Best coffee stops to refuel during the shopping spree

Best coffee stops to refuel during the shopping spree

We all know the weather is getting colder and colder, but this shouldn’t stop you from having the best time of your life in the Invernessian shops.

You just need a wee treat to warm you up and to give you the strength of challenging the wind and the rain. A lovely cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate are definitely your best allies in this war against the winter!

Have you been to Inverness before, but you would like to try a new cafe? Or it’s your first time in the city and you are not too sure about our local cafeterias?

We believe you won’t be disappointed with our suggestions!

Right in front of the beautiful Town House, you can find So Coco. The location is very handy, as it’s on the corner between two main shopping streets of Inverness, Church Street and the High Street.

There is no way you can leave your table without trying their amazing hot chocolates or their warm churros. They also have a very good selection of sandwiches, chocolate and macaroons.

If you find yourselves in the Eastgate Shopping Centre, take the exit on the second floor and you will find the Velocity Cafe. It’s a quirky shop in a quiet area of town, but it’s also a bicycle workshop providing classes and events throughout the year. An important hub for Inverness’ thriving community.

In the proximity of the train and bus station, you can find Cafe Artysans. They are part of a trust that helps young people in finding their future job and it’s a very well-known cafe in the city. With their wide range of tea, coffee, sandwiches and cakes, you can always find your favourite of the day! They also have supper clubs after 6pm with music and entertainment. Check their website to see when the next club will take place.

Tips on bargains and new shops in Inverness

Tips on bargains and new shops in Inverness

Inverness has changed a lot in the past years and we have seen a lot of different shops coming and going, but how do you keep yourselves updated with the latest news? Every time you come and visit this city, it seems that shops are moving around, you can’t find them anymore and the dizziness kicks in! Here’s few new shops that have recently opened that we think you should have a wee peek at!

The House of Aran recently opened on the High Street, it stocks a lovely selection of quality Aran knitwear for your whole family (even for dogs!). They have a very good selection for kids and babies as well and you won’t be disappointed by the materials and making. If you are looking for a special and very soft gift for a loved one, this is the right shop for you.

A new shop also opened in the Eastgate Shopping Centre, it just moved from the city centre, so they can expand and renovate the old shop. Cafferys is the best place for premium men’s designer wear in Inverness. If you are looking for excellent brands and very friendly and helpful staff, look no further!

A sweet treat for you all has just opened in the Victorian Market. The Highland Cake Fairy gives you the sweetest shopping experience of your life! This new cake shop makes the loveliest cupcakes and traybakes in the city centre. You can sit in with a lovely hot drink or take away while you continue browsing the other shops in the Victorian Market. Give it a try and we are sure you won’t be disappointed.

If you are not sure about where to find your favourite shop, remember that the Inverness Tourist Information Office moved last year to the middle of the High Street (a little bit further up than the previous location) and they will be happy to help you in your search!

Inverness’ hidden shopping gems

Inverness’ hidden shopping gems

Inverness – the Capital of the Highlands, well known by all folks living in the Inner and Outer Hebrides for its good shopping deals during the winter months!

A city on the palm of your hand, where you can easily walk to the city centre for some therapeutic shopping. But do you know the hidden gems that Inverness is hiding?

here are few places we recommend you should visit and with the variety of choices offered, we are sure you won’t be disappointed, for example the well-known Eastgate Shopping Centre, the High Street and the Retail Park. But there are few hidden gems in Inverness that you probably don’t know about!

Wild Gorse Studio is the perfect place for an amazing gift. If you are staying in Inverness with your other half, be it for a short break or because you are celebrating a special occasion, this would be the place to buy the most amazing bouquet which will be sure to wow your partner. They also hold events and workshops, so be sure to check what is on.

Right in the heart of the city centre you can also find Maggie & Suzi Boutique, an inspirational hub for unique exclusive Scottish clothing designers and luxurious brands. It’s an award-winning boutique, with a wide choice of emerging designers’ new collections. The owners are always very friendly and they can definitely help you in finding the best coat for the cold winter ahead!

