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How to Spend 4 Days in the Scotland Highlands

How to Spend 4 Days in the Scotland Highlands

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Planning a trip to the Scotland Highlands with kids and want a totally doable itinerary? Keep scrolling to check out my kid-friendly 4 days in Inverness itinerary from my last trip to Scotland!
This kid-friendly 4 days in Scotland Highlands itinerary was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

When we planned our first trip to Scotland with our kids (ages 7yo and 10yo), we knew we wanted to split our time between Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. And Inverness seemed like the best hub in the highlands.

We opted not to rent a car (our kids get car sick) and instead relied on taxis and day tours to explore. This worked well for our family because no one had to worry about driving and everyone could soak in the sights.

But I know that renting a car is also a popular option. Just be sure to read up on Scotland’s road signs as we saw a LOT of stupid drivers out there.

Keep scrolling to see exactly what our family really did on our trip to Inverness, Scotland.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at the Inverness Train Station
Here’s when we hopped off the train at Inverness! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Where to Stay in Inverness with Kids

While there are several places to stay in Inverness for families, we opted to stay at Inverness City Suites. It’s in a great location for walking around town as well as catching tour buses.

We really appreciated having a full kitchen, a washer/dryer, and 2 bedrooms. The only downside for us was that we were on the 3rd floor, with NO elevator and LOTS of luggage! Check rates and availability.

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4 Days in Inverness, Scotland with Kids

Before I really get into the Scotland Highlands in 4 days itinerary, I wanted to note that we started off our trip in Edinburgh and took a train to Inverness.

We arrived in Inverness in the late afternoon, checked into our hotel and grabbed some food. This itinerary starts the very next day and it part of a larger 10 days in Scotland itinerary.

DAY 1: CULLODEN BATTLEFIELD & INVERNESS

Since we spent the first part of our trip in Edinburgh, we tried to make our first day in Inverness slow-paced.

Breakfast

My husband ran out to a cafe and brought back coffee and breakfast for everyone so we could sit and eat at our own pace. It was great because I was able to run a few loads of laundry, too.

Culloden Battlefield

We decided that our big excursion would be Culloden Battlefield. My husband and I are big Outlander fans and Culloden is featured in a few episodes.

Image of a house at Culloden Battlefield
This is a house that was used during Culloden. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We tried to take the bus there but ended up getting on one that went to Culloden town instead of the battlefield, so we hopped off and got a taxi.

Once we arrived, the staff members gave our kids scavenger hunts to do in the exhibition part. I’m not sure which ages they are geared toward but we found the whole thing a bit confusing and the kids needed a LOT of help.

Image of a boy with a Culloden Battlefield certificate
My 10yo was really proud to earn this certificate! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

But the most interesting part was the 30-minute guided tour of the battlefield itself. We learned more in the first 5 minutes than we’d ever learned about Culloden before. Even the kids were interested.

We got to go see where each side set up and sort of where the dead were buried. It was really quite powerful being out there.

Our guide also showed us a display that represents the lives lost at Culloden that day.

After our tour, we headed inside to get some drinks/snacks and check out the gift shop.

Grab-and-Go Lunch

We grabbed another taxi back to Inverness and had them drop us at M&S Foods. It’s my favorite grocery store in the UK because they have SO much easy, grab and go food items.

The kids picked out some stuff to eat and then we grabbed fruits, veggies, snacks, and breakfast items.

Shopping & Relaxing

After lunch, we hit up some of the shops near our hotel. And then we spent a few hours just relaxing at the hotel and doing a few loads of laundry.

Dinner at Prime

We had dinner reservations at Prime and the food was quite delicious. They even have a nice kids menu, although my 10yo was not a fan of having a salad in the same bowl as his mac & cheese.

The steak, mussels, and fish entrees were truly tasty and we’d recommend it for families.

DAY 2: ISLE OF SKYE TOUR

Breakfast

We bought a bunch of breakfast stuff at M&S the day before so we’d be ready to leave for our tour with John of Aye Tours Scotland at 8 a.m. And my husband ran out to buy us coffee before we left.

