As the northernmost city in the UK, Inverness is the gateway to the Scottish highlands and a destination in its own right. It is a great place to discover Highland culture and makes a great base for exploring Loch Ness, the Cairngorms and the northwest coast.
As it is quite a small city, surrounded by plenty of great destinations, figuring out exactly where to stay in and around Inverness can be tricky. That’s where we come in!
We’ve compiled this guide to showcase the seven best areas not just in Inverness, but within easy travelling distance too. Whether you want a small city life or a rural retreat, we have you covered.
So let’s just get started!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Inverness
- Dalneigh – Best neighborhood in Inverness for your first time
- Central Inverness – Where to stay in Inverness close to everything
- Aviemore – Best neighborhood near Inverness for families
- East Inverness – Where to stay in Inverness on a budget
- Fort William – Best neighborhood near Inverness for couples
- Drumnadrochit – Where to stay near Inverness to discover Loch Ness
- Fort Augustus – Best neighborhood near Inverness for celtic culture
Where to Stay in Inverness
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Inverness.
Best Hostel in Inverness
This is the best-rated hostel in Inverness and perfect for backpackers looking to socialise with other travellers in the area! Located in East Inverness, the surrounding area is perfect for budget activities whilst still providing access to the city centre. On-site parking is also available.
Best Budget Hotel in Inverness
Based in Dalneigh, the Abermar Guest House has a secluded atmosphere whilst still being within walking distance of the city centre. Guest rooms are well equipped and the staff are incredibly welcoming and willing to assist you with planning your trip to Scotland! They also offer an excellent Full Scottish breakfast.
Best Splurge Hotel in Inverness
As the only five-star hotel located within the city, Rocpool Reserve has to take the top spot for splurge options! The real selling point of this hotel is the excellent restaurant on-site offering top quality French cuisine from the famous chef, Albert Roux. The rooms are also well equipped with luxury finishes.
Inverness 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in Inverness. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
(Best neighbourhood in Inverness for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Dalneigh – climb to the top of Tomnahurich Cemetery Hill for incredible views of Inverness
- BEST place to visit in Dalneigh – visit Inverness Botanic Gardens for interesting displays of local and exotic fauna
Located just across the River Ness from the city centre, Dalneigh is a largely residential area that gives you great access to the rest of the city and further into the Highlands. The area is packed with tour guide offices and services, allowing you to explore the region with ease!
It also has some great attractions in its own right, giving a much more local feel than the city centre of Inverness. Tomnahurich Cemetery Hill has interesting legends to discover, as well as mesmerising views across the city. The Botanic Gardens are also a great spot for nature lovers visiting the area!
- Try out the well-priced spa treatments and holistic therapies at Inverness Leisure Centre
- Learn about the turbulent history of the highlands – from the clan system, through the clearances, until modern times – at Highland Archive Centre
- Enjoy a relaxing stroll through the local nature with a trip to the Ness Islands, located on the river between Dalneigh and the City Centre
- Discover local talent and unique performances at Eden Court Theatre – offering performances in English, Scots and Gaelic
- Visit Inverness Cathedral – one of the oldest still-standing cathedrals in the world with interesting artefacts
- Learn about tartan weaving at the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre
Best Hostel Dalneigh
This guest house offers both dorms and private rooms right in the heart of Dalneigh! They offer free breakfasts for winter guests and a small additional fee during the summer. Rooms are well furnished, and high-speed WiFi is available throughout the property. This is an incredibly well-priced hostel.
Best Budget Hotel in Dalneigh
This guest house is a great level-up if you are wanting more of a typical hotel experience! It is only a short walk away from both the canal and the city centre. A full Scottish breakfast is provided every morning, and rooms come with TVs and hair dryers.
Best Splurge Hotel in Dalneigh
This four-star guest house has extra touches of luxury to give you a truly upgraded experience in Dalneigh! A short walk from Inverness Castle, it boasts high-speed WiFi and free on-site parking – perfect if you’ve hired a car to explore the rest of the Highlands. A complimentary breakfast is provided.
Recommended Article – These are the top hostels in Edinburgh, Scotland
(Where to stay in Inverness close to everything!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Central Inverness – shop until you drop at the locally renowned Eastgate Shopping Centre
- BEST place to visit in Central Inverness – explore the area surrounding Inverness Castle to discover local history
Central Inverness is the beating heart of the Scottish Highlands and the administrative centre of the region. This is where many of the tours depart from and is the perfect place to discover Highland culture, all with the added perks of a small city!
