When you are driving into the Highlands, Inverness is a great place to stop for some lunch, light sightseeing, and maybe some shopping. For our part, we decided to stay the night before driving the three hours to Skye. Surely we would find enough history and sightseeing to keep us occupied for 24 hours. Well, we failed. Just to give you an idea, here is the breakdown of our time in Inverness:
Self-Guided Walking Tour: 1.5 hours
Without any major historical sites to visit, our walking tour through Inverness was more of a pleasant stroll. We enjoyed walking along the River Ness and looking across to Inverness Castle, nestled in the trees atop the hill. And of course, we couldn’t help but appreciate the architecture of all of the centuries-old buildings lining the streets. I am a big fan of churches, so we were sure to visit the Old High Church on Church Street. We did not go inside, but the churchyard was beautiful.
Black Isle Brewing Company: 1.5 hours
After our walk, we were feeling a bit peckish, so we stopped in at the Black Isle Brewing Company. This little brew co. was not on our itinerary, but we were glad to stumble upon this fantastic restaurant. Black Isle offers a wide variety of beers and wines—many of which are organic—and the wood fired pizzas are delicious. If you happen to be in the area around mealtime, be sure to stop in.
Shopping: 1-5 hours
I know there is quite the discrepancy between one and five hours, but I suppose your shopping duration will depend on your decisiveness. Take my husband, who, for example, was decisively done with shops after about two minutes. Then there is me and my five-hour purse debacle. You see, the Harris tweed was calling to me and the abundance of oh so tweedy purses was toying with my emotions. So, after visiting and revisiting several shops, I was finally forced to choose between keeping my friends or continuing my neurotic tweed deliberations. Since I was not abandoned in Inverness, you can correctly assume the friends won and the purse decision was made abruptly and with a heartfelt sigh.
I should probably mention that Inverness shopping is not limited to purse frenzies. The Isle of Harris shop with its masses of tweed goodness was my favorite. Or if you are in the market for snuggly wool sweaters, you should pop into the Aran Island Wool Shop. But a variety of other shopping options abound. The Eastgate Shopping Mall has a combination of local shops and chain stores, the Victoria Market is filled with unique shops and businesses, and there are many little stores along High Street and throughout the city center. If you are like me and need some sweets along the way, be sure to visit Hotel Chocolat for a snack.
Wandering Around & Wasting Time
The rest of our time in Inverness was spent at the hotel or walking around High Street to see if there was anything we had missed. In retrospect, the consensus was that we could easily have made Inverness a brief stop along the way to the next destination. 3-4 hours would easily allow for a stroll, some lunch, and a quick shop (quick as in not 5 hours for one purse 😉 ).
Tips and Lessons Learned:
- The historic city center is a great area for walking, so whether you are staying for a while or just stopping for lunch, be sure to get out there and stretch your legs a bit.
- If you are going to have a meal in Inverness, consider Black Isles Brewing Company for lunch or Fig and Thistle Bistro for dinner. I know I did not mention Fig & Thistle in the post, but holy moly, their seared spiced Orkney salmon filet was the best salmon I have ever eaten. Seriously. I have no pictures of the food, which is proof that it was too delicious to even get a photo before it was polished off!
- If you stop in at the Isle of Harris Shop and you see a little gentleman teddy bear wearing tweed, make sure to buy it or you will regret it later. I mean it. Of all the gifts for my kids that I could have talked myself out of. Drat!
Heading to Skye ❤