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  • Western Highlands Guide
  • Fort William & Lochaber Guide

Fort William

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Fort William is the gateway to the Western Highlands and one of the country's main tourist centres. It stands at the head of Loch Linnhe, with the snow-topped mass of Ben Nevis towering behind.

tourist information fort william

Phone code: +44 (0)1397 | Population: 10,774

You could be forgiven for assuming that it's quite an attractive place, but you'd be wrong. Despite its magnificent setting, Fort William has all the charm of a motorway service station. A dual carriageway runs along the lochside, over a litter-strewn pedestrian underpass and past dismal 1960s concrete boxes masquerading as hotels.

Most of the good things about Fort William are outside the town. The surrounding mountains and glens are amongst the most stunning in the Highlands and attract hikers and climbers in their droves: Ben Nevis - Britain's highest peak at 4,406 ft - and also the very beautiful Glen Nevis, which many of you may recognize from movies such as Braveheart and Rob Roy. There's also skiing and snowboarding at nearby Aonach Mor, one of Scotland's top ski areas, and some good mountain biking around the Leanachan Forest.

Though it's not a pretty sight, Fort William is the largest town hereabouts and has all the services and facilities you'd expect. There are banks with ATMs on the pedestrianized High Street, as well as a couple of good supermarkets and two well-stocked outdoor-equipment shops.

History of Fort William

Fort William also has a rich history if we turn back the pages we can find many interesting things about this ancient creation. It seems that there were many Cameron settlements in the region. The area of Lochaber was Strongly a Cameron country before the fort, Inverlochy was the main settlement at that time.

The town slowly grew up as the settlement close to the fort in order to control the population after the invasion by Oliver Cromell during the English Civil War. Fort Williams got many names in the beginning it was named after William of Orange and later was known as Maryburgh after his wife.

This was further changed to Gordonsburgh and then Duncabsburgh at last got its present name Fort Williams after the Butcher Cumberland. This fort also was a key witness of the World War II, acting as a training base for Royal Navy Coastal Force. Still standing tall this architectural beauty has to unveil a lot about its historic backdrop.

Today Fort William has been rebranded, justifiably, as the Outdoor Capital of Britain. 

Fort William isn't exactly the culinary capital of the Highlands, but there are some top quality restaurants and a decent choice across the range.

Most of the hotels offer lunch and dinner, and the best of these is the Inverlochy Castle. It's expensive but the food is superb and the surroundings are the last word in grandeur. Open daily 1230-1345, 1900-2115. Otherwise, by far the best option is the excellent Crannog Seafood Restaurant, on the Town Pier, Tel. 705589. Housed in an old smokehouse, the seafood is as fresh as you can get and the surroundings are unpretentious. It gets very busy and service can be slow, so book ahead and take your time (lunch cheap to mid-range; dinner mid-range). Four miles from town is An Crann, Tel. 772077. Take the A830 to Mallaig , then turn right to Banavie on the B8004. This converted barn is a local favourite and offers good Scottish cooking in a friendly atmosphere. (Mid-range prices.) Lunch 1230-1500, dinner 1700-2100, closed Sun. Open late Mar to mid-Oct.

A great place for baguettes, filled rolls and pastries to eat in or takeaway is Café Chardón, upstairs at Peter Maclennan's store, in a side lane off the High St, Tel. 772077. Fort William boasts a very fine curry house, the Indian Garden Restaurant, at 88 High St, Tel. 705011. It does a cheap lunch, takeaways and is open late.

The Grog & Gruel, 66 High St, Tel. 705078, is a pub-cum-restaurant offering good-value pizza, pasta and Tex Mex, and a wide range of superb cask ales. Open till 2400/0100. Also on the High St is McTavish's Kitchens, Tel. 702406, serving steaks and seafood at mid-range prices. In summer it hosts nightly Scottish music shows, with dancing and bagpipes, from 2030.

In Glen Nevis, near the SYHA hostel, the Glen Nevis Restaurant, Tel. 705459, serves a cheap-mid-range 2-course lunch and mid-range 3-course dinner. Open 1200-2200, Apr-Oct. Nearby is Café Beag, Tel. 703601, a cosy place with log fire. Good vegetarian food.

Fort William has 2 excellent outdoor activity equipment shops: Nevisport, Tel.704921, is on the High St, and has a huge selection of books, maps and guides, a bureau de change and bar-restaurant.

At the other end of the High St is West Coast Outdoor Sports, Tel. 705777.

Nearby Places

Travel directions to fort william.

Fort William is easily reached by bus, from Inverness , Glasgow and Oban , and by train, direct from Glasgow via the amazing and beautiful West Highland Railway. The train and bus stations are next to each other at the north end of the High St, on the other side of the dual carriageway.

If you're driving, parking can be a problem. There's a big car park beside the loch at the south end of town, and another behind the tourist office. You can also walk to Fort William, if you have a week to spare, from just north of Glasgow, along the 95 mile-long West Highland Way.

Getting around

The town is strung out for several miles along the banks of Loch Linnhe. The centre is compact and easy to get around on foot. Many of the guesthouses and B&Bs, and a few youth hostels, are in Corpach, 1.5 miles to the north, but there are frequent buses from the town centre. There are also buses to the youth hostel in Glen Nevis.

The busy Tourist Information Centre is on Cameron Sq, just off the High St, Tel. 703781, Fax. 705184. They stock a good range of books, maps and leaflets covering local walks. They will also help arrange transport to more remote Highland parts. Open Apr-late May Mon-Sat 0900-1700, Sun 1000-1600; Jun-early Jul Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 1000-1700; Jul-Aug Mon-Sat 0900-2030, Sun 0900-1800; Sep-late Oct Mon-Sat 0900-1800, Sun 1000-1700; Nov-Mar Mon-Sat 1000-1700.

Local Buses

There are buses every 10-20 mins to and from Caol and Corpach, and every hour on Sun and in the evening. There is an hourly service to Glen Nevis, Mon-Sat from 0800-2300, Jun to Sep only (less frequent on Sun). There are 4 buses daily to Aonach Mhor during the ski season.

Bus (Long distance)

There are several daily Citylink buses to Inverness (1 hr, £7.40); to Oban via Glencoe (30 mins); and to Uig , via Portree and Kyle of Lochalsh (1 hr 50 mins). Citylink buses also go several times daily to Glasgow , via Glencoe and Tyndrum, and to Edinburgh , via Stirling (3 hrs). There is a bus to Mallaig (1€ hrs) daily except Sun with Shiel Buses, Tel. 01967-431272. Highland Country Buses, Tel. 702373, run several times a day to Kinlochleven (50 mins) via Glencoe. There is also a Postbus service (Mon-Sat) to Glen Etive.

Easydrive, at Lochy Bridge, Tel. 701616; Volkswagen Rental, at Nevis Garage, Argour Rd, Caol, Tel. 702432; Budget, at North Rd, Tel. 702500, or Practical Car & Van Hire, at Slipway Autos, Corpach, Twl. 772404. Prices start from around £35 per day. Taxi: You can call a taxi on Tel. 706070, or Tel. 704000.

There is a passenger-only ferry service to Camusnagaul, on the opposite bank of Loch Linnhe, from the Town Pier. It sails several times daily (Mon-Sat) and takes 10 mins. For times etc contact Highland Council, Tel. 01463-702695, or ask at the tourist office.

There are 2-3 trains daily from Glasgow to Fort William (3 hrs) via Crianlarich. These trains continue to Mallaig (a further 1 hr 20 mins) where they connect with ferries to Armadale on Skye. There are no direct trains to Oban; you need to change at Crianlarich. There is a sleeper service from London Euston but you'll miss the views. For all rail enquiries, Tel. 0345- 484950.

tourist information fort william

Sea Kayaking (coastal) on Moray Coast - Full Day Session

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Local Sights & Activities for Fort William

There's little of real interest in the town, though the West Highland Museum, on Cameron Square by the tourist office, is a worthwhile exception. It contains excellent exhibits of Jacobite memorabilia, including a bed in which Prince Charles slept, and a 'secret' portrait of the prince which is revealed only when reflected in a cylindrical mirror. There are also fine displays of Highland clans and tartans, wildlife and local history. Info - Jun-Sep Mon-Sat 1000-1700; Oct-May 1000-1600; Jul-Aug also Sun 1400-1700. T702169. The fort from which the town gets its name was built in 1690 by order of William III to keep the rebellious Scottish clans in order. The garrison fought off attacks by Jacobites during the rebellions of 1715 and 1745 but was then demolished to make way for the railway line. The scant remains of the fort can be seen on the lochside, near the train station.

The Ben Nevis Distillery is at Lochy Bridge, at the junction of the A82 to Inverness and the A830 to Mallaig , about a mile north of the town centre. To get there take a Caol or Corpach bus (see below under Transport). Info - Visitor Centre open Mon-Fri 0900-1700 (Jul-Aug also Sat 1000-1600). Tel. 700200. Just before the distillery, on the left, are the 13th-century ruins of Inverlochy Castle.

Three miles from the town centre along the A830 to Mallaig, in the suburb of Banavie, is Neptune's Staircase, a series of eight linked locks on the Caledonian Canal. The locks lower the canal by 90 ft in less than two miles between Loch Lochy and Loch Eil and comprise the last section of the canal which links the North Sea with the Irish Sea. It's a pretty dramatic sight, with equally dramatic views of Ben Nevis and its neighbours behind Fort William . From here you can walk or cycle along the canal towpath. Further along the A830 to Mallaig, in the village of Corpach, is Treasures of the Earth, an exhibition of crystals, gemstones and fossils displayed in a huge simulated cave. Info - May-Sep daily 0930-1900; Oct-Apr 1000-1700. Tel. 772283.

There are several good rivers around Fort William, ranging in difficulty from Grade 1 to 6. Canoe courses are run by Snowgoose Mountain Centre, which is attached to The Smiddy Bunkhouse . A useful contact is the Nevis Canoe Club, Tel. 705388.

Torlundy Trout Fishery at Torlundy Farm in Tomacharich, 3 miles north off the A82, Tel. 703015, has 3 lakes filled with rainbow trout and hires out rods. Pony trekking from £15/hr, book in advance.

Hiking and climbing

Fort William is a mecca for hikers and climbers. For information on the climb up Ben Nevis and walks around Glen Nevis. If you want to hire a guide, try Lochaber Walks, 22 Zetland Av, Tel. 703828; Fort William Mountain Guides, Tel. 700451; Alba Walking Holidays, Tel. 704964; and Snowgoose Mountain Centre.

There's an indoor climbing wall at the Lochaber Leisure Centre (see below).

Mountain biking

The Leanachan Forest, below Aonach Mhor, is 4 miles north of Fort William. Access is via the road to the Aonach Mhor ski development. The forest covers a huge area with 25 miles of mountain bike trails, ranging from easy to demanding. There is also the Great Glen Cycle Route, which is mainly off-road and runs all the way from Fort William to Inverness. For the hire, sale or repair of bikes, and good advice on local cycle routes, visit Off Beat Bikes, 117 High St, and at the Nevis Range Ski Centre, Tel. 704008,, open only Jul-Aug.

The Nevis Range ski centre is at nearby Aonach Mhor. For details, see above, and for ski equipment, try Nevisport (see above).

There's an indoor pool at the Lochaber Leisure Centre, off Belford Rd (see map), Tel. 704359.

Castles Nearby

tourist information fort william

Inverlochy Castle

Ruined castle to the NOrth of Fort William, once owned by the Comyns

Local Visitor Attractions

tourist information fort william

Nevis Ski Range

Steall falls walk, am bodach munro.

These three peaks are on the main spine of the Mamores near the middle of the range.

Nearby Distilleries

tourist information fort william

Ben Nevis Whisky Distillery

 One of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland, The Ben Nevis Distillery is located at the foot of Scotland's highest mountain, Ben Nevis.

Fort William Cottages and Holiday SelfCatering

tourist information fort william

Morvich Cottage, Self Catering Fort William Sleeps 4

This ground floor detached cottage is located on the edge of Fort William in Scotland and can sleep four people in two bedrooms. Perfect spot the area including Ben Nevis the the Nevis Range.

  • Cottage details.

tourist information fort william

Laxdale Cottage, Banavie, Ben Nevis Self Catering Sleeps 4

Sleeping four people in two bedrooms, this cosy single storey cottage in the village of Banavie offers superb views of Ben Nevis, and is three miles from Fort William. Great destination all year round.

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Four Oaks Wooden Chalet on Loch Eil - Sleeps 4

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Allt An Ailein House Fort William - sleeps 10

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Glen Dessary Chalet near Fort William - sleeps 4

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Dontra Log Chalet, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

Just 4 miles from Fort William, in an idyllic rural setting from which there are excellent views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor, this well equipped detached timber chalet makes an excellent base for all local...

tourist information fort william

This detached log chalet, one of two, is situated 4 miles from the centre of Fort William and is ideally placed to take advantage of this year round holiday area. Set in an idyllic rural setting from which there...

tourist information fort william

Telford Townhouse, nr Fort William - Sleeps 6

tourist information fort william

Gairlochy Bay Log Cabin, nr Fort William - Sleeps 6-8

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Dairy Cottage nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Everwood Log Cabin, nr Fort William - Sleeps 2

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Chestnut Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 2

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Craiglinnhe Cottage, nr Fort William - sleeps 6

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Firbek Cottage, Fort William - sleeps 3

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Mill Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4-5

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Ravenswood, nr Fort William - Sleeps 9

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Riverbank Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Watercolour, nr Fort William - Sleeps 6

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Morar Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Moidart Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Lock Keepers Apartment, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Pen-Bryn, Fort William - Sleeps 2

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Otter Bank Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Nevis Let, nr Fort William - Sleeps 2

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Lapwing Rise nr Fort William - Sleeps 7

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Glen Mhor, nr Fort William - Sleeps 2

tourist information fort william

Firdale, nr Fort William - Sleeps 7

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Duart, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

Meldrum apartment, nr fort william, sleeps 4.

tourist information fort william

Kinloch Apartment, Fort William - Sleeps 4

tourist information fort william

Nevis Apartment, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

tourist information fort william

Ramblers Rest, Fort William, sleeps 2-4

tourist information fort william

Glen Nevis View, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4+2

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Shepherds Rest, nr Fort William - Sleeps 6

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Torosay, Fort William - Sleeps 9

tourist information fort william

Loch Leven House, nr Fort William - Sleeps 8

tourist information fort william

Pinewood, nr Fort William - Sleeps 8

Knoll lodge, nr fort william - sleeps 8.

tourist information fort william

Tom Na Moine, nr Fort William - Sleeps 7-8

tourist information fort william

Maybank, nr Fort William - Sleeps 8

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Fernbank Villa, nr Fort William - Sleeps 8

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Ardmhor Cottage, nr Fort William - Sleeps 6

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Altdarroch Farm, nr Fort William - Sleeps 7

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Alba Ben View, nr Fort William - Sleeps 4

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Lochyside Villa, nr Fort William - Sleeps 7

tourist information fort william

Loch View Apartment, Fort William, sleeps 4

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Fyvie Cottage, Fort William, sleeps 4

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Panoramic view with famous Scottish lake Loch Shiel with Glenfinnan monument, Scotland.

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Fort William

Basking on Loch Linnhe's shores amid magnificent mountain scenery, Fort William has one of the most enviable settings in all of Scotland. If it weren't for the busy dual carriageway crammed between the less-than-attractive town centre and the loch, and one of the highest rainfall records in the country, it would be almost idyllic. Even so, the Fort has carved out a reputation as the 'Outdoor Capital of the UK' (, and easy access by rail and bus makes it a good base for exploring the surrounding mountains and glens.

Leave the planning to a local expert

Experience the real Fort William. Let a local expert handle the planning for you.


Must-see attractions.

Jacobite Steam Train

Jacobite Steam Train

The Jacobite Steam Train, hauled by a former LNER K1 or LMS Class 5MT locomotive, travels the scenic two-hour run between Fort William and Mallaig…

West Highland Museum

West Highland Museum

This small but fascinating museum is packed with all manner of Highland memorabilia. Look out for the secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie – after the…

Ben Nevis Distillery

Ben Nevis Distillery

A tour of this distillery makes for a warming rainy day alternative to exploring the hills.

Plan with a local

Experience the real Scotland

Let a local expert craft your dream trip.

tourist information fort william

Latest stories from Fort William

The Jill Strawbale House in Strontian, Scotland.

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A unique new property aimed at environmentally-conscious travellers has been unveiled in the Scottish Highlands that sees guests staying in a stunning…

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Terms & conditions.

This booking system and any information appearing on this page relating to the availability of any accommodation is provided by third parties and not by VisitScotland. It is intended to provide real time availability information relating to accommodation which is also provided by third parties. You may use this booking system to place direct bookings with third party accommodation providers. Any booking you make will not be placed with VisitScotland and we will have no liability to you in respect of any booking. If you proceed to make a booking you will leave our Website and visit a website owned and operated by a third party. VisitScotland does not have any control over the content or availability of any external website. This booking system and any information appearing on this page is provided for your information and convenience only and is not intended to be an endorsement by VisitScotland of the content of such linked websites, the quality of any accommodation listed, or of the services of any third party.

Kenny Lam, VisitScotland. All rights reserved.

Fort William iCentre

Fort William iCentre is centrally and conveniently located on the High Street, close to all major amenities including Rail and Bus links as well as public Car Parking. Situated within the Outdoor Capital of the UK, we are ideally placed to provide information and inspiration whether you are passing through or having an extended stay within Fort William, Lochaber and the surrounding area. We offer Information, Gifts, Books and Maps as well as helping with Transport and Travel enquiries. We also offer a Booking Service on behalf of Scottish Citylink Coaches. In addition to our in-person service, we are also happy to answer queries by telephone call and e-mail.

