Inverness is a captivating city, with there being loads of great attractions that you can visit. It’s also perfectly positioned for day trips to close by tourist sites, so you’ll never run out of things to see and do. Take a trip up the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom, see if you can spot the Loch Ness Monster, or soak up the wildlife of this fascinating country. Add to that a wide variety of castles and beautiful beaches, and you’ll be all set for your day trip adventure. Make sure you’re in the driving seat and add flexibility to your holiday with car hire in Inverness.
1. Loch Ness
- Distance from Inverness: 9 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 20 minutes
- Suggested route: Depart Inverness on the B862
- Great for: Fresh air
Head to arguably the most famous loch in Scotland, where you might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster. Dores is one of the closest points on the loch from Inverness and is relatively quick to drive to. Here you can visit Dores Beach, where you can paddleboard, swim, and relax. There are also several eateries close by, so you won’t get hungry.
The trip to Dores is easy, with the B862 taking you all the way. If you want to continue to another location on the loch, change to the B852 at Dores which hugs the shoreline and takes you to other great places.
SIXT’s top tip: You can drive around the whole of Loch Ness in about 2 hours 30 minutes, with stunning scenery rewarding you the entire way.
2. The Cairngorms
- Distance from Inverness: 25 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Approximately 30 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A9 southbound from Inverness
- Great for: Picturesque villages and walks
Take a day trip to the vast Cairngorms National Park, which has loads to offer visitors. Carrbridge is the closest village that boasts a delightful old stone bridge. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to hiking areas too, with Old Logging Way being close by to Carrbridge and offering beautiful woodland walks.
Getting to Carrbridge in Cairngorms National Park is easy, with the A9 taking you all the way. For Old Logging Way, follow the A95 out of Carrbridge, before taking the B970 for the rest of your trip.
SIXT’s top tip: Take your swimming gear if the weather’s nice, as Loch Morlich Beach is only a short drive from the walking trail.
3. Culloden Battlefield
- Distance from Inverness: 6 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 15 minutes
- Suggested route: Follow the B9006 all the way
- Great for: Places of historical importance
Scotland oozes with history throughout the country, but one of the most important historical areas is that of the Culloden Battlefield. This was the location of the last battle of Jacobite Rising. With a visitor centre and interactive exhibit too, this is a great place to visit for all the family.
You can get to Culloden Battlefield easily from Inverness, with the B9006 taking you the whole way. With other important historical landmarks close by, such as Prisoners Stone, Cumberland Stone, and Clava Cairns, it’s easy to make a day of it.
SIXT’s top tip: Close by to these historical monuments is the Highlands Astronomical Society where, on a clear night, you can stargaze.
4. Dunrobin Castle
- Distance from Inverness: 53 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 1 hour 10 minutes
- Suggested route: Follow the A9 northbound along the coast
- Great for: Castle lovers
Scotland is well known for having stunning castles, with areas around Inverness being no exception. Dunrobin Castle, which is like something from a fairy tale, is a 15th-century French-style building. Take your family for a tour of the castle, amble around the scenic gardens and enjoy being royalty for the day. There is also a great falconry display, which is sure to be popular with young children.
It’s easy to find Dunrobin Castle, with the A9 following the coastal route all the way. With beautiful Scottish scenery around every corner, you’ll enjoy the journey as much as the destination.
SIXT’s top tip: If you’re a golf fan, why not stop at The Royal Dornoch golf club on the way, which is one of the world’s most famous courses.
5. The Isle of Skye
- Distance from Inverness: 106 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 2 hours 25 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A835, A832, A890, and the A87
- Great for: Unbeatable landscapes
Whilst it’s a bit of a longer journey, you can still visit the Isle of Skye for a day trip from Inverness if you leave early in the morning. Offering jaw-dropping landscapes, picturesque villages, and beautiful beaches, there is plenty for you and your family to enjoy on this island.
Depart Inverness on the A835 towards Gorstan, where you join the A832 to Achnasheen. From here you should take the A890 to connect to the A87 at Auchtertyre. During the drive, you’ll be spoilt with the countryside and coastal scenery, as well as stunning lochs such as Loch Dughaill.
