By Gabbi Armstrong
Communications Project Manager for the North Coast 500
Published: 23rd August 2018

A city break in Inverness

From food and drink to culture, events, history and heritage, Inverness has so much to offer. The capital of the Highlands is home to Inverness Castle, the official start and end of the North Coast 500 since the route’s launch in 2015. With its stunning central location and excellent transport links, Inverness Castle is the perfect place from which to begin your adventure around the North Highlands.

When planning your trip around the North Coast 500, we normally recommend spending at least five to seven days on the route, to enjoy the full potential of this beautiful area. However, don’t forget to spend some time in Inverness, too, either at the beginning or end of your trip. It’s a wonderful city, and worth dedicating some time to. You may even wish to return for a city break!

Photo by North Coast 500 Moto Experience, Inverness Castle and the River Ness

As the hub of the Highlands, Inverness has an airport, train station and bus station to ensure easy access from other cities across Scotland and, of course, further beyond. However you choose to arrive and depart, make sure to spend some time getting better acquainted with all that Inverness has to offer. Visit our interactive map, should you wish to hire a car, motorbike, bicycle, camper van or motor home or to even search for activities and attractions, eateries and accommodation.

The notable Inverness Museum & Art Gallery is located just next to the Castle, perfectly positioned for learning all about the area before you depart. A real gem only a short walk from the city are Ness Islands, a delightful natural park on the banks of River Ness.  The group of islands in the centre of the park are connected by suspension bridges.

Photo: Inverness

The areas immediately surrounding Inverness also have plenty of things to see and do, for visitors of all ages. For something a little different, take an exhilarating boat trip with Jacobite Cruises. You’ll see Inverness and the surrounding area from a completely different angle – from the water! Sail down Loch Ness, try to spot Nessie, and see the historic ruins of the Castle before returning. If you’re really feeling adventurous, book a trip with Ace Adventures & Hideaways, and let an experienced instructor take you through some of the most amazing white water rapids and scenery within the Findhorn Valley. Situated outside of Inverness, they also offer canoeing, kayaking, canyoning, river tubing, cliff jumping, disc golf and even yoga retreats!

Photo: Jacobite Cruises

Why not play a round of golf on your NC500 travels? A short distance from the city of Inverness is the fabulous course at Muir of Ord. History enthusiasts will also enjoy Clava Cairns: a hugely significant and exceptionally well preserved prehistoric site, dating back over 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Take time to explore the Black Isle, there is a superb collection of Pictish and Celtic artworks. Sample whisky at Glen Ord Distillery in Muir of Ord, spot dolphins at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle – or take the family on a boat trip to see the dolphins with EcoVentures in Cromarty.


Photos: Glen Ord Distillery, Jemimaville and Cromarty by Andrew Dowsett Photography, EcoVentures

If you would rather explore the city and the Black Isle by an alternative method of transport – perhaps by bicyle then hire a bike with Ticket to Ride in Inverness.

Depending on the time of your trip, you might be lucky enough to catch one of Inverness’ many cultural events – from festivals in early August and the Highland Military Tattoo at the beginning of September, to Highland Games, craft fairs and markets throughout the summer months.

Photo: Take A Bow, by Mey House Luxury Rooms and Breakfast – Highland Games in Caithness – we would love to see your snaps from the Inverness Highland Games!

You have surely all heard about ‘Octoberfest’ in Germany…wait until you experience ‘Jocktoberfest‘ on the Black Isle- Great organic beer + music + dancing…what more could you want!

Why not celebrate Hogmanay at Scotland’s largest and most amazing FREE Hogmanay party at the Red Hot Highland Fling  (New Years’ Eve in Scotland!).

Inverness and the surrounding area have a range of accommodation options to suit all budgets and preferences – don’t forget to read through our list of recommendations before booking your trip:

Keep us posted with your North Coast 500 images on social media, and let us know how you plan to enjoy Inverness during your trip to the North Highlands. Happy travels!

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