Budget Highlands: Free things to do in Inverness City Centre

Budget Highlands: Free things to do in Inverness City Centre

Inverness is an ideal place for a day trip. It has everything you could want in one location - from beautiful landscapes and historic castles to museums that will take your breath away! You can take an adventure tour of Loch Ness to try and see the famous 'Loch Ness Monster' or go on a shopping spree at the local boutiques. There are several castles within driving distance if you want to explore some Scottish history or if you fancy some activities on offer, you'll find plenty of golfing, fishing, hiking, and biking trail options.

In this blog post we:

  • List the best places to visit for no charge at all
  • Show all places on an interactive map to help you locate each place easily.

Inverness has many options for things to do in the city and surrounding area. There are historic churches like Inverness Cathedral and the Old High St Stephen's Church or if you fancy somewhere outside in the sun, take a walk round Whin Park or the River Ness and Ness Islands.

Things to do
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    Updated and correct as of 11/12/23.

    The above table highlights the things to do in Inverness for free. Click on each name to be taken straight to the area of the blog post for that place!

    • Quick Heading Links

    Museums and Galleries

    what to do in inverness city centre

    Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG)

    Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is the perfect place to explore the history of the Highlands and its people. The museum's history goes back to 1825, and it houses thousands of items that tell the story of this beautiful country. From ancient artifacts to modern art, there’s something for everyone here. With exhibitions and events changing all the time, check their website to see what's currently on show.

    History and Culture

    Inverness Cathedral

    Have you ever wanted to visit a beautiful cathedral? Inverness Cathedral was opened for services in 1869 and is one of the most important and historic buildings in the city which is still in use today as a place of worship. The cathedral is of a Victorian Gothic style and in 1971, the building was included in the statutory list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. The cathedral is open 365 days of the year to welcome visitors both local and from around the world.

    Old High St Stephen's Church

    Old High St Stephen’s Church is one of the most interesting churches in Inverness. The building is of significant historical, cultural, and spiritual value and is one of the landmarks of the Highland Capital. The Old High congregation was the oldest in Inverness. The church mainly dates from the eighteenth century. Its site, overlooking the banks of the River Ness, has been used for worship since Celtic times. Thus the congregation can claim to have been founded by St Columba, the Irish monk who first brought Christianity to Inverness

    Walks and Nature Trails

    things to do in inverness for families

    Inverness Botanic Gardens

    The Inverness Botanic Gardens are a great place to keep you occupied for an afternoon with thousands of different kinds of plants to see from all around the world. The gardens are a popular tourist attraction with something for everyone. Horticulturalists will be inspired, families can explore many hidden corners, and guests of all ages can enjoy a stroll or just sit in the peaceful surroundings. There’s also a café on-site if you want to grab some lunch after your visit!

    things to do in inverness city centre

    Ness Islands by Valenta under license CC BY-SA 4.0

    River Ness and Ness Islands

    The River Ness is a beautiful stretch of water that flows through the city. It’s home to many species of wildlife including swans, ducks, and geese. Starting from the city centre is a 2-hour circuit walk through the city along the banks of the river. The Ness islands are a collection of natural islands that sit in the middle of the river, connected from the river banks and throughout by beautiful Victorian footbridges. There are carved sculptures on the islands to sit and take in the natural beauty of your surroundings.

    Whin Park

    Whin Park is the perfect place to spend a day with your family. This tranquil oasis features walking trails, picnic areas, and stunning views of the River Ness. The park has 4 adventure playparks, a boating pond, and the miniature islands railway. For walkers, the park's loop trail circles the boating pond and should take about 30 minutes to complete.

    Craig Phadrig

    Craig Phadrig's hill fort is one of the most impressive ancient sites in Scotland. With a history spanning back to 300 BC, the hill fort is rumoured to once have been the home of a Pictish King. Visit this historic landmark and learn about its fascinating history whilst you take in some beautiful views of Inverness from up top.

    Abriachan Wood

    Set in a breath taking location in the Great Glen, Abriachan Wood covers a 5km (3.1-mile) stretch of the north-western shore of Loch Ness between Drumnadrochit and Inverness. The wood lies close to the village of Abriachan and has a prominent position on the steep and rocky valley side above Loch Ness. Look out for red squirrels, pine martins, and roe deer whilst you walk through the woodland on this magnificent forest walk.


    Use the map below to locate all the best free things to do in Inverness mentioned above to create your itinerary for your trip. We’ve also added places in the city to eat that offer good food at a decent price for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Open Google Maps to see distance information between locations and directions on how to get to each place.

    Please note...

    All outdoor activities including walking involve a degree of risk. The walks are recommended due to the features of each forest but this may change over time and further research is required before undertaking any activity. The weather can also impact the surface and general conditions of each path so please keep yourself updated with the weather forecast before setting off to enjoy your walk!

    Other Blog Posts From Inverness

    We write lots of blog posts from each area and have a few more from the city of Inverness. Have a look at our other blog posts by clicking the links below:


    Inverness Blogs


    Cycling Routes near Inverness


    Forest Walks near Inverness


    Local Delicacies and Souvenirs from Inverness

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    Crown Copyright, courtesy Forestry and Land Scotland (23/08/22) licensed under the Open Government License.