, it guarantees to be a boat trip like no other.

Supplier Information

Min-Max Capacity: 1 – 65 for cruise
1 – 12 for Rib
Frequency: Operate March to October
Private tours: Yes on request
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: admin@dolphinspirit.co.uk
Translation: No

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Day 4

Inverness

Inverness Walking Tour

A walking tour is a great way to get to know a city – and with 10,000 years of history Inveness has many a tale to tell!

In Your Element runs a fascinating bespoke tour which starts at the end of the last ice age right up to the present day via a tsunami and earthquakes, Pictish kings, Christian missionaries, power hungry clan chiefs, witchcraft, prophecies, battles, deceit, murder, corruption, slavery and opium dealing – and that’s just for starters!

The tour will also show some fascinating (and sometimes gruesome) places, which many locals don’t even know about, including a church used for executions, the building where the story of the Loch Ness monster began, the grave of the son of the Devil and the place where the last witches were ‘legally’ executed!

Supplier Information

Min – Max Capacity: 1 – 20
Frequency: Inverness city tours are all bespoke and last for 90 minutes
Private tours: All tours are private
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: info@wowscotlandtours.com
Translation: No

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Castle View Point

With a taster of the city’s history, now it’s time to get a bird’s eye view at the Castle Viewpoint – the newest visitor attraction in Inverness offering fabulous 360 degree views of the Highland Capital and the surrounding scenery.
On the way to the top, visitors can enjoy a taste of the most famous myths associated with the city, including the Brahan Seer, the legendary 17th Century highland mystic, many of whose prophecies actually came true and St. Columba, who met and banished the monster from the River Ness thus beginning the legend of Nessie.

Supplier Information

Min – Max Capacity 1 – 40
Frequency: April – August: Open daily 9am – 6pm
September – October: Open daily 11am-6pm
November – March: Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday – 11.30am – 4.00pm
(Closed Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays)
Private tours: No
FIT or Groups: FIT & groups.
Contact: info@highlifehighland.com
Translation: Printed information guides in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Chinese

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