Day Trips - Coach Tours - Private Tour Guides / Taxi Tours - Dolphin Cruises
Tours of Inverness city:
Inverness Bike Tours offers a cycling guided tour around Inverness. The tour shows you the River Ness, Ness Islands, Botanic Gardens (short stop), Caledonian Canal and Merkinch Nature Reserve. This tour lasts about 2 hours and covers 10 km of easy cycling on flat cycle paths, canal towpaths and some minor roads. 3 tours operate daily (10am, 1pm and 3.45pm) from March to October. Adults only (no children). Booking essential. Maximum 10 people per tour. Bikes and helmets provided. Tel: 07443 866619.
5 star WOW Scotland (tel: 01808 511 773) are a local company who offer entertaining, family-friendly walking tours of Inverness. Tours are scheduled on request. Advance booking is essential. They can also provide Outlander walking tours. WOW Scotland are 5 star rated by VisitScotland and are the number one tour operator in Inverness on TripAdvisor.
Walk Inverness is operated by local lady Cath Findlay who offers 2-hour guided walking tours. Due to Covid-19, each tour will only be for one group of people who are together. Tours depart from outside the VisitScotland Centre in the High Street. Advance booking essential. Mobile: 07908809991.
Walking Tours in Inverness offer 90-minute guided walks. These operate every day this summer at 11.30am. There is also a tour at 6pm until 13 September 2020. Maximum 14 people from 3 households. Advance booking is essential. Social distancing and safety rules will apply. The tour starts from outside the VisitScotland information centre in the High Street. Look for the guide in the bright orange jacket. Private tours can also be arranged.
Private walking tours for up to 7 people are available from InvernessTours.com. Inverness city tour (2 hours), or Culloden battlefield or the Clava Cairns. Contact 07743 473081
[ If you are staying in Edinburgh and have limited time - there are many day trips to Inverness & area by coach - click here. ]
On this page: Coach Tours - Taxi Tours - Boat Cruises - Outdoor Activities
Day Excursions from Inverness by Coach:
You can get the local bus timetables from the tourist office and make your own tour if you wish e.g. take the Citylink bus to Fort William and back, or go to Eilean Donan Castle and back in a day. Stagecoach Buses will take you to places such as Cawdor Castle, Nairn, Beauly and the Black Isle.
See the bus timetable links and info on the Inverness Transport page.
There are lots of guided bus tours from Inverness (mainly during the summer), some in minibuses and some in full-size coaches. These are very good value and often combine places which aren't convenient to reach by public transport in a single day. You can virtually stay for a week in Inverness and go on a different tour each day!
Due to Covid-19, tours may resume this summer, but may be different to the schedules originally planned.
5 star WOW Scotland (tel: 01808 511 773) are a local, family-owned company who take guests to the places they love in their well-appointed 30-seater mini-coaches. Due to Covid19, they have reduced their capacity by over 50% to a maximum of 15 guests per trip, in order to maintain social distancing. WOW Scotland are 5 star rated by VisitScotland, and the number one tour operator in Inverness on TripAdvisor. Private tour options are available or you can join one of their scheduled tours:
- Isle of Skye Fairy Pools - this is the only tour from Inverness which enables you to visit the Fairy Pools, as well as the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, Portree, Eilean Donan Castle and Loch Ness. Available frequently from July to October 2020. Pre-booking is essential.
- Whisky Tour - this carefully crafted itinerary enables you to experience the best of Speyside and Highland whiskies in one day, with visits to Tomatin, Glenfarclas, Cragganmore and the Speyside Cooperage. Available on selected dates in 2021 (not available in 2020).
- Orkney guided tour - includes ferry crossings, Italian Chapel, Kirkwall, Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and Stromness. This 15-hour day tour departs from Inverness bus station at 5.30am, returns at 9.30pm on selected dates in 2021 (not available in 2020).
Rabbie’s Tours Of Scotland offers a wide selection of guided day tours from Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. This award-winning company specialises in small tours using 16-passenger mini-coaches (British Travel Awards 2017 and 2018, TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice 2018, VisitScotland 5 Stars).
Due to Covid-19 social distancing measures, tours will resume in August 2020 and they will be taking an average group size of under 10 people in a 16-seat mini coach.
Day tours from Inverness include:
- Loch Ness including Dores beach, Foyers Waterfall, Invermoriston waterfalls, Fort Augustus and the Caledonian Canal with an optional cruise on Loch Ness or to Urquhart Castle.