With so many amazing places and so much history just waiting to be discovered on our doorstep, we want to help you get the most out of your time in and around Fort William..

Whether it's information on local activities and amenities or helping you plan for the next stage of your journey through the Highlands or Scotland as a whole, the team are on hand to share their knowledge and experience to help you find your very own hidden gems.

We can help with tours and boat trips as well as acting as a Booking Agent for Scottish Citylink Coaches as well as general public transport information for those looking to use sustainable travel options

Our great selection of books offer information on local walks, history and general interest and we have a great selection of gifts for you to choose from as well as a range of maps and walking guides. Located so close to the end of one of Scotland’s most iconic walking routes, we also offer a range of official branded merchandise from the West Highland Way.

Awards & Schemes

tourist information fort william

The content of many of our web listings is provided by third party operators and not VisitScotland. VisitScotland accepts no responsibility for (1) any error or misrepresentation contained in third party listings, and (2) the contents of any external links within web listings ((1) and (2) together hereinafter referred to as the "Content"). VisitScotland excludes all liability for loss or damage caused by any reliance placed on the Content. The Content is provided for your information only and is not endorsed by VisitScotland.

What's Nearby

Accommodation, attractions, food & drink, terms and conditions.

14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William

Written by Shandley McMurray Updated Dec 24, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

Located on the northeastern shore of Loch Linnhe , Fort William is known as the UK's "outdoor capital." Behind Inverness, it's the second largest settlement in the Highlands, with a beauty so captivating, you'll want to extend your stay. Plus, there's no shortage of great attractions and fun things to do in Fort William, which makes it easy to settle in for a while.

Famous for its multiple hillwalking trails, mountain climbing, bike paths, and snow and water sports, this Scottish town is a mecca for adventure travel. It's also home to Ben Nevis , the UK's tallest mountain, which makes this a popular destination for climbers.

Prefer to keep your adventure more low-key? Taking it easy is simple in this historic town. From walking to castle hopping to fishing, Fort William has plenty to offer those who prefer a slower pace. It also boasts a wide array of delicious restaurants to help you pass the time, many of which offer amazing views.

No matter which path you choose to take in Fort William, you'll be surrounded by immense beauty and unbeatable vistas. Fun fact: Fort William was the first British town to use hydroelectricity to light its streets.

Find the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Fort William.

1. Climb (or Photograph) Ben Nevis

2. book a nevis range mountain experience, 3. hike to steall falls, 4. walk across neptune's staircase, 5. step back in time at old inverlochy castle, 6. visit the west highland museum, 7. climb aboard the jacobite steam train, 8. admire the beauty of glenfinnan church, 9. rock out at treasures of the earth museum, 10. wander around saint andrew's church, 11. eat, drink, and be merry at cameron square, 12. bike along the great glen cycle route fort william, 13. tour the lochaber geopark, 14. take a crannog cruise, where to stay in fort william for sightseeing, map of attractions & things to do in fort william.

Ben Nevis from Corpach Sea Port

One of Fort William's main draws is Ben Nevis, which is Gaelic for malicious (or venomous) mountain. If you're stuck on it during a storm or thick fog, you'll understand how this impressive crag earned its moniker. At 4,411 feet, Ben Nevis's summit is a long way up - about eight hours of climbing there and back to be exact. Many hikers choose to pitch a tent for the night, so they can enjoy the breathtaking sunset from this top attraction in Fort William.

That said, the paths to the top can be quite steep and treacherous, so inexperienced hikers and those traveling with young kids may be better off admiring the reddish granite peaks from below. If you attempt the climb, be well prepared with extra snacks, water, and a change of clothes. It's often wet and slippery.

Your reward for a long, steep hike to the top: a breathtaking panoramic view. Mountains and lochs of the Scottish Highlands stretch as far as you can see, which is about 150 miles on a clear day. If the fog doesn't roll in to spoil your vista, you can even catch a glimpse of the Irish coast. Charge your camera before you go, and be sure there's lots of extra space in your "Cloud" account!

Gondola on Aonach Mor

As mentioned above, no trip to Fort William is complete without a visit to Ben Nevis . Do it in style with the Nevis Mountain Range Experience. Your heart will skip with excitement as you soar 650 meters above the ground in a mountain gondola. Riding this gondola, located on Aonach Mor , Britain's 8th highest mountain, is one of the most popular things to do in Fort William. The gondola was built to carry skiers, but has been lauded for its unparalleled views.

If you're lucky enough to go on a clear day, you'll be left speechless by the beauty extending in every direction. Lakes, valleys, coniferous forests, and patchwork farmers fields blanket the region while massive granite hills surround you. Run through the fields, climb among the trees, or bike down the hilly trails to truly enjoy the clean mountain air.

Traveling during the winter? Lucky you! Grab a hot chocolate at the top of Aonach Mor and enjoy the spectacular landscape while you ski or snowboard your way down to the valley. Be sure to pack layers, including a hat and gloves, as it can get super cold at the top.

Official site:

Steall Falls

The walk to Steall Falls from the Glen Nevis car park is majestic. Worries dissipate with the calming sounds of wind, rushing water, and footsteps on the rocky path below. An easy but sometimes slippery trek, the well-worn path to the falls takes you through deep green, moss-covered trees that look as if they could start walking and talking at any moment. Perhaps that's one of the reasons the makers of Harry Potter chose this spot as the setting for an intense Quidditch match.

You may hear the falls before seeing them in the heart of the dramatic Nevis Gorge . As you get closer, you'll notice a steel rope bridge hovering precariously over the water below. It's best to wear hiking boots or a good pair of running shoes if you're planning to traverse the wobbly (but strong and sturdy) wires. Your reward: an up close and personal view of the falls, the second highest in Scotland at over 394 feet.

The trail starts at the end of the Old Military Road, where it leads up Ben Nevis. You won't want to miss hiking to this captivating site.

Neptune's Staircase

This incredible example of engineering prowess sits in a small village called Banavie , four miles north of Fort William. Neptune's Staircase is a series of locks that span a quarter mile and raise the canal by 19 meters to allow boats to travel up or down. Built by Thomas Telford in the early 19th century, it remains Britain's longest staircase lock and a fascinating system to watch.

If you time it right, you can catch a glimpse of the Jacobite Steam Train billowing across a nearby bridge. Have your camera at the ready! Even better, you'll be able to watch the locks in motion and marvel as two bridges swing out of the way to allow a passing boat to enter before closing and allowing the lock to fill with water.

Fort William lock with a mountain backdrop

When the area is devoid of action, and you've tired of walking the endless paths and admiring the view (a hard thing to get bored by), wander through the nearby shops or grab a bite at a local restaurant.

Address: Great Glen Way, Fort William

Old Inverlochy Castle

You can't visit Scotland without stopping to see a castle. While some exist as exquisitely preserved buildings that ooze history, others, like the Old Inverlochy Castle, survive as mere ruins of their formerly grandiose selves. Don't let that fool you.

Built in the late 13th century, the Old Inverlochy Castle may be small, but its history is mighty - and you can read about it on the informative boards positioned throughout. Built by the Comyns of Badenoch, Old Inverlochy Castle changed hands multiple times throughout history, most often as a result of warfare.

This small stone ruin may be crumbling in many places but wandering around it provides a sense (sometimes an eerie one) of what it might have been like to live in the center of the first and second battles of Inverlochy. It's worthy of a walk around, at least for an hour, and presents a pretty spot for a picnic.

Address: About a mile outside of central Fort William, on the A82

Official site:

West Highland Museum

Visit the West Highland Museum for an in-depth look into the history of the West Highlands. In addition to interesting exhibits, you'll also make fast friends with many incredibly friendly (and knowledgeable) volunteers.

Each volunteer is passionate about the history of Highland life and can guide you through the museum's multiple displays, including those about Bonnie Prince Charlie (a.k.a. Prince Charles Edward Stuart) and the Jacobites (supporters of King James VII of Scotland and II of Britain).

Conveniently located in the center of town, The West Highland Museum was founded in 1922, making it one of the oldest museums in the Highlands. Here, you'll find the Goldman coin collection, polished stone axes, ancient pottery, and stonework from a wrecked Spanish Galleon, and 1,500-year-old artifacts from a crannog site.

Address: Cameron Square, Fort William

Official site:

Jacobite Steam Train

Climb aboard the Hogwarts Express – oops, we mean Jacobite Steam Train. Most famous for its role as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies, the Jacobite chugs its way along 84 miles of railway between Fort William and Mallaig .

Book a first-class seat for the best, open-coach views as you pass Loch Morar , the deepest freshwater loch, and Loch Nevis , the deepest seawater loch. You'll also cross over the stupendous, 21-arched Glenfinnan viaduct , which was made famous as the bridge to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Book a high tea to enjoy as you whip along the tracks – it will make your journey feel even more authentic.

If you can tear yourself away from the magnificent vistas, stop by the gift shop for some Harry Potter-themed memorabilia. An important traveler's tip: book a visit between late April and Early October to ensure your spot on the train - it doesn't run during the late fall and winter months.

Address: Fort William Train Station

Official site:

Glenfinnan Church

If you aren't paying attention on your way into town from Mallaig, you could miss this quaint church, and that would be a shame. It's easy to do. You're driving along, gaping at the astonishing hillsides, squinting at the sun shimmering off Loch Shiel, and then you spot something amazing flash by. Our advice: slow down and keep your eyes open. The church, which was consecrated in 1873, is found about 30 minutes outside of Fort William and rests just above the lake.

Also known as the Church of St. Mary and St. Finnan , this Gothic building is small but impressive. Inside, you'll find an understated altar lying below a bright and colorful stained-glass window in a unique flower pattern. You'll also find sculptured columns and memorial stones to Bonnie Prince Charlie and the MacDonald family. Outside, the view is nothing short of spectacular.

Treasures of the Earth Museum

If you're a fan of geology, this museum is for you. If rocks bore you, this might be one to miss. Home to a private collection of crystals, gemstones, and fossils, Treasures of the Earth Museum makes looking at rocks a precious experience (get it?). Where else can you enter a cave in which crystals change color and glow?

Originally built as a Catholic church, Treasures of the Earth is small (a half hour is likely all you'll need to see everything on offer) but it has an impressive array of exhibits, including fossilized dinosaur skulls. It lies slightly outside Fort William, four miles away, in the town of Corpach.

Kids and grownups alike will enjoy touching seven-foot-tall amethyst geodes, which were formed over 200 million years ago. Some of the fossils date back 500 million years - not bad for a tiny museum in the Highlands.

Another bonus: the gift shop. With a wide array of fossils, jewelry, and gem stones to choose from, you're sure to find a treasure with a reasonable price tag.

Official site:

Saint Andrew's Church

This quaint church can be found just off the northern end of Fort William's High Street. Set back from the street by a churchyard and surrounded by stores, this historic building is easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled. A member of the Scottish Episcopal Church, Saint Andrew's appears simple, but the intricate details (i.e. detailing on the organ's pipes and elaborate ceiling bosses) are remarkable. The Caen stone altar is the church's focal point, but the salient choir stalls lining the sanctuary are especially impressive.

During the week, you'll likely find yourself alone to admire the church's stained-glass windows in peace and solitude. If visiting for a Sunday service, you'll probably be asked to join the other constituents for tea. If you're one of those lucky enough to be invited, stay! The community is a kind one, and they tell wonderful stories.

Address: High Street, Fort William

Cameron Square

Cameron Square is the place to be for those who like to shop, socialize, and eat tasty meals. In fact, it serves as the heart of Fort William. Here, you'll be greeted by shops; eateries; cafés; and, of course, the West Highland Museum. Shopping in this area is one of the best things to do in Fort William, especially during the holidays.

Beside the museum lies one of the best restaurants in Fort William: Garrison West , where visitors can tuck into a traditional dish of haggis, neeps, and tatties, warm and delicious soup, or a mouthwateringly good sticky toffee pudding.

Many years ago, Cameron Square served as a meeting place for important events such as signing up to fight with the British army. Today, this pretty spot hosts live concerts and is home to a cinema.

In 2018, a bronze statue of a Ford Model T was placed in the square to commemorate a car that drove to the summit of Ben Nevis in a legendary publicity stunt in 1911. You can see a film about it during your visit to the West Highland Museum.

Great Glen Cycle Route

Feeling extra energetic? Why not hire a bike and travel along the Great Glen Cycle Route. It spans 79 miles from Fort William to Inverness , and you can bike as much or as little as you like. Biking the entirety could take a week, so you'll have to plan a few places to stay along the way.

No matter how far you travel, you'll be awed by the magnificent scenery you zip past while atop your bike. This lengthy route follows the path of Scotland's greatest geological fault. It also passes parts of the Caledonian Canal Towpath, which was designed in the 1820s by Thomas Telford.

Along the way, you'll traverse towpaths, forests, and winding roads. Luckily, the area between Fort William and Laggan isn't too hilly, so you won't have to climb too far. Once you continue north of Laggan, however, you're in for some steep climbs. Pack plenty of water and snacks, as there aren't many places to stop for refreshments.

While parts of this path are the same as the walking path, the Great Glen Way , there are certain areas that are walkable only, so be sure to stick to the right route.

Lochaber Geopark

One of three geoparks in Scotland, this massive, natural wonderland is one you won't want to miss. This is home to the highest mountains in the UK, the deepest lochs, and a wide variety of incredible wildlife.

The geopark's top attractions include Ben Nevis, the volcanic rocks of Run & Eigg, and the lava cliffs in Glen Coe. You're sure to spot many ancient finds while exploring this area.

In addition to visiting an eroded volcano, guests of Lochaber Geopark can also witness the Parallel Roads of Glen Roy. You'll spy sandy beaches, sparkling lochs, rushing rivers, jagged coasts and rocky cliffs along your journey.

Wondering what a geopark is? You're not alone. It's a park that "contains several geological or geomorphological sites of national and international importance." In other words, it's a pretty spectacular place to appreciate nature, learn about the community, and gawk at the amazing scenery.

This Geopark is massive, so you may want to pick up a map at a local tourist office and complete the car tour of the Lochaber Geotrails.

Crannog Cruise on Loch Linnhe

The best way to experience a Scottish Loch is by cruising along its calm, azure surface. That's why Crannog Cruises is deemed one of the best tourist attractions in Fort William, especially for those hoping to have a waterfront view of the area's best assets–we're talking unsurpassable views of the towering Ben Nevis.

Sail aboard a historic vessel named the Souters Lass. From its comfortable deck, you'll pass all the majestic features of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil and learn interesting knowledge about the area's storied past from the excited crew members. Along the way, guests are treated to breathtaking views and, very often, have the chance to spot incredible wildlife, such as seals and dolphins.

Other unmissable sites include the Caledonian Canal, the Caol narrows, and the Heronry.

Address: Town Pier, Fort William

Official site:

Luxury Hotels :

  • Inverlochy Castle Hotel is the most luxurious place to stay in Fort William. Set amid the glens, lochs, and mountains of this West Highlands area. There are just 17 rooms and suites, and each is individually decorated in an elegant, old-fashioned style. Amenities include a complimentary breakfast, an excellent restaurant, a game room, and free parking. Bikes can be rented, and the property is pet-friendly.
  • Inverskilavulin is located on a gorgeous estate just nine miles from the center of Fort William. It has two-bedroom luxury lodges at the foot of the Corbett Hills. The lodges have stunning panoramic views from large windows, and come with beds draped in Egyptian cotton linens, and marble bathrooms. They also feature kitchenettes and are kid-friendly. The small property is pet friendly. This is a good luxury back-to-nature selection.
  • Ardrhu House Fort William is another exclusive small luxury property. It can accommodate just 15 guests, and the rooms and suites here can be booked together for small destination weddings or individually for weekend getaways. It's set on a private beach with panoramic ocean views, and amenities include a complimentary breakfast, hot tub, and sauna. The inn is also pet-friendly for those traveling with a dog.

Mid-Range Hotels:

  • In Fort William town, Nevis Bank Inn is a modern, elegant mid-range choice. Rooms and suites have stylish décor, high-end linens on beds, and walnut wood furnishings. The suites feature extra large king beds and living space with a sleeper sofa. Amenities include a restaurant, complimentary tea, and free parking.
  • In a home dating back to 1850, The Lime Tree is a 3-star boutique hotel with cozy, individually decorated rooms of varying sizes and shapes. There is an art gallery on-site, as well as an award-winning restaurant overlooking Loch Linnhe. The location in the center of town is also convenient.
  • With views of Loch Linnhe and the surrounding woodlands, Caledonian Hotel is another good-value choice. Book one of the front facing views for direct lake views. There is free Scottish-style entertainment most nights in the hotel's ballroom. Other amenities include a restaurant and snack shop.

Budget Hotels:

  • Premier Inn Fort William Hotel is just a five-minute walk from the train station in the town center. It is a good budget choice with clean and spacious rooms that are family-friendly. There is a restaurant and free parking on-site.
  • Also check out the Travelodge Fort William for a budget-friendly sleep. Rooms can accommodate up to four people, although the space is cramped, with a double bed sided by single beds. The hotel is also pet friendly.

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Explore Scotland: Discover more of the region with our article on the Top Attractions in the Scottish Highlands . If you are looking for places to add to your itinerary, consider stopping to see the sights of Oban or touring around Loch Ness .

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Top 8 Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland

tourist information fort william

 Neil Holmes/Getty Images

Fort William is the gateway to the Scottish Highlands and the southern end of the Great Glen Fault and the Caledonian Canal. The region of Lochaber that surrounds it is dotted with the UK's highest mountains and some of its most dramatic lochs. The town on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe , Scotland's great sea loch, claims the title of the Outdoor Capital of the UK. If you like the active lifestyle—cycling, hill walking, mountain climbing, skiing, canoeing—this is the place to start your Highland adventure. If you prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery there's plenty of opportunity, from cruises to mountain gondolas and steam trains, to do that too.

