See & Do in the Central Highlands

The Black Isle area is fabulous for a day at the beach, dolphin watching and starting the famous Pictish trail. There are also many forests which have well maintained tracks for cycling. A safe option with kids in tow. 

Loch Ness has the obvious attraction which we won’t mention. As well as superb walking and scenery, museums and gardens. Fort Augustus has the Caledonia Canal lock system which is always worth stopping to watch in action.

Inverness is a beautiful city with the Ness Islands a popular place to visit, museum, theatre and ample excellent restaurants. 

Whether you’re a day tripper or staying longer, we know you’ll just love it!


Tarbat Discovery Centre – Pictish & Local Heritage Museum – Portmahomack, Easter Ross

Learn about the picts with displays and activities

t: +44 (0)1862 871351
e: info@tarbat-discovery.co.uk
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Find out more about Tarbat Discovery Centre – Pictish & Local Heritage Museum

An amazing experience awaits you at Tarbat Discovery Centre which is the site of the only Pictish monastic settlement excavated in Scotland to date. Learn about the Picts and their journey on the Tarbat Peninsula, descend into the crypt and get involved in the activity room.

There are a host of event during the summer months where you can get involved in a dig or find out how to identify animal bones! With Portmahomack close by, you can make a full day of it!

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Rabbies Tours – Tour Guide Across Scotland – Scotland-wide

Explore Scotland with Rabbie’s expert local guides

t: +44 (0)131 226 3133
e: tours@rabbies.com
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Find out more about Rabbies Tours – Tour Guide Across Scotland

Explore Scotland with Rabbie’s expert local guides on small group tours of a maximum of 16 people.

Rabbie’s offers a wide selection of 1 – 17 day tours of Scotland with departures from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. If this is your first time in Scotland, or you’re short on time, Rabbie’s have fantastic short tours to Scotland’s must see attractions, such us Loch Ness and the Highlands.

You can also go for a more complete experience and embark on an off-the-beaten-track trip to Scotland’s hidden treasures and islands.

Go beyond the guidebooks with our award-winning small-group tours of 16 passengers or less. You support local communities, learn from passionate storytellers, and discover the world’s best kept secrets. Unexplained standing stones, untranslatable hieroglyphics, and unbelievable myths. So, keep your eyes peeled, your mind open, and your imagination switched on. Enjoy the local larder! The seafood is exported to the best restaurants, Angus beef is enjoyed everywhere, and whisky is loved worldwide.

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Iona Highland Tours – 8 Church Street, Inverness, IV1 1EA

Day trips in the Highlands

t: +44 (0)7715 217274
e: info@ionahighlandtours.com
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Find out more about Iona Highland Tours

Operating in 8 seater minivans we provide day excursions from Inverness, including Skye, Wester Ross coastal route, North Coast 500, Loch Ness and Inverness

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Eco Ventures – Cromarty

The ultimate wildlife watching adventure at the heart of the Moray Firth

t: +44 (0)1381 600323
e: info@ecoventures.co.uk
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Find out more about Eco Ventures

Based in the beautiful town of Cromarty at the heart of the Moray Firth, EcoVentures specialises in marine wildlife watching trips using a custom built 9.5m RIB. Our trips frequently encounter bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoises, seals, minke whales and a wide variety of seabirds. An informative commentary is given throughout the trip with refreshments provided. Waterproof clothing, lifejackets, headbands and goggles are also supplied. Daily sailings from Cromarty Harbour from April until the end of October. Booking recommended. We aim to run all our trips in a responsible, sustainable manner and are fully accredited both with the Dolphin Space Programme and the WiSe Scheme. Visit Scotland 5 star rated. Highlands and Islands Visitor Attraction of the Year 2016.

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Highland Defenders – Aviemore

Hire a Land Rover Defender & roof tent package to explore the Scottish Highlands

t: +44 (0)7775677717 | m: +44 (0)7775677717
e: info@highlanddefenders.com
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Find out more about Highland Defenders

Highland Defenders offers a complete car hire and accommodation package for the adventurous traveller. Our complete package includes an iconic Land Rover Defender, a hardshell roof tent, camping kit, fully comprehensive insurance and breakdown cover.

The hardshell roof tents are much quicker and easier to set up than regular tents and have the additional benefits of elevated views from their windows, built-in mattresses for extra comfort and no need to sleep on the ground! You also have the flexibility to explore at your own pace as you can stop and rest any time you wish.

Each package comes complete with a comprehensive camping kit that contains sleeping bags and liners, bedding, cooking stove, pots and pans, tableware, utensils, table and chairs, tent light, water container, basin and cleaning kit plus much more.

We have packages available for 1-4 people with a huge range of add-ons and extras, including dog packages, children's seats and transfer services. Vehicle-only hires are also available from October - March.