Inverness Castle is the main landmark in the area. Though you do not want to go inside (as it now functions as a courthouse) the grounds contain some interesting monuments and a gorgeous viewpoint over the city and river. This is also a great area to check out local bars and restaurants!
- Discover historic artefacts, traditional art and modern creativity at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
- Enjoy some typical Scottish pub grub as well as a wide selection of lagers and ales at Johnny Foxes
- Check out a wide selection of arts and crafts by local creatives at Inspirations Inverness – it doubles as a museum and a shop!
- Enjoy a relaxing, high-quality meal with marvellous views over the River Ness at McBains Restaurant by the River
- Interested in taking a tour outside of the city? The VisitScotland iCentre right in the heart of the city is a great spot to pick up some good deals
Best Hostel Central Inverness
This is the best-placed hostel in Inverness, being located right in front of Inverness Castle! Situated in a converted Victorian house, Bazpackers is a historical attraction in its own right with beautifully preserved common areas. They provide free tea & coffee making facilities as well as high-speed WiFi.
Best Budget Hotel in Central Inverness
Despite being budget-friendly, this hotel offers elegant finishes that add a slightly more upmarket atmosphere! It is one of the best-rated hotels in the city centre and offers fantastic facilities for guests – including an on-site restaurant and tea & coffee making equipment in each room. A continental breakfast is provided free of charge.
Best Splurge Hotel in Central Inverness
This is the only five-star hotel located in Inverness City! The beautiful rooms are equipped with Egyptian cotton linens, velvet bathrobes and hot beverage machines. Upgraded rooms also come with hot tubs and private balconies. The adjoining restaurant was the first in Scotland to be opened by Albert Roux.
(Best neighbourhood near Inverness for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Aviemore – take the family to Landmark Adventure Park for some fun up in the trees
- BEST place to visit in Aviemore – check out the local wildlife at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
The Cairngorms are renowned nationwide for their stunning natural beauty and Aviemore is the main gateway to the mountain region. Only a short journey from Inverness by both car and public transport, this is a great place to discover rural life in Scotland and admire the beautiful scenery!
The surrounding area also has some great attractions and is perfect for families looking to visit the Highlands. Landmark Adventure Park is one of the best-rated attractions in the area, with various activities including treetop trails and thrill rides! There are also plenty of outdoor adventure activities nearby just waiting to be discovered.
- Enjoy some epic hillwalking adventures in the surrounding area which contains four of Scotland’s five highest mountains
- Hire a kayak or raft and speed down the nearby rivers on white water trails – this is definitely one for adults and older kids
- Relax after a long day of exploring nature at Mountain Cafe – an excellent cafe and restaurant inspired by the Kiwi owner’s homeland
- Interested in mountain biking? Hire one at Bothy Bikes and take it to Laggan Wolftrax trail for a thrilling journey through the mountains
- Visiting in winter? CairnGorm Mountain itself has an excellent ski resort area, with a much calmer atmosphere than the larger resorts in Europe
Best Hostel Aviemore
This is by far the most popular hostel in the Cairngorms and the most popular that is open year-round! It is connected to the Scottish Heritage Visitor Centre where you can spy on local falcons and learn about local nature reserves. The hostel staff arrange activities throughout the year to help you explore Aviemore.
Best Budget Hotel in Aviemore
This is one of the best options if you are arriving from Inverness by train! They offer a full, highland-style Scottish breakfast every morning, as well as a comfortable lounge area with a fire during the winter. Surrounded by woodlands, you will wake up each morning to the sounds of nature and gorgeous views.
Best Splurge Hotel in Aviemore
The MacDonald Morlich Hotel is the luxury option with the MacDonald Aviemore Resort area – allowing you to access facilities from all of the hotels in the complex! This means you have a variety of restaurants to choose from, as well as a large pool, fitness centre and kids play areas.
Editor’s Note – You have to check out the coolest hostels in Glasgow, Scotland!
(Where to stay in Inverness on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in East Inverness – take a tour out to the famous Culloden Battlefield to learn about the Jacobite Rising!
- BEST place to visit in East Inverness – visit Magpie Wool & Crafts to check out pieces by local designers
Though a largely residential area, East Inverness has some great budget-friendly accommodation options, allowing you to save a little cash whilst in a notoriously expensive region of Scotland. There are some great, well-priced bars and restaurants around the area too!