- Skye and Eilean Donan Castle including Loch Ness, Kyle of Lochalsh, Portree, Trotternish Peninsula, the Quiraing, Kilt Rock, Cuillin Mountains.
- Speyside Whisky & Moray Firth including Benromach Distillery, Findhorn Bay, Elgin, Glenfiddich Distillery or Balvenie Castle, Strathspey.
- Cairngorms and Speyside including Glenfiddich Distillery or Balvenie Castle, Carrbridge, Glenmore Forest Park and Loch Morlich beach, Grantown-on-Spey.
- Black Isle including a visit to the Black Isle Brewery, Cromarty, Rosemarkie and an optional Dolphin cruise.
- Torridon, Applecross and Eilean Donan Castle including Loch Ness, Loch Maree, Shieldaig and parts of the North Coast 500.
- Glen Affric & Highland Villages including Strathpeffer, Beauly Priory, Loch Ness and a walk in scenic Glen Affric.
- Glen Affric, Culloden Battlefield & Clava Cairns with a walk in scenic Glen Affric and also a visit to Beauly Priory.
Rabbie's also offer longer trips from Inverness:
- 3-day tour to Orkney (Inverness to John o'Groats for the ferry to Orkney, stay in Kirkwall for 2 nights with tours to the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and Maeshowe).
- 3-day trip to the Outer Hebrides (ferry from Ullapool to Stornoway for 2 nights on Lewis and Harris)
- 3-day tour around the North Coast 500 with 1 night in Ullapool and 1 night in Thurso.
Award-winning Loch Ness by Jacobite offer Loch Ness trips all year round. Departure points are currently from Dochgarroch Lock (5 miles south of Inverness on the Caledonian Canal), or the Clansman Hotel Harbour (10 miles south of Inverness and 4 miles north of Drumnadrochit). All vessels have free WiFi. Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars. Tel: 01463 233999.
Jacobite coach tours (combined guided tour and cruise) are not currently running for 2020 due to Covid restrictions.
Jacobite Queen by Aldourie Castle photo © Loch Ness by Jacobite
Happy Tours (contact Cameron Ross: 07828 154683) operates an 8-seater vehicle offering a variety of tours.
For 2020 - only private tours are available for groups of up to 6 people who are travelling together.
These are the type of tours available, but not all of these are possible in 2020 as some of the attractions are closed.
Isle of Skye Tour (summer 11 hours / winter 8 hours), Loch Ness & Culloden Battlefield Tour (8 hours), Glenfinnan & Glencoe Tour (10 hours), Dunrobin Castle & GlenMorangie Tour (8 hours) , Cairngorms, Outlander & Whisky Tour (8 hours), Speyside Whisky Tour (8 hours) - Glen Moray Distillery, Glen Grant Distillery, Aberlour Distillery Shop, Glenfarclas Distillery, Benromach Distillery.
The Outlander Highlands Tour (8 hours) has a summer itinerary: Wardlaw Mausoleum, Clava Cairns, Culloden Battlefield, Tulloch Ghru, Highland Folk Museum, Ruthven Barracks or the winter itinerary: Wardlaw Mausoleum, Clava Cairns, Culloden Battlefield, Beauly Priory, Clootie Well, Loch Ness (with a view of Urquhart Castle).
Highland Explorer Tours offer guided tours by midi-coach from Inverness. 1-day tour to the Isle of Skye and Eilean Donan Castle via Loch Ness. 1-day tour to Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Beauly, whisky distillery, Culloden Battlefield and Clava Cairns. 1-day tour via Loch Ness to Fort William, Glenfinnan and Mallaig for a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train. Other tours operate from Edinburgh. VisitScotland 5 stars. Tours will resume from August 2020 with smaller group numbers than usual.
Timberbush Tours offer several 1-day tours with a driver-guide: Isle of Skye & Eilean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, John o'Groats & the Far North (including Dunrobin Castle), Applecross & Loch Carron. They also offer a 3-day tour to Orkney (accommodation not included, but a booking service is offered if required). VisitScotland 5 Stars.
