Britain’s northernmost mainland town, this cheerful vacation resort is a popular surfing center and excellent base for excursions into the surrounding countryside.
Thurso makes a convenient stopover point for visitors continuing to Scrabster, where ferries depart for the Orkney Islands. Many visitors simply transit through this charming town, but it’s worth slowing down to enjoy its quaint traditional shops, bars and restaurants. Walk along the river, check out the history museum and watch surfers on the beach.
Learn about the history of Caithness country at the superb Caithness Horizons Museum. Tracing the development of Caithness from nearly 400 million years ago to the present, the museum features wonderful audiovisuals as well as fine Neolithic and Bronze Age artifacts. Don’t miss the Dounreay exhibit, which explores the impact of the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) and its Nuclear Power Establishment on the county.
The town also has lovely beaches, particularly along Dunnet Bay. One of the world’s top cold surf destinations, Thurso offers some of the most consistent surf on mainland Britain. Take a surfing lesson or enjoy watching experienced surfers challenge the waves.
View the ruins of Old St. Peter's Kirk, a church dating back to the 12th century or take a stroll along the River Thurso. One of the most popular trails begins near Waterside House, offering a gorgeous 45-minute walk through the countryside.
Take the bus to visit the nearby Castle of Mey, a favorite summer home of the late Queen Elizabeth. Dating back to the 16th century, this beautifully restored castle offers delightful insight into the life and interests of the Queen Mother. Check out the view over the castle’s Walled Garden to see islands in the North Atlantic Ocean from the top of the turret.
Travel to Dunnett Head to see its evocative 19th-century lighthouse. Set on the northernmost point of the Scottish mainland, the lighthouse’s headland offers magnificent views across the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands.
To get here, take the train or bus from Inverness. Thurso is also well connected to Orkney and Shetland by ferry. Enjoy your discovery of the many laid-back charms of Thurso.