Climb Ben Nevis

 Jennika Argent/Getty Images

Ben Nevis, Britain's highest mountain at 4,409 feet, is about seven miles southeast of Fort William and visible from throughout the town. It's popular with hillwalkers and climbers, especially during the summer months. But its easy to underestimate the challenge of this mountain. In perfect conditions, for very fit climbers, it's a six-hour round trip to the summit and back. But conditions are rarely perfect. Freezing fog or even summer snow can set in making the man-made path to the top easy to loses. Bring a compass and well developed mountaineering skills. Even better, book a guide or join a group walk from Fort William. Visit Fort William has a list of recommended guides or drop in at the Tourist Information Center at 15 High Street.

See Ben Nevis From a Mountain Gondola

 Aaron Sneddon/Getty Images

The Nevis Range Mountain Gondola is the UK's only Alpine-style gondola. It rises from a base camp at 300 feet to more than 2,100 feet, halfway up the north face of Aonach Mòr, the 8th tallest peak in the UK. Originally created to take skiers up into the Glen Nevis ski area, it runs year-round and provides dramatic and panoramic views of Ben Nevis and the surrounded range. There are 80, six-seat, closed gondolas that run continuously (weather permitting) for the 15-minute ride. winter climbers and summer hill walkers use the gondola as a short cut to the scenic routes, higher up. Mountain bikers can race downhill from there on several trails. But just riding up to enjoy the views is what most visitors do.

Cruise Loch Linnhe

 Karol Kozlowski/Getty Images

The Great Glen Fault divides Scotland on a diagonal line, starting from the North Atlantic with the great sea loch, Loch Linnhe, in the southeast and ending in the northwest and the North Sea north of Inverness. Loch Linnhe is the only salt water loch along its length (that also includes Loch Ness and the Caledonian Canal). Take a 90-minute cruise from the Town Pier in Fort William on the Souter's Lass, operated by Crannog Cruises. Expect to see extraordinary views of Ben Nevis plus plenty of sea life—common and grey seals, porpoises, sea otters, heron and, if you are lucky, nesting golden eagles.

Walk or Cycle the Great Glen Way

Dennis Barnes/Getty Images 

The Great Glen Way is a national walking and cycling route that crosses the highlands, coast to coast, from Fort William to Inverness. It skirts Loch Lochy and Loch Ness, travels along the towpath of the Caledonian Canal and offers lochside and forest views, surrounded by the mountains of the highlands. The path is 74 miles and the walk or cycle ride can be done in stages of four or five hours each. Most of it is on level paths although, since 2014, a few higher-level alternatives for more experienced walkers have now been waymarked.

Try Scotch at a Distillery

The Ben Nevis Distillery, one of Scotland's oldest licensed distilleries, has been making whisky at the foot of the UK's highest mountain since 1825. While it is definitely a working distillery, producing single highland malt Scotch whisky, it is also run as a visitor attraction that includes an audiovisual presentation, narrated by Hector McDram about the legend of the Dew of Ben Nevis. After, there's a guided tour of the production areas—filled with intoxicating aromas—and finally a tasting. And of course, there's also a shop.

Take a Heritage Railway Journey Along the Route to Hogwarts

Irene Lorenz/EyeEm/Getty Images 

The 21-arch Glenfinnan Railway Viaduct overlooking Loch Shiel was an essential part of the journey to Hogwarts in several Harry Potter films. It's also part of one of the great railway journeys in the world, from Fort William to Mallaig on the Scottish West Coast. It's an 84-mile round trip in a vintage steam train and includes a stop at Glenfinnan village, where you can get a full view of the remarkable viaduct. It also visits Arisaig, the UK's westernmost railway station. From this station, you can see what the Scots call "The Small Isles," elsewhere known as Rum, Eigg, Muck, and Canna, as well as the southern tip of Skye. Mallaig is a busy fishing and ferry port with regular ferry service departing for Skye every day.

Take a Walk to a Castle

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Walk north from the center of Fort William along the Great Glen Way and in about one mile you'll arrive at the ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle. It may not look like much today but it is one of the oldest castles in Scotland and the scene of several important battles. The castle was built in the 13th century by a Norman family, the Comyns (later Cummings). They eventually lost it, in a power struggle for control of the clans, to Robert the Bruce. Like much of early Scottish history, the to-ing and fro-ing between the clans is confusing, complicated, and ultimately only of interest to historians. The castle later played a role in the English Civil War, taking the losing side and being reduced to a ruin by the followers of Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell later built a wooden fort at the northern end of Loch Linnhe. The town that grew up around the fort, took its name: Fort William. Today, a walk to Old Inverlochy Castle, with its views of the River Lochy, is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two. The castle is free to visit and open all the time.

Shelter From the Rain in a Museum

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Even the most ardent outdoors enthusiasts sometimes need rainy day activities. The West Highlands Museum is an ideal way to while away some bad weather without traveling very far. The museum is in Cameron Square, just off the pedestrianized High Street in Fort William. Its role is to collect and conserve articles of interest connected to the West Highlands. Founded in 1922, it is the oldest museum in the Highlands with items ranging from prehistory to modern times. There's a special emphasis on the Jacobite risings of the 18th century. Among its treasures is a sandalwood fan that belonged to the Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald. It was given to her when she was under house arrest in London. There's also a fascinating secret portrait of Bonnie Prince Charlie and a gun used in a notorious 18th-century murder.

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Fort William

tourist information fort william

  • 1 Understand
  • 2.1 By plane
  • 2.2 By train
  • 3 Get around
  • 9.1.1 In Fort William
  • 9.1.2 Out of town
  • 9.2.1 In Fort William
  • 9.2.2 Out of town
  • 9.3 Splurge

Fort William is a town at the foot of the Great Glen , on the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. It's the main transport, commercial and visitor hub for the area: its attractions include Ben Nevis, Nevis Range ski resort, the Caledonian Canal, and "The Jacobite" steam train.

The town in 2021 had a population of 5630. A couple of miles north is a secondary built-up area, with the villages of Inverlochy, Caol, Bannavie and Corpach totalling another 5000 population; their facilities are also described on this page.

Understand [ edit ]

tourist information fort william

The Great Glen is a long fault line slicing diagonally across the Highlands. Inland along its valley are a string of freshwater lakes: Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and Loch Ness. The southwest end of the valley is flooded by the sea to create a fjord, Loch Linnhe. The glen has always been a natural transport route, which nervous London rulers sought to control by a series of fortresses: Fort George and Inverness Castle at the northeast end, Fort Augustus in the middle, and Fort William at the southwest end. In 1745-46 the Jacobites smashed their way down this line of dominos and besieged Fort William, but it not only stood firm, but launched counter-attacks, a tough Hanoverian thistle in the rebels' backsides.

In the aftermath the kilt was banned and the Highlanders repressed, then the kilt and Highland customs were re-invented for genteel tastes in the late Georgian era as Scottish tourism was born. The town's original settlement and medieval castle were a couple of miles north at Inverlochy, but gravitated south to the new fort and harbour. In 1822 the Caledonian Canal was built through the Great Glen: interminable wars with France made the Channel too dangerous, but rounding Cape Wrath in the far north was also dangerous, hence the need for a navigable short cut. The post-Napoleonic peace made the canal redundant from the outset but it's now used by pleasure craft. The railway arrived in 1894 and tourist traffic boomed.

Tourist information is at Fort William iCentre , 15 High St, open daily 9:30AM-5PM.

Get in [ edit ]


By plane [ edit ]

  • Inverness Airport ( INV  IATA ) is the closest, but since you need to hire a car anyway it's better to use Glasgow Airport.
  • Glasgow Airport ( GLA  IATA ) has a better choice of flights and fares. Turn west onto M8 and cross the Erskine Bridge to join A82 northwards past Loch Lomond; maybe 2 hr 30 min to drive.
  • Oban Airport ( OBN  IATA ) has flights to the Hebrides (effectively a flying school bus) but no connection to the mainland air network.

By train [ edit ]

Trains from Glasgow Queen Street take four hours via Dumbarton , Helensburgh , Arrochar & Tarbet (for Loch Lomond), Crianlarich (where a portion divides for Oban) and Spean Bridge. There are five daytime trains M-Sa and two on Sunday. They continue west on the scenic West Highland Line to Glenfinnan , Arisaig and Mallaig , for ferries to Skye.

The Caledonian Highland Sleeper runs Su-F from London Euston , departing around 9:30PM to arrive at 10AM. (It divides at Edinburgh for Aberdeen and Inverness.) The southbound train leaves around 8PM (Sunday 7PM) to reach Euston towards 08:00. No trains on Saturday night. Compartments have two berths and are sold like hotel rooms: you pay extra for single occupancy, and you won't be sharing with a stranger. Tickets can be booked at any UK mainline railway station or online: the one-way fare in 2023 is £270 for two adults. You can also just use the sitting saloon, single £75. Pricing is dynamic with weekends costing more, if there are berths available. Booking is open 12 months ahead: you need to print out your e-ticket to present on boarding. You can also use the sleeper as a day-train between Dumbarton and Fort William, but it doesn't pick up in Glasgow.

Alternatively, take the Lowland Sleeper from Euston near midnight to arrive Glasgow Queen Street at 7:20AM, then the 8:20AM for Fort William (arriving midday) and Mallaig. Returning south by that route you need to be on the 5:30PM from Fort William to Queen Street, arriving 9:30PM and waiting two hours (there are plenty of pubs nearby) for the southbound sleeper, reaching Euston by 7AM.

There's no railway along the Great Glen between Fort William and Inverness, or directly south to Oban, so take the bus.

Banavie and Corpach are platform halts on the West Highland Railway towards Mallaig that might be more convenient for the head of Loch Linnhe and start of the Caledonian Canal.

By bus [ edit ]

Citylink buses 914, 915 and 916 run four times daily from Glasgow Buchanan Street to Fort William, taking 3 hours. Two of them continue via Spean Bridge and Laggan to Portree on Skye .

Citylink Bus 918 runs twice M-Sa to Oban , 90 min. Bus 919 takes two hours to Inverness via the Great Glen and Loch Ness, with six M-Sa and two on Sunday.

Between Fort William and Mallaig, Shiel Bus 500 runs four times a day M-F, once on Saturday and Sunday, 90 min. Sit on the right for views of Glenfinnan Viaduct. Shiel Buses also connect the small villages of Kilchoan, Acharacle, Lochaline and Strontian on the Arnamurchan peninsula. These are timed for the school and shopping run, with just one bus (M-Sa) in the morning coming into Fort William, and one bus going back in the afternoon; see Ardnamurchan for details. Shiel Bus N44 runs six times a day (M-F) to Corran ferry pier, Ballachulish, Glencoe and Kinlochleven.

Get around [ edit ]

The centre of Fort William is small enough to get around on foot.

Shiel Bus N41 runs between Fort William and Roy Bridge, via Torlundy, Nevis Range Ski Centre and Spean Bridge. It runs 7 times a day M-Sa. Twice a day (at around 9AM and 17:00) year round, it extends from Fort William to Glen Nevis Youth Hostel. May to Oct it's supplemented by Bus N42, which run 6 times daily to the Youth Hostel, with three buses extending to the Lower Falls.

Bike is ideal for exploring along the glens and Caledonian Canal. Off Beat Bikes on High St (Tu-Su 10AM-5:30PM) do hires and repairs and can suggest trails.

Taxi firms are Turbo (+44 7803 728080), Looking 4 Taxi [dead link] (+44 7488 247730), Nevis (+44 1397 703000), Lochaber (+44 1397 706070), Viaduct (+44 7398 644463), Egor's (+44 7473 921992), Scot Taxi (+44 7928 086205), Bob Tait (+44 1397 704331), Greyhound (+44 1397 705050), Jacobite (+44 1397 719639) and DM Taxis (+44 7869 811223). Many of them offer tours or long distance transfers, for instance to and from the airport.

See [ edit ]

  • 56.8214 -5.1076 1 The Fort remains only as a sea wall near the breakwater, with views over Loch Linnhe. Town centre behind it is Victorian, a miniature Inverness, but suffers from poor planning, with the busy A82 cutting it off from the prom.
  • The Caledonian Canal is a coast-to-coast channel built by Thomas Telford in the early 19th century. It uses the string of lochs and rivers along the Great Glen, so it's 60 miles long but only 22 miles are man-made. Commercially and strategically it was obsolete as soon as it was completed in 1822, as shipping had outgrown it, and round-the-coast navigation was much safer since the end of the Napoleonic wars. It fell into disrepair but was rehabilitated for pleasure craft. At the south end, it starts from Loch Linnhe by a short ladder of locks at Corpach.
  • 56.844 -5.097 4 Neptune's Staircase is a ladder of eight locks a mile inland at Banavie, great for photos, but a long afternoon's work to navigate.
  • Lock Lochy is the first natural water encountered on the canal, a nine mile reach to Laggan where the ascent continues. (So yes, these could be called the Loch Lochy locks, which, when locke....) Another straight run connects Loch Oich, the highest part of the system. (Higher still, Loch Garry feeds water to the canal via the River Garry, but that river isn't navigable.) From Loch Oich the canal continues northeast, descending by another ladder of locks into Loch Ness , the magnificent natural channel at the heart of the canal system. At its north end, canal and River Ness flow down from Dochgarroch Weir towards the sea at Inverness.
  • Treasures of the Earth , Corpach PH33 7JL ( by canal outlet ), ☏ +44 1397 772283 . Daily Nov-Feb 10AM-4PM, Mar-Jun & Sep Oct to 5PM, Jul Aug to 6PM . Small geology museum and shop, with a collection of crystals, gemstones and fossils. Adult £8, child £6 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Lochaber Geopark in High St (M-Sa 10AM-4PM) promotes awareness and organises trips and study around the region's weird geology. This played a key role in shaping 19th- and 20th-century understanding of how the world's landscapes were constructed: it was realised that the Caledonian Mountains once stretched through Svalbard and Greenland into the Appalachians, until sundered by the new Atlantic Ocean. The geopark stretches from Rannoch Moor in the south to Glen Garry in the north, and from Loch Laggan in the east to the Small Isles out west. For instance 20 miles away are the "Roads of Glen Roy": this glen above the Spean valley has three long parallel ledges on the hillside that look man-made. They were in fact cut by ice grinding along the shore of a vanished lake, which lay at different levels during a cold period after the last Ice Age when arctic conditions returned.

Do [ edit ]

tourist information fort william

  • Highland Cinema , Cameron Square PH33 6AJ ( by museum ), ☏ +44 1397 609696 , [email protected] . Independent cinema and café bar with two cinema theatres, and café bar seating up to 84. ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8169 -5.1111 1 Three Wise Monkeys Climbing Wall , Fassifern Road PH33 6QX , ☏ +44 1397 600200 . M-F 10AM-9PM, Sa Su 10AM-5PM . Indoor climbing (roped) and bouldering (unroped) walls in an old church. Adult day pass £12, child £9 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Golf: Fort William GC is on A83 north of Lochy Bridge. White tees 6217 yards, par 72.
  • Shinty: Fort William play in Mowi National Division, the second tier. Their home ground is the sports complex behind the Premier Inn. Kilmallie also play in National Division, at Caol Canal Parks. The playing season is April-Oct.
  • Long-distance hikes: the West Highland Way stretches from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William, and the Great Glen Way continues north to Inverness. They're usually done in stages in that direction, south to north, so the sun and the weather are on your back. But invest in good maps and plan your own itinerary.
  • Climb Ben Nevis , Britain's highest mountain at 1345 m (4413 feet). This is no small task as you start from almost sea level. The usual route is the "Mountain Track", starting from the visitor centre in Glen Nevis: this is an arduous slog and scramble in good weather, and in winter it demands technical mountaineering skills. Other routes such as the CMD Arete are even more testing.
  • The Mamores are the ridge above Glen Nevis, west and south of the river. They're opposite Ben Nevis so there's better views of it than on the Track, but far fewer climbers. The Mamores are crossed by the most northerly section of the West Highland Way, a 15-mile hike from Kinlochleven.
  • Ski or snowboard at 56.852 -5 2 Nevis Range , Torlundy PH33 6SQ ( off A82 four miles north of town ), ☏ +44 1397 705825 . late Dec-Apr . Nevis Range ski resort is on Aonach Mor, the mountain just north of Ben Nevis. From the car park (£5 / day) take the gondola to "Snowgoose" at 650 m. Chairlifts and tows lead to the summit plateau around 1221 m, with most pistes along this stretch. Just east are some hairy steep descents. Weather and snow conditions are highly variable, always check ahead on the resort website. Adult lift pass £42, child or senior £27 . ( updated Jul 2023 )

tourist information fort william

  • Nevis Range gondola runs year round (day ticket £13) and is the access to other activities. It has six-seater enclosed cabins, dogs welcome but must be leashed on the mountain. Three easy hill walks loop from the Snowgoose station. Climbers ascending Ben Nevis by the North Face route often start by riding up the gondola. There are cross country and downhill mountain bike courses, and the UCI mountain bike World Cup is often held here in early June.
  • Glen Nevis is worth exploring, and not just as an access point for Ben Nevis, or as a fallback if you called off a climb. Drive up the south-bank road past the visitor centre and youth hostel to the Lower Falls (bus N42 comes this far in summer) and onward to the final car park "Nevis Gorge" (free). A trail leads up the gorge to the cable bridge, if you dare teeter across.

tourist information fort william

  • The Jacobite steam train ( the "Harry Potter" train ). This heritage train runs daily Apr-Oct between Fort William and Mallaig . It's a six-hour excursion (depart 10:15AM, return by 4PM) staying two hours in Mallaig, and in 2023 an adult trip was £57 standard, £89 first class; child £33 / £63. May-Sep there's also an afternoon train (12:50-6:50PM), so you could have 4½ hours in Mallaig, time for a boat trip. Trains also stop at Glenfinnan for the obligatory photo of the viaduct, and by request at Arisaig . The morning excursion connects with the Caledonian Sleeper from London. ( updated Apr 2024 )

Buy [ edit ]

  • The main supermarket is Morrisons next to the railway station, open M-Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 8AM-8PM. Lidl is just east and there's Tesco Metro on High Street and Spar on Grange Rd south end of town.
  • Lots of touristy-trappy shops along High Street, regaling the coach parties with Scottish dresses, knitware, souvenirs and whisky. They can offer nick-nacks in just about any clan tartan you've heard of, and probably a few that that you haven't.

