Many people choose to stay in Inverness because it’s ideally placed for touring the wild and spectacular region that is the Highlands. Within a short drive, you can experience something of the diversity of this unique area - its ancient roots and traditions, and the magnificent landscape that has such a strong influence on the way of life and the character of its people.
Just four miles outside the city is the quiet village of Culloden, scene of the last battle of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745-6. The battlefield and visitor centre provides fascinating and poignant insights into the last stand of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Highland Army, and its devastating aftermath.
Going south, the River Ness runs a few miles before emptying into Loch Ness, an unmissable destination for monster hunters, and gateway to many unforgettable hill walks in the high country surrounding this great expanse of water. Drumnadrochit is popular for its monster collections and pleasure cruises, while halfway along the north bank, the eerie ruins of Urquhart Castle stand high on a rocky promontory overlooking the loch.
Just half an hour down the A9, the Cairngorm National Park is a magnet for year-round sports enthusiasts, and visitors who come to visit its quiet, traditional townships and villages, and enjoy the magnificent wildlife and scenery. The Highland Wildlife Park offers a great collection of cold climate animals, including polar bears and Siberian tigers, while Kingussie and Newtonmore host two of the region’s most skilled shinty teams - it’s well worth trying to catch a game, which has been played since the time of St Columba and is the forerunner of golf!
Eastward, there are the pure white sands of the Moray Firth with its clifftop walks and fishing cruises offering opportunities to spot whales, seals, and the resident colony of bottlenose dolphins. Pretty Nairn is a traditional Victorian seaside resort, with a promenade, amusements and rides, and imposing town centre architecture. If you’re looking for a break from seaside fun, you can wander down to the painstakingly restored old fishing quarter and stroll by the harbour.
To the northwest, the road runs across to Ullapool and the ferry port for the distant Western Isles; to the south, along Loch Ness, the route goes to Skye and the quiet hills and glens of the Misty Isle.
From Inverness, the A9 leads north to the tranquil, fertile country of the Black Isle; further north, the Whaligoe Steps form a dizzyingly steep path down a cliff to a tiny fishing harbour in a cleft in the rock. The east coast town of Wick was an important fishing port during the heyday of the herring industry, with its restored fishing quarter and scenic harbour. From there, it’s only a few miles to John O'Groats, the northernmost tip of the British mainland, where a maritime museum offers a collection of artefacts and photographs of shipping in the Pentland Firth, the wildest waters in the British Isles.
The Highlands is the home of golf, the long game, and there is no shortage of 9-hole and 18-hole courses and links. In fact, within an hour’s drive, golfers can indulge their passion at over 45 venues - from internationally famous destinations like Nairn, Royal Dornoch and Castle Stuart, to challenging hill courses and spectacular coastal links right across the region.
The Highlands is also a paradise for extreme sports, attracting cyclists and mountain bikers, hillwalkers and climbers, kayakers and windsurfers, sailing and abseiling enthusiasts, who all experience the unique thrill of their favourite sport in surroundings of peerless and inspirational natural beauty.