Inverness bus station is located 1 block from the train station. It is served by Scottish Citylink and National Express for long-haul coaches, and by Stagecoach for local buses, including the shuttle bus to Inverness Airport. The station has an indoor waiting area and ticket counter. Tickets can be purchased either at the counter or from the bus driver. BritRail's Freedom of Scotland Pass covers certain routes, including the Citylink bus from Inverness to Fort William (and connecting bus to Oban). The buses can be used for scenic day-trips, including to Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, and Urquhart Castle.
Inverness has a small airport (IATA Code: INV) primarily served by budget airlines such as EasyJet and FlyBE, but is also serviced by larger airlines such as KLM. The airport has regular flights throughout the UK, the Shetland Islands, and the Western Islands, as well as flights to Amsterdam and seasonal flights to Jersey, Geneva, and Zurich. The airport is approximately a 15-minute drive from downtown. Stagecoach Bus runs hourly service between the airport and Inverness Bus Station (a short walk from the train station) every 30 minutes during airport operating hours.
Inverness serves as the main rail hub of the Scottish Highlands, with service to and from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Kyle of Lochalsh, and the north coast. Much of the time, trains depart very close together, making the station a madhouse of activity one minute and sleepy the next. Services are modest, but include rest rooms with baby changing tables, an ATM, a small coffee kiosk, a seated waiting area, showers, and a small play area for children (Minifrosch enjoyed playing with the tractor). Tickets can be purchased from machines, or at a ticket counter (limited hours on weekends). The station does not have left luggage service. The Royal Highland Hotel, next door to the train station, serves as a First Class lounge on weekdays, but there are no such facilities in the station itself.
Inverness is in the far north of Britain in the Scottisch Highlands. If you are not trevelling from Scotland or northern England, the plane can be a better (and often cheaper) alternative to the train. FlyBe and Easyjet have regular connections to London and a couple of places in continental Europe. A handful of other airlines serve Inverness from the continent as well. Beside those connections, FlyBe/Loganair also offer some flights to the Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides.
There are regular bus connections (every 30 min.) from the airport to Inverness city centre. The trip takes around twenty minutes.
There are many ways to get around the highlands from Inverness, Car, train, tour or hire a driver. We choose hiring a driver. John McDonald of The Hebridean Explorer was an excellent tour guide, driver as well as the owner of the company.
We had limited time and wanted to do three side trips from Inverness. These were a limited Whiskey Tour, the Isle of Skye, and Castle Eilean Donan. No one company could do it all and in our limited time to visit this portion of Scotland.
Viola we contacted John, Instead of the no response from some of the larger companies/operators John could do it all.
His fee was flat for 1 to 8 people. His Mercedes Van comfortable and top notch. Local knowledge superb, he is a history buff.
I have no reservations on recommending him, or using his services again.
One of the easiest and most comfortable ways to go to Inverness is by the overnight Caledonian Sleeper, which leaves Euston at about 8.20 pm and gets you into Inverness about 8.30 am. Sleepers are usually twin-berth.
There are also carriages with reclining seats at a cheaper price.
The return journey leaves about the same time at night.
The alternative is to go by day. Trains leave at 9.24 from Inverness to London via Stirling and Glasgow. The East Coast Railway has several trains leaving King's Cross, one service leaves at 12 noon arriving at Inverness at 8.08pm.
Or the 10.52am from Inverness goes direct to Edinburgh, and connects with the 3pm train to London King's Cross. This way you get to see the variations in the scenery as you travel down the east coast of Britain. It arrives in London at 7.22 pm.
Trains leave Inverness for Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen several times a day. There is a service to Wick, and also the scenic railway across to Kyle of Lochalsh for those wanting to go to Skye and the Hebrides.
Notice: some times may have changed , so always check first.
Some say that driving in Inverness is confusing with its many one-way streets, roundabouts and numerous directional signs. I say that it simply depends on what type of a city you live in / are used to. As good old Albert Einstein once said "everything is relative."
