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The gateway to the Highlands, Inverness is both a popular base for exploring the countryside and an attractive town in its own right. It is rich in history and traditional Highland culture still thrives there.
The highlands of Scotland are renowned for their rugged, untouched beauty so it’s no surprise that travellers are drawn to explore the region on foot and immerse themselves in the Caledonian wilderness.
Inverness, in particular, is a hiking hotspot due to its abundance of trails just outside the city, especially those close to and around Loch Ness. Some well-known trails in the area are the Glen Affric Trail, a 10-mile hike around stunning Loch Affric and the South Loch Ness Trail which provides some of the best views of the famous lake and the surrounding landscape.
In terms of difficulty, these two trails are suitable for beginner or intermediate hikers, however, Mealfuarvonie, the highest hill around Loch Ness, is the perfect trail for travellers more accustomed to intensive hikes.
The best time to go hiking in the Highlands is usually from late spring (April) to early autumn (September) as the weather is comparatively milder than in the winter months, however, as Scotland, and more specifically the Highlands, are situated so far North, it is recommended to bring warm clothes year round.
Inverness has good connections to the bigger cities in Scotland such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, making it easily reachable from these places. However, due its northerly location, it still retains a deep, unspoilt beauty that is unique and appealing to a variety of visitors.
Inverness Airport is mainly a domestic airport with connections to major UK cities and a very limited number of international flights, currently only to Amsterdam. Stagecoach operates a regular service to Inverness city centre (about 15KM away). There is currently no rail service from the airport.
The Caledonian Sleeper (Serco) and the Highland Chieftain (Virgin) connect Inverness and London. There are rail links to other major Scottish cities, including Edinburgh and Aberdeen, which are run by Scotrail (which is now operated by Abellio). Scotrail also operates a line to Wick/Thurso and another to Kyle of Lochalsh (for Skye). These routes benefit from some utterly spectacular scenery.
Scottish Citylink and National Express both run regular services to major destinations in the UK. Stagecoach Inverness connects Inverness with other Highland towns. The main bus station is in Inverness city centre.
Inverness is a perfect size for exploring on foot. Although the city does not currently publicize itself as particularly cycle-friendly, the fact that the roads are relatively quiet makes cycling a safe option. Where bicycles do come into their own is for off-road cycling. They are a fantastic way to explore the Highland countryside. For those looking to get from A to B at a faster pace, road travel is the way to go. In addition to local bus services, there are many local companies run bus tours and plenty of options for those who wish to hire a car for independent travel.