The Highlands are Scotland – When you think about Scotland, you envision sweeping valleys and mountains, lakes, castles, fields of yellow rapeseed, grazing sheep, stone buildings, and wide blustery clouded skies, right?  For many of us, the Scottish Highlands are our ideal vision of Scotland.  Inverness is in the center of it all.

Here are a few destinations to see in and around Inverness on your next visit.  We visit many of these locations on our Hurley World Travel escorted private tours of Scotland.

Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre

A visit to Scotland isn’t complete without a visit to Culloden Moor and the Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre, located about 5 miles east of Inverness.  Here you’ll see the battlefield where the Highlanders fought against the British army on April 16, 1746 and lost resulting in the eradication of the Highlander way of life.  Grave markers throughout the battlefield name the Scottish Clans who fought valiantly for Scotland and preserving their way of life.

Clava Cairns

About a mile from Culloden Moor lies the Clava Cairns.  Three large circular cairns and a number of standing stones strategically placed for astronomical reasons mark a prehistoric burial site over 4,000 years old, dating back to the Bronze Age.  This site has become significantly more popular with tourists due to the popularity of the Outlander books and TV series and their ongoing story and filming connection to Scotland.  Craigh na Dun, the fictitious standing stones in Outlander, are thought to be modeled on standing stones at the Clava Cairns.

Loch Ness

Nestled in the Scottish Highlands, roughly 14 miles southwest of Inverness is infamous Loch Ness, home of the legendary Loch Ness Monster.  Over 22 miles long with an average depth of 433 feet and over 700 feet deep at its deepest point, Loch Ness’ dark peat-tinged fresh water enhances the mystery of sighting the plesiosaur-like creature.  Cruising Loch Ness by boat gives you a whole new prospective on its size and the beautiful surrounding countryside.

Urquhart Castle

About 18 miles southwest of Inverness and poised on the western bank of Loch Ness is Urquhart Castle.  Over 1,000 years old and one of the many famous images of picturesque castles in Scotland, Urquhart Castle stands silently watching over Loch Ness.  Accessible by land and boat from Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle is open for tours during the warm weather months.  Other castles located near Inverness include Dunrobin Castle, located north of Inverness, and Cawdor Castle near Nairn.

Beauly Priory, Beauly

Founded in the early 1200s, Beauly Priory served as a monastery for the Valliscaulian order for nearly 300 years until the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s.  Today, the stone walls of the abbey church are intact, except for its roof, and the church’s ruins rest in the middle of the town of Beauly.  The ruins are fascinating to walk through and photograph, and entry is free.

The Highland Malt Whisky Experience

Scotch Malt Whisky is renowned the world over.  Throughout Scotland are many distilleries that provide tours and a bit of Scotland’s whisky history as you’re sampling the different varieties of whisky distilled on site.  For something a little different, MacGregor’s Bar in Inverness on Academy Street offers The Highland Malt Whisky Experience on Monday and Thursday evenings.  You can sip local Scotch single malt whisky while enjoying some Scottish music and history.  Other distilleries in the Inverness area include Glen Ord Distillery, located west of Inverness, and Tomatin Distillery located in Inverness.

Outdoor Activities

There are plenty of outdoor activities to do in the Highlands – golf, hiking, fishing, canoeing, boating, touring, and more.  Scotland is the birthplace of golf, with at least 11 golf courses in the immediate vicinity of Inverness.  The Highlands are the perfect place to enjoy fresh air, the beauty of Scotland, and some good exercise.  Be sure to pack the right gear for the outdoor activities you select and enjoy!!!