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Inverness

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Scottish Highlands : Highland : Inverness
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Inverness Castle and the River Ness

Inverness [1] is a city at the heart of the Scottish Highlands and the principal centre for administration and commerce. It is the most northerly city in the British Isles.

Understand

Advertised as "the Gateway to the Highlands" by the local authority, and long regarded as the capital of the Highlands, Inverness is the centre for commerce and industry in the Scottish Highlands, with continuing new investment in traditional industries and new hi-tech industries. It is also said to be one of the fastest growing cities in Europe.

Get in

By plane

Inverness has an airport served by FlyBE (a codeshare partner of British Airways), Easyjet, Eastern Airways, Aer Aran, Highland Airways. It is sited between Nairn and Inverness and accessible from the Inverness-Aberdeen road. Limited charter services fly out from this airport. A taxi from the airport into the city costs around £15. Bus route 10 goes to town for much cheaper.[2]

By car

The main approaches to Inverness are the following:

  • from the South and North on the A9 road
  • from Aberdeen on the A96 road
  • from the South West on the A82 road

None of the roads to Inverness are entirely dual-carriageway.

By train

Wikitravel has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom.

Inverness railway station is located in the City Centre. There are direct services to Edinburgh, Glasgow and London from the south and Aberdeen from the east. There are two scenic lines: to Thurso and Wick, and to Kyle of Lochalsh.

If you're travelling from London, the Caledonian Sleeper [3] is an excellent way to travel. It leaves from London Euston the previous night and arrives between 0800 - 0830. East Coast [4] also operate a daily service to and from London King's Cross (known as The Highland Chieftain) which leaves at around 0900 (southbound) or 1200 (northbound). Journey time is around 8 hours.

Be warned. There is sometimes an error with the booking system through the internet if you intend to sit rather than book a sleeping berth; if your ticket says 'no seat reserved', you need to either phone up First Scot Rail or visit your nearest train station to reserve one (for free). If you don't have a reserved seat you may not be allowed on the train, despite having bought a ticket with the times and dates of the train printed on them, or at best be forced to pay £40 for a sleeping berth if there is one available.

By bus

By boat

The Caledonian Canal links the Beauly Firth through Loch Ness to Fort William at the foot of Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain.

Get around

By bus

There are around fifty bus routes traveling in and around Inverness, mainly operated by Stagecoach Inverness[10]. It helps to know where your destination is, as some ces do not have detailed information on the outside of the bus.

By train

The 'Invernet' rail network provides commuter train services to Inverness from Tain, Dingwall and Beauly in the North, Nairn, Forres and Elgin in the East and Aviemore and Kingussie in the South.

By taxis

This is probably the most efficient form of transport after hours, as most bus services cease or become less frequent at about 7pm. You will not pay a great deal for a taxi by UK standards as Inverness is rather small, and routes are very direct. Some black cabs exist, though the majority of taxis are minicabs. These are all fairly trustworthy.

By limousine

Limos are available for hire from certain operators at a rate of about £70/hour.

By bike

There are a few cycle lanes [11] on Inverness roads. However there are many combined cycle-footpaths where bicycles are welcome.


See

Inverness Castle and River Ness
  • Inverness Castle [12] at the end of the western pedestrian zone. It is a relatively new castle built in 1847 to replace a medieval castle blown up by the Jacobites. It houses the Sheriff Court and cannot be seen as a visitor (you at least should try to never see it from the inside).
  • Inverness Museum & Art Gallery [13], Castle Wynd (base of Inverness Castle), 237114. The museum has a collection of Pictish stones and wildlife dioramas, as well as historic weapons. Underwent a major refurbishment in 2006, and now contains many artefacts on loan from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.
  • Old High Church [14], Church Street, Inverness IV1 1EY. Oldest Church in Inverness, the 'Town Church' of the city. Historic Tour each Friday at 11.30am, June to August. Sunday services at 11.15am, Prayers for Peace and Justice every Friday at 1.05pm, and occasional evening services in the summer, with guest preachers, as advertised.