SIXT’s top tip: Break the trip up by stopping for refreshments at a café in Achnasheen, which is approximately halfway into your journey.
6. Glen Affric
- Distance from Inverness: 33 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 1 hour
- Suggested route: Take the A82 and A831
- Great for: Wildlife
If you want to escape from the city for the day, there’s no better place than Glen Affric Nature Reserve, which is ranked as one of the most beautiful glens in the country. Boasting hiking trails, waterfalls, and a selection of wildlife, it’s the perfect escape for nature lovers. See stags, red squirrels, and blue hare all in their natural environment.
Following the A82 along the shoreline of Loch Ness, this journey gets off to the best of starts. At Drumnadrochit, you’ll join the A831 the rest of the way until Cannich, where you’ll be able to start your exploration of the area.
SIXT’s top tip: Remember to take a picnic or refreshments with you as some parts of the glen can become quite rural.
7. Highland Wildlife Park
- Distance from Inverness: 39 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 50 minutes
- Suggested route: Follow the A9 the whole way
- Great for: Family day out
Get up close and personal to some of your favourite animals, at the Highland Wildlife Park. Only a short drive from Inverness, you’ll be able to see a range of species that are either native to Scotland or on the endangered list. From Amur Tigers and Artic Foxes to the Great Grey Owl and Japanese Macaque, there’s something for everyone. With an array of events and exhibitions also on show, this is the perfect place for a family day out.
You can reach the wildlife park easily, just follow the A9 southbound from Inverness, which will take you to your day trip destination.
SIXT’s top tip: Weather can affect your visit, so in the winter you might want to double-check before you set off to ensure that the park is open.
8. Landmark Forest Adventure Park
- Distance from Inverness: 25 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 30 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A9 and A938 to your destination
- Great for: Adrenaline seekers
If you want to get your heart pounding then head over to Landmark Forest Adventure Park, which has rides for all ages. With attractions such as Dinosaur Kingdom, Tropical Hot House, and Wild Water Coaster, you’ll be able to keep the kids (and yourself) entertained for hours on end. With eateries throughout the park, you won’t have to worry about getting hungry either.
To get to the adventure park, take the A9 southbound from Inverness towards Carrbridge, before taking the A938 the rest of the way.
SIXT’s top tip: For stunning views, check out the 105 step Forest Tower, which offers panoramic vistas in every direction.
9. Brora Beach
- Distance from Inverness: 58 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
- Suggested route: Follow the A9 all the way
- Great for: Day by the beach
Brora Beach is a beautiful coastal area that is great for all seasons. In the summer you can enjoy relaxing in the sun and dipping into the North Sea. Whereas in the winter months you can wrap up warm and stroll along the glorious golden sands. With the village of Brora flanking the beach, you will be able to find refreshments and accommodation too, should you want to stay longer.
You can get to the beach easily by driving north on the A9. Not only is the destination itself stunning, but the drive is a treat too as it hugs the coastline and dips in and out of the countryside.
SIXT’s top tip: Stop at Loch Fleet Nature Reserve on the way to stretch your legs, which is a beautiful walking area you’ll love.
10. Ben Nevis
- Distance from Inverness: 67 miles
- Travel time from Inverness: Around 1 hour 45 minutes
- Suggested route: Take the A82 southbound
- Great for: Famous landmarks
A trip to Scotland wouldn’t be the same without seeing Ben Nevis. Being under a 2-hour drive from Inverness it’s easily doable as a day trip. Whether you just want to see the mountain, hike up some of it or see some waterfalls, you won’t be disappointed. There are plenty of food and accommodation options too, should you not think a day is long enough.
You can reach Ben Nevis by taking the A82 from Inverness to Fort William, where you will need to drive down Glen Nevis to get close to the mountain.
SIXT’s top tip: If you don’t fancy walking up the mountain, keep an eye out for the Nevis Range Gondola which can give you a helping hand.