Updated May 2023

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This post is your guide to Fort William including things to do in Fort William, Fort William Restaurants and Fort William Accommodation

11 Top-Rated Things To Do In Fort William

Fort William is the largest town in the highlands of Scotland and sits at the foot of the United Kingdom's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It is often referred to as the 'Outdoor Capital of the UK' due to it's incredible landscape and variety of outdoor activities on offer.

Having lived in Scotland the majority of my life, I have spent many a weekend up visiting Fort William and the stunning surroundings, including climbing Ben Nevis. Therefore, I can personally vouch for the best things to do in Fort William.

I've written this as a guide to Fort William to give you all the information on things to do, Fort William accommodation and Fort William restaurants, which will help you to plan your own trip and adventure in Fort William!

This post is all about things to do in Fort William including where to stay in Fort William and where to eat in Fort William.


This blog post covers...


Glasgow to Fort William

  • Driving - From Glasgow, it takes 2 hours and 30 minutes to get to Fort William via the A82.
  • Train - Take a Scotrail train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Fort William Bus Station. This journey will take roughly 3 hours and 45 minutes and you can book your tickets via this link: https://www.scotrail.co.uk.
  • Bus - Take the '914/915/916 Uig' Citylink bus from Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow City Centre to Fort William Bus Station. This journey will take roughly 3 hours and 15 minutes and you can book your tickets via this link: https://www.citylink.co.uk.

For public transport (train or bus), Glasgow is the easiest and most convenient city in the central belt to go to Fort William from. If you are based in Edinburgh or Stirling, you'll need to go to Glasgow to get the bus or train to Fort William anyway.

Glasgow to Fort William
Glasgow to Fort William

Things to do in Fort William

Explore The Town of Fort William

Even though Fort William is quite a small town. It's still worth wondering around it to see what it has to offer. There's a couple of note-worthy attractions including:

  • The High Street - This is the main street in the heart of Fort William. It is pedestrianised and has lovely little boutique shops and restaurants/bars.
  • Cameron Square - This is the town square located off the High street. It's a lovely place to sit especially if it's a nice day.
  • West Highland Museum - One of the oldest museums in the highlands and located on Cameron Square. It's highly rated and tells the turbulent history of the West Highlands. The museum is free to visit for all adults and children.
  • Highland Cinema - A really lovely little state-of-the-art independent cinema and cafe bar located on Cameron Square. Offering great movies, music, food and drink.
  • St Andrews Church - This lovely little church is located right off the High Street in Fort William and occupies it's only little green oasis.
  • The Highland Book Shop - A cute independent bookstore located on the High Street.
Fort William Town Centre
Fort William Town Centre

Neptune's Staircase

Located in the small village of Banavie, only 4 miles north of Fort William. Neptune's Staircase was built by Thomas Telford between 1803 and 1822 and is a magnificent feat of engineering. It is the longest staircase lock flight in Scotland and it takes around 90 minutes for a boat to travel up or down the locks.

It's free to visit Neptune's Staircase.

Neptunes staircase
Neptunes staircase

Fort William Castle (aka Old Inverlochy Castle)

Located about 2 miles away from Fort William Town Centre, Old Inverlochy Castle dates back to the 13th century. It's now mostly a ruin and it's moat is long gone. However, it was once upon a time, one of the most important castles in Scottish history, serving as a backdrop for the first and second battles of Inverlochy.

The castle is free to visit.

Fort William Castle
Fort William Castle

Ben Nevis Distillery

This 19th century whisky distillery is situated at the base of the UK's highest mountain, Ben Nevis. It's just down the road from Fort William Castle (aka Inverlochy Castle).

You can visit the visitor centre all year round Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm. In June-August, the visitor centre is also open on Saturday and Sunday, 10am-6pm and 12pm-6pm respectively.

If you want to enquire or book a tour, you need to email them at tours@bennevisdistillery.com.

Fort William Distillery
Ben Nevis Distillery

Treasures of the Earth

This is certainly a unique one! Treasures of the Earth contains Europe's finest private collection of crystals, gemstones and fossils. It's a small family run museum housed in a former church, located only 4 miles from Fort William town centre. It takes around 30 minutes to see the collection and it costs £7.99 for an adult ticket and £4.99 for a child ticket.

Saint Mary & Saint Finnan Church, Glenfinnan

This gorgeous church is located in Glenfinnan, about 25 minutes away from Fort William. However, it's certainly worth the drive, just look at the picture below! The church has the most stunning location with a dramatic backdrop of the surrounding mountains and Loch Shiel.

Things to Do In Fort William
Glenfinnan Church

Loch Shiel & Glenfinnan Monument

Loch Shiel is the 4th longest loch in Scotland and in my opinion, it's one of the most beautiful ones with its dramatic landscape. It is located 25 minutes from Fort William, near the church mentioned directly above.

