Is 2 days in Inverness enough to make the most of the highland capital?
With just two days in Inverness it is possible to see:
- two castles
- standing stones and ancient burial cairns
- a battlefield where one of Scotland’s most iconic battles was fought
- an enchanting bookshop
- a haunted loch
I’ve visited Inverness many times and I adore this charming wee city, which is known as the capital city of the Scottish Highlands. Inverness is a lot smaller than Edinburgh and Glasgow, making the city centre easy to navigate on foot.
However, many of the best attractions Inverness has to offer are outside the city walls.
>> Read more: The ultimate guide to planning a trip to Scotland
Inverness and the River Ness
Public transport can be a little tricky when exploring Inverness, so if you’re visiting, I definitely recommend hiring a car. If you need advice on car hire in Scotland, I always compare prices with Auto Europe, a fair car rental comparison website.
Note: to search for car hire in Scotland, you’ll have to select ‘Great Britain.’
You can also break this itinerary in half if you’re using Inverness as a start and end point for the North Coast 500.
Accommodation in Inverness I recommend
Read more: What to pack for a trip to Scotland
How to make the most of 2 days in Inverness
Channelling my inner Outlander at Clava Cairns
You’ll begin your day by visiting the site where the 1745 Jacobite Rising came to a tragic end at the Battle of Culloden. It is free to visit the Culloden Battlefield, however there is a fantastic interactive centre on the site which costs a small fee. Be sure to visit the touching memorial cairn which is surrounded by the clan graves of 1,500 fallen Jacobite soldiers. The clan graves are a haunting, yet touching tribute.
Located a short drive away is the Clava Cairns. The Clava Cairns are ancient burial cairns that are around 4,000 years old. The three burial cairns are enclosed by stone circles, with standing stones dotted around them. Outlander fans or anyone interested in prehistoric Scotland will be enchanted by these bizarre yet beautiful tombs. Located near Clava Cairns is the Culloden Viaduct– just wander across the road to admire this mighty bridge.
How to get here: From Culloden Battlefield it is just a five minute drive. Catching a bus here is tricky, but you can walk to Clava Cairns following this route.
Inverness Castle was built in 1836 and is one of Scotland’s most modern castles. Today, it houses the Inverness Sheriff Court, so tourists are not allowed inside. The only part of the castle open to the public is the north tower, and for only £5 you can climb to the top for a 360 degree view of Inverness!
How to get here: If you’re driving here there is public parking at 10 Kingsmills Road which is a 10 minute walk from Inverness Castle. You can also catch the bus into the city, but you may need to make your way back to Culloden Battlefield from Clava Cairns to do so.
Read more: How to plan a trip to Scotland on a budget
How to Spend Your Evening
I recommend heading to MacGregor’s Bar for traditional live music and a delicious meal. If it’s a nice evening, go for a walk along the River Ness before retiring to your bed to rest after an active day’s exploring!
Urquhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness
Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle
You’ll start your day with a lovely drive alongside Loch Ness to one of Scotland’s most picturesque castle ruins: Urquhart Castle.
This castle looks out over Loch Ness and has over 1,000 years of history. The discovery of a Pictish brooch from the late 8th century hints that the site where the castle stands was possibly a high status Pictish site.
How to get here: It typically takes between 30-40 minutes to drive to Urquhart Castle from Inverness. You can also catch a bus from the station, which takes around 45 minutes.
You’ll then head back to Inverness, this time to explore Falcon Square in the centre of the town! Falcon Square is a historically important part of Inverness’ past.
It is named after John Falconer who opened Falcon Foundry here in 1858. The building on the square which houses Laura Ashley and Pizza Express formed part of this Foundry – it was dismantled and relocated here in the late 1990s.
Take time to admire the thirty-seven foot high Unicorn sandstone pillar in the middle of the square. If you look closely you’ll also notice several falcons flying around the statue in various phases of flight!
There are also some nice shops and cafes in this area.
How to get here: If you’re driving back, head back in the same direction you came. There is ample street parking near Falcon Square. If you’re catching the bus back the station is just a five minute walk to Falcon Square.
Leakey’s Bookshop is every book lover’s dream! This bookshop is Scotland’s second largest secondhand bookstore and is located inside an old Gaelic church that dates back to 1793.
How to get here: The easiest way to get to Leakey’s Bookshop is to walk- it’s only a five minute stroll from Falcon Square.
How to spend your evening
To end your two days in Inverness I recommend heading to the Black Isle Bar for dinner and a drink, which is a short walk from Leakey’s Bookshop.
It’s easy to make the most of Inverness in two days, you just need to be organised! Hiring a car is advisable, however it is possible to complete this itinerary using public transport.
Staying close to the city centre and the public transport systems is recommended. Be sure to bring a sturdy pair of walking shoes, and a good quality raincoat and umbrella!
Have you completed this itinerary? What did you think of Inverness?