Steal waterfalls, fort william

8 Best things to do in Fort William, Scotland

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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
Steall waterfalls Fort William

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

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.

Ben Nevis Inn

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.

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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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Hello, we are Cynthia & Alexander, the team behind Travel Your Memories! Traveling is our passion. When it comes to exploration, we love sharing our tips and adventures to inspire you. Welcome to Travel Your Memories, where we share our love for travel with you! Read our story.

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