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Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn attractions

There are plenty of options for family-friendly days out in Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn. The course of history was changed at Culloden Battlefield in 1746, when the Jacobite army fought to reclaim the throne of Britain, ending in major losses. The site of the battle, on Culloden Moor just outside Inverness, is now a moving memorial site and one of the most popular historical centres in the Highlands. You can walk the front lines where the Jacobites made their final stand against government troops, experience the Battle of Culloden in the immersion cinema, travel back in time by taking part in a Living History presentation or admire the extensive collection of Jacobite artefacts.

History buffs and castle enthusiasts can’t visit Loch Ness without a trip to the majestic Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic and dramatic ruins. Climb to the top of Grant Tower with breathtaking loch views, peer into a prison cell, and check out the great hall. There’s an excellent visitor centre and cafe, too.

Head east towards Nairn and you’ll come across Cawdor Castle, which was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor in the late 14th century. The Cawdor Tavern is a nice place to stop for a light lunch or home baking by the fireside. Just near Inverness Airport is the Highland Aviation Museum, great for any flying enthusiasts. There are a number of aircraft, many with open cockpits that you can climb inside. Inside you can find a host of exhibits, including an ejection seat and single-seat survival dinghy.

One of the most iconic things to do is, of course, a boat trip on Loch Ness, where you may even be lucky enough to spot the region’s most famous – and most elusive – resident. There are plenty of local companies available to take you on to the water, like Loch Ness by Jacobite or Cruise Loch Ness, all of which will give you a fascinating insight into the region’s history. A brilliant day out for all the family, the summer sees a range of traditional agricultural shows. The biggest in the north of Scotland is the Black Isle Show, held just north of Inverness in Muir of Ord. It’s an excellent chance to sample rural Highland life.

Our picks

Loch Ness by Jacobite
Jacobite Cruises Loch Ness

Brackla Harbour, Inverness IV3 8LA

Sail the most iconic water in Scotland, embrace the myths and the legends, and delve into the depths of history with Loch Ness by Jacobite. For over 40 years, Loch Ness by Jacobite has welcomed Highland adventurers on board to cruise the world-famous loch and view the ruins of the once mighty Urquhart Castle. With a monster-sized collection of cruises and tours leaving from four different departure points ranging from 60 minutes to seven hours, you will be spoilt for choice on what Loch Ness adventure to choose! Visit website

River Ness Rafting

5-7 Huntly St, Inverness IV3 5PS

See the city of Inverness in a unique and memorable way with River Ness Rafting! The company offers unique, family-friendly raft trips in Inverness from one to three hours long. Following a safety brief from your fully-qualified raft guide, you gently paddle down the River Ness through history, nature and beautiful scenery with an engaging commentary throughout. Visit website

Urquhart Castle
Urquhart Castle

Drumnadrochit, Inverness IV63 6XJ

You can’t visit Loch Ness without a trip to the magical Urquhart Castle, one of Scotland’s most iconic and dramatic ruins. Climb to the top of Grant Tower with spectacular loch views, visit a prison cell, and take a look at the great hall. There’s a fantastic visitor centre complete with a cafe, too. Visit website

Dolphin Spirit

Stadium Rd, Inverness IV1 1FF

Visit the Moray Firth dolphins with Dolphin Spirit. Ride on the RIB, for a fast, adrenaline-fuelled trip along the Moray coast or on the cruiser, for a calmer, family-friendly experience. The team hope to introduce you to the pod of resident dolphins plus any other marine life along the way. Visit website

Glenmorangie Distillery
Whisky barrels

A9, Tain IV19 1PZ

By the tranquil shores of the Dornoch Firth, amidst the golden barley fields that border the Royal Burgh of Tain, lies the Glenmorangie Distillery. Here you will find a warm Highland welcome from the select craftsmen, the Men of Tain. With skills passed down the generations, they have dedicated themselves to creating an exceptional single malt whisky for the last 175 years. The Glenmorangie Distillery Experience tours offer an unparalleled insight into the distillery. Accompanied by expert guides, you will journey through all stages of the award-winning whisky creation. Visit website

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Image credits: ©lowsun/; Natalia Bratslavsky/

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