Tips like this one may seem strange to locals of the area, but one of my favourite hobbies whilst travelling is actually a visit to a local supermarket! I just love roaming the aisles, exploring local produce and various foods and snacks that I've never seen before. This way, I've discovered delicious vegetarian bread-spread in Portugal, beautiful mini-coffee biscuits in Tuscany, and gigantic tubs of marshmallow-fluff in Atlanta, Georgia/USA.
Tesco's is a chain of supermarkets throughout the United Kingdom, advertising their special offers & lower prices with the slogan *Every little bit helps.* Slowly but surely this chain of supermarkets is evolving into a one-stop-shop for almost anything - by now Tesco's also offers health insurance, discount on petrol (10%), home insurance, travel & holiday booking support and much more.
Opening Hours: 7 Days a week, 24 hours a day.
What to buy: This particular Tesco's in the Inverness retail park sells everything from groceries, wines and spirits, clothing, toys, household accessories and appliances, electronics, outdoor gear, DVDs and CDs, basically everything! They also have a huge variety of packed and fresh breads and pastries, and a fantastic cheese counter. Also, don't forget to investigate their awesome hot & cold Deli section.
We usually stay in self-catering accommodation in Inverness and this large Tesco's is great for a weekly grocery stock-up.
"I took her to a supermarket,
I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere, so it started there.
I said pretend you've got no money,
she just laughed and said oh you're so funny.
I said yeah? Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.
Are you sure you want to live like common people
You want to see whatever common people see?"
- ("Common People", The Pulp)
What to pay: BUDGET TIP! Tesco's offers great value-for-money, for example their cafeteria (open daily from 07:00am-08:00pm) offers a full breakfast for less than £5.- and their freshly prepared meals packets (i.e. Indian curries, various pasta dishes, roast chicken, vegetarian & regular pies, etc.) can be found in the chilled section. These meals are fantastic, freshly prepared, often preservative-free and can be heated either in the microwave or conventional oven. We've enjoyed quite a few of these ready-meals when we were too lazy to cook or go out for a meal... definitely recommended!
(Note: There is another, smaller Tesco (Tesco's Metro) purely for grocery shopping in the city centre. Located on Tomnahurich Street in Inverness, its opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays from 07:30am-10:00pm and on Sundays from 09:00am-06:00pm.)
A Victorian Market is something I had really been looking forward to visiting. The concept of an early 19th century "mall" with a covered arcade of various stores was quite new to me. Apparently there is a long history of open-air markets in Inverness.
In early Victorian times the weekly open air markets sold everything and anything from fish to cheese, from meat to vegetables, from fabrics & leather to cobblers' services - everything! Previously, open-air markets had been held at the Exchange outside the Town House, but the invention of gas-lighting meant that an indoor market, open longer hours, could improve the shopping experience for Inverness' residents.
This final surviving Victorian Market building was originally raised in 1870 but was mostly destroyed in a devastating fire, probably caused by the gas-lighting, in 1888 (but the original sandstone entrance in Academy Street is still in tact). However, in 1890 it was already being re-built in the sumptuous and elaborate splendour for which the Victorian era is so well-known; a style which is unique and easily recognizable until this day.
You can access the Victorian Market from 4 different sides: Union Street, Church Street, the Queensgate or Academy Street (leading up towards the Eastgate Centre).
What to buy: There are around 40 shops inside this building, including the obligatory Scottish souvenir shops but also florists, a barber & hair salon (my father-in-law regularly visits this barber & is pleased with their service), a butcher, a fantastic fish monger (we got fresh fish & great advice on how to cook it from the friendly staff here!) a fresh farmer's produce stall (vegetables, fruits, etc.), a chocolatier, tobacconist, a toy store & children's clothing shop, a jewellers, a watch maker and many more.
The Victorian Market actually combines an experience of Victorian architecture with shops that sell a wide range of goods & services which are not commonly found anywhere else in town.
On our last day in Inverness in March 2009 I just couldn't help myself, and the urge to buy some touristy knick-knack just overcame me in the Victorian Gift Shop and as I anyway needed a pair of egg cups (no, seriously, I did! My old ones were made of metal and had rusted!) and purchased a pair of ceramic egg cups: one that looks like a West Highland Terrier and the other a black Scottie Dog (Scottish Terrier)... I know it's tacky but I think they're cute and they make me smile at breakfast time, haha!
On another visit to Inverness in July 2009 my family from Germany also really enjoyed the Victorian Market and even picked-up some gorgeous antiques from the jewellery & watch store.