Eat [ edit ]

  • High Street has a string of cheap and cheerful places, mostly open daily.
  • The Bistro is within Alexandra Hotel facing the railway station, open daily 12:00-21:00.
  • Crannog at Garrison West , 4 Cameron Square PH33 6AJ ( by museum and cinema ), ☏ +44 1397 701873 . M Tu 5-9PM; W-Su noon-2:30PM, 5-9PM . Great seafood, classic pub fare done well. Their branch on town pier has closed. ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • The Great Glen is a JD Wetherspoon within Travelodge on High St, open Su-Th 8AM-midnight, F Sa 8AM-1AM.
  • Lime Tree on Achintore Rd has good dining. It's also a hotel, but guests have suffered short-notice cancellations.

Drink [ edit ]

tourist information fort william

  • Grog & Gruel , 66 High Street PH33 6AD , ☏ +44 1397 705078 . Daily noon-10PM . Good selection of real ales. ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Volunteer Arms , 47 High Street PH33 6DH , ☏ +44 1397 702344 . Daily 11AM-1AM . A good laugh, decent beer, and well-priced spirits. Live sports and dance floor. ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Ben Nevis Distillery produces single malt whisky at Lochy Bridge (junction of A82 and A830 near the castle). It's open M-F 9:30AM-5PM, plus Jun-Aug Sa 10AM-6PM, Su noon-6PM, tours available.
  • Brewery: Glen Spean Brewery is above Spean Bridge and offers tours.

Sleep [ edit ]

Budget [ edit ], in fort william [ edit ].

  • 56.8181 -5.1084 1 Bank Street Lodge , Bank Street PH33 6AY , ☏ +44 1397 700070 . This is now a small hotel and no longer run as a hostel. Double (room only) £80 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8163 -5.1136 2 Travelodge , High Street PH33 6DX ( SW end of pedestrianised High St. ), ☏ +44 871 984 6419 . Decent chain choice, acceptable for what you pay. B&B double £80 . ( updated Jul 2023 )

Out of town [ edit ]

tourist information fort william

  • 56.8045 -5.0742 3 Glen Nevis Caravan & Camping Park , Glen Nevis PH33 6SX ( up glen 2 miles from town ), ☏ +44 1397 702191 . Open mid-Mar to Oct, this has caravan pitches, static caravans, pods, campsite, and sometimes a lot of midges. Restaurant on site is open May-Oct. Camping £12 ppn, car £3, hook-up £5 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Glen Nevis Youth Hostel , Glen Nevis PH33 6SY ( south end of caravan park ), ☏ +44 1397 702336 . Two miles from town, but convenient for Ben Nevis and the West Highland Way. Clean friendly place. Dorm £22-31.50 ppn, rooms from £64 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8467 -5.0971 4 Chase the Wild Goose Hostel , Banavie PH33 7LZ ( 3 miles north of Fort William ), ☏ +44 7563 049068 . Backpackers’ hostel, providing accommodation for walkers, cyclists, people on activity holidays, families and groups, but no hen or stag parties. Dorms are only available for exclusive hire. ( updated Jul 2023 )

Mid-range [ edit ]

  • B&Bs are strung along A82 the main road south, petering out after 3 miles.
  • Premier Inn , Airds Way PH33 6AN ( off High St; cars enter via Camanachd Cres ), ☏ +44 333 777 7268 . Reliable chain hotel. B&B double £85 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8188 -5.1107 5 Imperial Hotel , Fraser Square PH33 6DW ( on prom 100 m south of railway station ), ☏ +44 1397 702040 . Creaky old rooms but bright helpful staff. No lift, no pets. With restaurant, pizzeria & public bar. B&B double £85 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8151 -5.1106 6 St Anthonys , Argyll Road PH33 6LF , ☏ +44 1397 705184 , [email protected] . Welcoming B&B on hill overlooking Loch Linnhe, open Apr-Sep. No pets or children under 13. B&B double £150 . ( updated Jul 2023 )

tourist information fort william

  • 56.8103 -5.072 7 Ben Nevis Inn , Achintree Rd PH33 6TE ( two miles up glen ), ☏ +44 1397 701227 . A great base camp for climbing Ben Nevis. No dorm, the former bunkhouse has been converted into separate rooms. Breakfast is self-catering, the restaurant is open daily Apr-Oct, Th-Su Nov-Mar. Double (room only) £140 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Achintee Farm , Glen Nevis PH33 6TE ( opposite Ben Nevis Inn ), ☏ +44 7497 082820 , [email protected] . B&B open all year plus self-catering rooms, friendly knowledgeable host, great location at the foot of Ben Nevis. B&B double £150 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.7212 -5.2335 8 The Corran ( Corran ferry pier 8 miles south of Fort William ), ☏ +44 1855 821261 . Comfortable loch-side inn. Nowadays it's room-only serviced accommodation as the restaurant and bar are closed, and no reception. Doubles (room only) £120 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • 56.8443 -5.115 9 Mansefield House , Hillview Drive, Corpach PH33 7LS , ☏ +44 1397 772262 , [email protected] . B&B in former church manse, six rooms en suite. No children under 12. B&B double £120 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • The Moorings Hotel , Banavie PH33 7LY , ☏ +44 1397 772797 , [email protected] . Small hotel with bistro by the canal ladder of locks. A bit run down, dog-friendly. B&B double £170 . ( updated Jul 2023 )
  • Spean Bridge is a village 11 miles north of Fort William, at the junction of A82 and A86, and with trains between Fort William and Glasgow. There's several accommodation choices here, the pick of them being Smiddy House .

Splurge [ edit ]

Connect [ edit ].

tourist information fort william

As of July 2023, Fort William and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. 5G has not reached this area.

There is free internet access in the library on High Street.

Go next [ edit ]

  • Fort William is the northern end of the 96-mile West Highland Way footpath from Milngavie north of Glasgow. Clearly, having just arrived, you'll be impatient to do two things: (i) ascend Britain's highest mountain, Ben Nevis; and (ii) set off on another long-distance hike, the 78-mile Great Glen Way to Inverness. Fortunately both these needs have been thoughtfully catered for.
  • The scenic Road to the Isles (A830) runs west from Fort William via Glenfinnan and Arisaig to Mallaig , where ferries ply to Armadale on Skye and to the Small Isles . You can also use this route to reach the Ardnamurchan peninsula via Moidart.
  • However the usual route to Ardnamurchan is by the short car ferry crossing at Corran. Routes on the peninsula converge on Strontian. There's also a ferry for foot passengers and bicycles from Fort William town centre to Camusnagaul, connecting with buses on the other side.
  • Follow A82 north along Loch Ness , via Fort Augustus and Urquhart Castle near Drumnadrochit , to reach Inverness.
  • The road south to Glasgow runs through Glencoe with stunning views, louring mountains, and a ski centre.

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18 Epic Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland + Map    

Surrounded by imposing mountain ranges and serene lochs, Fort William has an enviable setting like no other.

Located on the banks of Loch Linnhe in Lochaber, it is one of the most charming towns in Scotland .

Renowned as the Outdoor Capital of the UK, Fort William is easily one of the best places to visit in Scotland . For hikers, cyclists, and thrill seekers, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy.

The world-famous Hogwarts Express departs from here. Fort William sits at the foothill of the highest mountain in the UK, Ben Nevis.

Also, this pretty town is the end point of the West Highland Way walking trail and marks the start of Great Glen Way.

The drive from Glasgow and Edinburgh through the breathtaking Loch Lomond and Glencoe to Fort William is one of the most scenic road trips in Scotland.

After exploring this town, visitors drive to Mallaig to catch a ferry to visit the magical Isle of Skye . Alternatively, you can travel to Inverness , known as the Capital of the Highlands.

Here’s a guide to all the incredible things this town has to offer.

18 Best things to do in Fort William 

1. ride the jacobite steam train through glenfinnan viaduct.

No visit to Fort William is complete without riding the famous Jacobite Steam Train. It has appeared in Harry Potter movies and is popularly known as the Hogwarts Express. 

The Jacobite train travels along the stunning West Highland Coast of Scotland. Just prepare to be amazed by the rugged mountains, enchanting lochs and beautiful wee villages. It’s undoubtedly one of the best train journeys in the world.

Jacobite Steam Train passing Banavie

The train passes over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct on its way to the coastal town of Mallaig. The 21-arched viaduct is extremely photogenic.

Also, it is one of the best tourist attractions in Scotland. So you can take a short day trip from Fort William to visit this historical viaduct.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Jacobite Steam Train runs daily between April and October. It gets super busy in the summer. So, book your tickets well in advance.

2. Test Your Limits and Climb Ben Nevis

Located at the western end of the Grampian Mountain range of the Scottish Highlands, Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK. Towering over Fort William, this iconic mountain is a landmark of Scotland. 

In Scottish Gaelic, Ben Nevis means- ‘mountain with its head in the clouds’, which happens very often, literally.

Ben Nevis from Corpach

Climbing the mighty Ben Nevis is on the bucket list of many adventure lovers and one of the main reasons to visit Fort William.

There are two main walking routes to Ben Nevis. The popular one is the Mountain Track, used by most walkers. The Carn Mor Dearg Arête route is for more experienced climbers.

The area near the summit is very rocky and is often covered by snow. At the summit, you will find the remains of the abandoned meteorological observatory.

3. Explore Nevis Range Mountain Resort

Sitting right next to Ben Nevis, the Nevis Range Mountain Experience is one of the unmissable tourist attractions in Fort William.

Home to a wide range of outdoor activities, it is built on the north face of Aonach Mòr, the 8th highest mountain in Britain.

view over Fort William from Nevis Range

Nevis Range Mountain Gondola is the UK’s only mountain gondola. It transports visitors to an elevation of 650m in just around 12-15 minutes.

At the top, you will be greeted with some of the most stunning views over Fort William, Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil and the Great Glen. On clear days, you can even see the Inner Hebrides.

tourist information fort william

Take a short hike to two popular viewpoints – Sgùrr Finnisg-aig and Meall Beag. The path is well-maintained and clearly waymarked.

Nevis Range has been hosting the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup, which attracts thousands of sports lovers to this pretty town.

4. Enjoy Leisurely Strolls in Glencoe village

Situated at the northwest edge of Glen Coe, the famous valley in the Highlands, Glencoe is one of the most picturesque villages in Scotland and one of the must-visit places near Fort William.

Stroll around this quiet village. Visit the Massacre of Glencoe Monument, a memorial erected to commemorate the infamous Massacre of Glencoe that took place in 1692.

Glencoe village

Also, pay a wee visit to the Glencoe Folk Museum to learn some local history.

Take a short hike around the tranquil Glencoe Lochan. It is one of the best family-friendly walks near Fort William.

If you are an expert hiker, climb up the Pap of Glencoe, which looms over this village. This 742-metre-high mountain has a strikingly conical shape.

Also, Glencoe has a rich wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled out for red deer and golden eagles.

5. Admire the picturesque views from the Old Boat of Caol

Resting on the shore of Loch Linnhe in Corpach near Fort William, the Old Boat of Caol boasts one of the most picturesque views of the Scottish Highlands.

The Corpach Shipwreck is a former fishing boat known as MV Dayspring. After a fierce storm in 2011, it landed on this beach.

the Old Boat of Caol in Corpach

Its dreamy setting against the backdrop of the majestic peak of Ben Nevis attracts photographers from all around the world. Also, you will get a stunning view of Fort William and surrounding landscapes.

While you are here, ramble around the small port of Corpach. This area is steeped in history. It is the southern entrance of the Caledonian Canal.

Budding geologists would love to visit the nearby Treasures of the Earth, a museum showcasing gemstones and fossils.

6. Walk through Neptune’s Staircase

Located in the scenic village of Banavie, the historic Neptune’s Staircase is a must-see visitor attraction near Fort William.

Thomas Telford, the renowned Scottish civil engineer, built this staircase lock on the Caledonian Canal between 1803 and 1822.

It is the longest staircase lock in Britain and spans over a quarter-mile in length, consisting of eight locks. It takes around 90 minutes for a boat to rise to a height of 64 feet.

Neptune’s Staircase

You can catch local bus services from Fort William town centre to reach here.

From the top of Neptune’s Staircase, admire the lovely view over to Loch Linnhe and the northwest side of Ben Nevis.

Also, you can walk along the canal and watch the boats navigate through the locks. The famous Jacobite Steam Train passes through Banavie train station.

7. Take a tour of Ben Nevis Distillery

After a busy day exploring outdoors, why not treat yourself to a dram of Ben Nevis Whisky? 

Located on the outskirts of Fort William in the shadow of the mighty Ben Nevis, Ben Nevis Distillery is one of the oldest whisky distilleries in Scotland.

Founded in 1825 by ‘Long John’ McDonald, this 200-year-old seaside distillery uses water from the nearby river stream, Allt a’Mhuilinn.

Ben Nevis Distillery

It takes only five minutes to drive here from Fort William town centre.

Hourly tours run every day from June to August and on weekdays for the rest of the year. Take a guided tour to learn about the history of this distillery.

You will also get to visit the production areas inside. It finishes off with a complimentary tasting of their Whisky.

8. Visit West Highland Museum

Founded in 1922 by a group of Lochaber locals, West Highland Museum is one of the oldest museums in Scottish Highland. 

Located at the heart of Fort William, this museum has a great collection of artefacts related to archaeology and wildlife.

tourist information fort william

The main collections include an embroidered waistcoat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, a Governor’s room with a birching table, bagpipes played at the Battle of Bannockburn, a Holyrood ball fan – given out by the prince to the ladies who attended the ball at Holyrood Palace in 1745.

It also showcases the local history of Fort William and the surrounding area.

This museum is open throughout the year, and entry is free.

Don’t miss the bronze cast of a Ford Model T with a man in Cameron Square adjacent to this museum.

9. Unleash your inner explorer at Steall Waterfall

Tucked away in the rugged Glen Nevis, Steall Waterfall is one of the best places for a short hike around Fort William. This gorgeous waterfall has appeared in the Harry Potter films.

Steall Waterfall is the second-highest waterfall in Scotland. It tumbles down into the Nevis Gorge with a single drop of 120 metres.

To reach the starting point of this walk, you will have to drive for around 18 minutes from Fort William.

From the car park at the end of the road near the head of Glen Nevis, continue through a narrow gorge. It can be a bit rough and rocky in some places. Soon, you will see the enchanting Steall Waterfall .

You will need to cross a three-wire rope bridge to get to the base of the waterfall.

10. Take on adventures aplenty in Fort William

From mountain biking to skiing, hill walking to golfing, there is a wide range of outdoor activities to do in this town. It is heaven for adventure enthusiasts.

There are numerous hiking trails around this area. If you are looking for long-distance walking trails, you would be interested in West Highland Way and Great Glen Way.

cycling in Fort William

For water sports enthusiasts, there is a 60-mile canoe trail along the Caledonian Canal, which runs coast-to-coast from Corpach to Inverness. You can also do whitewater rafting on the River Gary near Fort William.

Nevis Range Mountain Resort is a popular place for mountain biking, skiing and paragliding.

If you are into ice climbing, head to the Ice Factor at Kinlochleven.

11. Discover the ruin of Old Inverlochy Castle

Nestled on the shore of River Lochy in Fort William, Old Inverlochy Castle is a ruined castle. It was built in the late 13th century by John Comyn II – the Chief of the Clan Comyn of Badenoch.

In the Battle of Bannockburn, the Comyns took sides with the English, and after their defeat, they lost their lands and ownership of the castle. Over centuries, it changed hands a few times.

tourist information fort william

From Fort William town centre, follow the riverside path to reach Old Inverlochy Castle.

The castle ground by the river is a great spot to sit back and relax. You will get a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and the river from the footbridge over River Lochy.

While you are in this area, visit the nearby Highland Soap Company Visitor Centre and Ben Nevis Distillery.

12. Enjoy Endless Vistas from The Road to the Isles

Stretching from Fort William to the quaint seaside port of Mallaig, The Road to the Isles is one of the most scenic drives in Scotland. The ferry to the magical Isle of Skye leaves from Mallaig.

Along this route, you will come across some of the jaw-dropping sceneries of the west coast.

The Road to the Isles to Morar

Make sure to visit the historic Glenfinnan Viaduct near the serene Loch Shiel and the pristine white beaches of Morar and Arisaig.

The drive from Arisaig to Mallaig is perhaps the most spectacular section of this route. On clear days, you would get a gorgeous view of the mountain ranges of Skye and the Small Isles in the Inner Hebrides.

Moreover, there is Loch Morar – the deepest freshwater lake in the UK.

13. Stroll around the Fort William Town Centre

Fort William’s High Street is lined with various shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants.

If you are looking for a cosy cafe, we would highly recommend a visit to the Rain Bakery . This little coffee shop has a great selection of pastries and cakes. Try their Turkish eggs and pancakes for breakfast.

For vegans, The Wildcat is a great choice. They serve delicious breakfast and lunch from fresh local produce.

ruins of Old Fort

Book lovers can easily spend a few hours browsing through the eclectic collection of maps, travel guides and second-hand books at The Highland Bookshop.

