Take a pleasant walk following the east or left bank of the beautiful River Ness upstream from the main road bridge nearest to the Tourist Information Office. Cross the river, after about ¼ mile, by the Infirmary footbridge – a small suspension bridge that bounces up and down alarmingly if you walk too fast! Be sure to visit the War Memorial at Cavell Gardens. Further downstream are the peaceful Ness Islands which sit in the river and are connected to each other by footbridges which are fun to explore.
From the Ness Islands, it is easy to walk to a variety of attractions including the crazy golf course (with ice cream kiosk), the skatepark, ice rink, Inverness Leisure (sports facilities and swimming pool) and the Highlands Archive Centre.
In Whin Park you can sit by the river, or try out the miniature railway, boating lake and children's play areas.
Inverness Botanic Gardens is a must-see with its colourful gardens, cactus house and cafe. Open daily all year round. Entrance is free.
From the Ness Islands, return to the city along the riverside, passing Eden Court Theatre (currently closed) and
Inverness St Andrew’s Cathedral. The Gothic inspired cathedral
finished in 1866 was originally intended to have spires but these were
never added. At the top of the arched window on the river side is a
carved horse, added to commemorate the horse which was used to operate
the pulley raising stones to the top during building. Unfortunately
the rope broke, dropping a stone which killed the horse, now remembered
by the carving!
Inverness Cathedral is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm, and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. Free admission. Donations welcome.
In the old schoolhouse next to the cathedral you can enjoy coffee, cake and light lunches at Cafe Ness (open daily from 10am to 4pm).
Or buy some refreshments from the kiosk on Ness Walk which sells coffees, crêpes, waffles, snacks and ice creams.
There are also street food vendors at the Highland Food & Drink Trail near the cathedral usually at weekends in winter and most days in the summer.
The riverside is also a pretty walk in the evenings when the trees are festooned with fairylights.
You can also find some flat walks on the towpaths either side of the Caledonian Canal which can be accessed near the Ness Islands or at Clachnaharry where the canal enters the Firth. At the Muirtown Basin at the bottom of the canal locks, you can walk round in a loop and spot the yachts. Read more about the Caledonian Canal which is operated by Scottish Canals.
You can also explore the Merkinch Local Nature Reserve with views over the Firth and the Kessock Bridge. This can be accessed from the Muirtown Basin end of the Canal. Guided walks of the reserve including birdwatching for beginners, photography tips, etc. are available to book.
Guided Walking Tours:
Wild About Inverness City Centre Outdoor Trail by Ablekids Press is suitable for children and grown ups of all ages! Explore the historic heart of Inverness and discover wild, mythical and domestic creatures on the city centre's buildings and monuments. Covering less than a kilometre, it takes around 45-60 minutes to complete this self-guided trail. Starting at the Millennium Circle at the foot of the Market Brae Steps, you will finish on Castle Hill. The trail is suitable for those on foot, pushchairs, wheelchairs and mobility scooters. A map/guide is available as a free PDF download and you can buy a Sticker Activity Book of the trail from Ablekids Press on Market Brae Steps.
You can download a free app from your Apple or Android store - just search for 'Inverness City Historic Walk' or use the QR codes below.
Starting from Inverness Castle, simply follow the app to explore 32 historic locations around Inverness city centre. You can listen in English and in Gaelic. A booklet is available from the tourist information centre in Inverness High Street.
Fans of Diana Galbadon's Outlander books and the TV show will know there are many Outlander connections in and around Inverness. Inverness Outlanders have a free Map which is available in many tourist outlets. There's also an audio tour tour of Inverness and surrounding area which can be downloaded for free via Geotourist.
The Inverness Murder Mystery Treasure Trail is available as a PDF download for £9.99. Starting from Church Street, this self-guided trail is approximately 2.5 miles long and takes 2 hours around the city centre and river if you follow all the clues. Fun to do with the family.
There are some lovely forestry walks around Inverness including Craig Dunain, Craig Phadrig and Ord Hill. Just pick up a trails leaflet at Inverness Tourist Information Centre.
Inverness is also the start of the Great Glen Way - a long distance walking path which runs all the way to Fort William on the west coast. There are accessible stretches of the walk from Inverness starting along the Canal.
From Torbreck on the edge of Inverness to Fort Augustus, The South Loch Ness Trail (walking, cycling or riding) now joins up with the Great Glen Way paths and creates the new 'Loch Ness 360' trail.
Loch Ness photo © VisitScotland / Kenny Lam