Free Things to do in Inverness – There are many attractions in the capital of the Highlands that are completely free to visit and enjoy. Let’s explore…
Ness Islands – Free Things to Do in Inverness
Cross the bridge over the River Ness to explore the green and glorious Ness Islands, located in the middle of the river. Cross at the south west end from Bught Road, or at the north eastern end from Island Bank Road. With sculptures and even a wee amphitheatre to find, it’s a mini adventure.
Technically it’s not free but I’m also going to add the super cute 7¼ inch gauge railway that links Ness Islands with Whin Park. For a nominal fee of £2.50 each you can ride aboard the UK’s most northerly public miniature railway. The railway is seasonal (opens around Easter and closes towards the end of October).
Whin Park – Free Things to Do in Inverness
With a vast adventure play area there’s lots to keep children occupied. Whin Park is a real Mecca for families and kids. (There’s also a boating lake but the boats cost around £6 to hire.)
Inverness Botanic Gardens – Free Things to Do in Inverness
Open seven days a week, this free garden is an oasis of calm and colour. With a tropical house, cactus house, gift shop and cafe, plus the gardens and grounds, Inverness’ Botanic Gardens is a lovely spot for all ages to explore.
Victorian Market – Free Things to Do in Inverness
This 19th-century shopping arcade on Academy Street features a mix of independent shops and food hall. Appreciate the Victoria architecture, and if you do wish to make a small purchase then perhaps head to the retro sweet shop to buy a quarter of your favourite sweets.
Leakey’s Book Shop
Admittedly this shop’s ultimate aim is to sell books, rather than simply welcome tourists, but Leakey’s beautiful interiors and sheer size as Scotland’s largest second hand book shop, make it a unique destination.
Inverness Museum and Gallery
We have yet to visit, but if you fancy a mix of local artefacts and curiosities, including a stuffed puma, drop by this free museum on Castle Wynd.
Slightly Out of Town – Free Things to Do in Inverness
This open air site was built 4000 years ago, originally as a burial site for leading members of the local community. It’s recently attracted a LOT of attention because Outlander’s fictitious stone circle, Craigh na Dun, is thought to be inspired by the site. The Clava Cairns feature standing stones, three cairns, and a ‘Kerb’ cairn where sparkling white quartz crystals were found. Visitors get up close and personal with prehistoric history, nothing is cordoned off. Perhaps calming or spiritual for adults, and strangely captivating for children this Historic Scotland site is worth a rural pitstop. [Easy parking but no facilities.]
Only a fifteen minute drive away is the natural beauty of Loch Ness. Take a drive, a hike or a spot of Nessie hunting this loch is over twenty miles long and apparently holds more water than all the lakes of England and Wales combined.
Free with Membership – Free Things to Do in Inverness
FREE for NTS members. If you’ve paid for the membership you definitely should make the most of it at this unmissable National Trust for Scotland site. Culloden is vital in understanding Scottish/British history and the pivotal battle of 1746 that crushed the Jacobites. Step onto the windswept battlefield and look out for the memorial cairn and clan graves – read a full review here. (Adult ticket – £14.00 but free with membership – click on box below. Visitor Centre, café and gift shop on site too.)
FREE for Historic Scotland Members. This vast Historic Scotland site is a historic and an operational military base. Visitors can see how soldiers lived through the ages, tour the museum, see weapons in the magazine, spot cannons and walk the mile long walls that surround the base. (Adult ticket – £9.50 but free with membership, café and gift shop.) For a more detailed review read here.
Where to Stay
POOL – This is a much-loved family friendly hotel in Inverness. The Kingsmill Hotel offers family rooms with kids’ bunkbed areas separate from the adult space – always a winner. The pool is a huge draw too.
Highland Apartments by Mansley
SELF-CATERING – Want to save some pennies by going self-catering? The Highland Apartments by Mansley are super central with lovely balconies overlooking the River Ness. Read a full review here.
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Inverness. Also take a look at:-
Things to do in Inverness with Kids
Historic Sites to visit with Kids in and around Inverness
Things to do in Loch Ness with Kids