Visit Dornoch – A Guide on what to see, do, shop and eat


Dornoch is one of the most picturesque towns in the Highlands.There are many things to enjoy if you head there for a day trip, so a Visit Dornoch guide is definitely overdue!

For beach lovers, Dornoch has one of the best beaches within easy driving distance of Inverness.

There’s miles upon miles of sandy beach, free for you to explore and enjoy. On one visit we saw dozens of jellyfish all washed up on the beach, and there’s a lovely collection of rockpools.

It’s one of the most unspoiled beaches too, with incentives for those who visit Dornoch to leave no trace of their visit (or of other people’s!)

The main square of the town has lots of offer.

My first stop was at Coast Candle Co, a beautiful and calm space in which to enjoy a multitude of fragranced hand-poured candles.

As well as the shop (which is dog friendly), the premises also includes a workshop so you can make your own candles (drop in between 10 and 3 on a Friday or book in for a masterclass).

And, as well as fruity, froral and nautical fragrances, you can even get a gin fragranced candle courtesy of our local gin over at Dunnet Distillery – Rock Rose!

As well as a bookshop, butcher and a monthly community market, which gathers on the Cathedral green,  you can also visit Dornoch Stores where you can pick up essential foodie souvenirs as well as supplies if you are staying locally in self-catering accommodation.

Dornoch also offers a number of shops perfect if you are looking for interior decoration.

Sister shops Jail Dornoch (so named as the premises is the old Jail) and Country Interiors are offer a huge selection of styles if you are looking at redecorating or finding a special gift.

If by this time you need a bit of a pick me up, there are a number of cafes and restaurants along Castle Street and behind the Cathedral Green.

If heading to Durness is a trip too far, you can visit Dornoch for a Cocoa Mountain fix!

Or head back to the centrally located Dornoch Castle Hotel for lunch or a spot of afternoon tea.

Read my review of their relaunched afternoon tea menu which will be more than enough to sustain you for more exploration!

Another place to visit is the Courthouse Cafe. While we haven’t eaten there yet (and we have heard good reports!), it’s a lovely place to while away a pot of tea, while spotting famous faces on this mural of significant people to Dornoch.

You’ll even find Madonna and Guy Ritchie on there, as they got married at nearby Skibo Castle.

If historic buildings are your bag, then 13th century Dornoch Cathedral is a good spot for you. Destroyed by fire in 1570 during a clan feud, it was then restored over the next 220 years. Look out for the gargoyles on the outside!

The cathedral is open to visitors between 10-4 on weekdays between mid-May and September, and is included on this Heritage Trail which has been created by Historylinks, a 5 star rated independent museum with many exhibits about life in Sutherland.

If you visit Dornoch, it’s worth ending your trip with a visit past the micro distillery behind the Dornoch Castle Hotel, and into the whisky bar there for a serve of the Thompson Brothers Gin.

My serve included raspberry and lime, but lemon and black pepper or orange and rosemary might be offered too! If you want to take home a alcoholic souvenir of your trip, pop into the Carnegie Whisky Cellars next door.

I hope that my guide helps you to visit Dornoch and to enjoy your trip!

All information is correct at the time of the blog post being published. Please check up-to-date opening times before you travel – I recommend VisitDornoch.com