Opening Hours: Monday-Saturday 08:00-06:00pm.
What to pay: Prices for regular services (i.e. barber, florist, butcher, etc.) are reasonable and average. There are, however, some speciality stores with higher prices (i.e. jewellery designers, collectable Highland crafts, etc.)
--> NOTE: Here are two websites that supply bountiful details on all shops and their locations in the centre of Inverness (website 1) and a general overview of the main shopping destinations in the city (website 2):
Website 1: www.high.st/inverness.
Website 2: http://www.explore-inverness.com/shops.htm.
Apart from whisky, haggis and bag pipes Scotland is actually also rather well-known for its high-quality wool items (you'll be amazed at the sheer number of sheep up in the Highlands!) In May 2004 the Highland House of Fraser took over the retail and manufacturing of Hector Russell Ltd that was located at their premises in Inverness.
The Highland House of Fraser has an online shop with shipping facilities to countries all around the world. They also have a rental section where you can hire traditional Scottish attire (i.e. maybe you're attending a wedding in the Highlands and don't want to spend a huge amount on purchasing the entire outfit?) starting from £49.95, and to purchase an entire traditional outfit (including kilt, jacket, socks, etc.) starts from £599.95.-
However, what I find most interesting is their "Kilt Making Exhibition": this is the only one of its kind in Scotland; an exhibit dedicated solely to the famous kilt and its humble beginnings. Entrance fee is £ 2.- per adult (discounts for students & OAP) and together with some of my German family members we quite enjoyed the experience. The exhibition is upstairs and you walk through different rooms, each following & outlining the origins & history of the kilt and how its shape & form changed through the ages. You are also shown a short video that's quite funny - depicting the kilt in various TV commercials and movies, comedies and also some well-known celebrities... my grand-dad thought some of the TV commercials were absolutely hilarious :-)
Finally the hallway leads you past a window through which you can see the Highland House of Fraser's kiltmakers "in action" as they sow kilts by hand.
The exhibition is open every day and there is no real need to book in advance. Just inquire directly within and the tour is opened whenever a minimum of 5 or 6 people has gathered.
What to buy: Apart from kilts, the Highland House of Fraser specialises in high-quality wool clothing such as jumpers & jackets, quilts & blankets, scarves & hats, gloves, etc. These items may not be cheap, but I can assure you that they will keep you warm & will last for many years.
Also available are the usual Scotland-souvenirs and trinkets, ranging from postcards to miniature bottles of whisky, but also some more exclusive gift items such as crystal figurines and artwork. (I came here to buy ribbon in the McGregor tartan for our wedding :-) This is available in different widths and is charged by length)
Mondays to Saturdays until approx. 09:00pm.
TIP: the most popular webcam for Inverness is located on top of the Highland House of Fraser.
What to pay: Kilts & other woolen clothing items are not cheap (a women's hand-woven jumper costs approx. £65.-) but it's the quality you are paying for... if I lived in Scotland or any other country with a cooler climate I would definitely purchase one or two cherished items from the Highland House of Fraser.
The Victorian Market is a pleasant arcade - actually an arcade and two halls - of shops where you can do touristy things like buy postcards and kilts and bagpipes, then turn all practical and pick up some good Angus beef to take home and cook for dinner.
It's all just so Scottish. Even the names are cute - like The Wee Health Shop. And you're bound to find something here that you can't get at home.
What to buy: Fridge magnets and tea towels from the Victorian Gift Shop. Jewellery made on the premises in Colin Campbell and Son. A sporran or a scarf from Boarstone Tartans. Anything local - after all, how often do you get to shop Scottish?
The Eastgate Shopping Centre is located near the Inverness train station, right in the centre of town.
Here you can find stores like Monsoon, NEXT, La Senza, New Look, HMV, Marks and Spencers (with grocery section), Debenhams, French Connection to name but a few. There's also a small but sufficient food court, a yummy fresh juice bar ("fuel") and one of my all-time favourite shoe stores, Jones Bootmaker (they carry large women's sizes for tall people like me!).
Monday to Wednesday 09.00am-05.30pm,
Friday & Saturday 09.00am-06.00pm,
What to buy: Some of my favourite stores are Past Times, Jones Bootmaker and JOY, where you can buy wonderfully quirky Xmas and birthday cards, funny mugs and generally outrageous gifts :-)
There's also the Filling Station, a decent place for lunch or a quick coffee with generous portions, good prices and a nice outdoor seating area for the summertime.