The Glenfinnan Monument is located right on the shores of Loch Shiel and is a tribute to those who died fighting for the Jacobite cause. If you have a National Trust membership, then the monument is free to visit for you! If you don't have one, then it will cost £5.50 for an adult ticket and £4.00 for a child ticket.

Loch Shiel
Loch Shiel

Glenfinnan Viaduct & Jacobite Steam Train

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland and it's an excellent place to watch the Jacobite steam train (aka the Harry Potter train). This is one of the most iconic and famous views in Scotland seeing the train going over the viaduct.

To get there, you need to drive and park at the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre, about 25 minutes from Fort William. Last time I parked there, it was £3.50. However, it's likely the price has increased since then.

There's two viewpoints to see the viaduct, the first one is only 5-minutes away from the car park (see picture below) and the second one is about a 15-minute walk from the car park and offers a closer viewpoint to the viaduct.

The Jacobite Steam Train crosses over the Glenfinnan viaduct everyday at 10.45am and 3.15pm.

If you wanted a completely different perspective, you could book a seat on the Jacobite Steam Train, which runs from Fort William to Mallaig, and is described as one of the greatest railway journeys in the world.

Glenfinnan Viaduct
Glenfinnan Viaduct

Steall Waterfall

Steall Waterfall (aka Steall Falls or An Steall Bàn) is said to be the second highest waterfalls in Scotland with water cascading 120m down the gorge. The waterfall is located in Glen Nevis and it's just over a 2-mile hike through the Nevis Gorge to the waterfall, which takes 1.5-2 hours.

Follow this link to read about the route to the waterfall:

Steall Falls and the Nevis Gorge
One of the best short walks in Scotland, this route heads through the dramatic and beautiful Nevis Gorge and leads to the awesome Steall Falls.
Steall Waterfall
Steall Waterfall

Nevis Range Mountain Experience & Climb Ben Nevis

Nevis Range Mountain Experience is Scotland's Highest Snow-sports destination. You can take their gondola up the mountain range and then, do skiing, snowboarding or mountain biking. They offer lift passes, equipment hire and even, snowsports lessons.

If snowsports isn't your thing, why not climb Ben Nevis instead? Ben Nevis is the UK's highest mountain standing at 1,345m. It's a relatively decent climb and can take anywhere between 5-9 hours depending on your speed/fitness.

To start the climb at Ben Nevis, you should park at Ben Nevis Visitor car park, which you'll need to pay to use. Last time I was there, it was £6 (for 6+ hours). However, it's likely the price has increased since then.

Follow this link to read about the climb to Ben Nevis summit:

Ben Nevis by the Mountain Path
Ben Nevis is the highest mountain in Britain. The route described here is the standard way up the mountain; it is straightforward, if strenuous, by hillwalking standards, but the less experienced should be sure to read all the precautions.
Ben Nevis Summit
Ben Nevis Summit

Other Activities and Excursions

As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, Fort William is the outdoor capital of the UK. That means there is a massive variety of activities and excursions that you can do whilst in Fort William. Some of the companies which offer activities around Fort William are:

  • Lochaber Geotours - Offers guided geotours, where they'll take you to beautiful local places and explain how the rocks and the landscape was formed. If you don't want to pay for their tour, you can go into their visitor centre to get information on the history of the area and also, see their display of geological artefacts and fossils.
  • Cruise Loch Linnhe - This company offers seal island cruise, evening cruises and winter cruises. Other companies include Fort William Sea Tours and Crannog Cruises. All the companies mentioned are very highly rated.
  • River to Sea Scotland - This company is 15-minutes north of Fort William and offers a choice of kayaking and canoeing experiences.
  • Vertical Decents - This company offers canyoning, gorge walking, coasteering, white water rafting, white water funyakking, white water river bugging, white water river tubes and even, paintballing.
  • 3 Wise Monkeys Climbing Centre - An indoor climbing wall located in Fort William Town Centre.
  • Paddleboard Fort William - Offers paddleboarding which is a relaxing and really enjoyable sport, if you haven't tried it then you should give it a go! Other companies include LandD Adventures.

I went Paddleboarding up in Glencoe (which is one of the MOST beautiful places in Scotland imo) with a company called Rugged Paddleboard Glencoe. This place is located only 25 minutes south of Fort William and if you get peckish afterwards, I would highly recommend going to Glencoe café for the most delicious homemade soup, sandwiches, and cakes.

Things To Do in Fort William
Glencoe Paddle Boarding

Fort William Accommodation

Just a word of warning... Accommodation in Fort William doesn't come cheap, even the most basic accommodation can be very expensive. Also, it does book up months in advance, so I'd suggest booking as soon as possible.

All the options below were chosen with peak season in mind and two people sharing.

Budget (£0-£75 per night)

The only accommodation that I could find for two people within this budget was hostels. However, these hostels that I've linked have got excellent reviews, both have a really great location and they look really nice! The Fort William backpackers came in about £10 cheaper per person.

