Inverness is one of the oldest cities in Scotland and it is also considered the capital of the Highlands. This region is world famous for its remote, scenic spots and wild landscapes.
Besides that, it is also the perfect base for exploring northern Scotland, whether for people who have rent a car or for those travelling by public transport.
Trip to Inverness, the top 15 most recommended activities and guided tours across the Scottish Highlands and Isles
Local tour operators offer a wide range of activities such as boat cruises and day or multi-day guided tours leaving from Inverness and headed up to the north and the islands.
Below you find a list of 15 of these, including useful information regarding itineraries, online bookings and free cancellation policies.
Please note the activities calendar may vary from year to year and some of them could be carry out only during spring-summer seasons. Any update can be found in the related purchase website page.
1) 24-hour Hop-on Hop-off bus tour across Inverness
These double-decker red buses are the perfect solution for those who want to explore the city in a short time.
The 24-hour bus ticket allows you to discover Inverness’ places of interest getting on and off at the 12 stops along the Red and Blue routes.
Combo tickets and family deals are available and you can get a free cancellation when cancelling up to 24 hours in advance.
2) Round trip cruise on Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle
Inverness take its name from the river Ness which crosses the city and the nearby Loch Ness. Then, Urquhart Castle is one of the most famous Scottish castles and its ruins stand along the shores of the lake where monster Nessie lives, according to tradition of course 😉
The cruise departs from Clansman Harbour and during the 50 minutes-tour passengers enjoy stunning views of the Scottish Highlands.
3) Loch Ness cruise and visit of Urquhart Castle
This activity is similar to the previous one but in my opinion it offers a more complete experience.
It lasts 3 hours and besides the cruise on Loch Ness it also includes the visit of Urquhart Castle and the coach transfer back to Inverness.
This tour is scheduled all year round and the free cancellation is available up to 24 hours in advance.
4) Loch Ness day-trip from Inverness
This 7 hours-guided tour gives visitors the chance to explore the shores of Loch Ness, take a boat cruise (optional), have lunch at a nearby restaurant and visit a couple of charming villages in the area and their main attractions.
The day-trip is available all year round and free cancellation is possible as well. Groups have a a maximum of 16 passengers for a more personalized service.
5) Speyside and Elgin day-tour
Speyside region is the capital of Scottish whisky. Indeed, it has the largest number of distilleries of any region in the country.
During the tour, whisky lovers can visit two distilleries and taste and buy different varieties of this alcoholic beverage.
Lunch time is in Elgin, a village known for the ruins of the cathedral.
The day-trip is scheduled all year round and bookings can be cancelled for free up to the previous 24 hours.
6) Culloden, Clava Cairns and Glen Affric day-tour
A stunning trip across the Scottish Highlands awaits you. There will be 9 hours full of history, nature sceneries and tv series.
The first two stops are Clava Cairns, a bronze-age graveyard, and Culloden, sadly known for the battlefield where the last bloody battle on British soil was fought in 1746.
Both locations should be quite familiar to tv series Outlander fans…
Then, the journey continues across Glen Affric and its beautiful landscapes. Here you can see the Loch Affric, the mountains around it as well as the ruins of the 13th century monastery of Beauly Priory.
Visitors and Outlander fans could be also interested in these two other activities:
- Loch Ness cruise, Outlander and Whisky tour;
- Outlander day–tour with hotel pickup and drop-off included.
7) Torridon, Applecross and Eilean Donan Castle day-trip
This guided trip lasts 11 hours and it goes towards the wilderness of the east of Scotland to discover the beautiful villages of Torridon and Applecross.
Then, the highlight of the tour is the visit of Eilean Donan Castle, one of the most famous Scottish fortress which also stands on an breathtaking position at the junction of three lakes.
This day-trip from Inverness runs the whole year and a free cancellation policy is available.
8) Loch Ness and the Highlands day-tour
This is another opportunity to explore the shores of Loch Ness and its surroundings.