From our base in Aviemore, you have direct access to the endless wild and unspoiled countryside of the Cairngorms National Park and Royal Deeside and a short drive to Inverness and the start of the world famous NC500 route. If you need help planning your trip then please do get in touch, we are more than happy to provide all the hints and tips you need to get the most from your visit to the Scottish Highlands.

Follow us on Instagram: @highlanddefenders

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mermaid of the north

Mermaid of the North Statue

Located in Balintore this is part of the Seaboard Sculpture Park which represents the traditions & heritage of the Seaboard Villages.

nigg church

Nigg Church

The cross-slab on display here is widely recognised as one of the most important in the history of Western medieval art.

black rock gorge

Black Rock Gorge

A local myth tells of a noblewoman lured into its depths by the devil. The cries which she utters can be heard from the top. Scenes for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were filmed here.


Fyrish Monument

This monument was built in 1782 on Fyrish Hill near Alness by a native lord of the area to give the locals some work. It represents the Gate of Negapatam in India where he once served and there is impressive views over the whole of the region from its base.

touchstone maze

Touchstone Maze

This maze was designed by Helen Rowson in 1991 and features rocks arranged by age and geography. Easily reached on foot from Strathpeffer.

Culbokie Play Park

Culbokie Play Park

A well maintained playpark with a range of equipment for different ages and picnic tables. Views across to Ben Wyvis complete the perfect play day!

rogie falls

Rogie Falls

A short walk down the Blackwater River takes you to the impressive Rogie Falls. They are best seen from a dramatic suspension bridge, whilst across the far side an artificial channel allows salmon to bypass the main cascade.

ben wyvis

Ben Wyvis

Ben Wyvis is the highest mountain in the area at 1046m. It is an isolated, prominent and popular munro.  The great whaleback ridge of Ben Wyvis is covered in a carpet of woolly hair moss and is home to many interesting plants and animals including red and roe deer, pine marten and golden eagle.  A path through the forest onto the reserve is signposted from the car park on the A835.


Learnie Red Rock Cycling Trails

There are choice of colour coded purpose built mountain bike trails for all abilities.  Trails range from an easy 0.4 mile route, to a severe 2.3 mile route.  If cycling is not for you, feel free to walk the trails instead. Learnie is also a fascinating place for geology and has some great view point.  Please note parking charges apply.

crom courthouse

Cromarty Courthouse Museum

This is a 1733 grade A listed former courthouse, which now displays exhibitions about the historic town of Cromarty.  The courtroom scene has life-like figures and audio enactment to tell the story of a trial, the other rooms tell the history of Cromarty and each year there are special exhibitions and displays.  Open daily from 12-4pm from Easter Sunday.


Fossil hunting on the Eathie

Eathie is one of the few onshore areas in Scotland where Jurassic rocks are exposed.  Fossilised shellfish and ammonites are often found but it is the fossilised plants that give the site its importance.  Follow the web link to find out more about the geology, where to search for fossils, and the fossil code.


The Fairy Glen (Rosemarkie)

A well-maintained path follows the Rosemarkie Burn up the wooded glen, passing two waterfalls ( one of them named Fairy Glen’s Waterfall) and an old millpond. Much of the glen is now an RSPB reserve.  Fairy Glen used to be the scene of a well-dressing ceremony, where the children of the village decorated a pool, next to a spring, with flowers. This was said to ensure that the fairies kept the water supply clean.

sustrans cycle

Sustrans Cycle Route

Route 1 of the Sustrans cycle route passes through the Black Isle from Ness Bridge, Inverness to the heart of Dingwall, via roads and cycle paths.  Follow the blue route 1 cycle trail signs along the way to keep on track. Route maps are available.


Chanonry Point

Chanonry Point between Fortrose and Rosemarkie is the best place in Europe for seeing bottlenose dolphins. The best time to look for them is on an incoming tide when the dolphins play and feed on the fish brought in by the strong currents.  Check the Inverness tide times to find the best time for spotting dolphins – around 1 hour after low tide. Although they can be seen at anytime.  The main viewing area is on the shingle beach behind the lighthouse which can be accessed by walking along the beach (tide permitting) or the path near the entrance to the car park.

udale rspb

Udale Bay RSPB Nature Reserve

From late summer to spring thousands of waterfowl and wading birds visit this important wildlife site. At times up to 5000 wigeon can be seen feeding here on the beds of eel grass.  There is a viewing hide which is open all year round.

red kite

Tollie Red Kites RSPB Visitor Centre

With stunning views across Easter Ross to Ben Wyvis, Tollie Red Kites provides close-up views of the most graceful bird of prey. A team of volunteers feed the birds every day and you can watch them feed from the comfort of a specially-converted farmstead building.  The visitor centre is open from 9 am to 5 pm but there is open access to the outdoor viewing screens. Food is put out daily by a team of local volunteers. Feeding time is 2.30 pm in summer (BST) and 1.30 pm in winter (GMT).

invergordon murals

Invergordon Mural Trail

The Invergordon ‘off the wall’ trail is an outdoor art gallery where from 2004 to date, several murals, depicting the history and culture of the area were painted.  There are presently murals at 11 locations and can be found mostly on or just to the side of the high street.


