Located on in northern Scotland, Inverness is a good sized city on the far side of the Scottish Highlands. From history to music to nature, this area has plenty to offer its visitors.
1. Culloden Battlefield
The Culloden Battlefield is the sight of the last Jacobite Rebellion. If you know next to nothing about Scottish history, as I did before arriving in the northern United Kingdom, the Jacobite Rebellion was essentially about who should be king. Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie / The Young Pretender) thought his Stuart blood gave him the right to rule. He gathered most Scottish klans to his side and they rose against their British neighbors/oppressors.
It didn’t end well.
Even if you don’t know much about this period of history, the Culloden Battlefield is worth a visit simply for the museum and atmosphere. Though I came in as ignorant as anyone, this remains one of my top five experiences in all of Scotland.
As you enter the museum, you’ll go down long hallways marked by the timeline of the rebellion. When the nation splits, so does the room. One side holds the British story. The other tells the Scottish or Jacobite. You crisscross the room as you go, reading about the events and listening to personal accounts from supporters on both ends of the spectrum. It’s a brilliant layout.
There are other interactive opportunities–including a room with screens on all four walls where you can stand in the center of the battle.
Halfway through the museum, you are given a GPS and headphones then sent out into the battlefield itself. As you wander the marked paths, your GPS will trigger audio recordings. You’ll hear snatches of stories from the battle that play while you stand in the spot where they happened. The battlefield itself is eerily silent, and you should take a break by sitting on one of the benches and enjoying the windblown landscape.
You’ll re-enter the museum to learn about the aftermath. If you’re in need of refreshments, there’s a small cafeteria with scones and tea aplenty.
To get to Culloden, you can drive from Inverness, catch a bus, or take a taxi. The cost of the ride is well worth it.
2. Ness Island Walk
Inverness is marked by the River Ness, which flows along the city’s banks. There is a very pleasant walk down the river and onto the islands. It will whisk you right out of the city atmosphere and into the countryside.
Simply find the river and turn away from the city. Follow the waterside path, enjoying the sights and the cool breeze off the river, if you’re lucky enough to visit during the summer. You will wander past Inverness Castle on its hill and quiet neighborhoods of pretty houses. Depending on the season, you’ll be walking among blooming gardens as well.
Eventually you’ll come to a distinct bridge out onto an island in the middle of the river. Once you cross it, you’ll be in a beautiful wooded park. Take some time to relax here and enjoy the greenery.
Then it’s on to the second half of the walk, down the opposite river bank. On your way back into town, you’ll pass Inverness Cathedral and some tea shops. My mom and I found a scone and a cuppa, which was most welcome after our journey.
The whole loop will take about one to two hours on foot. It’s a great way to stretch your legs and find some peace after the long trip north!
3. Hootananny Ceilidh Bar
This award-winning pub is a great place to catch some traditional Scottish music, and maybe even dance a jig!
The venue is great, with a high ceiling and plenty of room, though it will get crowded when performances are on. Normally there is a wide space between the performers and the crowd. When I popped in, random Scottish blokes were taking women from the audience to teach them to dance impromptu. It’s a lot of fun, with great energy!
Music normally starts at 9:30, and you can check who’s on by looking at their website. Ceilidhs are hosted every Saturday from 2.30 pm – 4.30 pm.
Be forewarned: Fridays and Saturdays are Stag/Hen (bachelor/bachelorette) party nights. Things can get loud and crazy pretty quick.