Whilst most of the attractions in Inverness are in the centre, East Inverness has some great options in its own right. Tours to Culloden depart from here, where you can learn about Jacobite history and its impact on Scotland! There are also some boutique stores selling local crafts and souvenirs.
- Enjoy a spot of golf in a typical Scottish golf course with Inverness Golf Club – they also have great clubhouse facilities
- Unwind after a long day of exploring at Bannatyne’s Health Club and Spa with multiple treatments on offer – as well as a full fitness centre
- Try some Scottish cuisine with a modern twist at Kingsmills Hotel Restaurant, with a very relaxed and local atmosphere
- Go searching for dolphins in the Moray Firth with cruises offered by Dolphin Spirit Inverness
- Catch a Scottish football game at Caledonian Stadium – home of Inverness Caledonian Thistle and with a much easier going atmosphere than other Scottish teams
Best Hostel East Inverness
This is the best-rated hostel in Inverness! Though located within East Inverness, it is only a short walk away from the city centre – giving you a relaxed residential atmosphere. There is a café on-site serving full Scottish breakfasts and great coffee, as well as a communal kitchen area if you are self-catering.
Best Budget Hotel in East Inverness
This B&B is also located close to the city centre and has great amenities whilst also remaining well priced! They offer a full Scottish breakfast as part of the rate, and also have vegetarian options available. Rooms come with luxury toiletries and quaint fittings that add to the homely atmosphere.
Best Splurge Hotel in East Inverness
East Inverness is pretty sparse in luxury hotels, however, this five-star service apartment from Crown Luxury is a great splurge option in the area! It comes with a well-equipped kitchen including a dishwasher, and free WiFi throughout. Guests also have access to tennis courts and a large garden area.
MUST READ – Heading to Edinburgh next? Check out our post about some of the most fun day trips from Edinburgh!
(Best neighbourhood near Inverness for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Fort William – ride the West Highland line from Fort William to Mallaig to see the Glenfinnan Viaduct – made famous by the Harry Potter movies
- BEST place to visit in Fort William – learn a unique side to Highland history at the West Highland Museum
Fort William is the gateway to the West Highlands and Islands and is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway close to Inverness. Easily accessed by car and public transport, the town is known as one of the most scenic in Scotland and has some intriguing historical attractions to boot!
The nearby Glenfinnan Viaduct, famous as one of the lines leading to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter Movies, is a popular attraction nearby. The area also has some small whisky distilleries that offer tours, as well as small boutiques offering local goods and crafts. The West Highlands is also home to some of the less touristy adventure activities!
- Visit Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the British Isles, we suggest hiring a local guide if you want to tackle it for yourself
- Are you a keen hiker looking for a challenge? Try the Great Glen Way that stretches from Fort William to Inverness during the summer months
- Visiting in winter? The Nevis Range operates as a full ski resort with gondolas, skiing and snowboarding
- If you’re really craving nightlife you won’t have much choice in the Highlands, but Ossians is a truly unique – if somewhat daunting – club in the heart of the town
- Take a cruise on Loch Linnhe where you can spot local wildlife and spectacular scenery – there is also a bar and restaurant on board!
Best Hostel Fort William
Located right in Fort William town centre, this is one of the best options if you are on a strict budget! Most rooms only have four beds in them, giving you a calmer and friendlier experience compared to larger hostels. It is a five-minute walk from the public transport stations and has on-site parking.
Best Budget Hotel in Fort William
Located just outside of Fort William town centre, Shelbeck is great if you are wanting a quiet place to rest during a short retreat to the West Highlands! There is a shared lounge and garden area – perfect for mingling with other guests and admiring the surrounding scenery. A full Scottish breakfast is provided.
Best Splurge Hotel in Fort William
This hotel is nothing short of incredible as it is located in an authentic Scottish castle. Located just outside of Fort William, the secluded area provides the perfect atmosphere for a calm break. Rooms are beautifully decorated, and some even come with awe-inspiring mountain views! Tennis, fishing and shooting facilities are also available.
(Where to stay near Inverness to discover Loch Ness!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Drumnadrochit – take a cruise on Loch Ness and try to find the eponymous monster with Castle Cruises
- BEST place to visit in Drumnadrochit – visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle, set on the banks of the Loch!
