10 Best Things to Do in Inverness

Set in the Scottish Highlands, north of Glasgow and Edinburgh, Inverness is a charming, historical city that affords some wonderful natural vistas.

While many visitors are drawn to the popular Inverness attractions like Loch Ness or Inverness Castle, there are plenty offbeat attractions to enjoy tool.  is an abundance of experiences beyond these well-charted attractions.

If you’re the type of explorer who revels in uncovering hidden gems and embracing the road less travelled, then Inverness offers plenty of surprises.

Join us now as we uncover an assortment of unusual things to do in Inverness, from ancient burial sites to offbeat culinary attractions.

1. See the Inverness Street Art

Inverness Street Art

Image: freshpaint.org

As you stroll through the streets of Inverness, keep your eyes peeled for the vibrant street art that adorns the city’s walls.

These colourful creations, some grand in scale, others more subtle, emerge unexpectedly around corners, down side streets, or on the sides of buildings.

Each mural and sculpture tells its own story, reflecting the unique energy and spirit of Inverness.

They’re the works of talented local artists, their creativity splashed across brick and stone.

While some works are commissioned, others are spontaneous expressions of creativity, turning the city into a dynamic canvas of artistic expression.

Your urban exploration becomes a treasure hunt as you uncover these hidden gems, making your visit to Inverness an unusual and visually inspiring adventure.

2. Visit Leakey’s Bookshop

Leakey's Bookshop

Image: leakeysbookshop.com

Venture into Leakey’s Bookshop, and you’ll find yourself enveloped in a sea of pre-loved books. Nestled in Inverness’s city centre, this bookstore is not your average literary haven.

It’s a maze filled with captivating reads, set within an old church’s atmospheric walls and its sheer volume of books places it among Scotland’s biggest second-hand bookshops.

Here, your love for books turns into an exploration, your journey marked by the countless spines of hardcovers and paperbacks stacked high on the shelves around you.

Aged wooden shelves bend under the weight of countless books, their spines offering a rainbow of faded colours and well-loved pages.

As you meander through the rows, every nook and cranny holds potential treasures: rare editions, out-of-print novels, intriguing maps, and antique prints.

A visit to Leakey’s Bookshop is not just about finding a good read – it’s about embracing the unexpected in this charming, quirky corner of Inverness.

Address: Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY

3. Go to Inverness Victorian Market

Inverness Victorian Market

Image: thevictorianmarket.co.uk

On our list of unique attractions in Inverness is this Victorian market – a distinctive and historical landmark nestled within the city centre of Inverness.

This covered market, with its intricate ironwork and high glass-panelled ceiling, harkens back to the Victorian era, yet pulses with a vibrant contemporary life.

Here, you’ll meander through an assortment of quaint stalls, independent boutiques, and traditional local businesses, each offering a treasure trove of goods.

From artisan crafts and local produce to unique gifts and vintage finds, the offerings reflect the eclectic mix of Inverness’s community spirit.

The market also provides an array of delectable food outlets, where you can sample local fare or enjoy a leisurely lunch.

The sense of history, combined with the bustling activity of trade, makes the Inverness Victorian Market a unique and memorable part of your visit to Inverness.

Address: Academy St, Inverness IV1 1JN

4. Take a Nessie Hunting Expedition

Loch Ness

If you’re exploring Inverness, we recommend that you take a Nessie Hunting Expedition on the famous Loch Ness.

This boat tour navigates the vast expanse of the loch, said to be the home of the elusive Loch Ness Monster.

The expedition offers a mix of suspense and mystery as the boat gently glides through the dark, enigmatic waters.

However, this journey isn’t solely about spotting the legendary creature.

These expeditions also provide an enriching understanding of the region’s unique history and geological formations.

As you journey across the water, expert guides share captivating insights into the loch’s impressive depth and the surrounding geological marvels.

If you’re looking for offbeat things to do in Inverness, a hunt for Nessie might just be the ticket.

Address: Cruise Loch Ness Ltd, Canalside, Fort Augustus, PH32 4BD

5. Sample Haggis Ice Cream at Miele’s Gelateria

Miele's Gelateria

Image: mielesgelateria.com

Push the boundaries of your culinary comfort zone as you step into Miele’s Gelateria in Inverness, famed for its imaginative gelato flavours.

This family-run, Scottish-Italian ice cream shop has made waves for a creation that marries Scottish tradition with Italian dessert craft – haggis ice cream.

This unusual offering transforms Scotland’s national dish into a sweet treat, blending savoury haggis spices with creamy, homemade gelato.

Despite its unusual nature, the haggis flavour shines through, creating a fusion that surprises the palate but is rooted in the authentic tastes of Scotland.

Visiting Miele’s Gelateria and trying their haggis ice cream is more than a simple dessert stop.

It’s a daring and playful way to experience a classic Scottish dish in a new and unexpected form. It should therefore be part of any Inverness adventure.