Compared to where we live (Dubai, UAE) driving in Inverness seems relatively easy for us: road signs were easy to understand and roundabouts caused us no worries whatsoever. Drivers appeared to be relatively patient (they seem to be used to tourists trying to find their way) and whenever we stopped a pedestrian or asked a petrol station employee for directions they were always glad to help.
I had my trusty road atlas for the whole of Scotland with a detailed city map of Inverness, which was very helpful and I'm proud to say that we didn't ever really get lost.
It is true, however, that lack of parking space can be a bit of an issue.
When booking a hotel / Bed & Breakfast / Self-Catering Apartment in Inverness it's wise to ask about off-street parking or parking permits for certain streets. So far, our accommodation has always provided one or the other option for our rental car.
I also found this extremely useful website for "Places to say with car parking in Inverness": http://www.lodging-world.com/withparkingsearch.uk.scotland.invernesshire.inverness.html
There are 2 main public parking buildings in the city centre. Digital signs around the city indicate the available number of parking spaces that are still free at different times of the day.
1) The Old Town Rose Street Multi Storey Car Park is situated in the centre of Inverness; just 3 min walk from the Post Office in Queensgate. It has approx. 850 spaces (including 36 disabled spaces - free of charge) available and a variety of parking options - short stay (for shoppers), daily parking (for workers), long stay (for secure parking when on holiday or an extended business trip) and annual contract parking.
This is the only car park in Inverness that offers up to 24 hour parking with security attendants & CCTV cameras throughout the building. The car park has been extensively renovated with a new safer entrance, improved lighting & refurbishment of internal surfaces.
Parking Charges (levels 3 to 10): 1 hour = £1.00, 2 hours = £1.20, 4 hours = £1.50, etc. (2 hour parking for 20p no return 1 hour available on levels 7, 8, 9, and 10 for shopping and sightseeing.)
Old Town Rose Street Car Park,
Inverness IV1 1NH.
> The Eastgate Centre (incl. Falcon Gallery) is located in pretty much the same area as the Old Town Rose Street parking, and has 2 car parks for over 1,000 cars in total. Opening hours are 08:00am-07:00pm Monday to Sunday and until 08.30pm on Thursdays. Parking charges range from £1.40 to £4.00. It takes only about 4min to walk from Eastgate to the main train station or the Victorian Market on Union Street.
Eastgate Shopping Centre,
Inverness IV2 3PP.
You can find a link to the municipal car park charges here:
For free parking, you can try your luck and park on Ardross Street near the cathedral; as far as I'm aware it's still free around the clock. It's only a couple of minutes walk from the town centre & always worth a look if you're on a tight budget.
I would be very careful about parking in on-street bays in the city centre as they are usually time limited (make sure to read the signs!)
This tip contains just a little bit of info for when you're exploring Inverness on foot, which I really enjoy doing! Because of its size & layout you can walk pretty much anywhere in Inverness.
There are 3 pedestrian bridges that span the River Ness, and 2 of them are suspension bridges and both of them are bouncy.
Greig Street Bridge (iron suspension bridge) was built in 1881 and connects Greig Street with Church Lane on the opposite side of the river. This is the largest of the footbridges across the River Ness and was constructed by the Rose Street Foundry (there's a small plaque on the bridge to commemorate this.)
This bridge has become an *icon* for Inverness and you'll see it on many postcards... it may not be as huge as fancy as the Golden Gate, the Brooklyn or the Syndey Harbour Bridge, but we're all fond of this bridge just the same ;-)
Although Greig Street Bridge is quite a lot bigger and sturdier than the Infirmary Bridge, it still bounces and sways when a group of people get a rhythm going with their steps.
The Infirmary Bridge (iron suspension bridge) was built in 1879 and links the Ness Walk with the Ness Bank opposite of the Royal Northern Infirmary.
This smaller pedestrian bridge REALLY swings and bounces, you'll often see children (and adults as well!) hopping up-and-down to make it swing stronger. This bridge was revamped in the 1990s, but mostly keeping to the original design.
And last but not least, there is the simple beam bridge for pedestrians across the picturesque Ness Islands, south of the castle.
--> For my detailed directions for the Ness Walk and Caledonian Canal, see my seperate "Things to Do" tip.
