Visiting Highlands: Archetypal Scottish scenery of mountains, lochs, glens and sea

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About the Highlands

The dramatic highland landscape of soaring mountains, atmospheric glens and shimmering lochs is what most people have in mind when they think of Scotland. The scenery, culture, and history of the Highlands offer a quintessentially Scottish experience.

Inverness, awarded the status of a city in the Millennium Celebrations, is known as the capital of the Highlands and is the region’s administrative and cultural hub. It offers the attractions of a city but set in the midst of some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery. Notable buildings in the city include the 19th-century cathedral, the Old High Church and the covered Victorian market, where you can buy food, clothing and local crafts. The Inverness Museum and Art Gallery celebrates Highland life and heritage. Eden Court houses theatres, cinemas, galleries and classes, in a building spanning three centuries.

History is all around. Inverness Castle has stood guard for centuries. Nearby Culloden Moor is a haunting monument to the failed 1745 Jacobite Rising. The picturesque ruin of Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness is a prime spot for monster spotting.

You’re never far from water. The River Ness flows through the city from its outflow at Loch Ness to meet the sea in the Beauly Firth. The Caledonian Canal is one of Scotland’s most scenic waterways. And there's a loch for practically every day of the year.

The area is a haven for wildlife, real and mythological. You may not manage to spot the legendary Loch Ness Monster, but you may have more luck sighting red squirrels, eagles, deer, otters or dolphins.

The Highlands are renowned for outdoor activities, from easy leisure pursuits to more challenging extreme sports: walking, cycling, skiing, climbing, canoeing, whitewater rafting, golf, and riding.

From city pubs to countryside inns, simple cafes to fine dining, Inverness and the Highlands are a showcase for Scotland’s larder. The region’s waters and fertile farmlands provide some of the country’s finest produce. Of course, whisky is one of the most important products and no visit to the Highlands is complete without a tour of a distillery.