Planning a trip to Fort William, Scotland and wanting to know the exciting activities that await you? Nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands, this region boasts a plethora of attractions and activities. that will make your trip an experience you will remember for a lifetime.
Our article is your curated guide to the top 30 things you must experience, from climbing Ben Nevis or exploring Glencoe Valley to savoring local whiskies.
Ready for an unforgettable journey into all that Fort William has in store in Scotland? Let’s get straight to it…
- Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles and enjoy the exhilarating experience of scaling its challenging routes.
- Visit Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the “Harry Potter bridge,” and immerse yourself in the magical world captured in several Harry Potter films.
- Explore Glencoe Valley’s breathtaking landscapes and rich history, with hiking trails that offer panoramic views of mountains and lochs.
Best Things to Do in Fort William Scotland
Climb Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles and an iconic attraction for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.
1. Climbing Ben Nevis
Climbing Ben Nevis is an exhilarating experience that should not be missed. Located in the beautiful Scottish Highlands, this towering peak boasts a height of 1,345 meters making it the highest mountain in Scotland, and in fact across the United Kingdom and British Isles.
Fort William serves as the base for climbers targeting to reach its summit. There are several routes tailored for different skill levels to scale Ben Nevis but thrill-seekers often pick Carn Mor Dearg Arete owing to its challenging nature.
During winter months, both Ben Nevis and nearby Glencoe become ideal spots for ice climbing due to their cold climate and rugged landscapes.
2. Visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct
Stepping into the magical world of Harry Potter becomes a reality at Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the “Harry Potter bridge”. This iconic structure connects Fort William and Mallaig on the Road to Isles, setting an enchanting scene captured in several Harry Potter films.
You’ll be swept away by its grandeur, with 21 soaring arches perfectly arranged in harmony with Scotland’s rugged landscape.
A visit here is more than just admiring this marvel; it’s about immersing yourself in a highland adventure. Venture onto the Glenfinnan Viaduct Circular Trail for a unique perspective of this remarkable bridge and enjoy panoramic views of Loch Shiel and surrounding mountains.
Notably, you can delight in watching the Jacobite Steam Train chugging across the viaduct – an experience straight out of Hogwarts’ tales! From historical monuments to picturesque scenery, visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct presents unforgettable moments soaked in Scottish charm.
3. Discovering Loch Ness
Plunging into the wonders of Loch Ness is an absolute must for any visitor in Fort William. Renowned worldwide, this expansive freshwater loch draws crowds with its legendary Loch Ness Monster and stunning Scottish Highlands views that rival any other.
But there’s more than just legend here; mysteries also await at Urquhart Castle, a fortress of historical significance nestled on its shores. A boat trip across the peaceful waters offers breathtaking scenery and plenty of photo opportunities you wouldn’t want to miss.
For those looking for a bit longer adventure, immerse yourself in the beauty of Loch Ness and beyond while embarking on a thrilling 3-day tour from Fort William to Isle of Skye through Glencoe — some say it’s one of the best places to visit!
4. Exploring Glencoe Valley
Glencoe Valley, located near Fort William, offers a wealth of activities for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. The valley is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, with towering mountains and glistening lochs providing a stunning backdrop.
Hiking trails in Glencoe provide the opportunity to immerse yourself in this natural beauty while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding area. Additionally, history buffs will be captivated by Glencoe’s rich past, which includes infamous events like the Glencoe Massacre.
With its convenient location near Fort William, there are countless things to do and see in this picturesque valley.
5. Taking the Jacobite Steam Train Ride
The Jacobite Steam Train Ride is a must-do experience for visitors to Fort William, Scotland. This iconic train journey takes you from Fort William to Mallaig, covering a distance of 84 miles round trip.
Known as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world, this scenic ride offers breathtaking views of the Scottish Highlands and stops at picturesque locations like Glenfinnan and Arisaig.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll be delighted to know that this is the same route taken by the Hogwarts Express in the movies. So hop aboard and immerse yourself in the stunning scenery and magical atmosphere of this unforgettable train ride.
6. Walking the West Highland Way
The West Highland Way is a popular hiking trail that stretches from Milngavie to Fort William, covering approximately 96 miles of stunning Scottish countryside. The trail offers a variety of landscapes, from rolling hills and dense forests to picturesque lochs and rugged mountain terrain.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, the West Highland Way provides a rewarding adventure for all skill levels. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to meet local people, experience Scotland’s rich history and culture, and take in breathtaking views of the surrounding scenery.
Be sure to plan ahead and consider using a guide book to help navigate this unforgettable journey through some of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes.
With its diverse landscapes and historic landmarks, walking the West Highland Way is an incredible way to immerse yourself in Scotland’s natural beauty while challenging yourself physically.
Starting in Milngavie and ending in Fort William, this iconic hike takes you through some of the country’s most awe-inspiring scenery. From lush forests and tranquil lochs to panoramic mountain views, every step along the way offers something new to discover.
As you traverse this renowned trail, keep in mind that it can be demanding at times. It is recommended that you prepare accordingly by planning your route carefully and bringing appropriate gear for varying weather conditions.
Additionally, consider taking advantage of accommodation packages available along the route if needed.
7. Navigating Nevis Range Mountain Resort
Nevis Range Mountain Resort, situated just 7 miles north of Fort William in the Scottish Highlands, is a must-visit destination. With the Mountain Gondola taking visitors up to 650m, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and landscapes.
This resort offers a range of activities including skiing and snowshoeing during winter months, as well as mountain biking during other seasons. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or simply looking to soak in the stunning scenery, Nevis Range Mountain Resort has something for everyone.
8. Touring Old Inverlochy Castle
Old Inverlochy Castle, a medieval stronghold located just one mile from Fort William, is a must-visit historical landmark in the area. Built by the powerful Red Comyns, lords of Badenoch and Lochaber, this castle holds great architectural and historical significance.
Immerse yourself in its past by taking a captivating tour that sheds light on the rich history of the region and its association with the influential Red Comyns. Step back in time as you explore this remarkable castle and gain a deeper understanding of its place in Scottish history.
9. Visiting Loch Linnhe
Located in the beautiful West of Scotland, Loch Linnhe offers visitors a tranquil and picturesque retreat. Situated on the banks of Loch Linnhe, Fort William provides the perfect base for exploring this stunning body of water.
From Loch Linnhe, you can soak in breathtaking views of Glen Nevis and Glen Coe, showcasing some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes. To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Loch Linnhe, take a boat tour and embrace the opportunity to spot seals as you enjoy the scenic surroundings.
With its fabulous vistas and serene atmosphere, a visit to Loch Linnhe is an absolute must for nature lovers and those seeking peace and tranquility amidst Scotland’s majestic scenery.
10. Savoring Local Whiskies
Fort William in Scotland is known for its excellent whiskies, and one of the best things to do here is to savor these local spirits. The town is home to the Ben Nevis distillery, one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland.
Their whiskies are highly regarded and offer a unique and memorable tasting experience. For whisky enthusiasts, Fort William is a must-visit destination where you can sample the rich flavors and aromas of these local gems.
So make sure to add savoring local whiskies to your list of top things to do in Fort William.
11. Visiting the West Highland Museum
The West Highland Museum in Fort William, Scotland is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in the history and culture of the region. Located in the Scottish Highlands, this free museum offers a comprehensive overview of West Highland history.
With exhibits covering topics such as geography, local history, archaeology, wildlife, Highland life, and military history, visitors can explore and learn about the rich heritage of the area.
The museum’s collection includes remarkable items that showcase the fascinating stories and traditions of the West Highlands. Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about this beautiful part of Scotland, a visit to the West Highland Museum is definitely worth your time.