Highland Experience operate from Inverness bus station with these a choice of different 1-days tours (April to October): Eilean Donan & Isle of Skye, John O’Groats and the Far North, Wester Ross and Applecross, Castles and Malt Whisky Trail. They also have some 3-day tours available from Inverness to explore Orkney or the Hebrides. Some tours are operating for summer 2020 and the rest will resume in 2021. VisitScotland 5 Stars.
Tour Skye offers a 1-day tour from Inverness via Loch Ness and Eilean Donan Castle to Skye where you will visit the Fairy Pools, Portree and Talisker distillery. There's also a 2-day trip from Inverness to Skye and back including Eilean Donan Castle, Fairy Pools, Neist Point, the Old Man of Storr, the Quiraing, the Fairy Glen and the Rha waterfalls.
Tour Skye operates from April to October 2021. Small minibus with free WiFi. Tel: 01478 613514 / 07931 352628. Facebook.
Day trip to Orkney: Visit all the main historical places of interest on Orkney with a tour by John O'Groats Ferries (Tel: 01955 611353). Every day from 1 June to 31 August 2021, the coach leaves Inverness Bus Station at 7.15am and returns at 9pm. Booking required. For full details see the John O'Groats Ferries website.
Private Tours / Taxi Tours / Chauffeurs / Driver-Guides:
Have your own private day trip customised especially for you. Some are operated by local taxi firms.
- Celia Ffitch-Stewart is a fully insured driver-guide with Mercedes limousine for your tailor-made guided tour. Collection from the train station or airport - or if you are on a cruise she can meet your ship at Invergordon. Half day, full day or extended tours. Meet your clan chief, trace your roots, stay in a castle, tour the whisky distilleries. Services can include itinerary planning and accommodation reservations. Member of HOSTGA (Highlands of Scotland Tour Guide Association).
- Highland Quest offer small private 1-day tours from Inverness (usually about 6-8 hours). Choose your own itinerary. Options can include Loch Ness, Outlander locations, Speyside Whisky Trail, the Isle of Skye, Jacobite Train from Fort William to Mallaig, North Coast 500, Highland Whisky distilleries, etc. Longer trips are available to the Isles of Mull, Harris, Lewis and Skye. Contact Kieron Perry on 01463 223437 / 07900570492.
- Highland Tour Guide specialises in day tours from Inverness with themes such as Outlander, whisky distilleries, castles, clans, MacBeth, Brahan Seer and the Picts. Popular destinations include Loch Ness, Skye, Fort William. John is an experienced private tour guide (former college lecturer) with an air conditioned minivan with 7 seats. Shore excursions for cruise passengers can be arranged from Invergordon and Portree. Tel: 07719855621.
- Diana Bertoldi is Italian with Scottish roots and offers half day, full day or multi-day tours from Inverness or Invergordon (cruise terminal) with this driver/guide for a maximum of 7 people. Tours can be tailor-made and include sacred sites, distilleries, castles, Pictish Trail, Outlander, shopping, etc. Specialised tour guide for HOSTGA (Highlands Of Scotland Tour Guides Association). Families with children welcome.
- Based at Loch Ness, The Hebridean Explorer offers private tours from Inverness to visit places such as Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Skye, Wester Ross and Lochaber. Tours can be designed for 1 - 4 days and cover the main Hebridean Islands and the Highlands of Scotland. Maximum 8 passengers in an air conditioned Mercedes Traveliner. Contact John Macdonald who is a native of the Hebridean Island of Lewis and was raised in a Gaelic speaking family. Tel: 07943 863292 or 01456 450595.
- Highland Taxis offer a range of private sightseeing tours at a fixed price. Drivers can be in authentic Highland dress if required. People carriers and converted minibuses available for larger parties. Also available for airport pick ups, etc. Disabled facilities. They have an excellent reputation in Inverness. Tel: 01463 222222.
- Robert Laidlaw of Ness Tours is a private tour guide who can collect you from anywhere in the Highlands - from your hotel, cruise ship at Invergordon, railway station or airport. Popular tours include Highland scenery, whisky distilleries, castles, historic sites, Loch Ness, etc. Tours are tailor-made to suit your interests. Minimum duration of 3 hours from Inverness or 5 hours from Invergordon.
- InvernessTours.com - 5-star quality private tours throughout Scotland by Hugh Allison (qualified and accredited HOSTGA guide) and his team. Variety of tours (anything from a half day to 2 weeks) covering scenery, history, Outlander, Islands, whisky, Clan Tours and more. Collection in spacious air-conditioned 8-seater vehicles, from hotel, station or airport. Walking tours of Inverness and area also available.