Right at the beginning of the city centre, next to the bridge, you can also find Judith Glue. If your husband is huffing and puffing after all the shopping, this shop is conveniently next to a whisky shop. He can have a wee peek there while you take your time in Judith Glue! In here you will find the popular Orkney Knitwear Collection, food & drink hampers, silver jewellery, all of which represent many small Scottish crafters and makers.

Shopping locally always makes a difference, so why don’t you give it a go this time?

Top distillery tours around Inverness

Top distillery tours around Inverness

Travelling in the winter means that cold weather might follow you everywhere you go.

The key to win this battle against nature is easy: warm yourselves up! And we all know that in Scotland the best way to do so is trying new whiskies whenever you can or simply having a dram of your favourite one. Although, traditions are also important and learning how to keep them alive is a vital part of our culture. There is always a way to learn and enjoy yourselves, in this case why not going on a distillery tour? Unsure of which one to visit? We have the best recommendations for you!

The Glen Ord Distillery is in Muir of Ord, a wee village near Inverness. There are few options for you, if you would like to enquire about their facilities. For a short tour, you will visit the exhibition,  watch a short video and receive a complimentary dram of Singleton, the Glen Ord special whisky. You can also go for the classic tour of the distillery, finishing off with a taste of their Singleton. Otherwise, you can get a tutored nosing and tasting of 3 different whiskeys from around Scotland or 3 different Singleton of their production – 12, 15 and 18 years old. Plenty of choices for everyone and if you want to fully enjoy this experience together, you can catch a train from Inverness to Muir of Ord, so you won’t need a designated driver!

The Tomatin Distillery is certainly one of the biggest in the area. No chance in this case to go there by train, so you will need to go by car, taxi or a guided tour. Located in Tomatin, 16 miles south of Inverness, this distillery has a separate visitor centre, so be sure to get to the right building! With a good variety of tours, with each one of them giving you a taste of a different range of whiskies, you will certainly not be disappointed.

If you are not a big whisky fan, we also recommend the Black Isle Brewery. Located only 7 miles away, you can sample amazing organic homegrown beers crafted locally, with a unique flavour and a wide selection of core, seasonal and collaboration ranges.

All these centres are open all year round, but we always suggest booking in advance, as during high season they are usually quite busy and during low season there might be adverse weather conditions making travelling difficult.

Top winter food and drink in Scotland

Top winter food and drink in Scotland

Winter is the perfect time for comfort food, especially when the wind is howling outside and you have a cosy fireplace crackling in front of you. Here you can find few tips for winter food and drink in Scotland. Stay warm!

Haggis (from the Scots word “hag” which means to chop or hew) is Scotland's national dish but take our word when we say that what haggis lacks in appearance it certainly makes up for it in taste! It’s a type of savoury pudding that combines meat with oatmeal, onions, salt and spices. Although it was traditionally cooked in a sheep’s stomach, nowadays it’s usually put in a synthetic sausage casing. It’s generally served with neeps and tatties and is usually eaten on Burns Night, but it can be served any stormy wintery night, to keep up the spirit! There is also a vegetarian version, made of vegetables, pulses, oatmeal, seeds and spices.

Cullen skink is a thick soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions. It’s a speciality from Cullen, a village and former royal burgh in Moray and it’s the perfect full-flavoured, hearty, and comforting creamy soup for your winter nights. It’s often found as a starter in many restaurants, but it can also be served as a main dish and it will definitely warm you up for your day ahead.

You can’t talk about winter in Scotland without thinking of sampling a wee dram of whisky to warm you up! Whisky has been part of Scotland since 1495 and it’s usually divided by regions: the Lowlands with only 5 distilleries in operation; Speyside, The Highlands, Islay with 8 distilleries and Campbeltown once with over 30 distilleries currently has only 3 operating. Although only five regions are specifically described, any Scottish locale may be used to describe a whisky if it is distilled entirely within that place; for example a single malt whisky distilled on Orkney could be described as Orkney Single Malt Scotch Whisky instead of as an Island whisky.

