Fort William itself is certainly not the prettiest or the most picturesque, yet the town is ideally positioned to explore the magnificent surrounding landscapes. Located in the shadows of Britain’s tallest mountain, Fort William is a haven for any outdoor enthusiast. In fact, the town is often considered the outdoor capital of the United Kingdom. So grab your waterproof jacket and Smidge, it’s time to face the Scottish elements and embark on a Highland adventure!
Table of Contents
- Free Things To Do In Fort William
- Paid Things To Do In Fort William
- Where to Stay in Fort William
- Scottish Highlands Google Map Legend
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Free Things To Do In Fort William
Discover the Old Boat of Caol
Technically, the Old Boat of Caol is not in Fort William. Though this shipwreck is only a 10-minute drive from the town centre… In my opinion, it’s worth the extra mile!
Climb Ben Nevis
Are you ready for a challenge? At 1,345 metres (4,412 feet) above sea level, Ben Nevis is the highest peak in the United Kingdom. You wouldn’t miss it as the mountain dominates the surrounding hilltops of Fort William.
In my opinion, the Mountain Path (otherwise known as the ‘Tourist Route’) is certainly not the most scenic hike in Scotland, nor even in Fort William, but it can offer visitors the opportunity to be the highest human in the United Kingdom, even just for a brief moment. The path is steep but easy to follow, however, walkers should always proceed with caution as weather conditions can change in an instant on the Ben – be prepared!
If you aren’t equipped to reach the top, mentally or physically, then the trail to the North Face is a great alternative. This route yields an amazing view of the magnificent North Face of Ben Nevis.
Watch the Jacobite Steam Train
The Jacobite Steam Train is arguably one of the most iconic locomotives in the world… Have you ever seen Harry Potter?
Hearing and seeing the Jacobite Steam Train can be just as exhilarating as being a passenger onboard. With a couple of whistle blows and a rhythmic chug, you will not miss the excitement from all the smoke that is left behind. The best place to see the Jacobite Steam Train is further along the road at Glenfinnan, but you can still experience the train from Fort William too.
Admire the Old Inverlochy Castle
Located only about a mile away from Fort William, Old Inverlochy Castle can be visited along the A82 road towards Inverness. Dating back to the 13th century, the castle may be small and crumbling but it provides a valuable insight into the battles of Inverlochy.
Hike the Steall Falls Walk
The Steall Falls Walk has been widely reported as one of the best short walks in Scotland! The trail is simple, yet the views are rewarding as the Steall Waterfall is the second-highest in the country. With only a 3.5-kilometre round-trip (taking approximately 2 hours), this hiking experience will leave you with a lasting memory of the Scottish Highlands’ true mountainous beauty.
Learn at the West Highland Museum
The West Highland Museum shares fascinating stories of the region, population and history. It’s one of the best places in Fort William to gain an in-depth context and learn about the local history through the vast collection of archaeological artefacts and interesting exhibits. Inside you’ll find information on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites, with the Goldman coin collection, ancient pottery and stonework from a wrecked Spanish Galleon. Amazingly so, this museum about history is a part of history itself… As The West Highland Museum was founded in 1922, it’s one of the oldest museums in the Highlands!
Watch the Neptune’s Staircase
Neptune’s Staircase can be visited en route to the Old Boat of Caol or the Glenfinnan Viaduct. It’s just outside Fort William in a town called Banavie. The site is easily accessed as a four-mile walk from Fort William or with the large car park that’s only metres away.
Built in the early 19th century by Thomas Telford, Neptune’s Staircase is still the longest of its kind in Great Britain. The structure is a series of locks that span a quarter of a mile to raise the canal’s water level by 19 metres. This allows boats to travel up the Caledonian Canal or down towards the sea. Witnessing the staircase in action, from top to bottom, will be a slow 90-minute process. However, the paths that run adjacent to the canal provide locals and visitors with a pleasant route to walk or cycle.
Paid Things To Do In Fort William
Grab a Pint in a Traditional Pub
If you were dreaming of a cold one with every step up the mountain, then the Ben Nevis Inn will not disappoint on the foot of the mountain. Inside, the exposed stone walls reveal the converted barn’s 200-year-old existence. With regular live music and a beer garden, visitors can enjoy Scottish food and real ales in a relaxed atmosphere.
Take a Boat Trip
Like many other seaside towns in Scotland, Fort William is a great base to hop aboard a boat to spot some wildlife. Cruise Loch Linnhe offers two great and affordable options:
Sip Whisky at the Ben Nevis Distillery
Whether you’d prefer to take a tour or simply pop in for a dram (or two!); head to the Ben Nevis Distillery to sample the local whisky. You mightn’t be a big drinker, but whisky distillery tours can still be of interest as they are a great way to gain insight into Scottish heritage. Founded in 1825, the Ben Nevis Distillery is the epitome of heritage as the establishment is one of the oldest licensed distilleries in Scotland!
Where to Stay in Fort William
Fort William has a great selection of accommodation options! I’d particularly recommend those with the best views of the surrounding area so that you can enjoy the beauty of the location.
Stay in the award-winning Inverlochy Castle Hotel for mountainside views and leisure activities like fishing and clay pigeon shooting.
Warm your fingers and toes at the Glen Nevis Youth Hostel with their log-burning stove and stunning panoramic mountain views.
RELATED: The Best Places to Visit in Scotland
Scottish Highlands Google Map Legend
This Google Map Legend showcases 140+ need-to-know coordinates within our bonnie Scottish Highlands & Islands:
- Awesome Wild Camping Park-Ups
- Best Walks, Viewpoints, Beaches
- Bucket List Locations
- Accessible Showers & Fresh Water Taps
- Relevant Links to Online Travel Guides
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