A prim and proper little town
At the very top of Loch Ness, Inverness has much to commend it. Modern-day capital of the Highlands, it’s the place where many a highland fling begins. Venture out of town – it won’t take you long – and you’re in spectacular countryside on all sides, with mountains, shores and lochs in abundance.
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The natural beauty of the Scottish Highlands is Inverness’ main draw, but there’s also good shopping to be had. For unique gifts, try the independent shops at the Victorian Market (Academy Street), a stunning covered market dating from the late 19th century. At the Eastgate Shopping Centre (11 Eastgate), the local farmers’ market rolls into town on the first Saturday of the month, while fashion lovers will also find the latest high-street threads. Beyond the familiar brands, vintage clothing can be found at The Village (29-31 Union Street), a one-stop emporium dedicated to all things retro. Leakey’s Bookshop (Church Street) is one of the biggest and best spots for second-hand books in the country.
Food & Drink
Inverness has a burgeoning culinary scene, far more sophisticated than the Scottish stereotypes of haggis and deep-fried Mars bars. Quirky cafés such as Velocity Café (1 Crown Avenue) abound in the city centre. For fine dining, it’s got to be Chez Roux at Rocpool Reserve Hotel (14 Culduthel Road), the first Scottish outpost of legendary chef Albert Roux. At The Mustard Seed (16 Fraser Street), local produce features highly on a menu that can be described as Scottish fare with a twist. If charming Scottish ambience is preferred, head to Dores Inn (Dores), a thatched cottage that serves up views of Loch Ness alongside an extensive menu.
Happyness – Inverness Comedy Festival
Edinburgh may host The Fringe in August, but it’s Inverness’ turn to become comedy central in May. Despite being a relative newcomer on the events calendar having started in 2012, it has attracted acclaimed acts such as Dylan Moran and Jenny Eclair.
For the price of a weekend ticket and a sturdy tent, music fans can soak up great music amidst the stunning setting of Loch Ness. Previous acts have included Basement Jaxx, Fatboy Slim and Dizzee Rascal.
Inverness Highland Games
Bagpipe competitions and tossing the caber are just some of the many events at the Inverness Highland Games. The brave can sign up to take part on the day, otherwise just take a seat and marvel at the extraordinary feats of strength.
Inverness Book Festival
Celebrate all things literary with this dedication to fictional and non-fictional works. Writers such as Ian Rankin, Carol Drinkwater and Louis de Bernières take centre stage to discuss hot topics and read passages from their bestselling books.
Inverness Film Festival
This festival’s reputation continues to grow as it shines a spotlight on Scottish film and stages international premieres. With screenings, talks and workshops, budding filmmakers will discover a wealth of knowledge from some of the best in the business.
As the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Inverness makes a great base for visitors wishing to explore the area. Get a taste of the city’s charms with a stay at Glenmoriston Townhouse Hotel (20 Ness Bank) – its bar, which is stocked with more than 250 malt whiskies, is sure to beguile any visitor. Stylish accommodation can be found at the relaxing Kingsmills Hotel (Culcabock Road) with its swimming pool and luxury spa. For gentry-style grandeur, the Loch Ness Country House (Loch Ness Road) makes for a blissful escape from it all due to its countryside location.