Welcome to Invergordon (Inverness) cruise port! (Post updated: January 2024)
Filled with hundreds of exciting stories and spectacular landscapes, the Scottish Highlands are lands of legends, heroic battles, heroes, villains, monsters, and majestic castles. Invergordon is a small port town located at Cromarty Firth (a North Sea inlet that is part of Moray Firth), and the main getaway to the Inverness, the capital of this beautiful historic region of Scotland. In this article, read about:
- Invergordon (Inverness) cruise port (cruise terminal, getting around the port, local transportation)
- 5 best things to do in Invergordon (Inverness, Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness, Dunrobin Castle, Cawdor Castle + How to get there)
Invergordon (Inverness) Cruise Port
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Cromarty Firth. Invergordon cruise terminal consists of two piers, the Admiralty Pier (Max LOA 350 m) and the Saltburn Pier (Max LOA 300 m), both of them located within a short walking distance from the town center. There are also additional berths within the port facility but these are small and mainly serve the energy industry. Anchorage is available when all berths are occupied.
In 2018 started construction works on a new cruise terminal with a capacity to accommodate the world’s largest passenger cruise liners (RCL Oasis Class, LOA 362 m) by expanding the existing berths. Find updated information on the port authority’s official webpage https://www.pocf.co.uk/
Close to the piers, you will find a tourist information center and friendly locals selling authentic souvenirs and crafts. Right at the quayside talented bagpipers welcome and entertain visitors with traditional tunes throughout the day.
Helpful info & links:
- The city center of Invergordon is located approximately 0.3 miles (0.5 km) or a 5-minute walk from the cruise port and can be easily explored on foot.
- Invergordon train station is located 10 minutes walk from the cruise terminal and offers daily transportation to the region’s capital Inverness, situated 25 miles (40 km) south of Invergordon. The train ride lasts 50 minutes. See the timetables on the official webpage https://www.scotrail.co.uk/
- To get to Inverness, you can also take the public bus 25X that departs from Camerons Garden Center, located on Invergordon High Street, less than a 5-minute walk from the terminal. The total trip duration for this route is approximately 50 minutes. See the timetables on the official public bus operator’s website https://www.stagecoachbus.com/
- Taxis are also available on the pier, however, during a ship call these services might be limited.
- The official currency in Scotland is the British Pound (£). Local currency and major credit cards are widely accepted.
- The climate in Scotland is temperate and the weather is unpredictable so it is recommended to dress in layers and wear comfortable shoes. For useful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise – Top 55 Cruise Essentials
- Inverness Airport is the nearest airport to Invergordon port. It is located 30 miles/50 km (a 40-minute drive) to the southeast.
- Book a private transfer to/from Invergordon cruise port
- Driving in Scotland is on the left-hand side of the road. Check out Invergordon rent-a-car deals
- Explore Invergordon tours and activities
- Find accommodation in Invergordon
5 Best Things to Do in Invergordon (Inverness) Cruise Port
Enjoy scenic panoramic views as you travel along the Cromarty Firth waterway and green hills to the capital of the Highlands! These are some of the must-see Inverness attractions:
- Inverness Old Town – Filled with historic landmarks and a variety of shops selling clothing, arts and crafts, souvenirs… Old Town boasts numerous eateries where you can sit and savor Scottish delicacies such as Scotch pie and haggis and enjoy a pint of beer at one of the local pubs.
- Inverness Cathedral – Dedicated to St Andrew, this magnificent red-brick cathedral lies on the bank of River Ness and dates from the 19th century. It boasts numerous valuable treasures including the gold icons gifted by Czar Alexander II to the Bishop of Moray.
- The Victorian Market – Dating back to 1890, this picturesque indoor market is today filled with charming shops, bars and eateries.
- High Street – One of the main streets in Inverness, packed with shops, bars, restaurants, street performers, and Highland pipers. At the end of High Street is the Ness Bridge from where you can enjoy a beautiful city panorama.
- Inverness Museum and Art Gallery – Located at the end of the High Street, this contemporary museum displays rich collections of Scottish history, geology, art, and archeology.
- Inverness Castle – Built on the site of an 11th-century defensive structure, the castle was rebuilt into the 18th-century citadel known as Fort George and got its present look a century later after another reconstruction. The castle sits on a cliff overlooking the River Ness, and its grounds and the north tower are open to the public. William Shakespeare used the castle as the setting for Duncan’s murder in Macbeth.
- Craig Phadrig Fort – This hillfort is located in the suburbs of Inverness and lies 172 meters (564 ft) above sea level. You can take a walk through the forested hill to the vitrified fort on the hill’s summit and enjoy fantastic views of the Beauly Firth.
- Free Church of Scotland
- The Junction Church
- Inverness Hop on Hop off bus tours are also available and they include stops at the major city highlights, including Inverness Castle, Botanic Gardens, Inverness Cathedral, and others. Check Inverness open sightseeing bus tours on Get Your Guide and Viator
How to Get from Invergordon to Inverness?