Do

  • Located on the south side of the Moray Firth with picturesque River Ness flowing through the city, it is worth taking a walk to the Ness Islands or the Caledonian Canal[15]. From the castle, walk upstream along the River Ness for less than 1 mile. The Caledonian Canal towpath is also good for walking.
  • Or take a walk along the river with the Churches Along the River [16] leaflet, available from hotels, tourist offices, churches or downloadable from the website.
  • Inverness offers activities from golfing to watersports.
  • A bicycle ride through the Ness Islands and along the waterfront is highly recommended.
  • Inverness has a very busy music & theatre scene. Inverness also has regular ceilidh nights and new indie nights in various venues across the city.
  • Jacobite Cruises (Jacobite cruises on Loch Ness), Tomnahurich Bridge, Glenurquhart Road, Inverness. IV3 5TD (Take the Loch Ness road out of the city), 01463 233999, [17]. A selection of Inverness tours and cruises on Loch Ness and the Caledonian canal pick up in city centre in various locations. Cruises run 7 days a week throughout the year.

Buy

Eastgate Centre (Shopping Mall) [18]


Eat

Inverness has a wide selection of restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets. There are a number of high quality restaurants serving a mixture of traditional Scottish food and modern cuisine using locally sourced produce. Worthy of a mention are:

  • Ash Restaurant and Lounge Bar, a boutique city centre restaurant next to Railway Station, next to East gate Retail and Opposite Victorian Market, offering an extensive a ala carte menu with free wi-fi facilities .
  • The Heathmount Hotel [19]a boutique hotel with informal restaurant and a lively bar at Crown just minutes walk from city centre
  • The Mustard Seed [20],16 Fraser Street, IV1 1DW
  • Rocpool [21] 1 Ness Walk, IV3 5NE
  • Riva 4 Ness Walk, IV3 5NE - usually good Italian restaurant next to Rocpool
  • Glenmoriston Hotel
  • Cafe1 - Beside Rileys and simply a bit of an institution
  • The Old Town Deli - Strother Lane (Beside Bus Stop). Great bagels and coffee
  • Castle Restaurant - Cheap, cheerful and popular. Also very convenient for the High Street.
  • La Tortilla Asesina [22] The tapas bar where lovers of all things Spanish meet. Opposite the road entrance to the castle.
  • Hootananny's [23] on Church Street do good Thai food (in a Scottish Themed pub) relatively Cheaply
  • Numerous Curry Houses, including Cinnamon near the Eastgate Shopping Centre and Rajah in Post Office Lane.

Drink

Inverness HAD a 12 o'clock curfew from 2003 to 2012. This has been lifted as of Tuesday 6th November 2012. Most Pubs are closed by 1am but there are several late night venues open until 3am

There's plenty of live music and good lively atmospheres around so have fun exploring. Hootananny's is the chief of those, offering (predominantly) celtic entertainment.

As in all Scotland, all enclosed public places - which includes all eating places and bars - are non-smoking. A few have outside seating areas.

On a warm summer's evening, the Dores Inn on the northern shore of Loch Ness (east side)is a particularly pleasant place to linger over a beer. They do good, traditional pub food, too.

Sleep

Budget

  • Inverness Youth Hostel Victoria Drive, ph: 0870 004 1127, [24] A modern 4 star hostel with excellent facilities. Some small rooms en-suite, internet, laundry. £10.75-13.50/5.00-12.00 (adult/child). Open all year.
  • Bazpackers, 4 Culduthel Rd, Inverness, IV2 4AB, ph: 01463 717663[25] A perfect combination of cleanliness and informality. This hostel is quite small so booking in advance is advised. They have a resident cat called Polly. £ 15 Dorm.
  • Bught caravan and camping site, Bught Lane, Inverness, IV3 5SR, ph: 01463 236920, [26] is just off the main road out to Loch Ness and Fort William. Open March to November, it is situated conveniently for a very pleasant 20 minute walk along the river into the city centre.

