Things to do near Fort William

Sunset over Glencoe. In the background is a mountain with the sun shining on it. The foreground shows green heather with purple flowers, and grey rocks.

Looking for unmissable outdoor adventures and once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Head to Fort William and Lochaber, where you can climb, cycle, swim and even ski to your heart’s content … all while enjoying some of Scotland’s most spectacular landscapes.

There are lots of cultural landmarks and scenic day trips to choose from too, so here are some of our favourite places to visit in this wonderful region on the west coast.

Glencoe National Nature Reserve

Take the short drive from Fort William to Glencoe NNR and immerse yourself in one of Scotland’s most dramatic, atmospheric and historic landscapes.

Outdoor adventurers can bag a Munro; explore the amazing lochs, woodlands and glens on foot; or find a great spot for wild camping. There’s centuries of history to discover here too, most famously the tragic story of the massacre of the MacDonald clan in 1692. This place has inspired legendary tales: the poet Ossian (son of Celtic hero Fingal) was supposed to have been born in a cave below the Three Sisters ridge.

In more modern legend, there are a number of famous film locations in Glencoe; producers are drawn to its majesty and wildness. See if you can find the spots used in films like Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Outlaw King, Braveheart and Skyfall.

Discover famous Scottish film locations

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The chance to see some wonderful Scottish wildlife, including red deer, ptarmigan, mountain hares and maybe even a pine marten.

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Looking down the glen with lots of purple heather in the foreground.

Ben Nevis

Scotland’s tallest mountain and part of the Grampian range, this towering colossus attracts thousands of walkers and climbers every year, who rightly keep Ben Nevis at the top of their bucket list.

There are different routes to the summit (1,345m/4,413ft) for different abilities but bear in mind climbing a mountain of this size is never ‘easy’ – you’ll need a good grasp of mountain navigation and safety, and a decent level of fitness, to reach the top. If the skies are clear, all that effort will be rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views to the horizon. This is a truly unmissable experience.

Routes to try

  • The Mountain Track is best for beginners. Start at the Glen Nevis Visitor Centre and follow the steep zig-zagging paths to the summit, where you’ll find a cairn marking the highest point.
  • The Carn Mor Dearg Arête is for experienced hillwalkers only. This ridge-top route starts at the North Face car park at Torlundy and takes you across two Munros. It can take as long as 10–11 hours, even for seasoned hikers.

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Looking across a loch to the snow-capped bulk of Ben Nevis. There is a blue sky with white clouds above.
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Nevis Range

Where there’s mountains, there’s snow ... and where there’s snow, there’s the chance to hit the slopes! In the winter season (typically December to April) Nevis Range is the home of skiing and snowboarding near Fort William. There are schools, equipment hire and everything you need to get started – perfect for beginners and keen skiers alike.

Nevis Range is also home to the UK’s only mountain gondola, which carries everyone (from sightseers and skiers to mountain bikers and paragliders) up Aonach Mòr mountain year-round and reaches the height of 650m! Sit back and enjoy the stunning views.

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Skiers and snowboarders make their way down a steep, snow-covered hillside.
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Glenfinnan Monument

Brush up on your Scottish history with a trip to Glenfinnan Monument, which sits in a tranquil spot on the banks of Loch Shiel. The Jacobite Rising of 1745 began here, when 1,200 Highlanders gathered to pledge their allegiance to Prince Charles Edward Stuart (known as Bonnie Prince Charlie). The monument was built in 1815 as a poignant reminder of the Scottish clansmen who gave their lives to the Jacobite cause.

Start your day at the visitor centre to learn about the story of the Jacobites, then stock up on takeaway treats from the café and explore the area, taking in the monument and enjoying a walk beside the river. Keen swimmers can even go for a dip in the loch!

Discover the story of the Jacobite Risings

Don’t miss!

The perfect photo at the top of the monument – follow the spiralling climb to the top of the tower and enjoy amazing views out over Loch Shiel.

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The sun sets over a loch, centred in a narrowing glen. Silhouetted against the sunset is a tall, thin column with a statue on top. A sign reading Glenfinnan stands in the field in the foreground.

The West Highland Line & The Jacobite steam train

Often described as the best railway journey in the world, the West Highland Line connects Glasgow to Oban and Mallaig, and weaves its way past picturesque lochs, mountains and villages.

For a truly unique trip, you can board The Jacobite steam train at Fort William and take the 84-mile trip to Mallaig via the tranquil village of Arisaig. The undisputed highlight of the journey is crossing the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by the Harry Potter films. It’s a mere stone’s throw from Glenfinnan Monument.

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A steam train crosses a tall viaduct, with steam billowing out its funnel. Grassy hillsides surround the viaduct.

Steall Falls

One of the most popular things to do in Fort William is the hike to Steall Falls. This is Scotland’s second highest waterfall and is a place of incredible power and beauty. The route starts at Glen Nevis car park and is relatively easy, although it does get rocky and slippery in places – good walking shoes are recommended.

As you approach the falls, you’ll probably hear them before you see them – water plummets 120m from the slopes of An Gearanach into the river, creating a thunderous atmosphere that takes your breath away.

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A gushing waterfall tumbles down a green hillside.
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Outdoor activities near Fort William

Mountain biking

With all the open spaces on offer, there’s no shortage of cycle routes near Fort William for riders of all ages and abilities. But for avid mountain bikers, the best place for heavy-duty pedalling is the Great Glen Way, which is 79 miles long and has a wide variety of trails and tracks.

Along the way you can stop to take in the scenery, spend the night in hostels (or in a tent if you fancy going off-grid), and enjoy some incredible wildlife-spotting opportunities!

Find more great cycling routes in Scotland

Explore the water

With Loch Eil, Loch Linnhe and Loch Leven on the doorstep, a visit to Fort William wouldn’t be complete without taking to the water in some way or other.

Boat trips are a great way to see the coastline and learn a bit more about the area – a number of tours, charters and boat hire options are available. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, why not hire kayaks or paddleboards to explore the lochs at your own pace. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, seabirds and maybe even a dolphin!

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A person sits in a bright yellow kayak on a mirror-like loch. Very tall mountains rise in the distance.

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