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Inverness is a fast-growing city in Northern Scotland considered the gateway to the Highlands. It is the centre of commerce and administration of the Scottish Highlands, with a third of the region’s population living in the city. Located right at the mouth of River Ness, the same river fed by the famous Loch Ness, Inverness is a good starting point for out-of-town excursions. Historical sites as well as scenic spots like the Ness Islands can be reached by a short drive.
Who to Book With
Many car hire firms can be found in Inverness. They have offices near or in the general vicinity of the train and bus terminals, along Harbour Road or Millburn Road on the other side of town. Booking online, when possible, allows you to compare rates among international car rental brands such as Thrifty, Alamo, Auto Europe, Europcar and National. Local car rental firms are also available.
Best Time to Go
The high season in Inverness comprises of the summer months of May to September, when temperatures are relatively pleasant at around 13°C to 18°C. However, as this is still Scotland, the weather can be unpredictable. Rain and winds can come anytime, so it’s always best to be prepared.
Need to Know Essentials
When retrieving the car that you booked, you will need to present:
- A UK driving licence (or International Driving Permit)
- An ID with a photo
- The confirmed booking print-out
- A credit card
Driving in Inverness can be confusing to some, as many streets are one-way and are filled with numerous signs. There are several roundabouts too, so it’s always a good idea to have a road atlas with you. Parking spaces can be scarce at times, so staying in hotels that provide parking spots is recommended. The rates for parking in private car parks usually begin at around £1 an hour.
The most effective means of transport into Inverness is the train, with daily overnight sleepers leaving London at night reaching Inverness by the morning. Buses are also available to take passengers within and outside Inverness. At night, taxis are the best way to get around as fares are still relatively cheap. To explore the rugged highlands around the city, hiring a car is highly recommended.
Getting into Inverness by train is easy. The Caledonian Sleeper, operated by ScotRail, is the most recommended way to get in the city, leaving London at night and arriving in Inverness the next morning. The trip takes eight hours and costs around £140. It is an even easier commute from the Scottish capital Edinburgh, with the ride taking around three hours costing about £37. Commuter trains also run to destinations around Inverness such as Dingwall in the north, Beauly in the west, Nairn in the east and Aviemore in the South.
Public transport becomes harder to come by when evening comes. Taxis, mainly in the form of minicabs and a few black cabs, become the most reliable form of transport. Fares are relatively cheap given that any route in town in fairly short. On normal days, the first 785 yards will cost around £3, increasing by £0.10 every 130 yards.
Stagecoach is the main bus operator in Inverness, with around fifty routes covering city destinations as well as those outside. A day pass, which costs around £9, affords you unlimited travel on buses, not just in Inverness, but also to other cities in the region.
Being the gateway to the Scottish Highlands, Inverness has a number of attractions for tourists. The art and music scene here is quite lively, and a walk or a bicycle ride along the riverfront will take you past beautiful churches and parks. A number of recommended excursions can be taken from Inverness.
Balnuaran of Clava - This is a historic site located a few miles east of Inverness. It is home to several cairns, burial tombs used in the Bronze Age. Fifty or so cairns can be found here. From Inverness, visitors can take the Culloden Road heading east to get here.
The Battlefield of Culloden - This is another significant historical area located east of the city. The site saw the final battle of the Jacobite Rising of 1745, a movement that aimed to bring back the throne of Scotland to the first monarchs of the country, the House of Stuart.
The Ness Islands - These are located immediately south of Inverness city centre, and are a scenic spot to spend a day just relaxing. Here, visitors will find tree-lined paths and wildlife such as otters and deer. The Ness Islands are accessible via bridges from Bught Park, located on the mainland.