With one of the joys of the area being its remote location, it’s no surprise that when you travel to Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn can be a bit of a journey. But transport links are improving all the time, and the area is pretty accessible these days, no matter how you want to travel or where you’re coming from.
Situated in the far north of Scotland where the River Ness enters the Moray Firth, Inverness is known as the Gateway to the Highlands, and from there it’s fairly easy to explore the rest of the Highlands as well as the Moray coast.
Both Inverness and Nairn are well served by rail services. Nairn has regular services to both Aberdeen and Inverness, reaching Inverness in around 20 minutes and Aberdeen in about two hours. Inverness has direct links to all three of Scotland’s major cities, with both Edinburgh and Glasgow taking around three-and-a-half hours, and Aberdeen around two-and-a-half. You can also travel to the west coast and further north with local services. A handy sleeper service connects Inverness with London.
The M90 and the A9 to the south connects Edinburgh, Stirling and Perth to Inverness, and the A9 continues to the far north of Thurso and Scrabster. Follow the winding A82 all the way from Glasgow up north through Glencoe and Fort William, to finally reach Fort Augustus at the mouth of Loch Ness and onwards to Inverness. From the east, the A96 runs from Aberdeen to Nairn and then on to Inverness.
By coach Scottish Citylink Coaches serves Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn, with plenty of buses running daily from all over Scotland. The Megabus also runs between Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Inverness Airport is well-connected with the rest of the UK, with regular services to and from London, and daily services to other cities such as Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham. The airport also links Inverness with Dublin, Stornoway in the Western Isles and Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands. There’s a daily flight to Amsterdam, and some package flights to Europe in the summer months.
With the North Coast 500, the stunning beauty of Loch Ness and the sandy beaches to the east all right on the doorstep, travelling by car, motorbike, motor home or camper van is a popular way to get off the beaten track and explore. Traffic’s fairly busy in the summer months, and it’s best to get acquainted with the rules of driving on single track roads. Tip: use passing places to let others overtake and you’ll avoid annoying other road users even if you want to drive slowly and take in the passing scenery.
By public transport
The area is fairly well-connected by bus and rail services. Check out thetrainline.com, citylink.co.uk or stagecoachbus.com for local timetables and routes. Taxis There are plenty of taxi services around and these days many provide tours to take tourists to visit all the attractions the area has to offer.
Sporting enthusiasts galore explore the area by foot, on two wheels or by water.
Keen walkers can enjoy the dramatic scenery on the Great Glen Way, a 73-mile route that connects Fort William and Inverness, taking in Loch Ness along the way. The Caledonian Canal also links the two, and there are plenty of opportunities to take to the canal and Loch Ness by motor cruiser or kayak. Nairn and the surrounding area boasts superb sandy beaches that stretch for miles, making for some beautiful walks.
Read more about Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn