If Inverness is the center point of a compass, the Great Glen spreads out to the east, south, and west. To the east stretches the Morayshire coast, populated with castles, distilleries, and beaches. Head southeast and you hit the Cairngorm National Park and other nature preserves. The A82 heads south from Inverness, hugging the west side of Loch Ness. Nearby are the contemplative ruins at Urquhart Castle and the interesting locks of the Caledonian Canal. Farther southwest, Fort William can be a good base for day trips to the foreboding and steep mountain pass of Glencoe.
Inverness and Environs. From the small city of Inverness, just about anywhere in the Great Glen is a day trip. Spend your days exploring Culloden Moor, Brodie Castle, or Cawdor Castle. There are long, walkable beaches at Nairn and Findhorn.
Speyside and the Cairngorms. Speyside is best known for its whisky distilleries, and those who enjoy a good dram often follow the Whisky Trail. In and around the Cairngorms there are mountains, lochs, rivers, and dozens of cycling and walking paths that make it tailor-made for outdoors enthusiasts.
Loch Ness, Fort William, and Environs. Have a go trying to spot Nessie from the banks of Loch Ness. For something wilder, base yourself at Fort William and take in the spectacular scenery of Glencoe and Glen Nevis. If you dare, climb Britain’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. The Road to the Small Isles, known for larger-than-life figures both old (the Bonnie Prince) and new (Harry Potter), has classic views across water to rocky islands perched on blue seas.