Northern Scotland is, simply put, SPECTACULAR! While we adore traveling with our kids, my husband and I look forward to an occasional romantic getaway! While on our 10-day vacation to Scotland, my husband and I carved out two days to explore enchanted Northern Scotland, home to fairies, hairy cows, and the infamous Loch Ness monster. Escape with your honey to the magical otherworldly landscape of the Isle of Skye and the quaint capital of the northern Scottish Highlands, Inverness.
Below is a two-day itinerary with our favorite romantic things to do in the Isle of Skye and the city of Inverness. It includes our top choices for the best couple activities, plus, because as a mom I just couldn’t help myself, the kid-friendly attractions are identified with a “*” as well.
ONE OF THE BEST DAY TRIPS FROM INVERNESS: THE ISLE OF SKYE
Given its name, my husband and I naturally had high expectations when we booked a one day Isle of Skye mega bus tour with WOW Scotland*. WOW! We were not disappointed. We were picked up at the Inverness bus station, and our expert guide Sandy (decked out in his kilt) led us on an adventurous day around the “Misty Isle” that we will never forget! Our spectacular tour highlights included:
- Snapping fun pictures of the unusual ancient rock formation known as Old Man of Storr, jutting out from the Trotternish Ridge.
- Gazing at Kilt Rock which inspires awe with its 180-foot waterfall.
- Spotting hairy cows up close. This had our whole tour laughing and pointing at these adorable bovines.
- Gawking at the scenery of Quiraing, as seen in such movies as Stardust and Prometheus.
- Visiting the ruins of haunted Duntulm Castle which sit on a stunning stretch of coastline.
- Traipsing through the magical…almost Teletubby-like…lushly green world of Faerie Glen, which WOW correctly calls “a delightful yet bizarre landscape of grassy cone-shaped hills.”
- Shopping in the quaint stores of Portree, the fishing and cultural center of Skye, offering a colorful harbor viewpoint with a string of famous multi-colored houses.
Stopping at Eilean Donan and Urquhart Castles, providing a picture perfect end to a memorable “WOW” day
Tip: Wear sneakers or hiking shoes! This 12-hour tour provides plenty of time to hike up hills and across grassy areas that have been frequented by sheep. Also bring along a bottle of water and warm waterproof jackets. During the tour you will have time to stop for a dram in a whisky bar, a cup of coffee, and a mug of freshly brewed beer. Tasty and inexpensive lunch and dinner options are available for purchase on the bus. There is a discounted rate for children ages 6 to 17.
CRUISIN’ FOR LOVE: THE BEST ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN INVERNESS
The capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness, provides a quaint setting for a romantic leisurely day. Start with the narrated open-top City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour* that explores parts of Inverness that are difficult to reach on foot.
We hopped off at Dochgarroch Lock where we caught our Contemplation Cruise operated by Loch Ness by Jacobite Cruises*. This two-hour cruise on a luxury boat took us along the serene Caledonian Canal into the deep mysterious waters of Loch Ness. We snuggled, sipped coffee and searched for that infamous monster, all while snapping fantastic pictures of Urquart Castle and the stunning scenery.
Note: This company offers a variety of boat/bus tours, some of which include admission to the Castle and a visit to the Loch Ness Visitor Center.
Next, stroll hand-in-hand through the quiet town of Inverness. We enjoyed relaxing outside on High Street at one of the city’s cafes and watching the talented buskers’ performances.
Visit the quirky shopping in the unique Victorian Marketplace, stop into the small Inverness Museum and Art Gallery* (free), and walk up to the outside of the Inverness Castle to take in the views (no longer open to the public). You can also meander along the waterfront’s shops, and maybe even try on a kilt or two! Other options include: visits to the Culloden Battlefield, the Cawdor Castle of Macbeth fame, or the Black Isle, a magical and beautiful peninsula.
We loved our dinner at the top-rated romantic restaurant, The Mustard Seed,* which is also family-friendly. We delighted in their Scottish gourmet fare and a veritable wall of wine choices! If the weather cooperates, ask to dine on the balcony overlooking the River Ness. Note: They have an inexpensive early-bird dinner menu.
Time to let loose! We delighted in our nights spent watching local acts perform live music at the well-known happening Hootananny, a multistory Scottish ceilidh café/bar with three venues. Our favorite was the bottom floor pub featuring foot-tapping Scottish music. The last stop of the night was dancing to live music at friendly and hopping McCallums’ just a block away. Before calling it a night, walk with your honey across one of the town’s colorfully lit bridges, taking in the beauty of illuminated Inverness and sneaking in a kiss or two under the bright stars.