There are plenty of opportunities to get your retail fix in and around Inverness, Loch Ness and Nairn, with the most interesting options probably to be found in quirky independents, artisan producers and small, family-run businesses.
Small independents and big name brands
The region is home to a talented and passionate array of artists, craftspeople and food producers, often inspired by the local traditions and culture, the landscapes and the abundant natural larder.
With many gift and crafts shops keen to source locally-made wares, you’ll find original and unique items wherever you go. Keep an eye out when driving, particularly on country roads, as you’ll often spot signs welcoming you in to studios, where you can see the artist at work and buy directly from them. From sculptures to pottery and paintings, you can find real hidden gems in the remotest of places.
Small farm shops, too, are often open to the public, so you can swing in to pick up high-quality lamb chops, organic sausages or home-made meat pies. You really can’t beat fresh organic, free-range eggs, and you can often pick them up from the side of the road – just pop the money in the honesty box and enjoy them for breakfast.
Pick up some hand-made goods from a local artists studio
The only city in the Highlands, Inverness attracts shoppers from far and wide. So it’s no surprise that there’s plenty of retail action to satisfy even the keenest shopaholic. You’ll find many high-street names in and around the city centre, with shops including fashion outlets, health and beauty chains, and department stores. With many people attracted to the area because of the great outdoors, sports enthusiasts should have no problem finding what they need from big names such as Go Outdoors, Blacks and Tiso.
The pedestrianised high street in Inverness runs almost from the river right up to the Eastgate Shopping Centre, the biggest indoor shopping centre for miles around. The high street and roads surrounding it are lined with a mix of big names, independents, cafes and charity shops. On the outskirts of the city there are two large retail parks, with everything from fashion and hardware stores, plenty of places to eat and a cinema.
The region is home to a talented and passionate array of artists, craftspeople and food producers, often inspired by the local traditions and culture, the landscapes and the abundant natural larder
This region caters well for visitors keen to take home a memory of their holiday for their homes, friends or family. So it’s thronging with places to buy Scottish and local gifts and goods – from the cheap and cheerful to the luxury. There’s no shortage of places to find everything from tartan scarves to Harris Tweed covered cushions, and from shortbread to whisky. Most castles and visitor centres in the area, like Urquhart Castle and the Culloden Battlefield, will have well-stocked shops.
If you’re in and around Loch Ness, you’re likely to be intrigued by the mystical Loch Ness Monster. So you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of places to pick up Nessie-themed keepsakes and gifts. From soft toys, fridge magnets and keyrings to mugs, T-shirts and even kitchen implements, you’ll see Nessie everywhere here – except, perhaps, in the loch itself.
You might not find Nessie in the wild but you’ll find her in the Loch Ness Centre Souvenir Shop
For a vast array of wares, try Loch Ness Gifts, a family-owned gift shop in the heart of Drumnadrochit where you’ll find much more than just Nessie fare. You can browse their carefully-sourced traditional Scottish gifts, soft toys, clothing, jewellery, shortbread, preserves and Harris Tweed wares. The Loch Ness Clansman hotel, with great views over Loch Ness, also has a large gift shop with Nessie and Scottish-themed items including tartan goods, malt whisky, foods and jewellery.
Fort Augustus, where the Caledonian Canal meets the west end of Loch Ness, also has plenty to offer for those keen to return home with a memory or two of their trip to the Highlands. Try the Millshop, packed with tartan and traditional souvenirs such as scarves, blankets and woollen jumpers alongside Celtic music CDs and sterling silver jewellery.
This region caters well for visitors keen to take home a memory of their holiday for their homes, friends or family
For a scented treat, the Isle of Skye Candle Shop on Inverness High Street, stocks a range of gorgeous candles and diffusers, all made from natural ingredients. These stylish and beautifully-smelling products make for a lovely souvenir for you or a generous gift for friends and family.
For those in Inverness, the Highland House of Fraser is a great choice to get your Highland fix. It stocks an extensive range of Highland gifts, foods, jewellery and toys. Their clothing range also includes a full range of Highland dress, complete with hand-made kilts, jackets, sporrans and accessories, to buy or rent. You can even order your own made-to-measure kilt in your clan tartan. The shop also holds the Scottish Kiltmaker Centre, situated in their kilt-making workshop, where you’ll enjoy a fascinating insight into the history, tradition and culture of Scotland’s national dress.
Pick up some lovely gifts from a local Highland shop
Just a 20-minute drive from Inverness is the attractive village of Beauly which offers a range of excellent and varied shops. Established in 1858, stepping into Campbell’s of Beauly is like stepping back in time. The shop is packed with original fittings giving it a unique feel and sense of history. It specialises in countrywear, knitwear and offers bespoke tailoring.
If you’re keen to learn more about your heritage, you might want to head to AncestralName in the Victorian Market in Inverness. They have a huge library of surnames and the Scottish clans, and sell a range of authentic heraldic items such as coats of arms and the history of your name.
For those in Inverness, the Highland House of Fraser is a great choice to get your Highland fix. It stocks an extensive range of Highland gifts, foods, jewellery and toys
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With food and drink a major part of the region’s culture, there’s plenty to tempt the tastebuds, with a veritable bounty of small producers and farmers in the region. If you’re around on the first Saturday of the month, take a wander down the high street for Inverness Farmers’ Market, where you’ll discover some of the finest local produce from local farmers and producers. The market stalls are a gourmet’s delight, with the very freshest home-baking, hand-made preserves, organic fruit and vegetables, cheeses, locally-reared meat and fresh eggs.
