Inverness
Manuel Lesch / age fotostock
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Inverness

By Dmitry Petrounin Dmitry Petrounin Section editor Profile

Our Editorial team's advice

Situated in northern Scotland, Inverness is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. Although the word glamorous is not exactly synonymous with Inverness, the city is host to a whole number of events all year round that helps put it on the map. Inverness Castle is relatively new and was built in 1847 to replace a medieval castle destroyed by the Jacobites. The previous building was the location where Macbeth murdered King Duncan in the acclaimed Shakespeare play. Archaeological enthusiasts would enjoy the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, with its large collection of Pictish stones and historic weapons. St Andrews Cathedral, which was built over a period of three years, and finished in 1869, is another place of interest. With an abundant array of activities and beautiful views from Craig Phadrig, perhaps Inverness has more to offer than you first think.

To see

Not too far away from Inverness lies the Loch Ness; a cruise down the Caledonian canal will reveal the colossal lake and its illustrious monster, Nessie. If you enjoy the great outdoors, you could always walk up to Craig Phadrig and stroll around the former stronghold of Pictish Kings. Here, take in views of Moray Firth and from Chanonry point you may even catch a glimpse of the bottlenose dolphins. They can be seen all year round, although there are usually more sightings in the summer months.

To do

As one of the fastest growing cities in Europe, there is plenty to do both in and around Inverness. Why not start out with a tour on an open-topped bus to see the historic sights of the city and get a feel for the immense architecture? If you are partial to shopping, be tempted by the Eastgate shopping complex and the Victorian market for a range of contemporary and traditional goods. If music is more your style, there are two summer music festivals, Rockness and Tartan Heart Festival, which make up part of the annual events calendar. Other happenings throughout the year include Burns Night suppers, which take place around the Loch Ness area, and the City of Inverness Highland Games. Inverness is also a key location for the Annual Royal National Mod, an event which celebrates Scottish Gaelic art, culture and song and circulates around numerous Scottish towns. A short journey to the seaside town of Nairn brings on its way Clava Cairns, Culloden Battlefield and Fort George. Most interests are catered for, as there are three golf courses, a leisure centre, an ice rink and opportunities to go fishing, walking, windsurfing, sailing, canoeing and quad biking.

pros

  • +  Charming old town and historical centre
  • +  Friendly locals
  • +  Gateway to the Scottish Highlands

cons

  • -  Cool climate, even in summer
  • -  Parts of the town 'shut down' in the winter and so Inverness becomes very quiet

To think about

Remember that the Gaelic language is still very much a part of modern life in the Highland capital; you could even try out a bit of lighthearted chat, called craic. "Ciamar a tha thu" means "how are you?". In terms of travelling to Inverness, consider the sleeper train from London Euston, which leaves around 9pm and arrives in Inverness between 8 and 9am, depending on the day. Note there are no sleeper trains on a Saturday.

To avoid

Avoid being caught out by the 12 o'clock curfew - that is to say, in Inverness, you are not allowed to enter any pub or club after midnight, except the one that you are already in. Some are against the curfew, but Highland councilors decided last January to keep the curfew, as it allows for improved safety on the streets.

For want of a bad joke, although the Inverness Castle is a fantastic attraction from the exterior, try to dodge actually going inside, as it is currently used as a courthouse!

To try

Experiment by going to Hootananny on Church Street, where Thai cuisine is served in a Scottish-themed pub with Scottish bands playing live on a regular basis. You could also sample Johnny Foxes for more live entertainment and bar meals.

If you don't mind travelling 15 miles west of Inverness, tours run of Glen Ord Whisky Distillery; the admission fee is 5.

To bring back

Most conventional Scottish souvenirs can be bought in Inverness, such as lamb's wool jumpers, kilts and Celtic jewellery. However, have a little imagination - capture a photo of Nessie the Loch Ness monster and be the first person to allegedly see the creature since the 1950s!