- Inverness is located 25 miles south of Invergordon, and the ride takes around 30 minutes. The easiest way to here is by taxi.
- Cruise lines also offer guided tours of Inverness with stops at the main attractions or convenient bus transfers that include a knowledgeable escort that will provide city maps and useful tips for your “On Your Own” exploration. Escorts will set a specific meeting time and location for your return trip to the Invergordon cruise port. Alternatively, you can go for a cheaper option and book a tour with an independent tour operator.
- There are trains available from Invergordon to Inverness and the journey takes 55 minutes. See the timetables at https://www.scotrail.co.uk/
- Bus 25X from Invergordon Station will get you to Inverness in 50 minutes (subject to traffic). Check the timetables at https://www.stagecoachbus.com/
2. Urquhart Castle and Loch Ness
Dating from the early 16th century, Urquhart Castle was once a medieval Scottish stronghold on the shores of Loch Ness, in the village of Drumnadrochit. The castle was robbed by the MacDonald clan of the Western Isles and then destroyed during the first Jacobite Rising in 1692.
Tourists can explore the castle ruins and visitor center where they can see the exhibitions, enjoy a film presentation, and learn more about the legendary monster “Nessie” whose cave is said to be under the castle.
How to Get to the Urquhart Castle from Invergordon Cruise Port?
- The Urquhart Castle is located 37 miles (60 km) south of the Invergordon cruise terminal and 18 miles (29 km) south of Inverness. The best option for cruise ship passengers to visit the castle is on an organized shore excursion due to the distance.
- You can also take a train to Inverness, and then switch to bus #917 or bus #919 departing from Inverness bus station. You need to get off at the Urquhart Castle bus stop (castle car park). The bus ride takes 35 minutes, however, the buses do not run as often as thought so make sure you check the timetables when planning your trip.
- You can also get there by taxi in around 50 minutes. The drive from Inverness takes 25 minutes. Alternatively, you can book a round-trip private transfer to guarantee your return to the ship on time.
3. Dunrobin Castle
Boasting 189 rooms, this fairytale castle is the largest in the Northern Highlands and is the most northern of Scotland’s great houses. Situated on a scenic hill overlooking the North Sea, the castle has been home to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland since the 13th century, one of the most powerful families in Britain. The castle served as a naval hospital during World War I and as a boarding school from 1965 to 1972. Today visitors can explore the castle’s opulent staterooms, the museum, the Victorian gardens, and the famous falconry displays.
How to Get to Dunrobin Castle from Invergordon Cruise Port?
- Dunrobin Castle is located 30 miles (48 km) north of the port of Invergordon, and the ride takes around 40 minutes. Due to the distance, it’s advisable to either book a shore excursion or a round-trip private transfer so you don’t worry about getting back to the ship on time.
- You can also take a direct train from Invergordon to Dunrobin Castle. The ride takes 1h 20 minutes. However, the trains don’t operate frequently so make sure you check timetables before planning your journey on https://www.scotrail.co.uk/
- It is also possible to go there by bus (bus #25 and then switch to #X99), however, the ride can take more than 2 hours one way and the buses don’t run frequently.
- The taxi ride takes 40 minutes (subject to traffic conditions).
4. Cawdor Castle
Set amidst beautiful gardens in the historic county of Nairnshire, Cawdor Castle has been inhabited by the Cawdor family for over 600 years and is one of the most visited castles in Scotland. The castle dates back to the late 14th century and was built as a private fortress by the Thanes of Cawdor. With its 15th-century tower house, iron gate, moat, drawbridge, and turrets, you’ll be transported back to medieval times.
Stroll through the castle and admire the beautiful architecture and exquisite decoration, including rare tapestries and valuable artwork. Make sure you visit three gorgeous castle gardens offering a symphony of colors with flowers and more than 131 registered species.
How to Get to Cawdor Castle from Invergordon Cruise Port?
- Cawdor Castle is located around 36 miles (58 km) southeast of Invergordon, and only 16 miles (26 km) east of Inverness. The ride from the cruise terminal to the castle takes approximately 45 minutes one way.
- The best way to get there is on an organized shore excursion where transport and entrance fees are included.
- Another way to get to Cawdor Castle is by taxi. Alternatively, you can book a round-trip private transfer to ensure you get back to the ship on time.
- Public transportation is also available however the journey can take up to 3 hours one way, which includes train and bus transfer in Inverness.
If you decide to stay near the port or you have some free time, you can walk around the small town of Invergordon, whose city center is located within a 5-minute walk from the cruise terminal.
You can walk around streets filled with shops and visit the Invergordon Museum, a small town museum that provides the history of the town as a naval port and serving the offshore oil industry. The museum is easily identified by the colorful and interesting murals painted on the sides of the building.
The town also has a beautiful church (Invergordon Parish Church) that serves as the seafarer’s center during the cruise ship season. You can get free wi-fi and tea inside the church free of charge, however, donations are welcome.
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