All in all, the Eastgate Centre is a pretty typical, soulless, efficient shopping mall that satisfies your retail needs for any items you may not be able to find on the High Street.
Established in 1798, James Pringle Weavers is one of the oldest working weaving mills is Scotland. I'm still working on the tip, please don't rate yet.
What to buy: Authentic wool hand-knitted Scottish sweaters! These are one of a kind items; the tag tells you who exactly hand-knitted it and how many days it took them. They are pricey, several hundred dollars each--but you're paying for quality and they're not available anywhere else in the world. A sweater from here should last you the rest of your life. James Pringle is also the best source for clan tartans and tweeds.
What to pay: A few dollars for trinkets, postcards, and souvenirs. A few thousand if you decide to buy real sweaters for the whole family.
My husband was looking for some new shirts and suits, "fitting" for his new job... and let's face it: not all of us can afford Hugo Boss or Armani, but sometimes it just has to be a few notches better than that regular Marks 'n' Spencer's suit... thank heavens for P.J. MacKenzie's!
Pat J Mackenzie's has been around for over 75 years. Opened in 1928 by a young man who served his apprenticeship with the famous Peter Jones department store in London, the business is now run by the 3rd generation of the same family.
What to buy: Pat J's is a far cry from the stuffy menswear store of old - shopping here really is an enjoyable and rewarding experience. They pride themselves on their personalized customer care and this is the reason that on every visit to Inverness my husband and also my father-in-law stops by MacKenzie's for a "browse".
We always return and chat with our favourite salesman, Dougy. He is extremely knowledgeable and very friendly. The store also offers tailoring services, so when my husband needed some of his new trousers to be altered, they made sure it was done within 48 hours.
Shopping at MacKenzie's is a joy... it's a truly "bespoke" experience... the men in my family actually ENJOY shopping here, so it's gotta be good, haha!
What to pay: They offer something for almost every budget, yet all of their items are high quality.
> Silk Ties
In the centre of town you will find the Eastgate shopping centre which had just about everything.
I also ran into [ literally...it was raining! ] a cute little arcade. It was very a interesting place to spend some time and had lots of colour and character.
What to buy: I purchased a celtic zippo lighter from a jewellry store for my son and i also found a very good bookstore where I bought a book on the Gaelic language.
There were lots more shops and eateries. Not sure of the name of this arcade but I'm glad I found it.
Situated in an atmospheric old building, this is purported to be Scotland's largest collection of old, rare and second-hand books and maps. While I can't vouch for the authenticity of that statistic, I can safely say this is a HUGE bookshop. Two floors filled with books, ceiling to floor. The prices were a bit high for me, but the selection made it worth the price. There is also a small and aromatic cafe in the store.
What to buy: Books. Lots of them.
What to pay: I think most of the books were around 3 pounds and up, which is a bit pricy when converted to US dollars.
In the center of Inverness, with over 1350 parking spaces available, lies the Eastgate Centre mall. It's not the greatest or largest mall in the world, but it has class and we enjoyed it. Typical shops like Marks & Spencer and Debenhams, along with great specialty shops like Ottakar's Books, can all be found here. There's a good food court with a beautiful statue, two floors of shops, and the whole thing is attached via elevated catwalk to a full-size grocery store. Clean and cool, everything you'd expect from a small mall and more.
What to buy: Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream is always great, of course, and their shop was giving free samples while we were there. We loved Ottakar's Bookshop... we are simply always amazed at the variety of good bookstores in Britain. Wish we had them here in the US.
What to pay: Mall prices, unfortunately, but hey... this IS a mall.
This superstore is an excellent find, especially if you're on a budget and/or self-catering. It was especially convenient for us, as it was just a short walk from the youth hostel where we were staying. The store is huge, providing a surprising variety of items for sale.
What to buy: Morrison's is primarily a grocery store, but it also offers prepared food, apparel, beer, wine and liquor. Within the store complex, there is also a gas station, a car wash, ATMs, and even a sit-down cafe/restaurant with free wi-fi.
What to pay: Prices are relatively low for the Scottish highlands, and there are plentiful special discounts, especially for meat, fish, and wine.
The shop is near the river at a bridge. Lots of different tartans over there and professional help in finding the right stuff for you.
What to buy: A Kilt.
What to pay: Kilts are expencive! verry expencive... but if you want one, you pay for one...
It's a series of shops, an arcade actually, selling souvenirs and food there. It was built between 1.869 and 1.870