12. Exploring Steall Waterfall
Steall Waterfall, located near Fort William in Scotland, is a breathtaking natural wonder that should not be missed. As the second highest waterfall in Scotland, with a single drop of 120 meters, it offers an awe-inspiring sight for visitors.
To experience this beauty firsthand, hikers can embark on a moderate hike through the stunning Nevis Gorge. Along the way, you’ll have the option to cross a thrilling 3-wire bridge which will lead you to the base of the waterfall.
And if you’re a fan of Harry Potter movies, you’ll be delighted to know that Steall Falls was featured in some scenes! So get ready to immerse yourself in nature and witness this spectacular cascade in person at Steall Waterfall.
13. Navigating the Great Glen Way
The Great Glen Way is a popular long-distance walking route that starts in Fort William and finishes in Inverness. This challenging route takes hikers through stunning Scottish Highland scenery, including lochs, forest trails, and heather-covered hills.
Along the way, you may even have the chance to catch a glimpse of “Nessie,” the mythical creature said to inhabit Loch Ness. The Great Glen Way offers an unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts who are seeking adventure and breathtaking views.
14. Touring the Commando Memorial
The Commando Memorial in Fort William, Scotland is a must-visit attraction for history enthusiasts and those interested in paying tribute to the brave soldiers of World War II. This large bronze sculpture is dedicated to the men of the original British Commando Forces who fought during the war.
Situated next to a cemetery, the memorial features a wreath that serves as a solemn reminder of the sacrifices made by these soldiers. As you tour this Category A listed monument, take a moment to honor and reflect upon the bravery and heroism displayed by these individuals.
15. Visiting Loch Eil
Boasting stunning scenery, Loch Eil is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Fort William. Located on the banks of Loch Linnhe, this picturesque loch offers breathtaking views of Glen Nevis and Glen Coe.
A popular activity among visitors is taking a boat trip on Loch Eil, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the area. Whether you’re a nature lover or simply seeking tranquility, a visit to Loch Eil promises an unforgettable experience in the outdoor capital of the UK.
16. Exploring the Fort William Mountain Festival
The Fort William Mountain Festival is an exciting event that caters to outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. Held annually, this festival offers a range of activities and events that celebrate the beauty of the mountains.
From guided outdoor adventures to inspiring talks from renowned speakers, visitors have plenty of opportunities to immerse themselves in the natural wonders surrounding Fort William.
The festival also aims to promote environmental awareness and encourages visitors to develop a deeper appreciation for the mountains while fostering a sense of responsibility towards their preservation.
17. Discovering the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre
The Glen Nevis Visitor Centre, located in Fort William, Scotland, offers a range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Situated 1.5 miles along the Glen Nevis road from the Nevis bridge mini-roundabout, and only 2 miles away from Fort William town centre, it is easily accessible.
Whether you’re interested in hiking through stunning landscapes or learning about local history and culture, the Visitor Centre has something for everyone. With its convenient location and diverse offerings, exploring the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre is a must-do when visiting Fort William.
18. Walking the Nevis Gorge
Walking the Nevis Gorge is an absolute must-do when visiting Fort William, Scotland. This popular activity offers one of the best short walks in the country, allowing you to immerse yourself in breathtaking natural beauty.
As you venture through the gorge, prepare to be amazed by its dramatic and awe-inspiring scenery. The highlight of this walk is undoubtedly reaching Steall Falls, which happens to be Scotland’s second-highest waterfall.
It’s a remarkable sight that will leave you in awe of Mother Nature’s power and grace. So lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.
19. Touring the Clan Cameron Museum
The Clan Cameron Museum, located in Spean Bridge, Scotland, offers a fascinating exploration of the Jacobite rising of 1745 and the military history of the Cameron Highlanders. As you tour through the museum, you’ll discover an impressive collection featuring ancient weapons, domestic artifacts, historic clothing, paintings, and photographs.
Immerse yourself in the history of Clan Cameron as you learn about their involvement with the Jacobite rebellion. The museum also offers tours and activities that allow visitors to further explore both the museum itself and its picturesque surroundings.
