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The Capital of the Highlands - Travel Tips for Inverness

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Nestled in a river valley at the end of the Great Glen and the edge of the North Sea, Inverness offers cozy Highland hospitality amid wild and rugged natural beauty. The scenery runs right through the city along the River Ness, while the picturesque Old Town is filled with lively pubs and attractive little shops. Loch Ness, with its legendary monster, is a short drive or boat ride away.

Best time to travel

 

Winter in the Highlands can be harsh but very pretty, with the shallower lochs frozen over and log fires blazing in the pubs and inns to keep visitors nice and toasty. In the summer high season, there's still a good chance of cold wind and rain, and the temperature rarely gets above 75 degrees F (24 C), even with the sun shining through the glens. For July and August - the British school holidays - you should book accommodations well in advance. Spring and autumn are less busy, and the colours on the hills look especially vivid in those seasons.

Not to miss

 

From the picturesque Inverness Old Town, it’s a short stroll along the river to the Ness Islands and a short drive to the windswept vistas of the Black Isle. For many visitors, the highlight of any Highland visit is a cruise down the Caledonian Canal to seek out the famous monster of Loch Ness. Hogmanay is Scotland's traditional New Year holiday, when Inverness venues like Hootananny hold ticketed parties with live Scottish music and dancing that will leave you joyous and breathless. In summer you'll want to see caber-tossing and other odd feats of strength at the annual Highland Games.

 

Getting around

 

Inverness Airport (INV) has regular flights to and from major cities across Europe, as well as far-flung destinations within Scotland, like the Shetland Islands. Various intercity bus companies have stands at the main station in Farraline Park, where you can also catch local buses to points across Inverness and other Highland towns and villages. The railway station is 2 blocks away for trains south to Edinburgh and Glasgow or north to Wick and the very top of Scotland. And the Caledonian Canal makes it easy to travel the local waterways and even go cross-country by rented boat.

 

Cuisine

 

Certain basic staples have been part of the Scottish diet for generations - porridge oats, lamb, fresh fish from herring to Atlantic salmon. Venison and other wild game were once restricted to wealthy landowners, while offal-based dishes like haggis were the food of "commoners." The best-quality Highland ingredients are now available to all and often given modern flourishes at Inverness restaurants. A hot bowl of mutton stew or Cullen skink goes down well on a chilly day, and a simple takeaway supper of fish and chips by the River Ness is a real treat on a warmer evening.

 

Customs and etiquette

 

Highlanders, and Scots in general, tend to be very friendly and welcoming. All they ask from visitors is simple politeness and respect for the landscape, so just make sure to clean up after yourself, especially in the surrounding hills and glens. The roads outside the city are quite narrow and get very busy in summer, so try not to hold other cars up if you're slowing to take photos of the landscape. History, religion, and politics can be touchy subjects, so it's best to tread lightly if the conversation turns to those topics in the pub.

 

Fast facts

 

  • Population: 62500
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  • Spoken languages: English, Gaelic
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  • Electrical: 220-240 volts, 50 Hz, plug type G
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  • Phone calling code: +44 1463
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  • Emergency number: 999