Inverness is a small town on the edge of the Scottish Highlands and the gateway to Loch Ness and the Great Glen. If you plan ahead, you should have no problem ticking off the city sights and also venturing to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.
Though the long-distance Great Glen Way, which follows the path of the canal, attracts hikers and cyclists to the water’s edge, most visitors to Scotland encounter the Caledonian Canal during sightseeing cruises. The most-visited part of the canal is the area around Loch Ness, a vast and scenic lake, and the supposed home of a mysterious aquatic monster. Organized tours departing from Edinburgh and Inverness often include a visit to the canal, as well as trips to other area Highland highlights, such as Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, and Glencoe.
Things to Know Before You Go
The Caledonian Canal is a must-see for scenery-seekers and active travelers.
Swimming is not allowed in the waterway.
Wi-Fi hotspots are available (for a fee) at various spots along the canal.
Some parts of the Great Glen Way are wheelchair-accessible.
How to Get There
If you’re coming from Fort William, Neptune’s Staircase, 4 miles (6 kilometers) north of the city in the village of Banavie, are the nearest and most spectacular set of lochs on the canal. To get there, ride the Mallaig-bound train from Fort William to Banavie. If you’re based in Inverness, take a stroll along the Canal Road, which connects to the Great Glen Way.
When to Get There
The best time to visit the canal is in summer. At this time, the weather is generally warmer, days are longer, and sightseers can take advantage of cruise vessels’ outdoor decks. The canal is perhaps at its most scenic during sunrise and sunset, when the golden glow reflects off the water’s surface.
The History of the Caledonian Canal
Built in the late 18th and early 19th century, the Caledonian Canal was meant to serve as a safe route for commercial freight who wanted to avoid the hazardous west coast of Scotland. Unfortunately, by the time it actually opened in 1822, larger steam ships were becoming more commonplace, and were too large to use the canal. Nowadays, the canal is largely used for recreational purposes.
- Things to do in The Scottish Highlands
- Things to do in Stirling
- Things to do in St. Andrews
- Things to do in Glasgow
- Things to do in Edinburgh
- Things to do in Newcastle-upon-Tyne
- Things to do in Belfast
- Things to do in Middlesbrough
- Things to do in Liverpool
- Things to do in Manchester
- Things to do in Dublin
- Things to do in Birmingham
- Things to do in Limerick
- Things to do in Northeast Scotland
- Things to do in North East England
- Fort Augustus
- Urquhart Castle (Caisteal na Sròine)
- Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
- Loch Ness
- Glen Ord Distillery
- Whin Park
- Inverness Botanic Gardens (Floral Hall)
- Tomnahurich (Fairy Hill)
- Eden Court Theatre and Cinema
- River Ness (Abhainn Nis)
- Inverness Castle
- Old High Church (Old High St. Stephen’s)
- Merkinch Local Nature Reserve
- Rogie Falls