Official Sightseeing
Tours of Scotland since 1907

Inveraray Castle and Gardens

Fun things to do in Inveraray

Today, we are exploring Inveraray, a Scottish town as rich in beauty and history as with things to see and do. Why don’t you join us and discover more about this town, its striking Scottish Georgian architecture, and all it has to offer? In this blog we’ll highlight some of the main attractions in Inveraray, from those you may have heard of to those you haven’t… 

We are starting with the question, though – how do you pronounce Inveraray? It’s a Scottish tongue-twister, for sure! According to trusty old Google, “in-vuh-reuh-ree” is your how-to guide for pronunciation. And if you think this can’t be something people search for, you’d be surprised… There are even videos dedicated to this topic! 

Where is Inveraray 

Ariel view of Inveraray and Loch Fyne

If you visit the Argyll region in the West of Scotland, you may find yourself coming across the town of Inveraray. Sitting on the banks of picturesque Loch Fyne, Inveraray is a Scottish town in its own right and functions as a good “pitstop” before exploring the Scottish Highlands and Islands. 

Inveraray town has lots to offer visitors, including some beautiful Georgian buildings, Inveraray Castle and even its own jail. The good news is that if you’re searching for things to do in Inveraray, you’re in the right place. 

Inveraray Town 

Impressive Geoirgian architecture of Inveraray

One fascinating fact about Inveraray is that it came to be following the destruction of a previous fishing village by the 3rd Duke of Argyll, Chief of the Clan Campbell, during the 18th century. This resulted in open parklands and a town that was aesthetically pleasing and not within the eyesight of the castle. 

We could tell you just how pretty Inveraray is, but instead, we would suggest visiting the town yourself. We highly recommend our Castles and Lochs of the Western Highlands tour, which will let you see everything Inveraray offers – from tourist attractions to the natural landscapes and wildlife.

Inveraray Pier

What you may not know is that Inveraray also has a pier. Starting off life as a 100ft structure, the pier was suitable for two smaller-sized boats (not altogether suitable for a busy fishing location!) until it was extended and then classified as a category B building. This means it has been recognised for its architectural and/or historical merits.

Situated in the middle of the herring fishery found at Loch Fyne, the pier also played its part during the Second World War (via aiding in Combined Operations training), along with its role as a place for guests to enter Inveraray from Clyde steamers during the 20th century.

Dun na Cuaiche Watchtower

You can’t fail to miss the Dun na Cuaiche Watchtower, towering over Inveraray. Although initially intended for ornamental purposes, the views from the tower (including those of Loch Fyne) just have to be seen to be believed.

This viewpoint has long been recognised, dating back to the 18th century when it was built. And despite being hit by lightning on more than one occasion, it remains standing to this very day.

Inveraray Castle

Inveraray Castle

Arguably the most well-known attraction in Inveraray is the castle. The beautiful Inveraray Castle can be found situated at an equally beautiful spot along the banks of Loch Fyne. It is remarkable to think that despite its idyllic location and natural surroundings, the castle is just 60 miles from central Glasgow.

The architect of none other than Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard, John  Vanbrugh, created a sketch that was said to be the inspiration behind the castle, and even after the death of Vanbrugh, his artistic musings live on until this very day.

Although Vanbrugh was the inspiration (and an architect in his own right), Roger Morris and William Adam take the title of the architects of Inveraray Castle, although tragically, neither lived to see their creation come to fruition… this was a task that was eventually carried out by the sons of Adam back in the late 18th century. Robert Mylne was responsible for the interior of the castle.

Tapestry Drawing Room

Now acting as a (family) home to both the Dukes of Argyll and the ancestral seat of Clan Campbell, the castle you see standing now in the 21st century is a product of a fire back in 1877, whereafter followed an extension comprising of a third floor and conical roofs. 

Finally, we had to take a moment to appreciate the star quality of Inveraray Castle, or should we say “Duneagle Castle”, which featured in the 2012 Christmas special of Downton Abbey. 

Inveraray Castle Gardens 

The 16 acres worth of gardens of Inveraray Castle are just as spectacular as the main building. Enjoy flowers, including bright and sunny daffodils, rhododendrons and roses (depending on the time of year you visit), and the woodland where wildlife can be found in abundance. 

Armoury Hall

And then there are the “Flag-Borders”, so-called due to their layout, which has been modelled on our very own national flag, the St Andrew’s Cross. Who knew nature could make you feel so patriotic?!

Inveraray Castle Armoury Hall

The Armoury Hall within the castle showcases a vast number of weaponry, including Brown Bess muskets dating back to the 1740s and Lochaber axes. You’ll also be able to spot the dirk and sporran from none other than Rob Roy MacGregor. That’s a whole lot of history in one room! 

It’s not just the contents of the Armoury Hall that deserve a mention, though. The hall reaches a height of a fantastic 21 metres, which is the tallest ceiling to be found here in Scotland. It truly is an impressive feat of architecture. 

Inveraray Jail Museum 

You better be on your best behaviour when you go to Inveraray, lest you end up in jail! 

Courtroom of Inveraray Jail

Although initially you could find the town prison under the courtroom in the Town House, escapees meant that a more appropriate solution was sought. James Gillespie Graham designed a new jail that was finished in 1820, ready to hold new prisoners. Some modern adaptations were made to the jail (thanks to the Penal Reform Bill of 1838) over the years, including the addition of the Airing Yards in 1843 before the jail closed its doors in 1889. 

Over the years, the justice system slowly left Inveraray, but eventually, the jail opened to visitors in 1989… but this time as a tourist attraction. At Inveraray Jail experience the courtroom as if it was in session and see what it was like for a prisoner – just make sure the doors don’t lock behind you!

Discover Inveraray for yourself 

We hope reading all about Inveraray has inspired you to book a trip. This charming town and its scenic location are well worth a visit!

You are just one click away from booking your seat on one of our exciting tours. Whether you want to explore our castles, find out more about the history of Scotland or take in some incredible scenery, we have a tour for you.

Book your Scotland tour today.

Picture credits: Inveraray Castle, Inveraray Jail, Shutterstock and VisitScotland