Ramble around the Old Fort of Fort William. The town got its name from this historic ruin. It was built by Oliver Cromwell in 1654.

Pop into the nearby Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre. You would get to learn a lot of information about the geology and landscape of the Lochaber area.

14. Hike around Cow Hill

If you are looking for some easy family-friendly walking trails in Fort William, then this hike to Cow Hill is perfect for you.

Cow Hill is a small hill that blocks the view of Scotland’s highest peak, Ben Nevis, from the town. It is only 287 metres tall.

Fort William from Cow Hill hike

The hike starts from Lochaber Leisure Centre. The entire circuit takes around 3-4 hours to complete and covers a distance of around 6.75 miles.

Paths are way-marketed and easy to follow. Also, the breathtaking elevated view over Loch Linnhe, Loch Eil,  Glen Nevis and Fort William is simply breathtaking.

During the Jacobite uprising of 1745, cannonballs were fired from the Sugar Loaf Hill viewpoint.

15. Walk the West Highland Way

Walking a section or full stretch of West Highland Way should be on your Fort William itinerary. It is very popular among locals and tourists alike.

You would be rewarded with some stunning sceneries of the West Highlands – a vast stretch of  Loch Lomond and the Trossachs , desolate Rannoch Moor, undulating terrain of Glen Coe and many more.

Opened in 1980, West Highland Way is a long-distance route running from Milngavie near Glasgow to Fort William. Spanning a stretch of 96 miles, it’s the first official long-distance walking trail in Scotland.

The good thing about West Highland Way is it’s not a very difficult walk and doesn’t involve climbing any big hill.

There are plenty of accommodations in the towns and villages along this way. Also, you can do wild camping here.

16. Take a Scenic Cruise on Loch Linnhe

What better way to admire the stunning surrounding area of Fort William than a boat tour over Loch Linnhe?

There are several different boat trip options available. Boats sail from the pier. Sit back and enjoy the breathtaking view in all directions.

Loch Linnhe

You will learn about the history of this area from a knowledgeable guide.

The majestic Ben Nevis dominates the skyline. You will be sailing through the tranquil Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.

This area has a rich wildlife. If you are lucky, you might spot seals, otters, porpoises and salmon playing in the loch. You could even spot Golden Eagles flying above.

17. Take in Breathtaking Views from the Great Glen Way

The Great Glen Way is a popular long-distance route from Fort William to Inverness. Opened in 2002, this 78-mile path is one of the great trails of Scotland.

It generally takes 5-6 days to hike and 2-3 days to cycle the entire Great Glen Way. The path is well-signposted. It is perfect for beginners and experienced walkers and cyclists visiting Fort William.

Most of the walk is at a low level along the towpaths of the Caledonian Canal and woodlands. The entire route can broken down into six different stages.

Not only you would get to enjoy stunning sceneries, but Great Glen Way also has excellent wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled out for golden eagles, deer, and red kites.

18. Seek out inspiring views from the Commando memorial

Located about 10 miles northeast of Fort William, the Commando Memorial is one of the most scenic monuments in the UK dedicated to War heroes.

The bronze statues of three Commandos commemorate the British soldiers who lost their lives in World War II.

From here, you will get a stunning view of Ben Nevis and the surrounding mountain ranges of Scottish Highlands. Certainly, it is a must-see spot on your way in or out of Fort William.

This 17-foot tall monument overlooks the former Commando Training Depot, a military training facility in Achnacarry Castle. During the Second World War, about 25,000 soldiers were trained here.

Map of the Tourist Attractions in Fort William

Here is a map of all the tourist attractions mentioned in this travel guide. Click on the link to open it in Google Maps . You can save it for future use. We have also marked a few of our favourite cafes and restaurants in this town that you might like.

Best Time to Visit Fort William

May to September is the ideal time to visit this lochside town.

During these months, days are longer and drier, with lots of sunshine. It is the perfect time for outdoor activities. Also, the famous Jacobite Steam Train runs from the end of March to October.

Summer is also the busiest tourist season. That means hotels will be booked out well in advance, and restaurants will be very busy.

The weather in Fort William, like the rest of Scotland, is extremely unpredictable. So, check the weather before going out exploring.

Also, it is a good idea to carry waterproof jackets with you. Even in summer, you might see some rain.

How long to spend in Fort William

We would recommend spending at least 2-3 days in this town. Although this town is quite small, there are loads to see here.

Fort William is a perfect hub to explore the Lochaber area of the Scottish Highlands. There are so many incredible hiking trails nearby. You could easily spend a week here.

This town is only an hour’s drive from Oban, the seafood capital of Scotland. It takes only 1 hour and 45 minutes to drive to Inverness from here. Also, many visitors catch the ferry to the Isle of Skye from Mallaig.

How to Reach Fort William

This town is well connected with the major towns and cities of Scotland. You can easily reach here using public transport.

By Car – The drive to Fort William is one of the most scenic road trips in Scotland. From Glasgow , it takes around 2 hours and 30 minutes. On the way, you can visit Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Spean Bridge, Stirling and Falls Of Falloch. It takes about 3 hours from Edinburgh .

By Bus – Catch a Citylink bus from Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station. The journey to Fort William takes approximately 3 hours and 10 minutes. Book your ticket in advance to get a reduced fare. Usually, four bus services run on this route every day all year round.

By Train – The journey from Glasgow Queen Street Train Station to Fort William is very scenic and takes around 3 hours and 45 minutes.

If you are coming from London, board the Caledonian Sleeper train from London Euston. It leaves London at night and reaches this town the next morning.

How to get around Fort William

The town centre is pretty compact and easily walkable. The bus and train stations are centrally located.

Shiel Buses operate the local bus services around the town and the nearby Lochaber area. 

Scottish Citylink runs the intercity buses connecting Fort William to Oban, Inverness, Isle of Skye and Glasgow. They stop at some nearby places. 

Also, Scotrail runs regular train services from Mallaig and Glasgow. Trains run on time and are a cost-effective way to travel.

But a self-driving car is the best option to get around Fort William. It will give you more flexibility and save you time to explore all the hidden corners.

We hope you have a great time exploring this small town.

Love, Moumita & Sankha.

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The best things to do in Fort William

Things to do in Fort William

Fort William in the West Highlands of Scotland must be high on the list for Scotland's capital of the outdoors, with hiking, cycling, watersports, snowsports and three golf courses!

My wife and I honeymooned in  Fort William  way back in 2009; we fell in love with the area and everything it had to offer. The landscape is some of the most dramatic in Scotland, and there is so much to see and do in and around this lovely Highland town.

Here are the best things to do in the Fort William and Lochaber area.

Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in the UK, near Fort William in the Scottish Highlands. It's a popular destination for hikers and climbers, offering challenging terrains and panoramic views of the surrounding area. The mountain is also interesting to geologists due to its unique rock formations.

At its base is the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, which provides information about the mountain and the local environment. Even though Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain, it is not  too  difficult to walk to the top via the most accessible route; however, you will require good fitness and proper footwear.

Ben Nevis Visitor Centre on Google Maps What3words:  ///stoppage.inhaled.staple

Ben Nevis.

Steall Falls

Steall Falls is one of my favourite places in Scotland. Last year, I visited with my wife and was blown away by the walk, which culminates at Scotland's second-highest waterfall.

Glen Nevis car park is available near the start of the trail, which takes you past many smaller waterfalls crashing down into the Nevis Valley below. The route opens up into a larger meadow near the main waterfall, which is only accessible by crossing a wire bridge. Not for the faint-hearted, but it's worth crossing to reach the foot of one of the most impressive waterfalls in Scotland.

If you do one hike near Fort William, it should be this one:  Steall Falls  is one of the most impressive locations I've been to in all of Scotland.

Route length: 2.25 miles.

Steall Falls on Google Maps What3words:  ///trace.stripped.attic

Steall Falls.

Jacobite Steam Train

This steam train from Fort William to Mallaig is a brilliant activity in Fort William. Made famous as the Hogwarts Express from the Harry Potter films, it even crosses film locations from the movie, including the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The train ride feels like a step back in time and takes in the fantastic scenery of the West Highlands, including Loch Eil, Loch Shiel and Loch Morar - the deepest freshwater loch in Britain. A trip on the  Jacobite Steam Train  is highly recommended, even if you are not a Harry Potter fan.

Jacobite Steam Train on Google Maps What3words:  ///midwinter.conquest.smooth

The Jacobite Train on the West Highland Line.

West Highland Museum

Founded in 1922, the  West Highland Museum  is among the oldest in the Scottish Highlands. The museum contains a range of subjects from Scottish history, from archaeology to the Industrial Revolution, but primarily focuses on the Jacobite risings in the 1700s. One of the most interesting artefacts is a silk waistcoat, once owned by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie).

This museum can be found in central Fort William and is free to visit.

West Highland Museum on Google Maps What3words:  ///tequila.jingles.crossword

Fort William High Street

The main shopping high street in Fort William has a lot to offer, from supermarkets, outdoor clothing shops and tourist information centres to some of the best restaurants on the West Coast.

For a good meal, check out:

The Geographer

The Silly Goose at The Lime Tree

Crannog Seafood Restaurant

Garrison West

The Grog & Gruel

St Andrews Cathedral can also be accessed from the High Street; this Scottish Episcopal Church has a lovely interior and many ancient headstones within its graveyard.

Explore Fort William High Street.

Ben Nevis Distillery

Since 1825, Ben Nevis Distillery has produced its distinct brand of Scottish Whisky with water sourced from the peaks of Scotland's tallest mountains.

Visitors can reserve a premium tasting session, savouring the distinct Scotch flavours of Ben Nevis. Its location offers the added bonus of splendid views of the imposing Ben Nevis Mountain in the backdrop.

Don't miss this authentic slice of highland heritage; make sure you plan a visit to the distillery while in Fort William.

Ben Nevis Distillery on Google Maps What3words:  ///packing.bypasses.amplifier

Ben Nevis Distillery.

Boat Trips - Cruise Loch Linnhe

Sail upon the pristine waters of Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil, discovering Fort William from a refreshing vantage point. Keep an eye out for  seals ,  otters , and a myriad of marine life that call these waters home.

Cruise Loch Linnhe offers a boat trip out onto the waters west of Fort William. The cruises offered are:

Seal Island Cruise - £28

Evening Cruise - £28

Day/Evening Cruise -  Check the website for details .

Winter Cruises - £28

Cruise Loch Linnhe on Google Maps What3words:  ///trudges.exclusive.nuzzling

Highland Bookshop

A paradise for readers! Dive deep into collections featuring local authors, uncovering the literary heart of the Highlands, or pick up an international bestseller for the next leg of your journey. Highland Bookshop can be found on 60 High Street.

Highland Bookshop on Google Maps What3words:  ///myself.gossiping.shaky

Neptune's Staircase

A marvel of engineering set against Scotland's natural beauty. This series of eight locks is a testament to human ingenuity, with boats gracefully navigating its intricate system along the Caledonian Canal.

Built by famous engineering genius Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822, Neptune's staircase is the longest staircase lock in Scotland and the wider UK. A walk quayside makes for a lovely day out.

Neptune's Staircase on Google Maps What3words:  ///jeeps.occupations.imposes

Neptune's Staircase. Fort William activities.

Old Inverlochy Castle

Old Inverlochy Castle , found on the south bank of River Lochy in central Fort William, is a fantastic castle ruin for history enthusiasts. This ruin is a classic castle design with four turrets with connecting walls; it's possible to explore the interior and walk through to the river behind.

The Comyn family built the castle in the 1270s and has links to Robert the Bruce after he captured it in 1307. Be aware that "Old Inverlochy Castle" is different from "Inverlochy Castle", a very high-end hotel on the outskirts of the town.

Entry is free and open at all times of the year unless closed for repair work.

Old Inverlochy Castle on Google Maps What3words:  ///gurgled.ivory.issue

Old Inverlochy Castle tower ruin.

Highland Soap Company Visitor Centre

Sharing a car park with Old Inverlochy Castle is the  Highland Soap Company . This family-owned business makes some of the nicest soaps and hand creams I've tried anywhere. I highly recommend the bog myrtle hand lotion.

This large headquarters has a selection of soaps you can try at their customer sink and even offers soap-making courses. The visitor centre also includes the lovely Larder Cafe with great coffee.

Highland Soap Company on Google Maps What3words:  ///

Highland Soap Company

Treasures of the Earth

Delve deep into Earth's wonders in this awe-inspiring exhibit on the north side of Fort William. Housed within a series of ancient caverns, the collection boasts an exquisite array of crystals, gleaming gemstones, and fossils that trace back millions of years, making it a must-visit for geology enthusiasts and curious minds alike.

Treasures of the Earth on Google Maps What3words:  ///snows.yummy.milder

Gemstones at Treasures of the Earth.

Golfing near Fort William

The perfect juxtaposition of sport and nature. Take a swing amidst the rolling green with Ben Nevis as your backdrop. Three courses are available in the Fort William vicinity:

Fort William Golf Club  - 18 holes.

Woodlands Glencoe  - 9 holes.

Spean Bridge Golf Club  - 9 holes.

Visit Dumbledore's Grave

Another Harry Potter filming location can be found west of Fort William, at Loch Eilt. The island, which contains the fictional  Grave of Dumbledore , can be seen a short distance from the A830 on the west side of the loch.

There are no facilities, information boards, or anything related to the film here, but it's great to see the famous film location in real life. The island can also be spotted from the Jacobite Steam Train.

Dumbledore's Grave on Google Maps What3words:  ///mallets.computers.fidgeting

Loch Eilt, Dumbledore's Grave.

Nevis Range Mountain Experience

Fort William is one of the best places in the UK for Snowsports, with the Nevis Range overlooking the town. The winter season runs between late December and the end of March and offers skiing and snowboarding.

If you aren't an adrenaline junkie, you can still ride the mountain gondola system to the top of the range, take in the stunning view and then head back down. Just riding the gondola is a lot of fun and great for small kids.

Nevis Range on Google Maps What3words:  ///cashier.gems.dynasties

Nevis Range Mountain

Lochaber Geopark

Lochaber Geopark is an expansive outdoor playground in the west of Scotland. Celebrated for its unparalleled geological legacy, Lochaber Geopark offers a journey through time. Traverse towering mountains, serene lochs, winding rivers, rugged coasts, majestic cliffs, and pristine sandy shores.

Keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls it home and delve into the millennia-long narrative of how these landscapes came to be.  Geotours  are a fantastic way to learn about some of the most interesting areas of the park.

Lochaber Geopark Website

Red Squirrel Lochaber.

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial

This memorial is dedicated to the commando's contribution and sacrifice in World War 2. The commando training ground was at Achnacarry, a short distance from the memorial location. The site's main feature is an impressive bronze statue standing 17ft tall, commemorating 1700 commandos who died and many more who were wounded.

Located about 15 minutes from Fort William in Spean Bridge, the  Spean Bridge Commando Memorial  is a touching place to visit with panoramic mountain views.

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial on Google Maps What3words:  ///acted.zoomed.dabbling

Spean Bridge Commando Memorial.

FAQs on things to do in Fort William

Here are a few frequently asked questions on things to do in Fort William:

How do I spend a day in Fort William?

It depends on what you like; there is no end of walking trails, hill climbing, and outdoor activities.

I would check out the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, then perhaps Old Inverlochy Castle, then Highland Soap Company.

Which is nicer, Oban or Fort William?

Oban is the more picturesque town, but Fort William is more functional. There are more places to stay and more activities in Fort William.

Why do tourists visit Fort William?

Fort William is known as the outdoor capital of the Highlands, so most people come for mountain climbing (Ben Nevis), mountain biking (Great Glen Way), hillside trails and the scenic walk to Steall Falls. The winter season also has a popular snowsports scene at Nevis Range.

Ben Nevis mountain range.

How many days do I need at Fort William?

Three days is recommended for sightseeing around Fort William if you have your own transport.

What is there to do between Fort William and Oban?

Here are a few suggestions:

Highland Titles Nature Reserve

Dunollie Museum & Castle Grounds

Ocean Explorer Centre

Dunstaffnage Castle & Chapel

Connel Bridge

Is Fort William, Scotland, worth visiting?

It really is; Fort William is the ideal base for exploring the west of Scotland. There is so much to see and do in the area, especially if you love outdoor activities. We visited Fort William last year and loved visiting Old Inverlochy Castle and Steall Falls.

What is Fort William Scotland known for?

Fort William is known for its hillwalking and mountain climbing due to it being located at the foot of the largest mountain in Britain - Ben Nevis.

Key information on things to do in Fort William

The Scottish town of Fort William is found on the west coast of Scotland.

Fort William has much to offer tourists, mainly outdoor activities, but there are lovely shops, restaurants and museums here too.

Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom, is a short drive from Fort William.

Steall Falls  is my favourite place to visit near Fort William.

Fort William High Street has many lovely shops and restaurants.

Snowsports are available depending on snowfall in the winter season.

Loch Linnhe.

Fort William  should be high on your list of places to visit if you are an "outdoorsy" person looking for activities in the Scottish Highlands. The hiking, cycling and watersports opportunities are second to none. There's plenty for the less adventurous, with museums, castles, train rides and lovely shops.

All information was correct at the time of writing, please check things like entry costs and opening times before you arrive.

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Fort William Travel Guide

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: February 5, 2024

Our Fort William Travel Guide includes recommended places to visit and things to do, accommodation options, tips and more for this Scottish Highland city. Everything you need to plan your visit and essential reading for any visitor to Fort William!

Plan your visit to Fort William

The town of Fort William is located in the Scottish Highlands at the foot of Ben Nevis (the UK’s highest peak) and on the eastern shore of Loch Linnhe. For those who enjoy the outdoors, Fort William is a mecca for hillwalking, climbing, and cycling.

Fort William is also the starting point of one of the world’s most famous train journeys – the Jacobite Express (or the Harry Potter train for wizarding fans!)