Address: 92 Church St, Inverness IV1 1EP

6. Discover Inverness Museum’s Offbeat Exhibits

Ammonite

Explore the lesser-known aspects of Highland history at the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

While the museum is well-regarded for its traditional exhibits, it’s the offbeat displays that are perfect for visitors looking for unusual things to do in Inverness.

One such exhibit includes a fragment of tartan worn by Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

This unique artefact offers a tangible connection to Scotland’s Jacobite history and the charismatic figure who played a key role in it.

Other unusual items include geological specimens like the ‘Ammonite from the Jurassic,’ which transports you back millions of years to when these marine creatures swam in prehistoric seas.

Your journey through the museum may also lead you to diverse collections of traditional Highland weapons including intriguing archaeological finds, not to mention the stuffed Highland cow.

Whether you’re a history buff, a culture enthusiast, or a curious explorer, a visit to the offbeat exhibits at Inverness Museum adds a unique twist to your Highland adventure.

Address: Castle Wynd, Inverness IV2 3EB

7. See Inverness’s Hidden Gardens

Ness Islands

Talk about hidden gems in Inverness! The city is actually home to an assortment of hidden gardens that serve as urban oases for visitors looking to take a breather.

These little patches of tranquillity are tucked away behind city buildings, in courtyards, and alongside waterways, providing locals and visitors alike with unexpected havens of green.

One such secret green spot is the Ness Islands, a collection of islands in the middle of the River Ness connected by Victorian suspension bridges.

This hidden gem is a delightful place for a quiet stroll amidst the trees and the peaceful babble of the river.

Another off-the-beaten-path garden is the sensory delight of the Hospice Gardens at the Highland Hospice.

Tranquil and thoughtfully-designed, it’s filled with fragrant flowers and plants that appeal to all five senses, providing a peaceful retreat for reflection and relaxation.

These green spaces, secreted away amidst the city’s bustling streets, offer a chance to take a pause from city exploration, bask in nature’s beauty, and experience a different, quieter side of Inverness.

8. Experience a Local Ceilidh

Fiddle

The heartbeat of Scottish culture, a ceilidh (pronounced ‘kay-lee’) is a traditional Gaelic gathering involving folk music, dancing, storytelling and often, a healthy dose of Scottish hospitality and conviviality.

The beauty of a ceilidh is its inclusivity. Even if you’re a newcomer, you’ll find yourself swept up in the lively Scottish reels and jigs.

Local musicians play infectious tunes on fiddles, accordions, and perhaps even a bagpipe or two, while a ‘dance caller’ guides participants through the steps.

Ceilidhs are held in various venues around Inverness, from community halls to pubs.

They offer a fantastic opportunity to plunge into local customs, establish new connections, and perhaps master a few dance steps along the way.

Regardless of whether you’re a practiced dancer or a newcomer to the dance floor, participating in a local ceilidh is a memorable and essential part of any visitor looking to go off the beaten path in Inverness.

9. Be Amazed by the Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns

This ancient burial site which traces its origins back to the Bronze Age approximately 4,000 years ago, provides a fascinating glimpse into Scotland’s deep-rooted history.

Referred to as Clava Cairns or Balnuaran of Clava, the site is composed of three remarkably well-maintained cairns.

Two are classified as passage graves. Encircling the cairns, a collection of stone circles enhances the location’s enigmatic appeal.

The position of the cairns is no accident. The complex is astronomically aligned, with the cairns thought to have been designed in relation to the midwinter sunset – a fact that intrigues historians and archaeologists.

Exploring Clava Cairns is akin to stepping back in time.

The site’s age and its connection to our ancestors lend it a quiet, almost reverential atmosphere, making it a worthwhile detour on your hunt for unique attractions in Inverness.

Address: Inverness IV2 5EU

10. Walk along the Caledonian Canal

Caledonian Canal

Experience the beauty of the Scottish Highlands as you embark on a peaceful stroll along the Caledonian Canal.

This prominent watercourse carves a path through Scotland, starting from Inverness in the northeast and ending at Fort William in the southwest

There are some striking landscapes to behold along the way.

The towpaths flanking the canal provide an idyllic track for walkers, joggers and cyclists alike.

Your journey along the canal will lead you past tranquil water stretches, striking lock systems, oscillating bridges, and charming waterside cottages.

The canal is also a hotspot for wildlife enthusiasts.  Be on the lookout for aquatic otters, elusive red deer, and a diverse array of avian species.

On a day blessed with clear skies, you can marvel at sweeping views of the encompassing mountains, including the majestic Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the UK.

A walk along the Caledonian Canal presents a distinctive and captivating perspective of the Scottish Highlands’ serene beauty.

This is why we included it on our guide to unusual things to do in Inverness.

For more ideas about visitor attractions in Inverness, see the official Inverness tourism site.

Dale Shelabarger

Dale is the owner and founder of Cottages to Rent which he launched back in 2005. As well as promoting holiday cottages, Dale blogs regularly about top UK holiday destinations, visitor attractions and places of historical interest.