With plenty of food and drink choices, you can definitely say that winter has become your new favourite season!

Historic monuments to see in Inverness area

Historic monuments to see in Inverness area

Inverness is an important historical hub in the Highlands and we would like you to experience your culture and traditions. There are a lot of sites around the city which will bring you back in time, in different centuries where the word “memory” has a deeper meaning, as it’s tainted in blood and tears, but also of unforgettable kings and clans.

Going east, next to the Inverness Airport, you can see Fort George, the mightiest fortification in Britain with its unbeatable view over Moray Firth and the North Sea. An amazing building that will give you an open view of land and water, it also provides a fascinating insight into 18th century military life. It was built in 1746 by King George II, after the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, to prevent any further Jacobite unrest. It also has the Highlanders Museum, Scotland’s largest regimental museum outside Edinburgh.

Heading south of Inverness, there is one of the most famous lochs in Scotland. We imagine that you have probably been there before, but we think that Loch Ness is always worth another visit. The Jacobite Cruises are sailing all year round and they offer a lot of different trips. These are very informative and if you want you can include the tickets for Urquhart Castle as well, which will give you an amazing view over Loch Ness. If you start your visit to the castle from the shop, you can watch a very interesting short movie of the history of the area, it also explains what happened to the castle and how many owners it had during the past centuries. You will not believe how many times it has been sieged!

This list couldn’t exclude Culloden Battlefield. It’s an important moor for Scottish history, as this is where the Jacobites made their last stand. You can also experience the battle itself in the visitor centre’s immersion cinema and admire the Jacobite artefacts. You can choose between self-guided tours with audio guides or guided tours.

In the proximities of the battlefield, you can also find a historical site from another era, Clava Cairns, the exceptional remains of an ancient cemetery. These standing stones are about 4000 years old and what remains today would have once been part of a larger complex. Two parts of the complex, Balnuaran of Clava and Milton of Clava, are open to the public. The sites contain a range of prehistoric burial monuments and the remains of a medieval chapel.

Your family sled dog safari

Your family sled dog safari

Have you ever thought of spending your afternoon with your children a little differently? If the answer is no, but you are up for it, we have the solution for you! You will have a great time with your family, surrounded by nature with the help of amazing and qualified staff.

Situated in Aviemore, at the foot of the Cairngorm Mountain Range, the Cairngorm Sled dog Centre offers a wide range of activities for the whole family. From Kennel & Museum tours to Sled dog trips and safaris.

All trips and visits are strictly for 12-year olds and over, for obvious safety reasons.

Snow is not essential for your visit, but you must book in advance for any tours or visits you are planning.

We believe it’s a unique experience for any family and especially since this centre is family run, the staff know the importance of having an amazing time all together. We would like to share with you some activities they offer, as we think they will certainly make your day!

The sled dog safari will take you into some of the best scenic routes in the Cairngorms, with breath-taking panoramic views. The fun first begins when you arrive at the remote camp, you will be hands on helping the thirsty sled dog team with water.

You can also experience a real training session with your sled dog in the remote forests.

The Aviemore sled dog museum and kennel tour will let you meet the team - 37 sled dogs! You will get an insight into the history of the sport and the life of these amazing dogs in their fantastic home – the Cairngorms.

The Remote camp sled dog experience is one of their most popular tours. It starts with a walking, talking visit to the dog yard and mushing barn, followed by the chance to be hands on with the sled dogs. You will then start a remote forest training session using a 6X6 Sled dog ATV.

With plenty of choices, we are sure that you will have the best day out with your family at the Cairngorm Sled dog Centre.

Monster hunting tips for the family

Monster hunting tips for the family

Hunting our friend Nessie is always an adventure, especially if it’s the first time for your wee ones!