What you will find in this Fort William Travel Guide

Map of Fort William

When is the best time of year to visit fort william, what is the best way to explore fort william, what is the best way to travel to fort william from london, the jacobite, glenfinnan viaduct, glenfinnan monument.

  • Neptune's Staircase

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Fort William Scotland Travel Guide

Fort William travel guide – Visiting Fort William FAQ’s

Fort William is a popular destination at any time of year but there are advantages and disadvantages to each season.

In summer the hours of daylight are longer and the weather should be warmer and drier. This is Scotland however so prepare for all weather conditions.

In winter expect snow and freezing conditions. Hours of daylight are shorter which minimises the time available to explore. But it is also incredibly beautiful in winter too (and of course no risk of the dreaded midges!)

Read more about the best time to visit the UK in my detailed guide.

Fort William Travel Guide - Ben Nevis overlooking the Scottish Highland city.

The town is compact and is easy to get around on foot. If you want to see more of the area there are a number of ways to get around.

If you are arriving at Fort William by train it is possible to pick up a hire car (arrange to pick up the car from the train station)

Fort William is located on the scenic West Highland line . The section of the line between Fort William and Mallaig runs for 41 miles and is one of the most beautiful journeys in the world to take by train . For an extra special trip on this section of line why not book tickets on the Jacobite. Crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct may seem very familiar as this is the route of the Hogwarts Express!

There are local buses available to travel around the area – click here for more information about Shiel bus services.

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🚆 By train

Travel on the scenic West Highland line to Fort William from Glasgow. The journey takes less than 4 hours and traverses some of Scotland’s most beautiful scenery including Loch Lomond and Rannoch Moor.

The Caledonian Sleeper train is a fantastic way to travel to Fort William. You can find more about this service including tips to make the most of your journey in our article – guide to the Caledonian Sleeper or podcast episode.

Tip – If this is your first time catching a train in the UK read our complete guide to UK train travel which includes all the information you need to know to make travelling around the UK by rail a relaxing and stress-free experience.

🚗 By car (road trip option)

Travel to Fort William from Glasgow via the A82 but do plan to stop off along the way. The journey will take you through Glen Coe with its stunning mountainous scenery.

Distance & drive time

  • Edinburgh to Fort William – 212 kms (3 hours 30 mins)
  • Glasgow to Fort William – 170 kms (2 hours 50 mins)
  • Inverness to Fort William – 145 kms (2 hours 17 mins)

🛥 Boat cruise

Explore the beauty of Loch Linnhe on a boat tour. This is the perfect way to learn about the local history, culture, and wildlife of Loch Linnhe.

  • Book your boat tour of Loch Linnhe

🌂 On a guided tour

If you prefer to explore the area on a guided tour there are a number available from Scotland’s major cities.

Tours from Edinburgh

  • Loch Ness, Highlands and Glen Coe day tour
  • Loch Ness and Highland Full day Tour
  • Glenfinnan Mallaig and Glen Coe Tour
  • Magical Highland Tour

Tours from Glasgow

  • Loch Ness, Glencoe and Highlands Tour

T ours from Inverness

  • Jacobite Steam Train and Highlands Tour

Attractions and things to do in Fort William and surrounds

The famous train departs from Fort William and travels 41 miles to Mallaig over the Glenfinnan Viaduct and some of the most spectacular Highland scenery. The train is very popular so do book asap if it is a trip you would like to include in your Scotland itinerary.

Read more – How to travel on the Harry Potter train in Scotland

Jacobite train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The magnificent 21 arch viaduct with the Jacobite steam train crossing on its way to Mallaig or back to Fort William is an iconic photo of this beautiful feat of engineering design.

The viaduct was built between 1897 and 1901 by Robert McAlpine and Sons and was a vital link from the fishing port of Mallaig to Glasgow. Today experience this scenic West Highland route on ScotRail services departing Glasgow or for an extra special treat take the Jacobite steam train in the summer months.

The monument is located at the head of Loch Shiel on the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745 and the Jacobite uprising commenced. There is a visitor centre (have change ready for the car park) where you can learn more about the history.

Take a stroll to the monument for beautiful views over the loch.

Glenfinnan Monnument.

Neptune’s Staircase

Located just north of Loch Linnhe Neptune’s Staircase is a series of 8 locks on the Caledonian Canal. The locks raise the canal by 29 meters and were built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822.

Read – Ultimate Guide to things to do in Fort William

Neptune's Staircase in Scotland.

Inverness Travel Guide


Isle of Skye Travel Guide

Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highland Travel Guide

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Edinburgh Travel Guide - Itinerary Planners.

There are a variety of accommodation options in Fort William to suit every budget. These are my choices of some of the best hotels, lodges and B&Bs based on location and customer reviews.

Fort William Accommodation Quick Picks

Travelodge Fort William

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The Garrison


Shelbeck B&B

18950594 20122306320093793989

➡️ Read our area and accommodation guide to Fort William

More special stays – Accommodation Guide for Scotland

Fort William with Ben Nevis.

  • The Wee Fort William Tour – Half Day Tour

4-hour tour of the main attractions of Fort William including Neptune’s Staircase and Inverlochy castle.

  • Glenfinnan and the Harry Potter Bridge

This 4-hour tour includes the Glenfinnan Viaduct and visitor centre, Neptune’s Staircase and the Caledonian Canal.

  • Scottish Highlands Mountains and Waterfalls Tour

Enjoy this 6-hour tour which includes a scenic drive along beautiful Glen Nevis, mountain gondola to the slopes of Aonach Mor and lunch at the Snowgoose Restaurant.

Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Our recommendations from a local for the best places to eat in Fort William include

⭐️ Garrison West – 6 Cameron Square, FW, PH33 6AJ

⭐️ Crannog Seafood Restaurant – Town Centre Pier PH33 6DB

⭐️ Inverlochy Castle Hotel Restaurant

⭐️ Lime Tree – Achintore Road PH33 6RQ

⭐️ Glen Nevis Restaurant and Bar – PH33 6SX

⭐️ Black Isle Bar Fort William – craft beers, organic whisky, pizzas and salads ++

⭐️ Nevis Bakery – fabulous sandwiches

🛍🎁 Local tip – Looking for souvenirs from your visit to Fort William? Pop into the Granite House in Fort William – they have a wide selection of fantastic souvenirs for sale!

This guide will provide inspiration plus practical information to help plan your visit to Fort William . You will find more inspiration and ideas to help plan your travels around Scotland in these travel guides:

Aberdeen Travel Guide

St Andrews Travel Guide

Glasgow Travel Guide

Edinburgh Travel Guide

Things to do in Edinburgh

Find more inspiration for your travels in my Scotland Travel Guide which includes information about what to see, where to stay, how to get around, travel tips, recommended reading and more to make the most of your trip.

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Visitor and Tourist Attractions in Fort William & Lochaber

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Fort William and Lochaber has many visitor attractions for tourists of all ages.  You can take a tour of the Ben Nevis Whisky Distillery , relax on the beautiful white beaches at Morar near Mallaig , take the gondola up Nevis Range or climb Ben Nevis to enjoy the breath-taking panoramic views over the whole of Fort William and Lochaber .

You could also take a trip up The Great Glen Way & Glen Nevis where you might recognise some locations from Mel Gibson’s Braveheart movie !

Find accommodation in Fort William

See live webcams of Ben Nevis

Discover things to do in Fort William

Take a look at our top suggestions lists

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Download our iPhone app - the essential pocket guide to Fort William and Lochaber with details of everything to see and do!

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The Ben Nevis Distillery

Lochy Bridge, Fort William, PH33 6TJ

Caledonian Bears

The Old Smiddy, Fort William, PH33 7NF

Glenfinnan Monument

The National Trust For Scotland, Glenfinnan, PH37 4LT

Nevis Range

Nevis Range, Fort William, PH33 6SQ

From £11.50 (per person)*

Glenfinnan Church

St Mary & St Finnan Church, Glenfinnan, PH37 4LT

Glencoe Visitor Centre

Glencoe Visitor Centre, Glencoe, PH49 4LA

The Jacobite Steam Train

Fort William Railway Station, , Fort William, PH33 6DZ

From £17.00 (per person)*

West Highland Museum

Cameron Square, Fort William, PH33 6AJ

The Land, Sea & Islands Centre

Land, Sea and Islands Centre, Arisaig, PH39 4NJ

Glen Nevis Visitor Centre

Glen Nevis, Fort William, PH33 6PF

Ardnamurchan Lighthouse Visitor Centre

The Lighthouse, Acharacle, PH36 4LN

The Ice Factor

Leven Road, Kinlochleven, PH50 4SF

Treasures of the Earth

Corpach, Fort William, PH33 7JL

Nevis Range Snowsports

Torlundy, Fort William, PH33 6SW

The Commando Memorial

The Commando Memorial, Fort William, PH34

Mallaig Heritage Centre

Station Road, Mallaig, PH41 4PY

Glencoe Mountain Resort

Kingshouse, Ballachulish, PH49 4HZ

Ardnamurchan Natural History Centre

Glenmore, Acharacle, PH36 4JG

Crannog Cruises

Crannog Concept Ltd, Fort William, PH33 6DB

From £7.50 (per person)*

Caledonian Canal

British Waterways Scotland, Fort William, PH33 7JH

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21 BEST Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland [2024]

Are you planning a trip to the Scottish Highland in 2024 and wondering about the best things to do in the idyllic Fort William? Look no further! I vividly remember my journey through this enchanting Scottish town which is known as the home of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles.

Fort William is unquestionably a destination that should top your list, blending the charm of nature with cultural richness. Famed as the UK’s outdoor capital , this Highland town draws people for its spectacular natural vistas, array of outdoor pursuits, and deep-rooted historical appeal with a touch of luxury. It’s a haven for enthusiasts of hiking, especially on Ben Nevis, mountain biking, and skiing, offering a gateway to the expansive Scottish Highlands, along with the stunning views of Glencoe. Setting itself apart from other remote Scottish highland towns , Fort William offers a unique experience. Surrounded by awe-inspiring scenery, it’s home to a variety of independent restaurants, cozy hotels, and local shops.

Staying overnight or even longer, with Fort William as your travel hub, is an excellent choice, where you can explore the stunning Scottish Highlands and immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture and outdoor activities..

While the town boasts good transport links, I highly recommend exploring the Scottish Highlands with a car.

I have meticulously crafted this guide to highlight the must-do activities that capture the essence of Fort William. Whether it’s marveling at the grandeur of Ben Nevis or exploring the serene waters of Loch Ness near Fort Augustus, to journeying on the historic Jacobite Steam Train , I’ve got you covered. I have included my suggestions of places to stay along with some excursions which you may want to undertake also.

Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast exploring the breathtaking landscapes, a history aficionado delving into Scottish heritage, or simply in search of tranquillity and unwinding in a luxurious setting, Fort William’s diverse attractions makes it a must-visit destination in the Scottish Highlands.

Read on and discover the very best things to do in Fort William for timeless experiences.

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Fort William Scotland

Fort William, Lochaber, Scotland

Cradled amidst the Scottish Highlands at the southern end of the Great Glen, overlooked by the majestic Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak, and hugged by the shores of Loch Linnhe, Fort William is a town steeped in history and natural splendour, serving as a beacon in the Scottish Highlands. Known as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK,’ its geographical location makes it a haven for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

The town has intriguing origins. ‘Fort William’ was initially named after William of Orange and has since been a silent witness to centuries of Scottish history, including the Jacobite uprisings, reflecting Scotland’s complex past.

Fort William’s population, a harmonious blend of about 10,000 residents, mirrors the cultural diversity and resilient spirit of the Highlands. Inhabited by a warm and welcoming community, it’s a melting pot of traditions and stories, where ancient Scottish heritage meets modern vibrancy. This demographic blend adds to the town’s unique character, which I found to be a fascinating place to explore.

Fort William’s importance in the Highlands cannot be understated. It serves as a crucial gateway to the Scottish Highlands, offering access to natural wonders like Loch Linnhe and the West Highland Way. Its the starting point of the celebrated “ Road to the Isles ” adventure and the real-life “Hogwarts Express”, the Jacobite Steam train , one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.

Additionally, it’s a hub for outdoor activities, including hiking, climbing, and mountain biking, drawing adventurers from around the globe. The town’s proximity to historical sites like Old Inverlochy Castle and the West Highland Museum further cements its status as a key destination for some of the very best things to do in this region of Lochaber, especially for those seeking to immerse themselves in Scotland’s rich history and natural splendour.

Ben Nevis and Fort William seen from the other side of Loch Linnhe Scotland timeless travel steps

How to Get to Fort William, Scotland

Whether you’re arriving by road, rail, or bus, the journey to Fort William is an integral part of the Highland experience, revealing breathtaking views and connecting you to the heart of one of Scotland’s most beloved areas.

Driving to Fort William is one of the best ways to experience the Scottish Highland landscape. Use postcode 📍PH33 to get to the centre of town. Routes like the A82 offer stunning views of Loch Lomond and Glencoe which will absolutely take your breath away. If you need to rent a car, hire one here.

Parking at Fort William

Notable parking spots include the West End Car Park, ideal for coaches, campers, and private vehicles. The An Aird Car Park – No 1, situated opposite The Nevis Centre is suitable for HGV and caravans.

These spots ensure that your vehicle is safely parked as you explore the town and its surroundings​​​​.

Fort William is well-connected by train to major cities, providing a scenic journey through the Highlands. The West Highland Line links Glasgow to Fort William and further to Mallaig, offering breathtaking views of the Highland scenery. From almost anywhere in Britain, you can travel to Fort William via Glasgow, making it a convenient town to reach for travellers from across the country​​​​​​.

Scottish City Link and Shiel Buses provide regular bus services to Fort William, connecting it with cities like Inverness , Oban, and even the Isle of Skye .

The City Link coach service also makes stops at Glasgow Airport in the afternoons, adding another layer of convenience for travellers. Shiel Buses, operates services around Lochaber and to and from Oban and Inverness, ensuring that Fort William is easily accessible by bus from various key tourist destinations​​​​.

Fort William as a Hub

At Fort William, you’re stepping into a town that not only offers its own array of attractions but also a vital hub in the Highlands, offering seamless connections to various parts of Scotland . From here, you can embark on the ‘Road to the Isles’ or explore the nearby mysterious Loch Ness, making Fort William an ideal starting point for your Highland adventures.

Jacobite train

Where to Stay in Fort William

Fort William, as a dynamic hub boasts accommodations to suit every preference and budget. Relying on for all my accommodation needs, I’ve carefully selected the best options in each category, ensuring a memorable and comfortable stay whether you’re looking for luxury, mid-range, or budget-friendly choices.

Inverlochy Castle Hotel: This is a splendid 19th-century Scottish Castle. Inverlochy Castle, with a history graced by Queen Victoria’s visit, this hotel promises an unforgettable experience of luxury and relaxation, set in a landscape rich with historical landmarks and natural beauty. BOOK HERE.

The Garrison Hotel: Perfectly located on the high street, this hotel is surrounded by various dining and shopping options. Within walking distance of local attractions. It features unique and quirky decor, including eccentric rooms and repurposed jail cells. BOOK HERE .


Cruachan Hotel: Located near the scenic Ben Nevis and overlooking the picturesque Loch Linnhe, this hotel offers bed and breakfast accommodation just a 5-minute walk from the center of Fort William.

Ben Nevis Hotel & Leisure Club: Situated only 1 mile from Fort William, this hotel provides not just affordable accommodation but also leisure facilities, making it a great option for those looking to relax and unwind without breaking the bank​. BOOK HERE.

_Inverlochy Castle Hotel Scotland timeless travel steps

21 Best Things to Do in Fort William, Lochaber, Scotland

Fort William, offers a multitude of activities for every kind of traveller and the options can be overwhelming. However, I have narrowed it down to the absolute must-dos. Whether you’re an adventurer, a history enthusiast, or simply in search of stunning scenery, these 21 activities in and around Fort William are guaranteed to make your visit unforgettable.

1. West Highland Museum (Cameron Square, Fort William PH33 6AJ):

This museum is a treasure trove of local history, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of the Scottish Highlands. As someone deeply fascinated by history, I find the museum’s collections, which include Jacobite memorabilia and everyday Highland life artifacts, utterly captivating. A visit here offers a profound understanding of Fort William’s past, making it a must-see in the town center.

2. Old Inverlochy Castle (Happy Valley, Fort William PH33 6SN)

The ruins of Old Inverlochy Castle hold centuries of history within their walls. I was mesmerized by the serene yet imposing presence of this 13th-century fortress. It’s a short distance from Fort William’s center and offers a glimpse into Scotland’s turbulent past. The castle’s picturesque setting near the River Lochy makes it a perfect spot for history enthusiasts and photographers alike.

3. Ben Nevis Distillery (Lochy Bridge, Fort William PH33 6TJ)

Located at the foot of Ben Nevis, this distillery is a haven for whisky lovers. Discovering the art of whisky making here was an enlightening experience, revealing the intricate process behind one of Scotland’s most famous exports. The guided tours provide a fascinating insight into the distillation process, followed by a chance to taste their fine single malts. It’s an experience that immerses you in Scottish tradition and the warm hospitality of Fort William.

Old Inverlochy Castle on a sunny day with blue skies and cotton clouds

4. Climb Ben Nevis (Visitor Centre, Glen Nevis, Fort William PH33 6PF)

Climbing Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain at 1,345 meters (4,413 feet), is a challenging yet rewarding adventure. The ascent is typically considered moderate to difficult, requiring reasonable fitness. The roundtrip can take about 7-9 hours, depending on conditions.

While the climb showcases the Highlands’ stunning flora and fauna, it’s important to note there are no toilet facilities on Ben Nevis itself. However, you can use the toilets at the Visitor Centre, available during its opening hours. Reaching the summit offers unparalleled views, making it a truly unforgettable experience in the heart of Scotland. BOOK THIS GUIDED TOUR HERE.