★★ Fort William Backpackers, Fort William, UK
Located in Fort William, 1.1 km from Glen Nevis, Fort William Backpackers provides accommodation with a garden, free private parking, a shared lounge and a…

Fort William Accommodation

★★★★★ Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, Fort William, UK
Situated at the foot of Ben Nevis, the long-established Glen Nevis Youth Hostel is just 3 miles from the large town of Fort William.

Fort William Accommodation

Mid (£75-£150 per night)

There's still not a ton of options for this price range but you should manage to get your own private space for this amount.

I just LOVE the look of the Shepherds Hut I've linked below. It looks so quaint and cosy with a beautiful view over the mountains. Ahh bliss!

Per Ardua Shepherds Hut, Fort William, UK
Per Ardua Shepherds Hut is located in Fort William, 5.4 km from Glen Nevis, and provides a patio, garden, and free WiFi.

Fort William Accommodation

This Bed and Breakfast that I've linked below has a king bed, a mountain view and breakfast included in the price. Plus, it's a wee bit cheaper that the Shepherds Hut.

Ben Nevis Manor, Fort William, UK
Offering a garden and mountain view, Ben Nevis Manor is located in Fort William, 22 km from Loch Linnhe and 24 km from Glenfinnan Station Museum.

Fort William Accommodation

High-end (£150+ per night)

This is where you'll start getting A LOT more accommodation options in Fort William. Remember when I said it was expensive, well I did mean it. If you are wanting to find really nice accommodation in Fort William, you are going to have to pay for it unfortunately.

Hotels:

★★★★ The Garrison, Fort William, UK
Set in Fort William and within 1.9 km of Glen Nevis, The Garrison features a bar, allergy-free rooms, and free WiFi throughout the property.

This one I've linked below is PRICEY but if you are going to go all out, this is one you would want to go for. It is absolute luxury!!

★★★★★ Inverlochy Castle Hotel, Fort William, UK
Set amongst the beautiful Scottish West Highlands scenery, 19th-century Inverlochy is an award-winning luxury hotel and restaurant.

Glamping pods:

Highland Stays - Ben View Studio Pod & Jacuzzi Bath, Fort William, UK
Highland Stays - Ben View Studio Pod & Jacuzzi Bath offers accommodation in Fort William, 4.1 km from Ben Nevis and 4.1 km from Glen Nevis.
Frances’ Sketch Pad with Hot Tub, Fort William, UK
Featuring a garden, Frances’ Sketch Pad with Hot Tub features accommodation in Fort William with free WiFi and lake views.

Fort William Restaurants

I've picked and listed below 5 cafes and restaurants in Fort William town centre, and they also have the best reviews on Google.

Cafes:

  1. Lochaber Cafe - This down-to-earth cafe is located within the Fort William train station so perfect if you are catching a train or have just got off one. The menu includes breakfast options, light lunches or if you need something a bit bigger, they also serve burgers and mains.
  2. The Wildcat - An aesthetically pleasing vegan cafe offering speciality coffee, loose leaf teas and light breakfast and light lunch options.
  3. The Old Deli - They offer a wide variety of breakfast and lunch options at really great prices! On some days during the week, they are open late for dinner too.
  4. Rain Bakery - A beautiful coffee shop serving up coffee, bread, pastries and lunch. The bread looks absolutely delicious!
  5. The Fort Coffee Collective - This cafe overlooks an indoor climbing wall (3 Wise Monkeys), serving up yummy coffee and a lovely selection of organic cakes with vegan options too.

Restaurants:

  1. Crannog Seafood Restaurant - Located on Fort William Town Pier, Crannog Restaurant is a unique restaurant that you NEED to visit. It serves the freshest seafood and has stunning views over Loch Linnhe.
  2. The Geographer - This cosy restaurant serves up global bistro food inspired by the owners travels, and cocktails and beers from all over the world.
  3. The Silly Goose at the Lime Tree - This restaurant is Fort William's leading fine dining Scottish restaurant. They serve up fresh seasonal and locally sourced food, making the most of what Scotland has to offer.
  4. The Crofter Bar & Restaurant - A down-to-earth Scottish pub offering simple comfort food options. If there's a sports game on, there's also a high probability that this pub will be showing it. They also occasionally have live music.
  5. Crannog at Garrison West - This lovely cosy restaurants offers classic pub plates with draft beers and locally distilled spirits.
Fort William Restaurants
Fort William Restaurants

This post was all about a guide to Fort William including things to do in Fort William, Fort William Accommodation and Fort William Restaurants.


I hope it helps you to plan your own trip to Fort William! Have fun exploring the outdoor capital of the UK.

Please consider subscribing to my blog to be kept up to date with new posts or sharing it to help others!

Kirsty x


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