Needless to say, Nessie is a gentle wee lassie, amiable but very shy and you never know what part of the loch she is hiding in. This is why you need to gather as much information as possible for your hunt. We can help you get ready for this fantastic adventure, so buckle up!

We think that having a good knowledge of her habitat is the right starting point, so we suggest a trip to Urquhart Castle. From there you have a pretty good view of Loch Ness and you can also learn about its depth, length and other features that might give you a hint of Nessie’s favourite hiding spot.

 If you don’t fear the deep waters, you can also take a cruise with Jacobite and you will definitely become an expert on Loch Ness and all its inhabitants!

To continue your expedition, you can visit the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition, opened by Sir Ranulph Fiennes (another fellow explorer!), in which you will see and touch the equipment of professional explorers, learn more about Nessie and much more! The interactive “water” floor will amaze you, the ancient vessels used to look for Nessie will mesmerise you and a lot of videos will let you learn while having fun!

Last but not least the fantastic Nessieland. There are a lot of activities waiting for you here, such as Nessie’s caves, Nessie Rover Adventure, the activity centre, the model railway and the screening room.

Now you are ready for your adventure! But always remember that you are not in the search of a monster (she doesn’t like to be called like this) to be captured, our wee Nessie just wants to be your friend!

Indoor family things to do in Inverness

Indoor family things to do in Inverness

Having time away from home with your family is always the best way to enjoy yourselves and make sure that the children have a great time as well.

But what if the weather is against you and an outdoor day trip is not a good option? Well, Inverness has plenty to offer for all of you. We have some options for you to consider, whatever age your kids are!

At the Inverness Leisure Centre you can find many things to do to keep you busy and healthy at the same time, from climbing walls to swimming pools, badminton and much more. The facilities are very well kept and with the long opening hours the fun is guaranteed for everyone. Check out their website, as they have a lot of great activities especially during the school breaks!

If your wee ones are Frozen’s fans, why not let them try ice skating? The Inverness Ice Centre is just few minutes from the Glen Mhor Hotel and you will be sure to have a great time with your family. You can hire lovely wee penguins as well, to help the most inexperienced with their balance. They also have a cafeteria, so if you can’t feel your legs anymore, you can have a rest and start again with your pirouettes!

Another great opportunity to enjoy yourselves while keeping fit is at the Infinity Trampoline Park, which is open for every age and need! They have different sessions during the day, such as toddler friendly, autism friendly and family friendly. The staff are helpful, qualified and they will guide you through the safety brief before hopping around. Every session is quite popular, so we suggest booking in advance on their website to avoid disappointment.

Top trips near Inverness

Top trips near Inverness

Inverness-shire is known for its beautiful landscapes and views and if you have been before, we are sure you would agree. There are some trips in the area that you definitely have to visit, or visit again! Because sometimes one time is simply not enough to see everything.

If the weather permits it, a lovely walk around Nairn Beach or Lossiemouth Beach are great day trips that you can transform into something even nicer. Why not go there in the warmest hour, around lunchtime and take a packed lunch with you and have a lovely time on the beach? If you continue walking along the seafront you will find some cafes as well, where you can have an ice-cream while looking at the waves.

On the way back to Inverness, you can stop off at Fort George, the mightiest fortification in Britain with its unbeatable view over the Moray Firth and the North Sea. An amazing building that will give you an open view of land and water, it also provides a fascinating insight into 18th century military life.

Heading south of Inverness, there is one of the most famous lochs in Scotland. We imagine that you have probably been there before, but we think that Loch Ness is always worth another visit. The Jacobite Cruises are sailing all year round and they offer all kinds of trips. These are very informative and if you want you can include tickets for Urquhart Castle as well, which will give you an amazing view over Loch Ness. If you start your visit to the castle from the shop, you can watch a very interesting short movie of the history of the area, it also explains what happened to the castle and how many owners it had during the past centuries