5. Nevis Range Mountain Experience (Torlundy, Fort William PH33 6SQ)

The Nevis Range isn’t just about the spectacular gondola rides. It’s a hub for outdoor activities, including thrilling downhill mountain biking trails and serene walking paths. In winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering skiing and snowboarding. Every visit here, regardless of the season, promises excitement and scenic beauty.

6. Steall Waterfall Hike (Glen Nevis, Fort William)

The path to Steall Waterfall is as magical as the destination itself, winding through one of Scotland’s most beautiful glens. The waterfall, set against a backdrop of dramatic cliffs, is a powerful display of nature’s beauty. It’s a peaceful retreat where the sounds of cascading water and the beauty of the surroundings provide a perfect escape into nature.

7. Glencoe Valley (Glencoe, Ballachulish PH49 4HX)

Glencoe Valley is a remarkable blend of natural beauty and profound historical depth. Known for its stunning geological formations, the valley offers trails leading to hidden valleys and secluded spots, with each turn unveiling breathtaking views.

This scenic splendor is intertwined with a rich history, most notably the Glencoe Massacre of 1692, where members of the MacDonald clan were tragically killed by government forces. This event, part of efforts to quell Jacobite uprisings, has left a lasting impact, making Glencoe a symbol of both natural wonder and historical poignancy. The rugged terrain, which played a pivotal role in historical clan skirmishes, adds to the valley’s allure, making it an essential destination for anyone exploring the Scottish Highlands.

Steall Falls and Nevis Gorge on a misty morning  Scotland

8. The Great Glen Way (Starts at Old Fort, Fort William)

Exploring the Great Glen Way is one of the very best things to do in Fort William. The Great Glen Way is a scenic long-distance walking route extending about 117 kilometers (73 miles) from Fort William to Inverness. It is an experience that beautifully intertwines the historical and natural tapestry of Scotland.

This path, which is generally rated as easy and accessible for walkers of varying abilities, follows the remarkable Great Glen, a geological fault line famed for creating some of Scotland’s most stunning landscapes, including the legendary Loch Ness. Each step along the tranquil loch shores, dense forests , and rugged hills narrates a unique part of Scotland’s story, making it an absolute must-do for both nature enthusiasts and history buffs.

While the path is primarily low-level, mainly following canal towpaths, forest tracks, and roads, it presents some challenging sections that cater to more experienced hikers. It’s a trail that can be comfortably completed in 4 to 7 days, depending on your pace and hiking experience.

If you plan to explore the Great Glen Way, several Visitor Information Centres along the route offer invaluable assistance and information. These centres are your go-to resource, and are located in Inverness, Fort Augustus, Fort William, and Drumnadrochit. They provide detailed maps, advice, and insights to enhance your journey.

9. Jacobite Steam Train (Tom-na-Faire, Station Square, Fort William PH33 6EN)

Riding the Jacobite Steam Train , often called the real-life Hogwarts Express, is like stepping back in time, and a must-do experience when in Fort William. This historic steam train journey, starting from Fort William to Mallaig , is a magical experience, especially if you cherish railway nostalgia and stunning landscapes.

Operating from late March to October, with morning services from March 28 to October 25 and afternoon services from May 6 to September 27, the journey is an absolute highlight. This 84-mile round trip weaves through Scotland’s most dramatic landscapes, beginning near Ben Nevis, passing by Arisaig, and skirting the edges of Loch Morar and Loch Nevis, over the famed Glenfinnan Viaduct before arriving at the fishing town of Mallaig.

This steam train journey is one that I highly recommend. I found this experience uniquely enchanting, a nostalgic journey through the heart of the Scottish Highlands, famed as one of the most scenic train journeys in the UK.

Jacobite train over Glenfinnan Viaduct near Fort William Scotland timeless travel steps

10. The West Highland Line (Starts at Fort William Railway Station, Station Square, Fort William PH33 6EN)

The West Highland Line offers an unforgettable experience. The route offers some of the most scenic train journeys in the world, with views of Scotland’s rugged mountains, serene lochs, and remote moors. It connects Fort William to Glasgow and Mallaig, with the journey revealing the untamed heart of the Highlands, an experience worth going for.

11. Glenfinnan Viaduct (Glenfinnan, PH37 4LT)

The Glenfinnan Viaduct, a stunning piece of engineering, gained worldwide fame through the Harry Potter films. The viaduct is situated in Glenfinnan (PH37 4LT), approximately just 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) west of Fort William on the A830 road. Seeing the iconic arches of the viaduct, with the Jacobite Steam Train crossing, is a surreal experience. As it is easy to reach, I’d recommend that this is a must-visit for fans of the films and anyone who appreciates extraordinary architecture set against a dramatic Highland backdrop. The surrounding area of Loch Shiel also offers beautiful walks and a chance to delve into the Jacobite history at the nearby Glenfinnan Visitor Centre.

the scenic view of Loch Shiel and the surrounding area near Fort William Scotland timeless travel steps

12. Fort William Historical Walks (Meeting point: Fort William Visitor Information Centre, 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6AJ)

Walking through Fort William on a historical tour is a journey through time. An interesting tour and I was captivated by the town’s rich past the town’s role in Scottish history. It’s a must for anyone wanting to understand the essence of Fort William and its significance in the Highlands.

13. Scottish Folk Nights (Various venues in Fort William)

Experiencing a Scottish Folk Night in Fort William is to immerse oneself in the heart of Scottish culture. The traditional music, often held in local pubs or community centers, is not just entertaining but deeply rooted in the region’s heritage. It’s a perfect evening activity for those seeking an authentic Highland experience.

14. Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre (Fort William PH33 6AN)

Visiting the Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre was an enlightening experience. It offers insights into the unique geology of the region, from ancient volcanoes to the last ice age. Understanding the geological forces that shaped the stunning landscapes of the Highlands added depth to my exploration of the area.

15. ‘Road to the Isles’ (Starting from Fort William to Mallaig on the A830)

Embarking on the ‘Road to the Isles’, I discovered it’s more than just a drive; it’s a journey through some of Scotland’s most majestic landscapes. This route offers a spectacular blend of mountains, lochs, and white sandy beaches, leading to the charming coastal town of Mallaig. Every mile of this drive reveals the untouched beauty of the Highlands, making it a must-do for road trip enthusiasts.

16. The Caledonian Canal (Stretching from Fort William to Inverness)

Driving along the Caledonian Canal, I was struck by the serene beauty of this waterway, flanked by lush greenery and the Scottish highlands. It’s an idyllic route for those seeking a peaceful drive, offering views of a canal that seamlessly connects Scotland’s east and west coasts.

17. Ardnamurchan Peninsula (Accessible via A861 from Fort William)

Exploring the Ardnamurchan Peninsula was a journey into the wild, unspoiled heart of Scotland. This remote area, with its rugged coastline, pristine beaches, and quaint lighthouses, is a hidden gem. The drive to the peninsula itself is a thrilling adventure, offering stunning vistas and a chance to disconnect and immerse in nature.

boats dock at Mallaig Harbour near Fort William Scotland

18. Loch Linnhe Cruises (Departs from Fort William Town Pier, The Waterfront, Fort William PH33 6DB)

Cruising on Loch Linnhe is an experience of tranquility and scenic beauty. The boat tour offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and wildlife. It’s a peaceful way to appreciate the natural beauty of the Highlands, making it ideal for a relaxing day out.

19. Sea Kayaking (Various locations around Fort William)

Paddling through the coastal waters of Fort William offers an exhilarating experience. Sea kayaking here lets you explore secluded coves and witness the rugged coastline from a unique perspective. It’s perfect for adventure seekers looking to connect with nature. Explore activity options with Rockhopper Sea Kayaking.

20. Fishing in River Lochy (Access points along the River Lochy, Fort William)

Fishing in the River Lochy is a serene and rewarding experience. The river, known for its salmon, offers a chance for both novice and experienced anglers to enjoy the sport amidst beautiful Highland scenery.

21. Day trips from Fort William

Fort William’s prime location makes it an ideal base for exploring the Scottish Highlands, offering convenient access for a variety of day trips. I’ve selected the best for you to consider:

Isle of Skye: Accessible by bus. Several bus services run from Fort William to the Isle of Skye, providing a direct route to this stunning location known for its rugged landscapes and picturesque villages.

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle: Accessible by bus. Regular bus services are available from Fort William to Loch Ness, where you can visit the famous Urquhart Castle and explore the mysteries of the loch.

Oban and the West Coast: Accessible by both train and bus. Oban, the seafood capital of Scotland, is easily reachable from Fort William by a scenic train journey or by bus, offering a gateway to the West Coast and Hebridean islands.

Inverness: Accessible by both train and bus. Inverness, the capital of the Highlands, can be reached from Fort William via a train journey that offers scenic views or by bus, allowing you to explore the city’s cultural and historical sites.

Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle near Fort William Scotland

Travel Tips When Considering a Visit to Fort William, Scotland

When planning a trip to Fort William, it’s essential to consider a few travel tips to plan ahead and make the most of your visit. I recommend the following:

1. Always be prepared for Scottish weather!

I must say, that I have been fortunate in this respect. My visits are usually in the autumn, a midge-free season , and I have not experienced “bad weather”. There were more sunny days, than rainy ones and when it did rain, it wasn’t for long. Nonetheless, be prepared. The weather in Fort William can be unpredictable, often changing rapidly. Pack layers , including waterproof clothing, to stay comfortable regardless of the weather. Sturdy, waterproof footwear is a must, especially if you plan to hike or explore the rural areas.

2. Transportation: Do you Need a Car in Fort William?

I’m often asked if a car is needed when visiting Fort William. Well, in Fort William, having a car can be beneficial but is not strictly necessary. The town itself is compact and walkable, and many of the local attractions, like the start of the Ben Nevis trail and the town center, are accessible on foot. Public transport options, like buses and trains, are available and can take you to many popular destinations. The West Highland Line, for instance, offers scenic train journeys.

However, if you plan to explore the wider Scottish Highlands, particularly more remote areas or multiple sites in a short time, for example the scenic ‘Road to the Isles.’ Some of the beautiful parts of The Highland are tucked away along narrow roads and are inaccessible via public transport. A car offers greater flexibility and convenience to visit off-the-beaten-path locations on your own terms, and it is for this reason, a car is definitely needed. If you need to hire a car, consider renting a car.

3. Accommodation

Booking in advance is advisable, especially during the peak summer months or when local events are happening. Fort William offers a wide range to suit all budgets.

4. Local Cuisine

Don’t miss out on trying local Scottish cuisine. Fort William has several restaurants and pubs serving traditional dishes like haggis, Cullen skink, and locally caught seafood. Also, consider visiting a local distillery to sample Scottish whisky.

5. Use Fort William as a Base to Explore the Surrounding Highlands

Fort William makes for a great base to explore the Highlands. Day trips to the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, and the Cairngorms National Park are highly recommended for their breathtaking landscapes and cultural significance.

6. Connectivity

While Fort William offers modern amenities, some remote areas in the Highlands have limited mobile phone coverage and Wi-Fi access. Plan accordingly, especially if you rely on digital maps or guides.

7. Respect the Environment

The natural beauty of the Highlands is one of Fort William’s biggest attractions. Observe the ‘ Leave No Trace ‘ principle when outdoors to protect the environment.

_Cullen skink soup with smoked haddock timeless travel steps

Nearby towns include Spean Bridge, Corpach, and Kinlochleven. Slightly further away are Oban and Mallaig.

Yes, you can start the walk up Ben Nevis from Fort William. The most common starting point is the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre, which is about 2 miles from the town center.

No, Fort William is smaller in terms of population compared to Oban. Oban is more of a bustling hub, while Fort William is more renowned for its outdoor activities.

Fort William has a complex naming history. Initially, the area was known as Inverlochy, due to the nearby Inverlochy Castle. When the fort was built in the 17th century by Oliver Cromwell’s forces, it was indeed named Fort William, after William III of Orange. Later, during the reign of King William and Queen Mary, the settlement around the fort was named Maryburgh in honor of Mary II. However, the name Fort William eventually prevailed for the settlement as well, and the original name Inverlochy remained associated with the older castle and the initial settlement. So, the area had both names, Inverlochy originally, and then Maryburgh, before becoming widely known as Fort William.

In 1746, Fort William witnessed military action during the Jacobite Risings. The fort was besieged by Jacobite forces but they failed to capture it, which was one of the events leading up to the Battle of Culloden.

8. Useful Links

  • Visit Scotland – Fort William: The official tourism website for Scotland, offering comprehensive information about Fort William, including attractions, activities, events, and accommodation options. Visit Scotland – Fort William
  • Fort William Weather Forecast: To check the local weather, which is crucial for planning outdoor activities in this region. Met Office — Fort William Forecast .
  • Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps : These detailed physical maps are perfect for planning hiking and walking routes, offering comprehensive coverage of topography, trails, and landmarks. OS Maps App : A digital service that provides access to all OS leisure maps across all your devices, along with additional features like route planning and recording, augmented reality, and offline map access.
  • If you need a car, hire a compact one suitable for Scottish roads and ease of parking. Take a look here .
  • Book Hotels and B&Bs ahead of time. Go here to the ultimate resource on accommodation choices in and near Fort William .
  • Book Activities and Day Trips from Fort William ahead of time so you can secure a good deal on discounts. I highly recommend Get Your Guide and Viator as these are also my go-to tour suppliers.
  • UK E-Sim Data Plan.

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For all articles about travels in Scotland, go here to >> Complete Guide to Scotland.

Interested in Exploring more of England? You may find the comprehensive guide about the regions of England as an excellent resource for trip planning . Go to the dedicated page for all articles about England .

Happy and Safe Travels Always, Wherever Travel Takes You, xx

Complete Guide to Fort William Pin 1 Timeless Travel Steps

Introducing Georgina, the insightful Content Creator behind Timeless Travel Steps. A champion of off-season journeys and cultural immersion for the mature traveller, Georgina has explored 4 continents and over 30 countries. Her blog offers practical tips and personal insights into responsible, comfort-oriented travel along with slow travel destinations. Accompanied by classical, country, and jazz tunes, Georgina's solo adventures and time with her adult children, A & M, enrich her unique travel narrative. Join her for inspiring, immersive global explorations.

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8 Best things to do in Fort William, Scotland

  • February 8, 2024

Table of Contents

When people think of Scotland, they often think of the highlands. This is a region in the north of Scotland that is known for its rolling hills, lochs (lakes), and mountains. One of the most popular towns in the highlands is Fort William. This town is located at the base of Ben Nevis, which is the tallest mountain in Scotland. There are many things to do in Fort William, and this guide will help you explore all that this charming town has to offer!

8 Best things to do in Fort William, Scotland

8 Best things to do in Fort William

The town of Fort William is well worth visiting, as it provides plenty of activities and sights to make your trip a memorable one. The area is known for its stunning scenery and spectacular views, with the Ben Nevis mountain range offering plenty of opportunities for hikers. There are also fantastic attractions in the area. We explain the 8 best things to do in Fort William in this article.

Tip: the map of Fort William below pinpoints all the best attractions in the area. You can enlarge the map by clicking on the top right corner, and if you click on the star symbol next to the title, you can save it to your Google Maps account. In doing so, different categories will be displayed that you can use for navigation when arriving at Fort William.

Hike to the top of Ben Nevis

The best thing to do in Fort William is to hike to the summit of Ben Nevis which is an incredibly rewarding experience for any outdoor enthusiast. This mountain peak offers spectacular views of the Highlands. The hike itself is not too difficult, taking around 7-9 hours to reach the summit depending on your level of fitness. It is worth doing. To make sure you get the most out of your adventure, it’s important to be properly prepared and plan ahead. We wrote a detailed guide to explain everything you need to know about the hike of Ben Nevis .

Ben Nevis hike, Scotland

Steall Waterfall

Exploring the Steall Waterfall is an unforgettable experience for anyone visiting Fort William. The waterfall can be visited by doing the Steall Falls and Nevis Gorge hikes. During this hike, you have spectacular views of the Scottish Highlands.

This moderate hike is 3.5km / 2.25 miles long and takes around 2-3 hours to complete depending on how often you stop. We liked the hike because at first, you walk in rugged terrain, high up in the mountains, on small paths. But this changes suddenly when you arrive at an open field and can enjoy the view of all the surrounding mountains.

When you get to the open field, follow the path. To get to the waterfall, you will need to cross the river using the rope bridge.

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The hike starts at the ‘Ben Nevis Car Park waterfall’ which can be found at the end of the road of Glen Nevis. When you travel with a huge motorhome you can not park here because this is a single road which is too difficult. You need to park in this case at Lower Falls Car Park. We traveled with a Fiat Ducato and could easily drive to the ‘Ben Nevis Car Park waterfall’.

The hike is easy to follow because there is only one path to the Steall Waterfall. When you arrived at the Steall Waterfall you simply walk back in the same way. You can use our map to see how you need to walk and where to park the car.

Tip: nature and hiking enthusiasts, pay attention! Want to discover more about the most breathtaking hikes in Europe ? Click here for a dose of inspiration!

Steall waterfalls

Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is 30 minutes drive from Fort William and is a highlight of any Scotland travel itinerary and is definitely worth a visit. Situated in the beautiful Highland scenery of Lochaber, the viaduct is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Scotland. It has become even more famous in recent years with its use in films such as Harry Potter. To get the most out of your visit, our detailed guide about visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct shows you exactly how to plan your trip and make sure you don’t miss anything!

