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8 Best Things To Do In Durness

Located on the most north westerly area of the British mainland, the Scottish village of Durness boasts some spectacular hidden gems.

This remote coastal village sits in a stunning location, surrounded by sheltered coves of soft white sand and rugged, limestone cliffs. 

With plenty to explore, here’s our 8 best things to do in Durness.

1. Balnakeil Beach

Situated on the edge of the village, Balnakeil beach is a beautiful, white sandy beach, backed by grassy sand dunes.

With its soft white sand and turquoise blue water, you feel as if you are visiting a tropical beach. Although a dip in the sea will remind you that this is not the case!

A great place for a peaceful beach walk as well as being perfect for a family picnic. Furthermore, children would definitely enjoy playing on the soft sand and hilly sand dunes.

If you fancy something a little more active you could always try surfing with Dunnet or Balnakeil Beach Beginner Surf Lesson.

Also, walking along this beach at night during the autumn/winter will apparently sometimes allow you sight of the famous Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

Visiting this beautiful beach definitely has to be one of the best things to do in Durness.

Balnakeil Beach In Durness
Heading in through the trail to Balnakeil Beach.
Balnakeil Beach In Durness
A great spot for a morning swim.

2. Balnakeil Craft Village

Balnakeil Craft Village is currently home to a diverse range of local businesses, artists and produce.

These include art galleries, paintings and prints, ceramics, woodwork, glass work and more unique crafts.

Moreover, don’t miss the Meet and Greet, Cafe/Restaurant. They offer a tasty range of filled ciabattas, soups, homemade cakes and more and are open in the evenings.

You are sure to find something to take away with you, which might well be memories of a new experience or some newfound skills/ knowledge.

Therefore, Balnakeil Craft Village is definitely worth putting on your list of things to do in Durness.

Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
The entrance to Balnakeil Craft Village.
Art Gallery Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
One of many quirky spots in the village.

3. Cocoa Mountain

Located in Balnakeil Craft Village, this famous luxury chocolate company was the creation of two Scottish university graduates, Paul Maden and James Findlay.

Opening their first shop in the Craft Village in 2006, their business soon became a global success. With customers as far afield as Kuwait, America, Germany, Holland, Sweden, Switzerland, France and even Australia.

Said to be inspired by the extraordinary Scottish landscape, Cocoa Mountain produce a range of delicious, beautifully crafted chocolate.

From dark chocolate, to white chocolate and even dairy free, you are sure to be spoilt for choice!

I highly recommend the hot chocolate, it’s worthy of a place on anyone’s NC500 bucket list.

Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Lauren excited to try the popular Cocoa Mountain.
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
Queuing up for hot chocolate.
Cocoa Mountain Balnakeil Craft Village In Durness
It lived up to expectations.

4. Sango Sands Beach

Not far from the village of Durness, Sango Sands is a relatively quiet beach with soft, clean golden sand and clear blue waters.

Perfect for a family day out, a relaxing stroll or some great surfing. On a warm summers day it definitely feels and looks like you are somewhere tropical.

At the back of the beach you will find large sand dunes, covered with machair grass, as well as the steep cliffs of Creag Thairbhe to the east. 

With its sheer cliffs, rock formations, sand dunes, and stretch of golden sand , this is one of the most spectacular and varied beaches in the Highlands.

Sango Sands Beach In Durness
Overlooking the small left side beach.
Sango Sands Beach In Durness
The wider beach that stretches much further along the coast.

5. Sango Sands Viewpoint

Located towards the left side of Sango Sands Beach is a headland viewpoint that offers great, panoramic views out across the Atlantic Ocean and the Minch.

The southern extension of the Minch is a channel of water that separates the Outer Hebrides Islands and the mainland of Scotland.

Furthermore, the Minch is actually full of wildlife that include swooping Gannets that feed on fish from the ocean as well as seals and otters that reside on the surrounding rocks off the islands.

Therefore, if you are a keen on birdwatching and wildlife, bring your binoculars, sit back and enjoy!