Mid range

  • Rookery Nook, [27], 56 Culcabock Avenue, Inverness, IV2 3RQ, Tel: +44 (1463) 237 085, Email info@rookerynookinverness.co.uk, Rookery Nook is a comfortable, clean self-catering cottage 15 minutes' walk from Inverness city centre. Built with wheelchair users in mind. Pet-friendly, with its own private garden.
  • Dunhallin House, [28], 164 Culduthel Road, Inverness, IV2 4BH, Tel: +44 (1463) 220824, Email info@dunhallin.co.uk, Dunhallin House offers extermely comfortable accommodation, in a quiet setting, which offers excellent value for money. The owners are extremely friendly and helpful; nothing is too much trouble. Your home from home inthe Highland capital.
  • The Royal Highland Hotel, a completely refurbished luxury city centre Heritage hotel located next to the Railway Station, a popular venue and a landmark of Inverness and Highland ambience since 1856, [29], email: info@royalhighlandhotel.co.uk
  • Pottery House: A wonderful bed and breakfast just outside of Inverness in the village of Dores. Rooms offer views directly onto the Loch Ness: [30]
  • Park Guest House, [31], 51 Glenurquhart Road, Inverness, IV3 5PB, Tel: +44 (1463) 231858, Park Guest House is a substantial ivy clad Victorian Villa owned and run for 25 years by Irene and Hendry Robertson. Park Guest House bed and breakfast in Inverness offers Highland hospitality at its best.
  • The Avalon Guest House, [32], 79 Glenurquhart Road, Inverness IV3 5PB, Tel: +44 (1463) 239075, is currently rated on Tripadvisor as #1 B&B/Guest House in Inverness and was placed third in the whole of Europe in their 2009 Travellers' Choice Awards. The rooms are beautiful, having recently had a full refurbishment, and the owners are incredibly friendly and helpful.
  • Glendale Bed & Breakfast, [33], 65 Macewen Drive, Inverness IV2 3LJ, Tel: 44 (1463) 230204, 5 minutes walk from the city centre with ample off street private car parking, on the corner of Midmills Road / Macewen Drive, non- smoking, your hosts are : Vera & Aleks.
  • Mercure Inverness Hotel, Church Street, IV1 1QY, +44 (844) 815 9006 (fax: +44 (146) 371 1206), [34]. The Modern 3 star hotel, just a short walk from Inverness train station, with indoor swimming pool, a fitness centre, and inviting Arts restaurant & bar. All of the 106 rooms offer complimentary internet access and satellite TV.

Splurge

  • Culloden House Hotel [35], beautiful Country House Hotel set 3 miles out of the city centre, great food, magnificent rooms, tel - 01463 790461. Culloden House is where Bonny Prince Charlie slept, the night before the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
  • Kingsmills Hotel, [36] Culcabock Road IV2 3LP, luxury four star hotel about 1 mile from the centre of Inverness, tel - 01463 237 166.
  • Bunchrew House Hotel, [37] Inverness IV3 8TA, luxury country house hotel on the waters edge of the Beauly Firth, tel - 01463 234 917

Get out

  • Culloden Battlefied lies on the outskirts of Inverness, scene of Bonny Prince Charlie's final defeat in 1746
  • Clava Cairns, close to Culloden battlefield (leaving the carpark turn right and right again at the next intersection, follow the signs). The Clava Cairns is a Bronze Age burial site. No admission charge. Site in care of Historic Scotland and accessible all year.
  • InvernessTours.com [38] is run by Tony Harmsworth who founded the Loch Ness Centre and has scripted and presented history and heritage exhibitions in the Highlands. You charter the six passenger luxury Mercedes exclusively from £75 and choose one of dozens of itineraries published on his website.
  • Loch Ness is approximately 6 miles from Inverness. Jacobite [39] have buses travelling to Loch Ness from Inverness to link up with their cruise boats. Cruises may be joined at Tomnahurich, at the southern edge of the city. For the first 3/4 miles, these sail down the famous and scenic Caledonian Canal and then down Loch Ness itself. Alternatively you may board at Drumnadrochit for the return sail, having visited nearby Urquhart Castle [40] and the Loch Ness Visitor Centre[41] which carries the story of Nessie [42]]. For information with a more scientific slant see The Loch Ness Information Site [43].

Mountain Resorts

There are two mountain resorts within easy reach of Inverness. Both started life as ski facilities but now cater for a wide range of year-round activities and have mountain-top restaurants and shops.

  • Cairngorm Mountain [44] - is approx. 30 miles away near Aviemore and has Scotland's only funicular railway.
  • If you have a car you can also easily reach the Nevis Range [45] in Fort William, some 63 miles away along the winding A82. At Nevis Range the mountain (which is called Aonach Mor and is 'next door' to Ben Nevis) is ascended by a cable-car gondola system.
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