Drumnadrochit is the premier tourist destination close to Loch Ness and is absolutely the place to be to discover the legends surrounding the monster that is said to reside in the waters. You can brave a cruise out onto the Loch, or simply head to the visitor centre to learn about the evidence others have found!
Aside from Loch Ness itself, the village has some excellent options for discovering rural culture in the Scottish Highlands! From local bars to historic castles, this is the perfect place to spend a couple of days away from city life.
- Sample some of the best whisky the Scottish Highland region has to offer at Highland Taste, just south of the town
- Get away from the main tourist routes and discover your own secluded piece of the Highlands in the area surrounding Divach Falls
- Take a photo with a life-sized model of Nessie and learn about the myths surrounding her at Nessieland
- Head a little further down the road to Loch Ness Gallery to pick up some excellent photos and paintings depicting the area
- Experience a traditional Scottish pub where you can mingle with locals and tourists alike at Fiddler’s
Best Hostel Drumnadrochit
This is a very homely hostel and is one of the closest to Loch Ness! Open year round, it offers free tea & coffee facilities as well as great communal areas for mingling with other guests. The historic building is a converted 18th-century farm. There is also a small bar.
Best Budget Hotel in Drumnadrochit
Just a little outside Drumnadrochit, this Lewiston hostel is within walking distance of the village and Loch Ness itself! A full breakfast is provided every morning and you can choose between American, Scottish and vegetarian options. The bar on-site is popular with locals and stocks beer from the Highland Brewery.
Best Splurge Hotel in Drumnadrochit
These log cabins will have you feeling like you are living in a fairy tale! The gorgeous scenery provides a calm setting, whilst modern conveniences ensure you remain comfortable throughout your stay. They are a little bit out of Drumnadrochit but are by far the best luxury choice if you have a car.
(Best neighbourhood near Inverness for Celtic culture!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Fort Augustus – embed yourself in Gaelic culture with a ceilidh night at The Highland Club
- BEST place to visit in Fort Augustus – discover the history of the clan system in the Highlands and pick up a souvenir at the Clansman Centre
Located at the bottom of Loch Ness, Fort Augustus is another great place to discover the Loch and learn about the legends surrounding Nessie. As it is a little less touristy than Drumnadrochit, this is a great town to discover Celtic culture and learn about the history of the region!
There are also plenty of excellent bars and boutiques available across the town. The local atmosphere gives the town a friendly attitude and visitors are made to feel very welcome. If you truly want to discover modern life in a Scottish village, head to one of the neighbourhood bars!
- Head to the Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre to learn about Scotland’s canal system and watch the boats go through the lock
- Learn how to make your own glasswork and watch master glassblowers at work at Iceberg Glass – they also sell souvenirs!
- Enjoy a spot of golf at a typical Scottish golf course with a great clubhouse – Fort Augustus Golf Club
- Sample excellent Scottish cuisine with unbeatable views over Loch Ness at The Boathouse Lochside Restaurant
- Get your arts and crafts fix at Morag’s Crafty Bothy – here you can paint your own ceramics, including models of Nessie!
Best Hostel Fort Augustus
This quaint little hostel is in a peaceful and secluded location with excellent views towards Loch Ness! It is only a short walk away from Fort Augustus and is highly rated thanks to the top quality facilities. Dorms and private rooms are available, and breakfast can be added for a small fee.
Best Budget Hotel in Fort Augustus
A little different from more typical pod concepts, Loch Ness Monster Pods come in their own little cabins giving you some more privacy. Each pod has its own seating area as well as tea & coffee making facilities! The large garden area is the perfect space to mingle with other guests during the summer.
Best Splurge Hotel in Fort Augustus
Located right in the heart of Fort Augustus, the Highland Club has become a tourist attraction in its own right thanks to the excellent recreational facilities! There is a large garden area with tennis courts, as well as a sauna on-site. Barbecue facilities and a large kids playground are available in the summer.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Inverness?
Inverness is the best place to base yourself if you are looking to explore the Scottish Highlands. The city is small enough to have a community feel and large enough to have plenty of facilities to satisfy your needs.
For the best area, it has to be Central Inverness. This is where most of the city’s attractions are based and gives you great access to the wider Highlands region. We also recommend Drumnadrochit if Loch Ness is your main interest.
We hope this guide has helped you to plan your trip to Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. The region has plenty to offer visitors looking for natural beauty and traditional culture.
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments!
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