John drove us all the way to the Isle of Skye. It was INCREDIBLE. Since it was an 11-hour tour from Inverness, we knew we’d just hit the highlights.

Eilean Donan Castle

Our first stop was Eilean Donan Castle (where they filmed Highlander). It was really beautiful and we were able to walk all around and take some cute photos.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in front of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland
It was cool to see the Highlander castle! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

John told us a bit of the history and it was fascinating to learn that it’s actually less than 100 years old. The original one from the 12th or 13th century was blown up and it was rebuilt in 1932.

Then, we enjoyed some ice cream while soaking in the sunshine and epic scenery.

Lunch in Portree

We stopped in the cute town of Portree for lunch. John gave us about 90 minutes and it was the perfect amount of time to have a leisurely lunch at the Antler (which serves burgers, sandwiches, and fish & chips).

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in front of Portree colorful houses in Scotland
Portree was such a cute stop! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Plus, we were able to shop and take a few photos. They have a famously colorful harbor that’s worth a peek.

Fairy Glen

Next, we headed to Fairy Glen which was seriously magical! The boys LOVED climbing up the narrow paths and scaling rocks to get some epic views!

Image of Marcie Cheung and her son at the Fairy Glen in Scotland
The Fairy Glen was one of our favorite places in Scotland! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We only stayed for about 45 minutes, but they could have easily stayed for a few hours just exploring the hills and caves.

Quiriang

Then, we drove to Quiriang for another easy hike with the most amazing views! The rain was getting pretty hard so we were quite wet but it was totally worth it. And we got a lot of cool photos!

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at the Quiriang at the Isle of Skye in Scotland
Our family was in awe by the Quiriang! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

My 7yo ran out of steam so my husband stayed with him so my 10yo and I could walk down the path a bit more to explore. The scenery was quite breathtaking and we didn’t mind the rain and mud. I think it’s one of the best places to see on the Isle of Skye.

Kilt Rock

Our final stop was Kilt Rock, which was pretty cool to see! The boys were pretty tired so they stayed in the van while my husband and I ran out to snap a few pics.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her husband at Kilt Rock at the Isle of Skye in Scotland
My husband and I grabbed a quick selfie with Kilt Rock and the waterfall! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The view was pretty cool and there’s even a little waterfall there!

Dinner in Hotel

We got back to our room around 7:30 p.m. and we figured we’d just pick up Chinese takeaway. It was all we had energy for.

DAY 3: LOCH NESS TOUR

Breakfast

We still had some groceries left in our room so the kids ate cereal and my husband went out and grabbed us Starbucks (I was craving a soy chai latte).

Then we walked over to Inverness Cathedral to hop on our Rabbie’s day tour of Loch Ness in a Day in a 15-passenger mini-bus.

Loch Ness

Our first stop was right at the shores of Loch Ness, and it was incredible. We headed right to the water to take some photos and see how massive Loch Ness truly is.

There was a guy who had a trailer where he sold handmade Nessie figurines that he’d made after spending years looking for Nessie.

We were able to get quite a few photos before more throngs of tourists showed up.

Lunch in Port Augustus

We got dropped off in Port Augustus with a million other tour buses so we had to sort of race to get to a restaurant so we’d have enough time to order and eat before we needed to be back on the bus.

Image of a boy posing with a statue of a Highland Coo in Port Augustus Scotland
Yes, I made my son take a pic with this cute carving! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Thankfully, we were able to pop into Cobb’s Cafe and order some hot food. There was already a 25-minute wait when we got there so I was a bit nervous, but everything worked out well. We even had time for the kids to run around and roll down some grassy hills.

Waterfall and Old Invermorison Bridge

Our guide Graeme took us on a little hike in the forest to see a summer house with a stunning view of a waterfall. He told us a few stories about how creative types would spend the day in the house gathering inspiration from nature.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her husband posing on Old Invermorison Bridge in Scotland
Old Invermorison Bridge is pretty cool! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Then, we went over to a gorgeous bridge to take some photos and soak in the stunning scenery.