The Glenfinnan Viaduct

Enjoy a typical Scottish evening at Ben Nevis Inn

The best thing to do in Fort William which is a hidden gem is to visit Ben Nevis Inn. Our favorite night when we were traveling in Scotland for 3 weeks was for sure at the Ben Nevis In. The Ben Nevis Inn is the perfect way to experience a typically Scottish evening. The season is that every Tuesday and Thursday , a local band plays a range of traditional Scottish, Celtic, and English music. You can order some food or drinks and enjoy the evening with live music! With the great atmosphere and lively tunes, it’s easy to get lost in the beauty of Scotland. When you want to get a better idea about the culture of Scotland and be amongst the locals you have to go to Ben Nevis Inn and not go to the tourist restaurants in Fort William.

Tip: another big advantage for travelers with a motorhome is that if you are a customer you can stay overnight with the motorhome at the parking of Ben Nevis Inn. So you can go straight to your motorhome and go to bed after an evening of drinking.

Ben Nevis Inn

The hike North Face of Ben Nevis & Allt a’ Mhuilinn

The North Face of Ben Nevis & Allt a’ Mhuilinn is awesome and is well worth doing if you are in the Fort William area. Most visitors to the area only do the Ben Nevis, but this hike offers something different. The great thing about this hike is that you can enjoy the stunning view of Ben Nevis and the surrounding area. With the hike, you will walk to a hut in the mountain and return on the same path. We liked the walk because you don’t meet anyone, it’s a relaxing walk and you see beautiful things in terms of nature during the walk. You can also see sheep up close.

The hike is 10.25km / 6.25 miles long and takes up to 4 hours to complete, the hike starts at North Face car park and follows signs for North Face & CIC Hut. With our detailed map , you can navigate with ease. The hike is easy so no matter what your fitness level is you can complete it.

hike North Face of Ben Nevis & Allt a' Mhuilinn

Seal Spotting Loch Linnhe Cruise

If you’re looking for an experience that offers a unique view of Loch Linnhe, then this Loch Linnhe Cruise is a perfect choice. From exploring traditional fishing villages to hearing stories of local history and culture, this tour promises beautiful sights and unforgettable moments. With plenty of wildlife in the area, including seals, dolphins, and ospreys, you’ll be sure to spot something special during your journey. Whether you’re interested in history or wildlife, this boat tour is highly recommended and makes a great way to experience the beauty of Loch Linnhe!

Glen Coe is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Scotland and is only a 30-minute drive from Fort William. With its stunning scenery, it’s no wonder that it attracts visitors from all over the world. Glen Coe has plenty to offer, including beautiful hiking routes, and incredible road trips. With one day from Fort William or multiple days, you’ll surely get the most out of your experience. Our guide about Glen Coe will help you discover all of the hidden gems in this breathtaking landscape, making it well worth the trip!

Guide Glen Coe

Ben Nevis Distillery

Finally, the Ben Nevis Distillery is a must-visit while you’re in Fort William. Located just outside of town, this distillery has been producing whisky since 1825 and offers tours that allow you to learn about how whisky is made and get a taste of some of Scotland’s finest. The tour lasts approximately 1 hour and is a great way to learn more about Scotland’s history and culture. Afterward, you can purchase bottles of whisky, which make for great souvenirs or gifts for friends back home. You can buy tickets for the tour at the entrance.

Day tour to Fort William and the Highlands

The perfect solution for travelers who want to experience the best things to do in Fort William and the Highlands but don’t have many days or no car is a day tour from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness recommended. With a guided tour you can get an introduction to Scotland’s culture and nature. From Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness we recommend the following tours:

  • Edinburgh : take a guided day trip from Edinburgh to see Glen Coe, Fort William, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct. You’ll get to experience the beauty of these places and see where many Harry Potter scenes were filmed.
  • Glasgow : experience the beauty of Glen Coe, Fort William, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct on a guided day trip from Glasgow. See the iconic “Harry Potter Bridge” and admire the shores of Loch Shiel.
  • Inverness : you see the Scottish highlands, Loch Ness, and the Jacobite Steam Train as it crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

How many days do you need for Fort William

It really depends on what things you plan to do there. We recommend at least two days (2 nights), which would be enough to do one day the hike to Ben Nevis and the other day visiting the Steall Waterfall and the Glenfinnan viaduct.

We stayed 2,5 days in Fort Willaim so we could do the North Face of Ben Nevis & Allt a’ Mhuilinn hike. After these hikes we went to Glen Coe.

Where to stay in Fort William

Due to the fact that Fort William is located next to the mountain, Ben Nevis and many people would like to hike up to the mountain so you can find many accommodations near Fort William.

When traveling by car we recommend the following accommodation to stay. Generally speaking, it is important to book accommodation months in advance.

Ben Nevis Inn Rooms : Ben Nevis Inn Rooms offers luxury suites that have been recently renovated. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the town and surrounding mountains from their private balconies. Also, you can enjoy the evening food, drink, and music in the Ben Nevis Inn restaurant. Plus, the guest house is only a short distance away from Ben Nevis, making it an ideal base for exploring the mountain.

The Garrison : the Garrison is a 4-star guest house located in the center of Fort William. It offers cozy rooms with en suite bathrooms. The guest house also features a garden and terrace area where guests can relax and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding hills.

Distillery Guest House : when Ben Nevis Inn Rooms and The Garrison are fully booked you can stay at Distillery Guest House. For travelers who are looking for an authentic and traditional experience, we recommend the Distillery Guest House. This guest house is a charming 18th-century building offering comfortable rooms with modern amenities.

When traveling with a motorhome we recommend staying at the parking lot of Ben Nevis Inn. The condition is that you have eaten or drunk something at the Ben Nevis Inn.

Where to eat in Fort William

When it comes to places to eat in Fort William, you can’t go wrong with the Ben Nevis Inn . This cozy restaurant is a great choice for those looking for traditional Scottish cuisines such as haggis and neeps. The local seafood dishes are also delicious, and they offer a great selection of beers and whiskies. We recommend macaroni and cheese, salmon with lemon butter sauce, and steak pie. Prices range from £8-£15 / $9.80-$18.40 depending on the dish you choose.

If you’re looking for something a little more casual, then you should check out Lochaber Bistro & Bar . This is a great place for lunch or a light dinner. The atmosphere is laid back and the food is delicious. Popular dishes include fish and chips, burgers, and steak sandwiches. Prices range from £7-£10 / $8.50-$12.20 per dish.

In addition to these two places, there are also many other great places to eat in Fort William, including The Geographer and The Crofter Bar and Restaurant. The Geographer is a unique restaurant that serves amazing dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Prices range from £11-£22 / $13.45-$26.90 per dish. The Crofter Bar and Restaurant is a popular pub serving traditional Scottish favorites such as steak pie and fish and chips at good prices. Prices range from £8-£15 / $9.80-$18.35 per dish.

Travel insurance

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Transportation Fort William

Fort William offers a variety of transport options to get around, including buses, trains, and boats. The most popular way to get around is by bus, as there are several routes that run all around the town. There is also an extensive rail network that allows you to travel from Fort William to Glasgow or Edinburgh. Boats are also available for hire, and you can take a boat trip across Loch Linnhe or Loch Ness.

If you are staying in Fort William for several days, then it may be worth hiring a car. This will allow you to explore the area at your own pace and visit some of the more remote locations that would otherwise be inaccessible by public transport. You can rent a car via Rentalcars .

How to get to Fort William

The easiest way to get to Fort William is by car. The town is located on the A82 road, which connects Glasgow, Inverness, and surrounding places.

If you don’t have access to a car then you can take the train from Glasgow or Edinburgh. The journey takes around 3 hours, with regular departures throughout the day. You can also take a bus, which is usually the cheapest option. There are several operators that provide service to Fort William from Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The following is a list of the most popular destinations and how long it will take to reach Fort William by car:

  • Glen Coe to Fort William: 26 minutes | 25 km / 16 miles
  • Portree (Isle of Skye) to Fort William: 2 hours and 30 minutes | 173 km / 108 miles
  • Glenfinnan Viaduct to Fort William: 30 minuts | 27 km / 17 miles
  • Loch Lomond: 2 hours and 15 minutes | 150 km / 95 miles
  • Inverness to Fort William: 1 hour and 45 minutes | 106 km / 66 miles
  • Glasgow to Fort William: 2 hours and 45 minutes | 175 km / 109 miles
  • Edinburgh to Fort William: 3 hours and 20 minutes | 215 km / 134 miles

If you fly to Scotland, you can use Rentalcars to find a car to rent. We like using Rentalcars because it’s easy and we can book it ahead of time. This way, we can explore new destinations by car. You can rent a camper through Indiecampers; we’ve used their service and found it to be excellent.

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Best time to visit Fort William

Fort William is a great destination all year round, and the best time to visit depends on what you’re looking for. The months of April-June are perfect for outdoor activities such as hillwalking, mountain biking, and skiing. July-August are the warmest months with temperatures around 18°C (65°F). September-October is great for wildlife watching, as this is one of the best times to spot birds and other animals around Loch Linnhe. November-March are the coldest months with temperatures around 0°C (32°F). So if you’re looking to take part in some winter activities such as skiing, then this would be the perfect time for you.

Want to see more of Scotland?

From Fort William, there are many great places to explore. Just west lies the Isle of Skye , famous for its incredible views and unique wildlife. Further south is Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park , boasting stunning scenery and activities such as kayaking and fishing. For those looking for a city break, Edinburgh offers a variety of museums, galleries, and entertainment venues.

Other articles that you might find helpful are:

  • Scotland 3 week itinerary : use as inspiration to build your own itinerary.
  • Scotland budget travel : this article shows how to travel to Scotland on a budget and how much it costs to travel in Scotland.
  • Scotland travel guide : contains general travel information about Scotland.

What do you think of Fort William ? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: the prices mentioned in this article may differ from the current situation. We regularly update our articles. Would you like to help us to provide to best possible insights to help other travelers leave a comment with the latest information. Thanks!

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  1. 15 Best Things to Do in Fort William and Nearby

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  2. Five Things To See And Do When Visiting Fort William

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  3. Visit Fort William: Best of Fort William, Scotland Travel 2022

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  4. 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William

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  5. Top Things To Do In Fort William

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  6. With our wild beaches, sparkling lochs and romantic castles, it no

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  1. Visit Fort William—Find places to stay and things to do in Fort William

    The self-catering accommodation sleeps 2-6 persons in three apartments with 1,2 and 3 bedrooms with a 2-night minimum stay most of the year, with longer stays at peak times of the year. The village of Corpach has excellent local transport links to Fort William, Mallaig, Inverness or Glasgow by road, rail, local bus or long-distance coach.

  2. Unmissable Things To Do in Fort William

    Great Glen Cycle Route Fort William. 1 Great Glen Cycle Route. One of Scotand's Great Trails, the Great Glen Way has something for all wayfarers with 79 miles of path, track, canal and loch to discover. Starting in Fort William and finishing in Inverness, the route can be walked or cycled with mountains and lochs as a stunning backdrop.

  3. Fort William

    Where is Fort William? Located in Lochaber in the West Highlands, the town is described as the Outdoor Capital of the UK and is a popular base for weekend breaks and holidays in the Highlands. From some of the most beautiful beaches in the world to iconic film locations, sweeping hills, castles, and distilleries, discover the wonder that is ...

  4. THE 15 BEST Things to Do in Fort William

    4. Nevis Range Mountain Experience. 2,475. Trams. Nevis Range Mountain Experience is in the heart of the Scottish of Highlands, 7 miles north of Fort William. The Mountain Gondola will whisp you up to 650m on Aonach Mor where you'll find the Snowgoose restaurant & bar with spectacular views, mountain trails and viewpoint walks.

  5. Fort William Visitor Guide

    Hiking and climbing. Fort William is a mecca for hikers and climbers. For information on the climb up Ben Nevis and walks around Glen Nevis. If you want to hire a guide, try Lochaber Walks, 22 Zetland Av, Tel. 703828; Fort William Mountain Guides, Tel. 700451; Alba Walking Holidays, Tel. 704964; and Snowgoose Mountain Centre.

  6. Travel Information

    Useful travel information to Fort William, Glencoe and Ben Nevis in Scotland. Fort William and Lochaber is very easy to get to regardless of where you are travelling from. The area is extremely well serviced with good rail and road links, and Glasgow and Inverness airports are 98 and 70 miles respectively from Fort William.

  7. Fort William travel

    Europe. Basking on Loch Linnhe's shores amid magnificent mountain scenery, Fort William has one of the most enviable settings in all of Scotland. If it weren't for the busy dual carriageway crammed between the less-than-attractive town centre and the loch, and one of the highest rainfall records in the country, it would be almost idyllic.

  8. Fort William iCentre, Fort William

    VisitScotland iCentres. Fort William. The Highlands. Fort William iCentre is centrally and conveniently located on the High Street, close to all major amenities including Rail and Bus links as well as public Car Parking. Situated within the Outdoor Capital of the UK, we are ideally placed to provide information and inspiration whether you are ...

  9. 14 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Fort William

    Fun fact: Fort William was the first British town to use hydroelectricity to light its streets. Find the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions and things to do in Fort William. On This Page: 1. Climb (or Photograph) Ben Nevis. 2. Book a Nevis Range Mountain Experience. 3.

  10. Top Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland

    Freezing fog or even summer snow can set in making the man-made path to the top easy to loses. Bring a compass and well developed mountaineering skills. Even better, book a guide or join a group walk from Fort William. Visit Fort William has a list of recommended guides or drop in at the Tourist Information Center at 15 High Street.

  11. Fort William

    Tourist information is at Fort William iCentre, 15 High St, open daily 9:30AM-5PM. Get in [edit] 56°49′1″N 5°6′36″W. Map of Fort William. By plane [edit] Inverness Airport (INV IATA) is the closest, but since you need to hire a car anyway it's better to use Glasgow Airport.

  12. 18 Epic Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland + Map

    1. Ride the Jacobite Steam Train through Glenfinnan Viaduct. No visit to Fort William is complete without riding the famous Jacobite Steam Train. It has appeared in Harry Potter movies and is popularly known as the Hogwarts Express. The Jacobite train travels along the stunning West Highland Coast of Scotland.

  13. 15 Things to do in Fort William: See, do, eat, stay & tips

    Our recommendations from a local for the best places to eat in Fort William include. ⭐️ Garrison West - 6 Cameron Square, FW, PH33 6AJ. ⭐️ Crannog Seafood Restaurant - Town Centre Pier PH33 6DB. ⭐️ Inverlochy Castle Hotel Restaurant. ⭐️ Lime Tree - Achintore Road PH33 6RQ. ⭐️ Glen Nevis Restaurant and Bar - PH33 6SX.

  14. The best things to do in the Fort William area in West Scotland

    Key information on things to do in Fort William. The Scottish town of Fort William is found on the west coast of Scotland. Fort William has much to offer tourists, mainly outdoor activities, but there are lovely shops, restaurants and museums here too. Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in the United Kingdom, is a short drive from Fort William.

  15. 15 Things You Must Do In Fort William

    3. Visit Corpach marina. An Cafaidh Mara Cafe. Corpach Marina. If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of town, one of the best things to do in Fort William is visit the marina at Corpach. Built in the 19th-century, it was originally used by boats transporting goods from Inverness.

  16. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Fort William

    This mountain towers over Fort William and the Caledonian Canal. 2023. 2. Steall Waterfall. 1,521. Waterfalls. By sana-b33. It is Scotland's second highest waterfall with a single drop of 120 metres. 2023.

  17. Travel information to Fort William

    Travelling to Fort William is easy by road, rail or air. The Visit Fort William website provides lots of information you help you plan your trip. Fort William and Lochaber is very easy to get to regardless of where you are travelling from. The area is extremely well serviced with good rail and road links, and Glasgow and Inverness airports are ...

  18. THE 10 BEST Things to Do in Fort William

    4. Nevis Range Mountain Experience. 2,475. Trams. Nevis Range Mountain Experience is in the heart of the Scottish of Highlands, 7 miles north of Fort William. The Mountain Gondola will whisp you up to 650m on Aonach Mor where you'll find the Snowgoose restaurant & bar with spectacular views, mountain trails and viewpoint walks.

  19. Fort William Travel Guide

    The journey will take you through Glen Coe with its stunning mountainous scenery. Distance & drive time. Edinburgh to Fort William - 212 kms (3 hours 30 mins) Glasgow to Fort William - 170 kms (2 hours 50 mins) Inverness to Fort William - 145 kms (2 hours 17 mins) 🛥 Boat cruise.

  20. Visitor and Tourist Attractions in Fort William & Lochaber

    Star Rating. Fort William and Lochaber has many visitor attractions for tourists of all ages. You can take a tour of the Ben Nevis Whisky Distillery, relax on the beautiful white beaches at Morar near Mallaig, take the gondola up Nevis Range or climb Ben Nevis to enjoy the breath-taking panoramic views over the whole of Fort William and Lochaber.

  21. Fort William Information Centre

    They offer an accommodation booking service, Scottish Citylink bus tickets as well as tickets for other local boat cruises, tours and activities. They also provide free wifi access. Car parking, toilets, shops and local amenities are all nearby. 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6DH. 01397 701801. [email protected].

  22. 21 BEST Things to Do in Fort William, Scotland [2024]

    12. Fort William Historical Walks (Meeting point: Fort William Visitor Information Centre, 15 High Street, Fort William, PH33 6AJ) Walking through Fort William on a historical tour is a journey through time. An interesting tour and I was captivated by the town's rich past the town's role in Scottish history.

  23. 8 Best Things To Do In Fort William, Scotland

    Inverness to Fort William: 1 hour and 45 minutes | 106 km / 66 miles; Glasgow to Fort William: 2 hours and 45 minutes | 175 km / 109 miles; Edinburgh to Fort William: 3 hours and 20 minutes | 215 km / 134 miles; If you fly to Scotland, you can use Rentalcars to find a car to rent. We like using Rentalcars because it's easy and we can book it ...