8 Best things to do in Inverness in the autumn and winter months
Autumn and winter can be one of the best times to visit Inverness. Clear blue skies and crisp days make for great autumnal walks in and around Inverness. Highland weather can be unpredictable and a moment later it can change. That’s why I have come up with my 8 best things to do in autumn and winter in Inverness city centre . Before you arrive you can prepare a range of outdoor and indoor activities in Inverness for you and your group to enjoy as soon as you get here.
“No such things as bad weather just unsuitable clothing”
Insider information on autumn and winter activities in Inverness from a real Invernessian!
First of all, let me explain how I know so much about Inverness and the Highlands of Scotland. As an Invernessian (someone born and bred in Inverness) I have a lifetime of experience living in the area. I am also a qualified member of the Scottish Tourist Guides Association and I have guided thousands of people around the Highlands of Scotland. I know from speaking to visitors during their time in Inverness exactly what sort of activities they would like to do. Read on for insider tips for autumn and winter activities in Inverness.
Walks in Inverness during autumn and winter
During the autumn and winter, I offer a smaller walking tour timetable. There are two types of walking tours that I offer, group walking tours in Inverness City centre where you can join other visitors, and a private tour. On a private walking tour of Inverness city centre, you can choose your time and you will only have you and your guests on the tour.
Many visitors have connections to Inverness or associated Highlands clans. Prior to the tour, I will research and share my findings on our walk. Wrap up warm and join me for an introduction to Inverness, we will also take in some of the activities below.
Visit the newly refurbished Victorian Market
In the heart of Inverness, you will find the Victorian Market. The Victorian Market opened in 1870, previously the twice-weekly markets had been on the High Street of Inverness. Today the building is owned by the Highland Council and all the shops are locally owned. Firstly take time to shop for souvenirs, and handmade chocolates, or grab a coffee and something to eat. Secondly, you could take a seat and watch as locals and visitors go about their day. The Victorian Market has so much history, take time to view the photos of old Inverness as you walk through.
Eden Court theatre and cinema
In October 2022 we had an audience with Diana Gabaldon at the Eden Court Theatre in Inverness. The well-known author of the Outlander books and TV series visited us. Sharing how she came up with the idea for the well-known historical Outlander novels, which were set in the Highlands of Scotland. The culmination of the evening was Inverness Pipe Band playing Highland Cathedral (The Cathedral is right next door to Eden Court). The name Eden comes from the first bishop of St Andrew’s Cathedral. Robert Eden, his wife, and their 10 children lived in the Bishop’s Palace. It is the old part of the building that you can still see today.
Eden Court runs autumn and winter activities in Inverness and has an eclectic program of activities running all year. There are 2 small cinemas, with the most luxurious seating. Eden Court Film Festival takes place in November, that’s when I move in for the week! The very latest releases, which many times feature the future Oscar winners of the next season, cult films and an old classics make up the bill. Meanwhile, the pantomime is on every Christmas with local dancers and performers adding to the cast. A great couple of hours entertainment with families and friends. Oh Yes, it is!! (Sorry, couldn’t help myself). There is also a restaurant and bar for refreshments.
Ness Islands nature walk
If the weather is bright take a walk around the beautiful Ness Islands (Gaelic-Na h- Eileanan Nis). The Islands are always busy with local families, cyclists, runners, and dog walkers and a big hit with visitors too. It takes about 2 hours to walk the round trip from Inverness City Centre, approximately 5 Kilometres or 3 miles. You can follow both sides of the River Ness upstream and you will find the entrances to the Islands. You could also drive, parking is available at Bught Road, beside the Skate Park, and walk in from there. If you want to find out more you can read my blog 7 things to do in Ness Islands HERE
Visit the spectacular St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness
Named after the Patron Saint of Scotland, St Andrew’s Cathedral sits on the banks of the river Ness. The build started in 1866 and took three years to complete. Full of history and artifacts this beautiful building is well worth visiting. This Episcopalian Cathedral is open to the public and costs only a pound to visit.
The former boy’s school at the back of the cathedral is now a café selling breakfast, lunch, coffee, and home bakes. All proceeds help towards the cathedral’s substantial running costs. Finally, remember to check out Inverness Cathedral’s website for musical concerts and other events. Inverness Cathedral is also the reason Inverness was not made a city until the Millennium. On my walking tour in Inverness, I tell you all about it.
Inverness Museum and art Gallery
Right in the centre of Inverness, and free to visit, you can while away an hour or two at Inverness Museum and art gallery. The museum houses several large sandstone Pict-ish stones. You can find out more about these fascinating people by following the Highland Pictish Trail. The Picts ruled most of Highland Scotland between 300-900AD.
Next view rare artifacts from the Battle of Culloden. Culloden, seven miles east of Inverness, was the last pitched battle on mainland Britain. The Jacobite’s and Hanoverians came together on the 16th of April 1746 and the outcome changed the Highlands of Scotland forever. I could go on about this for days but will write another blog on Culloden.
With its changing art exhibition and events, you can find out more about its autumn and winter activities in Inverness via its website. Between November and March, the museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday. A café and a souvenir shop complete your visit.
Inverness Castle -When Will It Open?
The imposing pink Tarradale sandstone building watching over Inverness is not the first castle to be built. There has been a castle on the hill for nearly a thousand years. It has been fought over by the Scottish, English, Clans, and Jacobite’s until the building of the Victorian castle you can see today.
Standing in front of the building is a statue of Flora Macdonald, a Scottish heroine, and her faithful collie dog. She’s looking west. Some say that she is looking for Bonnie Prince Charlie to return, I favour that she’s looking to her homes in the Western Isles and Skye.
Currently, you cannot access Castle Hill or Inverness Castle as it is under renovation. Inverness castle will open in 2025 as a new visitor attraction. Previously to this, Inverness Castle was the Sheriff’s Court for the Highlands Council region. It closed in early 2020 when the new justice centre was built.
The Inverness Botanic Gardens
A big favourite of locals, families, and visitors is the award-winning Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens is an easy walk from Inverness city centre. It is open 7 days a week, remember to check opening times in the winter.
At the entrance, you will see a café great for lunch, cake, and coffee. Pass through to the tropical house full of exotic plants that would not be suited to the Highland weather. Stop a while and watch the giant silver and orange coy carp swim and swirl in their pool. Then onto the cactus house, with the aloe vera and agave scabra plant (did you know they only flower once in their lifetime).
In the gardens, the insects and bees go about their business and settle in the carefully built bug hotels. There are also lots of nooks and crannies to explore too.
Inverness Botanic Gardens hold different events throughout the year and you can book the gardens for your own special event. For Halloween, the Botanic Gardens put on the Bootanics! A fantastic spooky treat for all the local children. With close proximity to the Registrar’s office, the Botanic Gardens is a natural choice for wedding photos or that glass of champagne with guests.