Day Trips - Coach Tours - Private Tour Guides / Taxi Tours - Dolphin Cruises
Tours of Inverness city:
City Sightseeing Inverness has open-top red buses operating daily on the hour (starting at 10am with last tour starting at 4pm) from 21 March - 25 September 2016. Tours start at the bus station and outside the tourist office. Just buy your ticket on the bus. Tel: 01463 712121.
Photo © City Sightseeing Inverness Ltd
[ 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.
However 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! The best thing to do is just go into the tourist office early in the morning or the day before and ask what is available. Some are advertised on boards outside the tourist office where the tours will pick you up.
For 2016, WOW Scotland (tel: 01808 511 773) offers 3 tour options with a maximum number of 34 passengers to retain the personal feel of a smaller tour:
- a guided coach tour from Inverness to the Isle of Skye including Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle, the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing, the Cuillin and Faerie Glen. Available from April to mid October.
- Highland and Speyside Explorer guided tour (departs from Inverness city centre every Friday in June, July and August at 0815, returns at 1830). Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns, tour of Glenlivet distillery (or a leisurely 1-hour walk from The Glenlivet Distillery to the ruins of Drumin Castle), Knockando Woolmill (tour and lunch stop), Ballindalloch Castle
- Whisky Bus (departs from Inverness city centre every Friday in June, July and August at 0815, returns at 1830). This includes visits to Tomatin distillery (guided tour and taste of two whiskies), Glenlivet distillery (short tour and taste of one whisky), Glenfiddich distillery (film and taste of three exclusive whiskies), Glenfarclas distillery (warehouse tasting and ship’s room tasting), plus a mystery stop and travel through Highland and Speyside scenery. 34-seater coach.
Tour Skye offers a 2-day trip from Inverness to Skye and back including Eilean Donan Castle, Cuillin mountains, the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, the Quiraing and Uig.
Another option is The Train to Skye - you can get the 08.55 train from Inverness that arrives in Kyle of Lochalsh at 11.30 where you are taken on a minibus tour of Skye lasting about 5.5 hours. They will get you back to the station in time for the 17.13 train to Inverness (arrives back at 20.00).
Alternatively, you can also get a minibus day tour around Skye and then travel with them via Eilean Donan castle to Inverness for the continuation of your holiday.
Tour Skye operates from April to October. Mercedes 16 seater minibus with free WiFi. Tel: 01478 613514 / 07931 352628. Facebook.
Highland Experience operate from Inverness bus station with these a choice of five different 1-days tours (April to October): Eilean Donan & Isle of Skye, John O’Groats and the Far North, Scenic Applecross, Royal Deeside castles and whisky distilleries, Black Isle/Loch Ness and Moray Firth dolphins. They also have some 3-day tours available from Inverness to explore Orkney or the Hebrides.
Jacobite Queen by Aldourie Castle photo © Loch Ness by Jacobite
- Shore Excursions offer half day and whole day sightseeing tours for small groups or families from the cruise liner port of Invergordon or from Inverness. Transport by car for up to 4 people or minibus for up to 8 people with local driver/guide. Destinations can include Inverewe Gardens, whisky distillery, Eilean Donan Castle, Dunrobin Castle, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle. Contact Nigel Newell - tel: 01862 842260.
- Happy Tours with Cameron Ross offers private guided tours for up to 8 people from Inverness. Distilleries, castles, Loch Ness, Culloden, Skye, Ullapool, Deeside, Outlander, etc. Tel: 07828 154683.
- 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 / Fax: 01955 611301). Every day from 1 June to 31 August 2016, the coach leaves Inverness Bus Station at 7.15am and returns at 9pm. Booking required.
Alternatively stay in Kirkwall for 2 nights and go on the tour from there. This short break can be taken any day 1 June to 31 August 2016. For full details see the John O'Groats Ferries website.
- Day trip to the Isle of Lewis: on Wednesdays and Fridays from late June - early September you can get the 9.30am Calmac ferry from Ullapool and join a coach tour at Stornoway taking you to the Callanish standing stones, Carloway Broch and Gearrannan black house village. You then get time in Stornoway and leave at 7.45pm and reach Ullapool at approximately 10.30pm. Coach connections are available from Inverness early in the morning and to take you back there at night - check the Scottish Citylink timetables and prices. Tickets should be purchased before 5pm the day before (from the ferry office in Inverness tourist office).
Private Tours / Taxi Tours / Chauffeurs / Driver-Guides:
Have your own private day trip customised especially for you. Some are operated by local taxi firms.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Inverness Exclusive Tours offer 5-star quality private tours from Inverness by Tony Harmsworth - the expert on Loch Ness. Variety of tours (2 hours, half day, full day, 2 days) covering the Inverness area including castles, standing stones and historic sites. Longer tours can include the Oban and Isle of Mull, or John o'Groats and Orkney. Luxury Mercedes vehicle (max 7 passengers). Collection from hotel, station or airport.
- 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.
- Happy Tours with Cameron Ross can arrange guided tours in a 6-seater MPV from Inverness. Tel: 07828 154683.
Also see the Tour Guide directory page
Other Private Tours:
If you are particularly interested in history, then ClansandCastles.com will take you on guided tours of castles with departures from Inverness including day trips such as Eilean Donan and Urquhart on Loch Ness, or Cawdor, Brodie and neighbouring castles to the east.
Accommodation can be arranged if you would like a trip longer than a single day. Themed tours to follow in your clan footsteps available on request. Small groups in a car, minibus or a 50-seater coach can be catered for. Each of the Chatelaine's Guides live and work in the Highlands and are keen to share their local knowledge. Click here for full details on how to book your tour in advance.
Local Boat Trips:
- Phoenix Boat Trips operate from Inverness Marina with one-hour wildlife cruises from Inverness into the Moray Firth. Contact Eric Wardlaw. Mobile: 07703 168097.
- Dolphin Spirit is a new boat which can take 70 people from Inverness Marina to see the Bottlenose Dolphins in the Inner Moray Firth. Choice of four 90-minute cruises a day. Mob: 07544 800620.
- New Era is a solar powered boat which operates from North Kessock (across the Kessock Bridge from Inverness city). 8 passengers. Mobile: 07732 837216.
- 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 daily boat trips in the summer from Avoch harbour on the Black Isle. 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
Don't forget to look at the Dolphin & Seal Centre at North Kessock
(2 miles north of Inverness across the bridge)
- 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.
- WOW Scotland offers a variety of eco-friendly hiking tours from Inverness (plus a city centre walking tour). Driver guided tours are also available throughout the Highlands including trips to Loch Ness, Eilean Donan Castle and Skye. Shore excursions from Invergordon can also be booked. Gordon Pearson is a qualifed mountain leader and experienced tour guide. Tel: 07919157067.
See the outdoor activity operators list in The Internet Guide to Scotland for more companies in the area.