Urquhart Castle

We got to go inside Urquhart Castle and watch a video that summed up about 1,000 years of history into 8 minutes. I was glad that John from Aye Tours had already told us some of the history the previous day because it really filled in the gaps for our family.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her kids at Urquhart Castle in Scotland
It was fun to explore Urquhart Castle! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There happened to be a massive rainstorm as soon as we were going to head to the castle ruins, so we opted to hang in the cafe and sip hot drinks and have a snack. Sure enough, it was sunny and glorious about 10 minutes later and we set off.

The kids had seen several castle ruins by this point in the trip, so they just wanted to climb up the side with the flag. I didn’t mind because that gave me a really good perspective of the rest of the castle and we were able to see our boat come in.

Loch Ness Cruise

The last big item on this tour was doing a 1-hour Loch Ness cruise that included some narration. It was a one-way tour from Urquhart Castle to the edge of Loch Ness and we had live narration.

Image of a boy on a Loch Ness boat cruise
Searching for Nessie! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We had the option to sit outside or inside so we chose to do a mixture of the two. The scenery was lovely and it was neat to be on the famous Loch Ness and look out for Nessie. But, that didn’t happen.

There was a bar with drinks and snacks on board, but we ended up just looking at the scenery or zoning off on screens (it was a long day).

Seeing Highland Coos

Our tour guide picked us up at the boat dock and he brought us over to see the Highland Coos that were in a pen right next to where he parked the mini-bus. So, it was easy to walk over a snap a quick pic.

Image of a Highland Coo in Loch Ness
We did a quick hello to the Highland Coo! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

These ones just sat and rested while a crowd of tourists ran over to take selfies.

Dinner at the Mustard Seed

When we got back to Inverness, we had a bit of time before our dinner reservation at the Mustard Seed. So, we took a break and zone out for a bit.

Dinner was really delicious! I had salmon, my husband had venison, my 10yo had garlic bread, and my 7yo had a whole pot of steamed mussels. We even had a chance to enjoy dessert!

And I want to note that the staff at the Mustard Seed were AWESOME with kids! My 7yo had a rough evening and they were so kind toward him.

DAY 4: EXPLORING INVERNESS

Takeout Breakfast

Since this was our last day of our trip and we didn’t have any tours booked, we decided to sleep in and have a lazy morning. This meant that we sent my husband out to Comfort Foods to get us a hot breakfast and coffee.

We spent a few hours just relaxing and resting from our busy trip before heading out to explore Inverness.

Highland House of Fraser & Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre

We noticed a sign for the Scottish Kiltmaker Visitor Centre earlier in the trip and my husband and I were eager to check it out. The kids were pretty reluctant…until we actually went there.

It’s located upstairs in the Highland House of Fraser and there’s a small entrance fee. But it’s totally worth it.

It’s set up like a museum upstairs and there’s a window where you can see workers actually sewing kilts. There are tons of displays and mannequins.

But the real treasure is the video that they play. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There are men in kilts in some sort of 80s music video that also features old ads and then there are vintage movies spliced in. I can’t even explain it but my kids insisted that we watch it twice!

I think this might be the best hidden gem in Inverness!

Leakey’s Bookshop

When we told people in Edinburgh that we were coming up to Inverness, they all insisted that we check out Leakey’s Bookshop because it’s the largest used bookstore in the U.K.

Image of Leakey's Bookshop in Inverness
This is a fun stop for bookophiles! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s really cool inside and features lots of books from first editions to recent releases. And there are tons of nooks and crannies. Some people say it resembles the Hogwart’s library.

We went on a day where the cruise ship had just docked so it felt a bit packed. But we did find a couple of books to bring home.

Miele’s Gelateria

We recognized the name because it’s where the Mustard Seed got its ice cream. So we decided to get some since it was so good the previous night!