A few miles past Nairn, you’ll find Brodie Countryfare, which stocks a host of quality deli food and drinks. They stock locally-made fare such as home-baking, preserves, meats, pâtés and whiskies, alongside an exciting range of gourmet food from all over the UK and beyond.
Foodies will love the range of local produce on offer in the region
Cheese-lovers will find a little slice of heaven at the Cheese Pantry, located outside Inverness just off the road to Nairn on the family dairy farm, Connage Highland Dairy. All Connage cheeses are fully organic and many are award-winning. They also stock a fantastic range of artisan British and Continental cheeses specially selected to complement their own range. You can even pop in to the production room, where you might be lucky enough to see the team hard at work.
To the north, the Cheese House in Cromarty is another fine choice with plenty of locally-produced cheeses and produce, as well as a strong link with the Netherlands. Stop at the Storehouse on the way for a browse through the delicious deli, stocked with local farm produce and home-baked goods.
If you’re ready for a drink after all that cheese, visit the passionate and friendly team at Inverness Coffee Roasting Company. They sell their freshly-roasted beans as well as a choice of brewing equipment and other foodie goodies from their shop in Inverness. There’s a wee cafe, too, if you need a pick-me-up or fancy trying their wares first. And if you get a taste for it, you can order it online anytime you like!
With food and drink a major part of the region’s culture, there’s plenty to tempt the tastebuds, with a veritable bounty of small producers and farmers in the region
Markets and retro
The region plays host to galleries and gift shops galore which are great for browsing – and buying. From souvenirs and homewares to books and paintings, there are loads of gorgeous small shops specialising in locally-made wares and products. Especially on a rainy day (and we have a fair few of those up here!), you might want to stay indoors.
The Victorian Market in the heart of the old town of Inverness is a treasure trove of windy little alleys full of quirky shops. Here you can find everything from traditional jewellers and gift shops to speciality food shops, butchers and fishmongers – as well as plenty of curio delights. Don’t forget to look up to check out the attractive Victorian architecture. Built in the early 1890s, the market replaced the former covered market which was destroyed by fire.
Iceberg Glass in Fort Augustus is a studio and a shop all in one place where they showcase their very own hand-made glass pieces as well as a range of souvenirs and gifts from Scotland and beyond. You can also witness glass blowing at first hand and see new pieces being made such as stylised glass Nessies, thistles and jewellery.
Explore the Victorian Market in Inverness
Who doesn’t love a browse around a gift shop? Well, this area doesn’t disappoint. There are plenty of lovely little independent stores around where you can stock up on presents for friends and family – and a few treats for yourself, too, of course! Try Judith Glue in Inverness, which is a great place to pick up Orkney knitwear, hand-made clothing, bags, prints, and jewellery from across the Highlands and Islands. There is an excellent range to choose from, with Scottish food products also on offer.
The Drawing Room, situated in the quiet Inverness neighbourhood of Crown, is also packed with covetable items, with a wonderful range of gifts and home furnishings. For those on the east coast, Craftie Wee Birdie Gift Shop in Nairn has a carefully-selected range of quirky gifts, up-cycled furniture, paintings, prints, jewellery, ceramics and textiles, and work in wood and glass, many of which are sourced from artists based in Scotland.
The super-quirky Merchant is just a few minutes’ walk from Inverness city centre. It’s a real treasure trove of antiques, retro and modern furniture, collectables, jewellery, militaria and much more.
The Victorian Market in the heart of the old town of Inverness is a treasure trove of windy little alleys full of quirky shops
Bookshops and galleries
Knitters and crafters will just adore Nairn Wool Shop, one of Scotland’s largest independent yarn shops, packed with pure wools, yarns, fabric, beads, tools and accessories. They also run social groups, classes and workshops for crafters, so it’s a real must-visit for those who love to craft.
Scotland’s dramatic landscapes and remote location has long attracted artists of all types, so it makes sense that there are plenty of galleries dedicated to some of the country’s best artists. Housed in an 18th-century church, near Beauly just a few miles from Inverness, Kilmorack Gallery specialises in painting, sculpture and ceramics by some of Scotland’s most collectable and devoted artists.
In Inverness itself, you’ll find a number of galleries, including the Castle Gallery. From this bright, contemporary space they display and sell a regularly changing array of contemporary paintings, sculpture, hand-made prints, crafts and jewellery. Scottish Flair Art Gallery sells a varied and diverse range of original Scottish fine art in all media types, for personal, business or investment buyers.
Pick up a new read at Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness
Bookworms will rejoice at the sight of Leakey’s Bookshop in Inverness. A real Inverness legend, this is one of the largest second-hand bookshops in Scotland – with towering piles of books stacked high in every direction. Housed in a vast, beautiful church and heated by a huge wood-burning stove, bibliophiles will spend many a happy hour browsing the overflowing shelves.
The Nairn Bookshop is another great independent bookshop, located on the town’s high street. The shop has a great range of personally chosen stock that includes fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. New titles come in daily and they’re always happy to order something for you, with worldwide delivery options available. Look out for some author events, too.
And if you’re into fishing and hunting, Grahams of Inverness is a must-visit. Rich in angling and shooting resources, you’ll find everything you need here, from rods to accessories to quality clothing – all served up with plenty of local advice. You can purchase fishing permits from here too. Forres Tackle Shop, just a few miles along the coast from Nairn, also stocks a comprehensive range of fishing and shooting supplies, as well as outdoor clothing.
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