The 9-hours itinerary includes a boat cruise (optional) or a coach transfer to Urquhart Castle. Then it is time to enjoy some beautiful natural wonders such as the Invermoriston and Foyers waterfalls and the sandy Dores beach.
Then you have time to discover the town of Fort Augustus and learn more about the iconic Caledonian Chanel.
9) John O’Groats and the far North day-trip
A beautiful 11-hours guided tour across the north-west of Scotland.
The first stop is Golspie, a village overlooking the North Sea and close to Dunrobin Castle on Moray Firth. The lunch break will be in Wick, an old Vicking settlement located in the far north of mainland Scotland. Then, John O’Groats is located on Great Britain’s northeastern tip and it offers gorgeous views of Orkney Islands’ coastline.
This guided tour takes place during spring-summertime and bookings can be cancelled for free up to 24 hours in advance.
10) Glenfinnan Viaduct, Mallaig and Loch Ness day-trip
This activity is recommended especially for Harry Potter fans as it gives them the chance to see the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct on which Hogwart Express passes.
Others highlights of the tour are Urquhart Castle on the shores of Loch Ness, the village of Mallaig, Foyers waterfalls and Dores beach.
This day-trip lasts 12 hours is available during spring and summer
If you want to experience a memorable journey on the Jacobite Stream Train take a look at this day-tour from Inverness.
11) Day-trip to isle of Skye from Inverness
In the last years this island of the Inner Hebrides archipelago has become one of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations.
This is the reason why many multi-days tours to Skye depart from Edinburgh and Glasgow throughout the year. A list of these activities can be found in this article.
As Inverness is situated closer to the isle of Skye, some day-trips are organised the whole year. Generally speaking, most of the itineraries include: Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle, Portree, Old Man of Storr and Kilt Rock.
Below you find the day-trips available:
- Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle (all year round);
- Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle for groups of max. 16 participants;
- Loch Ness, Skye and Eilean Donan Castle;
- Isle of Skye and Fairy Pools day-trip.
12) 2-day Isle of Skye and Fairy Pools tour
This activity is dedicated to small groups with a maximum of 8 participants and it offers them the opportunity to spend more time across Skye.
Some highlights of the tour: Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, 5 Sisters of Kintail, Cuillin mountains, Fairy Pools, Neist Point, Rha waterfalls, Quiraing, Kilt Rock, Old Man of Storr and Eilean Donan Castle.
Accomodation must be booked following the instructions given at the moment of purchasing the 2-day tour. Cancellation is free up to 24 hours in advance.
13) 3-day small group tour of the North Coast 500
Popularly known as the Scottish Route 66, the North Coast 500 is a scenir road connecting Inverness to Applecross, on the west coast, and then continuing to Caithness, on the northern tip of Mainland Scotland, before returning to Inverness along the east coast.
This 3-day guided tour is dedicated to groups with maximum 16 participants and the itinerary includes places such as Ullapool, Smoo’s cave, Ardvreck Castle, Thurso and Dunrobin Castle. The programme may change due to adverse weather conditions.
Prices depend on the selected type of accomodation and free cancellation is available if done up to 24 hours before the departure.
14) 3-day Orkney Tour from Inverness
A long but unforgettable journey towards some of the most well-preserved prehistoric sites in Europe whilst enjoying breathking wilderness sceneries across northern Scotland.
During the guided tour, participants (max. of 16) will discover Kirkwall, the capital of Orkney archipelago, Skara Brae, a Neolithic settlement declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the prehistoric stone circle Ring of Brodgar as well as the standing stones of Stenness and Maeshowe.
Accomodation must be selected when booking the tour, cancellation is free if done up to 24 hours in advance.
15) Lewis & Harris and Outer Hebrides 3-day Tour
White sandy beaches, standing stones and wilderness await you in this trip across the Outer Hebrides archipelago.
The activity is for groups with no more than 16 participants and some of the highlights are: the ferry trip from Ullapool, the sceneries in the northwest of the Isle of Lewis, Stornoway, beaches in the Isle of Harris and Callanish standing stones.
Prices change depending on the type of accomodation chosen and free cancellation is available up to 24 hours before the departure.