Things to do in Inverness, Scotland
On a rainy day in Inverness, my friend and I found ourselves with our kayaking plans canceled and stranded in the city center of Inverness after our back up plan bus never showed up. Talk about a travel failure of a day. Though it was disappointing to not have anything grand to do with the day, we wanted to make the most of the few hours we did have. Turns out that though there isn’t much to do in Inverness, especially on the off season, there’s a few amazing sites to see if you just look.
Inverness Castle sits on a small hill in the city and stares out at the streets and gaping hills in the distance. We already knew that the Castle is closed to visitors, but we could still walk around it to see the facade and the wonderful views from the hill. It was pouring rain, but we made our way up the street to the parking lot by the Castle. It was only a short walk from one of the main streets of Inverness and we were there in a few minutes.
The Castle isn’t amazingly grand or impressive, but it is rather modern as the castle standing today was built in 1836 though the site has seen many castles with fascinating histories since 1057.
We walked around both sides of the Castle and took several pictures with our umbrellas, as the rain was coming down harder now. The redstone shone against the gray sky as we looked up. The view was gorgeous, from the city filled with old church steeples and buildings to the rolling hills dotted with fog. The statue of Flora MacDonald stood proudly looking off into the distance. It was definitely worth the hour or so we spent just looking out into the hills of mystical Scotland.
Old High Church
This church overlooks the River Ness and was a very fascinating find. It was built in the 1700s making it the oldest church in town, which is really a feat in a city with so many churches. It was dreary by the time we were exploring it’s grounds, but that just added to the feeling of excitement the church gave off.
There’s a gate at the entrance that should be open during the day for people to wander in. The pathway leads past the graveyard and to the entrances of the church. All the doors were locked while we were there, but walking around the outside was fine enough for us.
The church itself is very pretty and seems to match the theme of Scotland very well. It was built in the gothic style and on a gray day, it’s gray-brown stones seem to match the skyline. There’s an old crypt built off of the church that one can peer into.
We also took time to stroll around the small graveyard. After a few minutes, we turned it into a bit of a game, trying to find the oldest grave. It was a bit challenging because many of the stones were faded, but we ended up finding one from 1700 which was a thrill. Being the history nerds that we are, we loved it.
And for you Outlander fans, there’s one gravestone clearly marked James Fraser. It was a few decades too late to really be the fictional character, but my friend and I did stand there amazed for a few moments before moving on.
Nearly right next to the Old High Church is Leakey’s Secondhand Bookshop. It’s only Scotland’s second largest secondhand bookshop, but for someone who loves books, it was thrilling to go into. There were books piled everywhere, on shelves, on desks, and on top of tables.
Every category of book you can think of was somewhere in that shop, burried under titles. My friend and I browsed the history, travel, and Scotland sections and marveled at just how many old books there were in one place. A gorgeous winding rail staircase to the second floor aptly fits the scene.
There are also loads of maps everywhere in this shop for purchase. If you’re a map nerd, you won’t be disappointed as you find prints and pictures from Inverness, Scotland, and the UK at various points in history.
Greig Street Bridge
We passed over this bridge so many times during out stay in Inverness since it led right to our hotel. This cute little foot bridge spans the River Ness and offers gorgeous views of the city on either side of the River and the mountains along the River in the distance. Watch out, the bridge will begin to bounce as you walk across it, so laugh and hold on!
Strolling the City
Though it might not be a very active city, Inverness still is enchanting to stroll. Believe it or not, the dreary weather seemed to just add to the taste of the town. They have all the normal shops, but there was something exciting about going into places on such an off season day. We browsed craft, quilting, and music shops, and walked past restaurants, pancake shops, and so many other interesting and wild places I wish we could’ve seen.
So even though the day got turned on its head for my friend and I, Scotland had a way of making our day a splendid little tour of Inverness. It’s a captivating city and walking the streets, I could just tell that so much had happened there. It’s just a reminder to me that Scotland is a wild place and that the history just seeps right into the group.
Check out my overview article of Inverness here and read some of my other guides to the city, surrounding attractions, and the best places to eat! If you’ve ever been to Inverness, let me know what you did below! If you’ve never been, let me know what you’d be most excited to see!