Shops, restaurants, riverside walks
Capital of the Highlands, Inverness was designated a city in the millennium year 2000. However, settlements in the area date back several thousand years and can be seen at sites such as Clava Cairns a few miles from Inverness and Craig Phadrig, an Iron Age hill fort with woodland walks from which there are splendid views of Inverness.
Thought to be the Pictish capital in the 6th century, Inverness became a trade centre for fish, wool and furs. There have been finds of Pictish artefacts and jewellery in the area around Inverness and some carved stones featuring animal designs. Visit Inverness Museum and Art Gallery to view some of these.
With its pink sandstone and statue of Flora Macdonald, Inverness Castle dominates the riverside. Inverness was made a royal burgh in 1050. The first castle in Inverness, on the site of the present Victorian castle, was in the 12th century and over the centuries was replaced by newer versions. The present castle is used as a courthouse (not open to visitors) but you can climb up to the new viewing platform on the castle tower (open from 11am to 6pm daily April to October, extended to 10am to 7pm in June, July and August). From here the panoramic views of the city, River Ness and surrounding hills stretch all the way north to Ben Wyvis (3,400 ft).
The oldest building in Inverness is Abertarff House which was built in 1593. At
the end of the street on the same side is the Old Gaelic Church, built
in 1649 and then rebuilt in 1792 when it became Greyfriars Free Church (it now houses a second hand bookshop where you can browse for hours).
Nearby is Old High St Stephen's Church which has monthly music concerts and is the oldest congregation in Inverness.
On the other side of Church Street is Dunbar’s Hospital, built in 1668 as a hospital
for the poor before becoming the Grammar School until 1792. The recently refurbished opulent Town House is open for guided tours on Thursday afternoons during the summer (book at the museum).
Completed in 1869 (but without the two spires in the original design), St Andrews Cathedral on the riverside is an oasis of tranquility.
Inverness has a wide choice of restaurants and eateries featuring Scottish produce, Italian cuisine, Spanish, Chinese, Indian, Mediterranean, vegetarian, etc. There are also many pubs where you can sample real ales from local breweries, not to mention tasting wee drams from distilleries in the area. Some of the pubs can also keep you entertained with live music.
While the Eastgate shopping centre houses many wellknown brands and stores, the older part of the town around Church Street and the Victorian Market is where the smaller, individually owned shops are to be found.
Historical walking tours of Inverness with a guide operate in the summer months. You can also get guided bicycle tours around the city and the City Sightseeing open top bus operates from April to October.
For live music, Highland Games and other cultural events, see the events listings page on our other web site.