How to get from Invergordon to Inverness

How to get from Invergordon to Inverness

By Kay Pearson on 13th November 2023

Scotland, and the Scottish Highlands in particular, is a huge draw for guests from all over the world.  In recent years, cruise ships have become the transportation of choice for many guests, as they enable easy access to a selection of destinations in the UK within a relatively short period, whilst offering familiar service levels and affordable all-inclusive prices.  

The main cruise ship port in the Scottish Highlands is Invergordon, which welcomed over 125 cruise ships, carrying over 200,000 passengers, in 2023.  However, it should be noted that Invergordon itself is a relatively small town (the population is around 4000) so most visitors will wish to explore further afield during their day in port.

Should I visit Inverness from Invergordon?

Inverness is the Capital of the Highlands and, as such, it is many visitors’ instinct to head there.  There are pros and cons of spending your day there, and we address this in another blog.

If you decide that a visit to Inverness is a priority whilst in Invergordon, then please read on to find out how to get there!

Can I get the train from Invergordon to Inverness?

Yes, absolutely.  The main dock for cruise ships in Invergordon is called, “service base” (yup, we know, it sounds so appealing!).  From here, the train station is around a 10 minute walk/0.4 miles (see recommended walking route here on Google Maps).

If there are two cruise ships in port on the same date (you can see a full list here if you scroll down the page, showing which pier each ship docks at) then the smaller of the ships will dock at the Saltburn Pier, which is further away from transport links.  As the pier itself is quite long it will take you around 40 minutes to walk from the Saltburn pier to the train station (see Google Map here, you need to zoom in for this one).  In 2023 there was a shuttle bus operating between Salturn pier and the town centre – hopefully this will run again in 2024.

Trains run approximately every 2 hours, so please make sure that you check the timetable before heading to the station.  The journey takes around 55 minutes and the price is currently £10.90 for a single ticket (£16.90 for an anytime day return).  You can check the Scotrail website for full details.  

Please note that trains are generally reliable but, due to strikes over the last couple of years, services have often been cancelled, and it can be difficult to find out this information in advance.  Weather conditions can also affect the trains, but this is not generally such an issue in summer.

There is only one train station in Inverness and it is located in the city centre. From here you can reach all of the main restaurants, shops and attractions within a few minutes, by foot.

Can I get a bus from Invergordon to Inverness?

Yes, you certainly can.  The regular bus service from Invergordon to Inverness is the 25/X25/25A, which takes approximately one hour.  There is also an extra service, on busier cruise ship days, which is the 925.  This is a quicker service as it is direct, and it runs every half hour.  Stagecoach offer a great deal on unlimited travel and group tickets (£15.40 for unlimited travel for an adult, £38.40 for up to 5 adults) and you can read more about that here.)

It is important to note that all buses on cruise ship days are likely to be incredibly busy, so we would really recommend leaving plenty of time for your journey there and back, as you may not get on a bus at the scheduled time.  

Stagecoach has recently had a real shortage of drivers, and many services are being cancelled, with little or no notice, as a result.  Our knowledge of cancellations on this particular route is limited but we’d imagine that it would be a priority to keep it going, due to the large volume of passengers using this service on cruise ship days.  Again, it’s definitely worth having a back-up plan in case the bus doesn’t turn up, or is very late.  As locals, we would not rely on our bus services if we needed to be somewhere urgently (i.e. back on a ship before it leaves!).  

Can I get a taxi from Invergordon to Inverness?

Unlikely, is the short answer!  There are taxis permitted in the port area but they will always be waiting for more lucrative fares e.g. a whole day tour rather than just a one way trip to Inverness, so it is unlikely that these particular taxis will be willing to take you.  

Due to a shortage of taxi drivers since COVID, and huge demand on busy cruise ship days, you will most likely find that it will be very difficult to call and book a taxi on the day, or pick one up from a rank.  Booking in advance is really the only way to get a taxi (and even then, it will be very difficult to persuade a company to take you to Inverness only – they are looking for full day tours on peak days).    There are a number of taxi companies in Alness and Inverness.

Can I hire a car in Invergordon?

Unfortunately it is not possible to hire a car in Invergordon, as there are no car hire companies in or near to the town.  The nearest car hire companies are in Inverness but, as it is one hour away by public transport, and the hire outlets are on the outskirts, as opposed to in the city centre with public transport links, this is really not an option we’d recommend.

Is there any other way to get from Invergordon to Inverness?

As a tour company, it would be remiss of us not to mention that you can of course take a tour of the local area!  If you are interested in soaking up the history, culture, stories and landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, then this is most likely the best choice for you.

The cruise ships run their own tours in every port.  Itineraries vary but generally visit 2 – 3 places, including some free time in Inverness.   There are also a few private operators who run tours from Invergordon.  In contrast to the ship’s tours, these tours are generally run by local companies, are cost-effective and have much more comprehensive itineraries. 

It is worth noting when you are doing your research online that most tour companies are based in Inverness (as Invergordon is only a tourist hub when cruise ships arrive) and will not charge any extra for tours from Invergordon.

Just a few of the advantages of taking a private tour, as opposed to public transport, are that you will be picked up and dropped off at the port gates, and you can rest assured that you are in the hands of local experts.  You don’t have to waste time waiting around for buses/trains, and you can pay everything up-front in your own currency.

What is the best way to get from Invergordon to Inverness?

Whilst we’d love to advocate public transport as a cheap, reliable and eco-friendly way to travel, unfortunately the reality in the Scottish Highlands can often be that services are quite the opposite.  For those who have a few days to travel around, and have the luxury of being able to wait for a delayed bus or reschedule at the last minute if the train is cancelled, public transport is adequate and cost-effective.  However, as you will only have around 8 hours to play with whilst in port, we’d recommend taking a tour with a local operator, if you want to ensure that you can enjoy the best of the Highlands in a relaxed and authentic manner.

Tours you may like...

Shore Tours from Invergordon Map PinFrom Invergordon
Back to blog

Share the moment

Join us on our award-winning tours

Google Reviews Trip Advisor Scottish Tourism Board 5 star Tour Operator FSB Scottish Thistle Awards Regional Finalist Rick Steves