Inverness is often referred as the “Gateway to the Highlands” since it has the biggest international airport in the Scottish Highlands. For that reason, it serves as the start off point of any tour to the North and towns near the city like the world famous Loch Ness.
But did you know that Inverness has a lot of jewels it can boast about? Among the Scottish castles, there’s one architectural piece that holds a precious record of the country’s history. This is the Inverness Castle.
Talk about a medieval castle that’s still standing firm after being obliterated, then rebuilt, and now beaming with pride from its centuries of survival. A tour at this historic site will give you chills and shivers as you walk down through the castle grounds where a lot of important Scottish history went down.
Touring the Inverness Castle
The Inverness castle is perched atop a hill by the River Ness. There, you’ll get one of the best views of the famed river as well as the whole of Highlands.
The castle is strategically located in Inverness city center so anyone can reach it easily on foot if they don’t want to join bus tours. Enjoy spectacular views of Inverness from the lawn of this famous castle.
This Victorian-era red sandstone castle is not the original as the first structure was blown up by the Jacobites in 1746. The castle that you see today was designed by Architect William Burn and was built over the ruins of the first building in 1836.
Today, the Inverness castle serves as the Sheriff’s Court and is not open to the public. Tourists can, however, wander around the grounds and there’s the Castle Viewpoint too that accommodates guests who want to see the Highlands from a gorgeous angle.
Things to See and Do at the Inverness Castle
Whether they come in groups or solo, most tourists explore the castle grounds independently. One of the striking features of the castle that will welcome you is the statue of Flora MacDonald who’s probably the most romantic character in Scottish history.
For those who’s not familiar with Flora, she was the one who helped Prince Charles Edward Stuart escape from the Scotland after defeat of Jacobites at the Battle of Culloden. But her adventures didn’t stop there as she was witness to some more fights and during her death, the celebrated poet and critic Samuel Johnson engraved on her bronze memorial:
“Flora Macdonald. Preserver of Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Her name will be mentioned in history and if courage and fidelity be virtues, mentioned with honour.”
There are also informational plaques on the castle grounds, detailing the historical events that happened on the site. It’s definitely a good starting point of a historical day tour before you head on to nearby sites with Jacobite connections like the Culloden Battlefield and Urquhart Castle.
The guided tours to the Inverness castle usually include the viewing of the castle exterior and photo ops with the River Ness as backdrop. Apart from that, there’s nothing really much to do at the Inverness Castle so you can finish the tour for an hour or two. It will be a great addition to a whole day Inverness city tour or a historical tour like I mentioned earlier.
The castle also serves as the starting point for an enjoyable walk along the banks of the River Ness (more famously known as the Loch Ness 360), the Caledonian Canal, and the Beauly Firth coastline.
Take a leisurely stroll past St. Andrew’s Cathedral and the Ness Islands, where you may spot anglers standing in the river and fishing for Atlantic salmon.
Inverness Castle Viewpoint
Can’t get enough of the view from the castle grounds? Wait ‘til you reach the Castle Viewpoint!
This side of the Inverness Castle boasts a glass viewpoint where you’ll get a fabulous 360 degree view of the Highland Capital and the surrounding scenery. The view highlights many interesting landmarks but what’s more interesting is the intriguing myths and legends you’ll learn as you climb up this tower.
Discover the tale of the Brahan Seer, the legendary 17th century Highland mystic who made many a prediction that came to pass, and learn how St. Columba met and banished the monster Loch Ness through this interesting 94-step climb to the viewdeck.
Things to Know Before Visiting the Inverness Castle
- The castle grounds are quite vast so you might want to wear comfortable clothes and closed-toe shoes.
- Bring cameras to capture the scenic views and limitless photos ops.
- The castle grounds are wheelchair accessible but not the viewpoint.
How to Get to Inverness Castle
Inverness Castle is located on the east side of the River Ness in Inverness city center. The castle is a 15-minute walk from Inverness rail station. Local buses stop at nearby Castle Street and on Castle Road. You can also hire a taxi service at Inverness Taxis to reach the castle without any hassles. Get a chance to explore the nearby tourist spots too when you hire the Inverness Taxis for a whole day tour.
When to Visit Inverness Castle
You’ll enjoy your visit at the Inverness Castle best on a clear, sunny day. So if you are planning to see this famous castle, summer is the perfect timing. The Castle Viewpoint is also open during the months of April to October from 11am to 6pm which is much longer than the rainy season where it is only open from 11:30am to 4:00pm.
The grounds are busiest during warm summer weather, but even then, crowds are rare. The setting is romantic at sunset, when the sun’s soft rays hit the surface of the River Ness.