Sango Sands Viewpoint In Durness
Heading up to Sango Sands Viewpoint.
Sango Sands Viewpoint In Durness
Will taking in the scenery.

6. Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave is a large, spectacular combined seawater and freshwater cave, located about a mile from the village of Durness.

As you approach the cave you can’t help but be amazed by the impressive entrance that looks like a 50ft high, giant mouth. In fact, this cave entrance is one of the largest in the UK.

Once inside, there is a covered wooden pathway and bridge that take you to a spectacular waterfall, cascading into a deep, subterranean pool.

The cave is quite unique in that it is composed of three main sections – a large sea cave entrance chamber, a waterfall chamber and also a short freshwater passage.

If you want to venture further into the cave, there are guided tours that start with a short boat ride. So for a unique experience Smoo Cave should be on the list of things to do in Durness.

If you are based in Inverness, the 3-Day Small-Group Tour from Inverness visits Smoo Cave as well as lots of other main attractions in this area.

Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Heading into the dark and eerie Smoo Cave.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Needed the flash to capture the inside.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Smoo Cave waterfall.

7. Ceannabeinne Beach

Another stunning beach on the north coast, Ceannabeinne Beach is located at the base of Beinn Ceannabeinne mountain.

To get to the beach from the clifftop, you head down quite a steep, narrow, grassy path until you reach some uneven steps that take you onto the beach.

Once on the beach you will be amazed at the beautiful, soft white sand that, on a sunny day, contrasts beautifully with the sparkling blue sea.

You really feel like you could be somewhere tropical, although a dip in the sea would probably soon let you know otherwise!

Also, the views from the beach are just as spectacular as the ones from the top of the cliffs.

Ceannabeine Beach Best Things To Do In Durness
Ceannabeinne Beach from the road.
Ceannabeine Beach Best Things To Do In Durness
The beach was empty on the overcast day that we visited.

8. Golden Eagle Zip Line

Located at Ceannabeinne Beach, if you happen to be an adrenaline junkie, the thrilling Golden Eagle Zip Line experience has to be included in the best things to do in Durness.

Starting at the top of the 37m high cliffs, you will get spectacular views as you fly along at up to 40 mph over this beautiful beach and alongside the Atlantic Ocean.

No booking is required and the ride is available from 10am to 6pm daily.

Although, this ride is weather dependent and I would advise that you check the company website, Golden Eagle Zip Lines, before visiting.

Golden Eagle Zipline Best Things To Do In Durness
Golden Eagle Zipline at Ceannabeinne Beach.

Where To Stay In Scotland

Luxury

exploreNESS Apartment

Offering free WiFi and free private parking, exploreNESS Apartment is located in Inverness, just 0.8 miles from Inverness Castle. 

The property is less than 0.6 miles from Inverness Museum and Art Gallery and 1.6 miles from Caledonian Thistle.

The apartment features 1 bedroom, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, an equipped kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave, a washing machine, and 1 bathroom with a shower. Towels and bed linen are provided.

A buffet breakfast is available daily at the apartment.

Mid-Budget

Loch Earn

Located 1.7 miles from Inverness Castle, Loch Earn provides accommodation with free WiFi and free private parking.

There is also a kitchen in some of the units with a dishwasher, a fridge, and an oven.

A continental breakfast is available daily at the bed and breakfast.

Guests can relax in the garden at the property.

Budget

Inverness Youth Hostel

Just 10 minutes’ walk from Inverness Rail Station, Inverness Youth Hostel offers free private parking and bicycle storage.

Eastgate shopping centre is a 10-minute walk from this hostel. Hootananny, a popular music venue, is just 15 minutes’ walk away.

Culloden Battlefield and its visitor centre is just a 10-minute drive away. The banks of Loch Ness and the country village of Dores are both a 20-minute drive away.

All rooms have a shared bathroom. Packed lunch and luggage storage is available on request.

For more places to stay in Scotland, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. 

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile. 

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.


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Sango Sands Viewpoint Best Things To Do In Durness