20. Visiting the Glenfinnan Monument
The Glenfinnan Monument is a must-visit attraction in Glenfinnan, Scotland. Situated near Loch Shiel, it offers breathtaking scenic views and opportunities for outdoor exploration.
The monument itself holds historical significance as it commemorates the Jacobite Rising of 1745. Additionally, the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, also known as the “Harry Potter bridge,” can be seen from here.
Train enthusiasts will especially enjoy watching the Jacobite Steam Train pass over the viaduct, just like in the iconic Harry Potter films. With its blend of history and stunning natural beauty, visiting the Glenfinnan Monument is an unforgettable experience.
21. Discovering the Ice Factor
The Ice Factor is a must-visit attraction in Fort William, Scotland. It offers a range of exciting activities and experiences for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, the Ice Factor has something for everyone.
You can test your skills on their indoor ice wall, which is one of the largest in the world, or try your hand at ice climbing and bouldering. The facility also boasts an indoor rock climbing wall, as well as a high ropes course and aerial adventure park.
For those looking to relax after their adventures, there is a cafe onsite where you can grab a bite to eat and take in the stunning views of Lochaber. The Ice Factor truly offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit Fort William.
22. Navigating the Neptune’s Staircase
Neptune’s Staircase is a captivating attraction located on the Great Glen Way trail in Banavie, a small village near Fort William. As Britain’s longest staircase lock, it is an impressive feat of engineering and a must-visit spot for anyone interested in the Scottish Highlands.
Maintained by Scottish Canals, Neptune’s Staircase offers visitors various ways to experience its beauty. Historical tours provide insight into its fascinating past, while seal island cruise tours allow you to take in the breathtaking scenery and spot wildlife along the way.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or simply appreciate remarkable engineering, Neptune’s Staircase is worth adding to your itinerary when exploring Fort William and the surrounding area.
23. Touring the Ben Nevis Distillery
The Ben Nevis Distillery, one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland, has been producing Scottish whisky since 1825. Located at the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain, this distillery offers tours that provide a fascinating insight into the history and craftsmanship of Ben Nevis malt whisky.
During these tours, visitors can learn about the heritage of the distillery and witness firsthand the meticulous process involved in crafting their renowned whiskies. Touring the Ben Nevis Distillery is a must for anyone interested in experiencing Scotland’s rich whisky culture and learning about its traditions.
24. Visiting the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary
The Scottish SEA LIFE Sanctuary in Barcaldine is a popular attraction in Fort William, Scotland. Located approximately one hour’s drive from Fort William, this sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to see a variety of Scottish sea life up close.
From seals and otters to sharks, the sanctuary provides an immersive experience with these fascinating creatures. Not only does the sanctuary boast impressive sea life exhibits, but it also features interactive displays and educational presentations that teach visitors about marine conservation efforts.
With its commitment to protecting marine life and engaging activities for all ages, the Scottish Sea Life Sanctuary is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers alike.
25. Exploring the Highland Wildlife Park
The Highland Wildlife Park, located near Fort William in Scotland, offers a unique opportunity to explore and experience Scottish wildlife. Situated amidst breathtaking mountains and stunning scenery, the park is home to endangered animals from mountainous regions around the world.
Visitors can observe and learn about various species, including polar bears, Amur tigers, and red pandas. The park also provides educational programs and interactive exhibits that allow visitors to gain deeper insights into the animals’ habitats and conservation efforts.
26. Stay in a Prison (Old Fort William Jail)
The Old Fort William Jail offers a unique and immersive accommodation experience for visitors to Fort William. Located conveniently near other top attractions, staying in the prison allows guests to fully immerse themselves in Scottish culture and history.
The jail provides a glimpse into the past, offering a memorable and distinctive stay for tourists. This is an especially appealing option for fans of Outlander and Harry Potter, as it is close to filming locations associated with these popular series.
