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Smoo Cave In Durness – A Complete Guide

Smoo cave is a large, spectacular combined sea cave and freshwater cave, located about a mile from the village of Durness in Scotland. Here is a complete guide.

How To Get To Smoo Cave

Located on the most northerly coast of Scotland, Smoo Cave is approximately a mile east of the village of Durness.


Heading east from Durness on the A838 you will come to signs for Smoo Cave.

There is a good sized, free car park where you will also find public toilets.

The cave entrance is also accessible via a circular walk which starts and finishes at the car park.


For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

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 Entrance Fee

It is free to enter the main Smoo Cave entrance.

This will take you over a walkway into the waterfall chamber.

If you would like to go further, you have the option of paying for a guided cave tour which will take you into the inner chamber by boat.

Furthermore, this tour gives you the opportunity to learn about the history of the cave.

Cave tours are available:

June, July & August: ​10am to 5pm.

April, May, September & October: 11am to 4pm.

November – March: No tours available.

Cave tours cost £10 per adult and £5 per child. (Cash only)

Smoo Cave Car Park In Durness Scotland
The tiny car park at Smoo Cave.

Smoo Cave Opening Times

Smoo Cave is open all year round.

Although tours into the inner cave only run April to October.

Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Smoo Cave entrance sign and info.

Best Time To Visit Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave is on the NC500 itinerary and can get quite busy during the summer months.

If interested in taking a guided tour of Smoo Cave, (these tours are highly recommended) you need to visit between April and October.

Don’t forget to take cash if wanting to book a cave tour. (Due to lack of signal in the cave and no pre booking.)

Good, waterproof footwear is needed if taking a tour, so that you can scramble across the wet rocks at the back of the cave.

Be aware that the tours are weather dependent, as rainfall can cause the water levels to change rapidly.

The path from the car park down to the cave is quite steep and there are also some uneven steps. Hence, care is needed to navigate these.

There is lots of interesting information to read about on the boards around the entrance.

Don’t forget your camera for some great, dramatic shots!

What To Pack

Photography Camera


Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle


Lightweight Rain Jacket

Quick Dry Towel


Lifeproof Phone Case

Dry Bag

Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Heading down the trail to the cave.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Across the old bridge.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
The view from the bridge out to sea.

Smoo Cave History

Smoo Cave was formed along two geological lines of weakness by a combination of erosion from the sea as well as an inland underground stream which has formed the innermost chambers.

The name Smoo is thought to originate from the Old Norse word smuga or smjugg, meaning a hiding place or a hole. This name is also given to the river Allt Smoo, that runs into Smoo Cave.

Investigations in the cave in 1995 revealed evidence of Neolithic, Norse and Iron Age life. However, the majority of artifacts unearthed related to Viking/Norse activity.

Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Time to go inside.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Exploring with Will.

What To Expect At Smoo Cave

This cave is the main tourist attraction in Durness for good reason. This unique and impressive sight should not to be missed if you are in this beautiful and remote corner of Scotland.

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.

Cave Tours

If you want to venture further into the cave, there are guided tours that start with a short boat ride.

In addition, you then get the opportunity to leave the boat and explore the deepest part of the cave. (There is lighting in the cave.)

The views and scenery at Smoo Cave make for some great, dramatic photo opportunities as well as a scenic place to stop and enjoy a picnic.

We’d already filled up from Balnakeil Craft Village and had stopped at Sango Sands along the way. However Smoo Cave is one of the best things to do on the NC500.

Next up on the NC500 itinerary was a journey over Kylesku Bridge.

Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
A narrow bridge leads the way to the waterfall.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Dark and cold but happy in nature.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
A glimpse of the natural falls.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Back out into the light.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Some of the activities available at Smoo Cave.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Lauren happy to be exploring.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Heading out of the cave.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Following the trail up towards the coast.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
The small cliffs surrounding Smoo Cave.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Blue waters from above.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
Walking the coast of Scotland.
Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland
A rocky landscape along the coast of Durness.

Where To Stay In Scotland


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.


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.


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

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 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 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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Smoo Cave In Durness Scotland