Ship Space (Formally Titanic Inverness Maritime Museum)

An unusual but fascinating collection of maritime artefacts and curiosities, not least the scale model of the Titanic.

inverness botanic gardens

Inverness Botanic Gardens

An oasis of calm and beauty within walking distance of the bustling city centre.

inverness museum and gallery

Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

Explore the art, history and heritage of the Highlands and discover how they are linked with the rest of the world.

bellfield park

Bellfield Park

An amazing free tennis facility in the centre of Inverness

whin park

Whin Park

Whin Park is a great day out for all ages. It has 4 adventure play areas, an adult sized trim trail, a boating pond with ducks and a narrow gauge railway.  Alongside shops, toilets.

ness island

Ness Island Walk

The Ness Islands is a walk within the city but could easily be a million miles from it and offers a unique and serene family trip destination for those who love to wander.  The Islands are linked by old bridges, and pass by imported ranges of tree life and some of the best Salmon pools on the lower ness. You may spot some seals and look out for the Inverness war memorial.  In Inverness make your way to the east end of The Infirmary Bridge. It’s the first footbridge upstream from the main road bridge.

culloden wood

Culloden Wood

Right on the edge of Inverness, this popular forest is a great place to walk, run or ride. It’s also full of history: the trees cover part of the site of the battle of Culloden, and the Prisoners’ Stone is a grim reminder of that fateful day.   There is a car park and 2 walking trails to follow – an easy 0.5 mile trail and a moderate 2.2 mile trail.

st andrews

St Andrews Cathedral

Inverness Cathedral is open every day for visitors, quiet reflection and for prayer. It is located next to the Ness river and within easy reach of the city centre, at just a 5 minute walk.  The Cathedral was first opened for public worship in 1869. Learn about the history of the site, view the stained glass windows, or join in with a service.


Merkinch Local Nature Reserve

Merkinch nature reserve is an area of 54.7 hectares in the South Kessock Area of Inverness.  The reserve is full of wildlife with roe deer, owls, weasels, herons, cormorants and wading birds of various descriptions. If you’re lucky you may even spot the kingfishers at the Muirtown pools, even the occasional Osprey can be seen visiting the area.  The Old Ticket Office has been transformed from the old roll-on roll-off ferry Kessock ferry office into a multi use space housing displays, information, educational r into a multi use space housing displays, information, educational resources, space for Highland Council Ranger accommodation and toilet facilities.

scotttish kilt centre

The Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre

At the Scottish Kilt maker Visitor Centre in Inverness, you’ll enjoy an insight into the history, tradition and culture of the kilt – from its origins through to the present day.   Visitors will see the different stages of kilt manufacture, and learn all about the kilt making process. There are handmade kilt demonstrations and watch a short video titled ‘The Kilted Hall of Fame’.  Head to the shop next door to view a collection of kilts, Highland Dress accessories, Tartans, Tweeds, Textiles, Clan items, Jewellery and our extensive range of gifts.

boleskine house

Boleskine House & Cemetery

Once the residence of one of the most notorious magicians of all time Aleister Crowley, the house is now a private residence but the cemetery still retains a creepy ambience.

well of the seven heads

Well of the Seven Heads

On the west shore of Loch Oich stands this monument topped by a sculpture of a hand holding a dagger and seven severed heads – a stark reminder of one of the most gruesome episodes in Scottish clan history.

caledonian canal

Caledonian Canal Visitor Centre

Located beside the canal in Fort Augustus this small but unique visitor centre showcases the canal from its beginnings to its present day rejuvenation.

invermoriston falls

Invermoriston Falls

A short, child friendly walk from the car park takes you to a photogenic vantage point over the impressive falls.


Corrimony Chambered Cairn

Built some 4,000 years ago by Neolithic farmers, this is a passage grave of the Clava type. The astronomical alignment and orientation has led people to suggest that the builders of believed in the migration of the souls of the dead to the stars. The cairn is surrounded by a circle of 11 standing stones.

abriachan forest

Abriachan Forest

This community owned forest has established a network of walking and biking paths and picnic spots as well as fun and learning activities for children.


Contin Woods

Well-marked and mapped paths criss-cross a hill above Contin and include woodland dens, wooden sculptures and the spectacular views from ‘view rock’!


Glen Affric

A spectacular glen featuring ancient Scots Pine trees and a rewarding lochside walk. Only half an hour from Inverness yet secluded enough to be relatively quiet.