So if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind lodging experience that combines history, culture, and a touch of adventure, consider staying at the Old Fort William Jail during your visit to Fort William.
27. Visit Saint Andrew’s Church
Located on High Street in Fort William, Scotland, Saint Andrew’s Church is a must-visit attraction. Constructed in 1817 as a Scottish Episcopal Church, this historical landmark features a large nave inside for visitors to explore.
The church was consecrated in 1880 and holds significant importance as it was built over the former Rosse Chapel. With its rich history and stunning architecture, taking the time to visit Saint Andrew’s Church will provide you with a unique glimpse into the past of this beautiful town.
28. Highland Soap Company Visitor Centre & Larder Café
The Highland Soap Company Visitor Centre & Larder Café is a must-visit attraction in Fort William. This center offers factory tours where visitors can learn about the soap-making process and see how their natural products are created.
The center also has a shop where you can purchase a variety of handmade soaps, skincare products, and candles. If you’re feeling hungry, the Larder Café provides delicious breakfast and lunch options using locally sourced ingredients.
They even offer soap-making workshops for those who are interested in learning the craft themselves. Conveniently located near Old Inverlochy Castle, this visitor center is an ideal stop for tourists looking to immerse themselves in local history and take home some unique souvenirs.
29. Tour the Lochaber Geopark
The Lochaber Geopark in Fort William is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts. Covering an expansive area of 4,468 square kilometers, the geopark offers breathtaking natural features such as mountains, lochs, rivers, coasts, cliffs, and sandy beaches to explore.
One of its top attractions is Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the UK. You can also marvel at the volcanic rocks of Run & Eigg or admire the stunning lava cliffs in Glen Coe. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center where you can learn more about the fascinating geological features and heritage of this incredible area.
Soak up the beauty of Fort William and Glencoe while engaging in activities like hiking, climbing, and exploring historic sites during your visit to Lochaber Geopark.
30. Ports of Call Tours
Fort William offers an array of ports of call tours for visitors to explore the area and make the most of their trip. These tours are associated with the top things to do in Fort William, allowing tourists to experience all that this beautiful Scottish town has to offer.
One popular tour option is the Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour, which takes visitors on a scenic journey through breathtaking landscapes and iconic landmarks.
Visitors can easily book Fort William tours, attractions, and experiences through Viator, ensuring a hassle-free and memorable adventure in this outdoor capital of Scotland. Whether it’s hiking in Glencoe or taking a boat trip on Loch Ness, there are plenty of exciting activities to discover during these ports of call tours.
In conclusion, Fort William in Scotland offers a diverse range of attractions and activities that are sure to please any visitor. From climbing Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, to exploring the historic sites such as Glenfinnan Monument and Old Inverlochy Castle, there is something for everyone.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or interested in delving into local history and culture at the West Highland Museum, Fort William has it all. So pack your bags and embark on an unforgettable adventure in this beautiful Scottish town!
1. What are some of the top attractions in Fort William, Scotland?
Some of the top attractions in Fort William include Ben Nevis, Glenfinnan Viaduct, Nevis Range Mountain Resort, and Jacobite Steam Train.
2. Are there any outdoor activities available in Fort William?
Yes, Fort William offers a wide range of outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, skiing/snowboarding, and boating on Loch Linnhe.
3. Can you recommend any scenic walks or hikes in Fort William?
Absolutely! Popular scenic walks and hikes in Fort Williams include the West Highland Way, Steall Falls and Glen Nevis trail, Cow Hill Circuit Walks, and The Great Glen Way.
4. What are some recommended places to dine in Fort William?
Fort Williams has several fantastic dining options ranging from traditional Scottish pubs to fine dining establishments. Some highly recommended restaurants include The Grog & Gruel Pub & Restaurant, Crannog Seafood Restaurant & Bar, Lime Tree An Ealdhain Restaurant, and The Garrison West Café Bar & Grill.