Inveraray is a quaint Scottish town sitting on the banks of Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland. We were mid-way through our England to Scotland Road Trip and were looking for a reason to take a break from driving that would keep us occupied for a few hours.
The 18th-century county town of Inverary ticked all the boxes. A fairytale castle, charming restaurants, tea rooms and picturesque lochside views! And not forgetting the chance to sample a wee dram (a shot of Scotch whisky) at Loch Fine Whiskies for the passenger – me!
Inveraray was a perfect place to make a pit stop on our road trip through Scotland. It allowed us to stretch our legs, explore the tourist spots and grab a spot of lunch before heading to our next location – Loch Ness!
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Table of Contents
Frequently Asked Questions
How to Get to Inveraray
We had travelled to Inveraray from Ardgarten on the A82/A85 in two and a half hours, an hour longer than normal due to a stop at the Falls of Falloch to check out the waterfall.
If you are travelling from Glasgow the drive will take you just over two hours with no stops. From Edinburgh, the drive will take just over three hours if you don’t have your own transport then why not rent a vehicle from Europcar.
The drive up to Inveraray is breathtaking with magnificent landscapes, huge mountains and mesmerising lochs that seem to be never-ending. You may find your drive takes longer than planned with all the photo stop opportunities on the way.
Scotland has very temperamental weather, and so expect glorious sunshine one minute and torrential downpours the next.
I travelled in September, and it was definitely a mixed assortment of weather. The plus factor was fewer crowds and no midges (biting insects prevalent in summer).
Winter will see snowfall and so can make a road-trip quite difficult. Spring and Autumn are a good time to visit in general.
Best Things to do in Inveraray
At the top of our list of things to do in Inveraray was the castle, it was small enough only to need an hour or so to visit but was certainly a fabulous landmark to explore.
The castle is the current home to Ian, Duke of Argyll, and his family. The castle interior tells the story of the Campbell Clan, a close-knit group of interrelated families, especially prominent in the Scottish Highlands. Clan Campbell settled in the area in the early 13th century to watch over the King’s land.
Typical Scottish castle clan heirlooms such as swords, tapestries, furniture and china and silverware are on display for visitors to enjoy. Also the Christmas special of “Downton Abbey” was set here so fans of the tv series will be delighted to walk in the footsteps of the cast members.
Don’t miss the castle’s Armoury Hall said to be housed in the highest room of any Scottish castle at 21 meters high.
Set in extensive grounds the gardens are planted with flowers and plants which thrive in the Argyll climate. Don’t be shocked to see a palm tree growing in the garden of this Scottish castle!
Several woodland walks are located around the garden, but the crowning glory is the strenuous walk up to Dun Na Cuaiche. At the peak, you will find a tower from where the vistas across Inveraray and Loch Fyne are sensational. Allow an hour for the round journey.
The old town of Inveraray was demolished by the Duke of Argyll between the late 18th century so that the grounds in front of Inveraray Castle could be landscaped. The first buildings of the “New Town” were completed in 1753, and by the early 19th century Inverary looked much as it does today.
For such a small town, Inveraray is packed with great places to stay (see recommendations above), superb restaurants, great coffee shops and fantastic visitor attractions.
If you haven’t booked accommodation in your next port of call, you may find yourself wanting to stay in Inveraray for longer than a few hours. However if like us, the town is just a pit-stop on your Scottish road trip then you can still see most of what Inveraray has to offer by visiting the castle and wandering along the quaint high street with its unmistakable black and white-fronted buildings.
If the thought of staying in one of the traditional fishermen’s cottages overlooking Loch Fyne interests you then check out Newton Cottage on Airbnb for a taste of Scottish character and charm.
If you enjoy a wee dram (taste of whisky), then you will enjoy visiting the whisky shops that are on Inveraray’s high street. Visit Fyne Malts of Inverary and Loch Fyne Whiskies and find out everything you could want to know about whisky! If you are looking for traditional Scottish gifts and handcrafts, then The Courtyard has a wide selection.
While you are on the banks of Loch Fyne discover the late 15th-century Inveraray stone cross which once stood in the middle of the Old Town.
Inveraray Jail Museum
Housed in a listed building, award-winning, Inveraray Jail was previously a 19th-century prison and courthouse. Men, women and children as young as seven were tried and imprisoned here; with many jailed simply for having mental health issues.
Inveraray jail was left abandoned for 100 years. It was renovated and re-opened in 1989 as a living museum depicting scenes from its past.
Take an audio tour and find out what being incarcerated in the early 19th century was really like.
For more information on opening hours and prices visit the official website.
Loch Fyne, the longest sea loch in Scotland, is famous for its oysters and seafood. It is also a magnet for visitors to Inveraray offering beautiful vistas such as the ones in my photographs.
Grab a coffee from the main street and find a loch-side bench to sit and absorb the breath-taking scenery all around you. We did exactly that and were totally mesmerised by these commanding panoramic views of the harbour.
Inveraray War Memorial
The memorial commemorates the residents of Inveraray who were killed or missing in World War I and World War II.It stands proud on Loch Fyne and reminds visitors of the lives lost in one small Scottish town.
Inveraray Bell Tower
All Saints Bell Tower can be seen for miles along Loch Fyne and along with the castle, dominates the skyline. If you climb the 176 steps, you will be rewarded with stunning views to the Arrochar Alps. If you are lucky, you may hear the 10 bells being rung out across Inveraray.
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