Inverness and the River Ness.
Inverness is often called the capital of the Highlands because it is the most major town in the Highland region. The name ‘Inverness’ comes from the Gaelic ‘Inbhir Nis’, which means “Mouth of the Ness”, referring to the River Ness which flows from world famous Loch Ness. The population of Inverness is currently just over 45,000, and it is the best connected town in the Highlands in terms of transport and infrastructure. There are direct train connections with Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, as well as more minor lines running to Kyle of Lochalsh, Thurso and Wick. There is also an Inverness Airport, now with over half a million passengers each year, and with a fair selection of destinations for such a small regional airport. At present Easyjet flies from Inverness to London Gatwick, London Luton and Bristol; FlyBE flies from Inverness to Amsterdam, Birmingham and Belfast City, as well as to islands such as Benbecula, Stornoway on the Outer Hebribes, and Sumburgh on the Shetland Islands; and British Airways will start operating soon from Inverness to London Heathrow, and KLM from Inverness to Amsterdam. Not bad!
For tourists visiting the Highland region, Inverness can make a sense location to mark out as a base. Urquhart Castle is just 30 minutes by car from Inverness, and at the time of writing Stagecoach ran a direct bus service down the western side of Loch Ness to Urquhart Castle (check details before you make plans to set off!). As the largest town in the Highlands, Inverness has a good selection of shops, supermarket, hotels, hostels, petrol facilities etc. Prices may also be lower than in some more rural locations.
Inverness should not just be used as a service centre or stopover however. There is much of interest to see and do in Inverness itself. Inverness Castle is a mid 19th century castle in the centre of town, though it cannot be visited as it houses the Inverness Sheriff Court. It can be admired from outside, however. Inverness Museum and Art Gallery is worth a visit, as is the oldest church in Inverness, the Old High Church. Pleasant walks can be had along the banks of the River Ness which flows through the centre of Inverness, and the energetic among you may wish to time your visit to coincide with the Inverness Half Marathon or even the Loch Ness Marathon which finishes up in Inverness!
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