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Top Spots to Visit in the Highlands

Apart from being an absolutely beautiful city (yes, we are still seething about Bill Bryson’s damning, thoroughly unjustified rant about it in Notes from a Small Island), Inverness’ surrounding countryside, wildlife, and variety of shops ensure that there is literally something for everybody in this beautiful and historic city.

There’s a well-known idiom that you can’t go to Inverness without visiting Loch Ness. Well, actually there isn’t, but perhaps there should be, because it’s sound advice. The village of Dores on the shores of the loch, ten minutes by bus from Inverness, is always ridiculously welcoming to tourists. Whether you choose a pint in the cosy Dores Inn, take a stroll along Dores Beach, or drive down the loch-side to the wonderfully named Drumnadrochit, you can be sure that you’ll be well looked after.

Image Credit: Over Doz via Flickr

It’s well worth spending a day in Inverness itself. If you’re after culture, visit Eden Court Theatre and Cinema for some sophisticated relaxation, or investigate the museum off the high street. The centre of town is home to a multitude of bars, restaurants, and shops, from the ultimate purveyor of chip butties, Charlie’s Café, to scrumptious menu of The Mustard Seed. Additionally, there’s the wonderfully quaint Victorian Market off the high street, which is home to a beautiful array of small businesses, from old-fashioned sweet shops to Scottish souvenir shops.

There’s more to Inverness beyond the city, though. If, like us, you harbour a fascination with nature and love nothing more than running for the hills every now and again, the Cairngorm mountains are a superb distraction from the humdrum reality of day to day life. Whether you enjoy skiing in the winter, or love hiking in all weathers, explore miles upon miles of mountain paths and the breath-taking Rothiemurchus Forest; its bike trails, picturesque paths and a tearoom or two are bound to keep you busy.

Image Credit: Matteo via Flickr

If you do fancy some nature but would rather stay closer to home than the Ness Islands, a series of delightful wooded islands on the River Ness which runs through the centre of the city, are a must-see. There are plenty of benches if you wish to simply sit and contemplate the river, and there is even a giant tree trunk in the shape of the Loch Ness Monster – always popular with children! If you visit in the evening, the fairy lights draped between the lampposts will be in operation, the icing on the cake for a magical atmosphere.

Finally, for the David Attenborough’s among you - wildlife! Whether you’re interested in seeing a golden eagle framed against a purple mountainside, dolphins catching a wave in the Moray Firth, or seals relaxing on the rocks, Inverness and the Highlands are the perfect places to spot some of England’s best creatures. Chanonry Point on the Black Isle is a glorious beauty spot on the Moray Firth, complete with lighthouse, ice-cream van and (hopefully) a pod or two of bottlenose dolphins. Meanwhile, Strathconon, also on the Black Isle, is a beautiful valley. A ramble there wouldn’t go amiss, and if you’re lucky you may even catch a glimpse of a golden eagle.

Image Credit: Nick Bramhall via Flickr

In short, Inverness is a beautiful city in one of the most wondrous places in Britain, with so much to offer in terms of both nature and city life. We recommend it as a destination if you want a holiday that you’re guaranteed to remember.