- Highland Chauffeur Drive (based in Inverness) can offer guided tours or airport transfers in cars or a people carrier. Wedding car hire also available.
- J A Johnstone Chauffeur Drive is a husband and wife team based in Inverness. They offer a full range of chauffeur driven services by car or 6-7 seat people carrier for individuals or small groups. Customised tours (for a day or a month!). Over 20 years experience. Highly recommended. Member of the Highlands Of Scotland Tourist Board and the American Society of Travel Agents. Credit cards accepted. Tel: 01463 798372.
- Loch Ness Taxis & Tours has a fleet of vehicles including an 8 seater Traveliner. Available for airport transfers, bus & train bookings, and sightseeing tours around the Highlands. Contact Mark Williamson. Tel: 01463 239876 / 07876688453.
Also see the Tour Guide directory page
Travel Agent / Tour Operator:
Based in Inverness, Spirit Journeys Ltd is a travel agency/tour operator which can arrange tailor-made holidays (for individuals or groups), honeymoons, bespoke weddings or other special events. Half day and full day private tours of Scotland can be arranged (including themes such as wildlife, birdwatching, golf, culinary, whisky, archaeology, etc.). Outlander tours are available (from 1 to 10 days). With over 25 year’s experience, this company is registered with ATOL and the Travel Trust Association.
Other Private Tours:
If you are particularly interested in history, then ClansandCastles.com will take you on guided tours of castles, clan lands or Outlander locations.
Local Boat Trips:
- Dolphin Spirit is a new boat which can take 60 people from Inverness Marina to see the Bottlenose Dolphins in the Inner Moray Firth. Regular 75-minute cruises every day at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, and 4pm. Wheelchair accessible. They also have a RIB boat for 2 hour rides which can be booked. Mob: 07544 800620.
- Phoenix Boat Trips operate from Nairn with wildlife cruises (1 hour or 2 hours) into the Inner Moray Firth. Contact Eric Wardlaw. Mobile: 07703 168097.
- From Cromarty, 30 minutes drive north of Inverness, EcoVentures offer trips in a high speed RIB to see bottlenose dolphins, seals, whales, etc. in the Cromarty Firth. Maximum 12 passengers. Bookings can be made through The Dolphin Centre at the Harbour Workshop, Victoria Place, Cromarty (by the harbour). Telephone 01381 600323.
- Dolphin Trips Avoch provide boat trips in the summer from Avoch harbour on the Black Isle. Trips are due to resume in April 2021. Telephone 01381 622383 or 07779 833951.
- There are a variety of dolphin trips on offer from various places along the Moray coast - click here for links (provided by the Dolphin Space Programme - which is a code of conduct for marine wildlife watching on the Moray Firth).
- You can also download a leaflet from Moraydolphins.co.uk
- Established in 1973, award-winning Jacobite (previously known as Jacobite Cruises) operates a variety of Loch Ness cruises all year round. Combined cruise and coach tour options depart from outside Inverness tourist office. Scottish Tourist Board 5 Stars. Online booking available.
- Boat trips on Loch Ness from Drumnadrochit and Fort Augustus - click here.
- Based in Inverness, Caley Cruisers have a fleet of 40 motor cruisers to choose from. You can charter one on a weekly basis or just for a short break for 2 to 8 people. Boat handling instruction is given and there's no need to have a boat driving licence. You can cruise Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal. Fishing permits available.
- Loch Ness and Great Glen Cruise Company operates the Spirit of Loch Ness which offers 3 and 6 night cruises between Inverness and Fort William.
- West Highland Sailing (based at Laggan Locks) have a wide range of yachts and luxury motor cruisers for hire.
The Caledonian Canal runs between Inverness and Fort William.
Several companies offer short breaks or week-long tours which start from Inverness (or they can arrange transport for you to be taken to the starting point). These include:
- Explore Highland offers canoe & kayak hire, courses and holidays. Based at the end of the Caledonian Canal in Inverness at the Clachnaharry Works Lock.
- Highlands and Islands Adventures (based in Inverness) offer all-mountain and XC mountain bike holidays (Isle of Skye, Torridon, Fort William and the Cairngorms) including a week going coast-to-coast.
See the outdoor activity operators list in The Internet Guide to Scotland for more companies in the area.