Image of a boy with an ice cream cone at Miele's Gelateria in Inverness
Their gelato is legit! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I had the apple sorbet and it was the creamiest sorbet I’ve ever had despite not having dairy. My kids loved tasting the flavors and getting cones.

The Victorian Market

When I researched where to shop in Inverness, lots of blogs recommended The Victorian Market. I admit, I was underwhelmed with the shopping but I thought the food court had a great array of items.

Image of a boy with a Highland Coo statue in Victorian Market in Inverness
I had to snap a pic with this Highland Coo statue! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I think it’s a fun place to walk around if you’re trying to warm up or get out of the rain. There are some souvenir shops.

Marks & Spencer

We headed to M&S to take a look at their clothing items before grabbing lunch items. I got an assortment of underwear and jammies while we got the kids some inexpensive sweaters. It’s always fun to get them back-to-school stuff when we travel.

Then we got a few snacks to pack home and some fresh items for lunch back at the hotel.

Lunch at Hotel

The kids were thrilled to get grab-and-go items to eat back in the room so they could play iPad and watch Monty Python while eating their food at their leisure.

More Shopping

Since it was our last day AND I packed a foldable duffel bag that we could check home for free, we went back out shopping!

I found a couple of wool blankets that I wanted to bring home earlier in the week, so this was a great time to buy them.

Image of a whisky display in Inverness
We loved the whisky shops in Inverness. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We checked out some whisky shops and were able to grab some bottles of whiskies we tried earlier in the week.

Finally, we hit up the Tesco and Poundland to stock up on my favorite candies to bring home. They are affordable and pack well.

Packing

After all the shopping and laundry, we had to carve out some time to fit everything back into our suitcases.

I did have the forethought to bring along this foldable duffel so we had plenty of room for all of our purchases.

Dinner & Family Movie

We headed across the street to Aye Eat for our last meal in Scotland. They had an array of Scottish food and Scottish-inspired food.

My oldest had a plain burger and my youngest had a bowl of mussels. My husband was excited to try the highland cow steak.

Then, we headed back to our room to watch The Princess Bride. My kids had never seen it and after they had toured a bunch of castles in Scotland, they thought the movie was great!

Tips for Visiting Inverness with Kids

Stay in the City Center

Inverness is a small city that’s easily walkable. I suggest staying in the city center so you can quickly walk to restaurants and shops without kids complaining about walking too much.

Plan on Day Trips

Inverness doesn’t have that much to offer families. The main reason to be there is to take day trips to see more of the countryside. Pick a few places to explore.

Check Out Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre

This visitor center, with its interactive displays and family-oriented tours, provides a kid-friendly approach to learning about this pivotal battle. Before you go, it might help to watch a video about it.

Visit Urquhart Castle

Located on the shores of Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle offers a glimpse into medieval life with ruins that children can explore.

Image of a boy holding a sword in front of Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland
My kids love swords! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Inverness Itinerary with Kids FAQs

Is it worth visiting Inverness with kids?

I think it’s worth visiting Inverness if you’re planning on doing day trips. Otherwise, it’s sort of a boring city for families.

Are 4 days enough for Inverness?

Four days worked well for our family because we had 2 day trips. If we had stayed another day, I would have planned another day trip. There’s not much to do in the town itself.

Is Inverness walkable with kids? What if we don’t have a car?

Inverness is quite walkable, especially the city center where you can find many attractions, restaurants, and shops within easy walking distance. For families staying in the city center (like us), most places are accessible without a car.

However, if you plan to explore the wider Highlands area you’ll want to book day tours if you aren’t renting a car.

4 Days in Scotland Highlands Travel Tips Wrap-Up

I hope this kid-friendly Scotland Highlands itinerary helps you plan your own trip to Scotland! We really enjoyed our time there and we’re hoping to head back to just explore the islands next time!

Looking for more Scotland travel resources? Check out Planning a Trip to Scotland: Step-by-Step Guide, How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Photo Shoot in Edinburgh, Scotland, 13 Must-Read Scotland Travel Tips for First-Timers, and Best Harry Potter Places in Scotland Worth Visiting!

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