"Let's dance a little closer
I'll help you get over
The hurt you thought you never could forget.
The bitter tears you tasted
All those nights you wasted
Don't look back.
It's just whisky under the bridge.
All those nights of drinking
Finally got me thinking
Heartache is just a waste of time.
I've been burned, I've been cheated
But this old heart's still beating
Ain't no big deal.
It's just whisky under the bridge."
("Whisky under the Bridge" by Brooks and Dunn)
Somehow travel just feels more "real" when you can get off a plane the old-fashioned way: walk down the stairs and onto the tarmac, making your way towards a small airport building. The smell of the plane's engines and the sheer noise wakes you up after sitting on your backside for so many hours. But my favourite moment is when the doors open and instead of being pushed into a steril gangway that connects to the arrivals terminal, you get a whiff of air from outside - a first indication of what this new place smells like :-)
Inverness Airport (INV) operates as the main entryway to air travel in the North of Scotland. It's small and simple, but is still actually one of the largest airports for the Scottish Highlands. It was opened for civil operations in 1947. The airport is located 9 miles east of this city just off the A96 towards Nairn. The turn-off for the airport is just before Newton onto the B9039. By car it took us no longer than 25min to travel between the city and the airport.
Flybe is the carrier that nowadays most frequents Inverness airport, with daily direct flights from and to London Gatwick airport - but scheduled flights also operate between Inverness and London Luton, Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Dublin, Jersey, Manchester, Southampton, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Stornoway in the Western Isles, Kirkwall in Orkney and Sumburgh in Shetland.
New connections in 2009:
> Aer Arann flies Inverness to Dublin from 29 March to October.
> Lufthansa flies Inverness to Dusseldorf, Germany. Flights will operate on Saturdays from 20 June to 12 September.
> Flybe flies Inverness to Jersey; will operate on Saturdays from 20 June to 19 September.
Opening hours for the airport terminal:
Monday-Friday 05:30 - 22:30.
Saturday & Sunday 05:30 - 22:30.
The canal provides a waterway link between the North Sea and the Atlantic, using 3 lochs (Ness, Oich and Lochy) between Inverness and Fort William.
We first encountered it towards the southern end, at Laggan Locks at the north end of Loch Lochy. It was a very cold, misty and frosty morning in late December, and the surrounding landscape was totally wonderful.
The photos don't do it justice, nor does my prose!
It was too cold to hang around for long, unfortunately!
We also came upon the canal on the outskirts of Inverness. At this point, it is very close to the north end of Loch Ness and runs along side the River Ness.
As with part 1, the surrounding scenery is superb. In addition you never know what interesting river traffic you might come upon.
Worth walking about - clearly popular with the locals for walking and picnicking (in summer).
Some road distances between Inverness and:
- Edinburgh: 254 kms.
- Glasgow: 276 kms.
- Leeds: 576 kms.
- Liverpool: 617 kms.
- London: 924 kms.
Checking the website you will find some other road distances together witt the driving times and the best routes.
We hired a small car from Budget, which was very conveniently located next to Inverness railway station. Reasonably priced and everything we needed, booked via the internet and we had no hassles at all. Given the changeable weather, and the ad hoc nature of our exploring, a car was the perfect way to get around. And get around we did, travelling all the way to the top end of the country (past John O'Groats to Dunnet Head) and a fair way west and south of Inverness as well.
Bugger the environment - sometimes you just need a car!
megabus.com - cheapest way from Edinburgh/Perth/Dundee/Aberdeen/Glasgow. If you book in advance you can go Edinburgh-Inverness return for £5! - sit back and enjoy the scenery and views of the Forth Rail Bridge!
Took the Isle of Skye tour from Inverness in June. It was wonderful to have someone else doing the driving as one misses an awful lot when trying to drive and sightsee at the same time. Made visits to the Eilean Donan castle and Clan Donald/Armadale Castle Gardens and stops at Loch Ness/Urquhart castle and assorted places for views/photo ops. Coach was comfortable and guide was informative and entertaining. Strongly recommended. Departs from tourist center in downtown Inverness.