Inverness and the Northeast Scottish Coast

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by Hertz - 03 August 2022

Inverness and the wider northeast coast of Scotland are a treasure trove of exciting things to do on a visit to the Highlands. Home to mighty castles, old fishing villages and romantic lighthouses, this is a place of popular attractions and breathtaking landscapes.

Embark on the North Coast 500 road trip that goes around the north portion of Scotland or stay in Inverness and venture out on day trips to the area’s most appealing destinations. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed holiday or a relaxing break, Inverness and the Northeast Scottish Coast provide plenty of travel inspiration.

Discover the wealth of places to visit in Inverness and the northeast coast of Scotland with our guide.

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Small in size, yet full of amazing artefacts and activities, Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is a perfect destination for a day of indoor fun. The museum encompasses the history of the Highlands from the Mesolithic to modern times, including sections about Gaelic language and culture as well as Highland wildlife.

The interactive elements will appeal to younger visitors – play an ancient Viking board game, try on traditional costumes and learn words in Gaelic.

The Art Gallery’s year-round temporary exhibitions feature the works of local and international artists, along with inspiring cultural events. You can also join a tour of the emblematic Inverness Town Hall just across the road from the museum.

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Ness Islands

Just a short walk from the city centre you’ll find one of the most popular places in Inverness among locals and tourists alike, Ness Islands. These are natural islands in the middle of the River Ness, linked by exquisite Victorian bridges.

Enjoy a pleasant stroll that takes you through the pine trees that line the walkways. Once your views are unobscured by the greenery, there are fantastic views over both sides of the river.

Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife too, as you can spot otters, bats and deer. If you’re travelling by car, there are plenty of on-street parking spaces along the river and down near the Highland archive building.

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Dunrobin Castle & Gardens

Just over an hour’s drive north from Inverness will bring you to the largest fortress in the Northern Highlands, Dunrobin Castle. Composed of 189 rooms, an opulent garden and a museum, the historic home of the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland dates back to the 13th century.

Enjoy the sumptuous interior of the castle and discover the remarkable collection of artefacts, including Pictish stones, in the museum. Don’t miss the majestic birds of prey in the falconry.

Complete your experience with a lunch or a quick bite in the magnificent tearoom. There’s also an on-site gift shop, where you can treat yourself to a nice souvenir of your visit to this spectacular destination.

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Chanonry Point

Head north from Inverness through Fortrose on to the narrow peninsula of Black Isle, where you’ll find the Chanonry Point – a well-known spot for dolphin sightings. With stunning panoramic views over the Moray Firth to Fort George, this idyllic spot offers a unique experience of catching marine wildlife in their natural habitat.

It’s only 30 minutes by car from Inverness and the best time to arrive is when the rising tides happen. This can increase your chances of seeing dolphins and seals approach the shore.

You might find it better to leave the car in Fortrose and make the 20–30-minute walk to Chanonry Point – the car park on the tip of the peninsula can get very busy.

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Fort George

If you’re interested in fine historic military engineering, museums and amazing views, Fort George has it all and more. After a 30-minute drive from Inverness, you’ll find yourself in the 18th-century fortification that houses working army barracks and The Highlanders’ Museum.

Spend a few hours exploring the vast grounds of the fort – the main rampart is just under one mile in length and the size of five football pitches. The Highlanders’ Museum offers a glimpse of the site’s glorious history, covering the time from the Battle of Culloden to the present day.

There is ample parking available at the entrance for the convenience of the guests.

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Museum of Scottish Lighthouses

The original Kinnaird Head Lighthouse was simply a giant lamp on the roof of a castle. It’s since been transformed into an engineering masterpiece.

This 18th century original landmark has been conserved and converted into a museum after a modern lighthouse was built in the area in 1991. Now, the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses showcases the inspiring history of the Northern Lighthouse Board, offering lots of educational and fun activities to visitors.

If you’ve ever been fascinated by lighthouses, come and learn about the lives and stories of their keepers. The museum is in the coastal town of Fraserburgh, two-and-a-half-hours’ drive east of Inverness.

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Macduff Marine Aquarium

Travelling between the old fishing villages, scenic beaches and stately castles of the Northeast Scottish Coast is fun in any weather. However, when the conditions turn, it’s good to have a few options for roofed attractions up your sleeve.

The Macduff Marine Aquarium is the perfect day indoors, packed with amazing creatures and learning resources for curious minds young and old. Check out the unique kelp reef exhibit and discover the diversity of the Moray Firth habitats.

To reach the aquarium, you’ll need to drive east of Inverness for about two hours. But since you’re out this far, you’ll also be able to explore scenic Macduff and the neighbouring town of Banff.

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The John O'Groats Signpost

If you follow the A9 north from Inverness, you’ll reach the top of Great Britain and the north point of the ultimate challenge trail which extends through the island. Land’s End in Cornwall to John O' Groats in Scotland is a famous route, travelled by many.

This small coastal village is the home to arguably the most photographed sign in the UK – the John O'Groats Signpost.

It’s also an amazing place for unspoilt nature and wildlife, with arrays of birds, seals and occasional dolphins. Don’t be put off by the tiny size of the village – ‘the end of the road’ might become the start of a new adventure.

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To make the most of your time on the northeast Scottish coast, hire a car in Inverness and plan your Highland adventure now.