Thurso: A Complete Guide

Find out all you need to know including what to do, where to stay, where to eat and how to get to Thurso, North Scotland.

Thurso is the most northerly town in mainland Scotland, and is located on the River Thurso overlooking Thurso Bay and the Pentland Firth.

Where is Thurso
Thurso is in the historical county of Caithness. It is 20 miles west of John O’Groats, around 21 miles north west of Wick, around 70 miles east of Durness, 111 miles north of Inverness and 263 miles north of Edinburgh.

What to do in and near Thurso
The Castle of Mey: the former residence of the Queen Mother and an intimate stately home located 13.5 miles east of Thurso town centre. It is served by the number 80 Stagecoach bus and open from May to September. 

Distillery tours: Dunnet Bay Distillery, home of Rock Rose Gin is located in Dunnet, around 8 miles from Thurso, served by Stagecoach bus routes. Wolfburn Distillery, home of Wolfburn whisky is located 1.5 miles from Thurso town centre and likewise served by local buses.

Walks: surrounding walks include Dunnet Head (13 miles away), Dunnet Bay (8 miles away) and the very short walk at the Flagstone Trail nearby, as well as Dunnet Forest (7.5 miles away) and Holborn Head at Scrabster (2.5 miles away). Within Thurso, visitors can walk along the seafront at the bay, see the ruins at Old St Peter’s Church and walk along the River Thurso.

Note that Caithness Horizons, Thurso’s museum which describes the history and geology of Caithness, is currently closed to the public.

Where to eat
Captain Galleys restaurant, Scrabster: an upmarket seafood restaurant around 2 miles west of Thurso. Booking advisable; check opening times before travel.
Thurso: has a number of restaurants and cafes in its town centre and nearby, including: Bydand (for Scottish continental cuisine), Thurso Community Cafe, the Blue Door Coffee Shop and Diner, and Reids Bakery - among many.

Where to shop
Eye Candy: for locally sourced gifts from Caithness
J A Mackay: for locally sourced food and products from Caithness and beyond
A Mackay and Son: for fresh fish, seafood and local products
Good quality gift shops and merchandise are also at the Castle of Mey, Dunnet Bay Distillery and Wolfburn Distillery.

Where to stay
Forss House Hotel: a four-star boutique hotel located in Forss, just under 6 miles from Thurso
Thurso Bay Caravan and Camping Site: 0.5 miles from thurso

How to get to Thurso
By car: Follow the A9 north from Inverness. The journey is around 2 hours 15 minutes. See the drive
By train: the Far North Railway Line from Inverness to Thurso is around 4 hours and a picturesque journey.
By bus: the X99 bus from Inverness to Thurso is around 3 hours 40 minutes.
By plane: the nearest airports are Wick-John O’Groats (with connections to Edinburgh and Aberdeen) and Inverness (with connections across Scotland, the UK and Amsterdam, Netherlands).

Where to go next
West: to Durness and the west coast
North: to the Orkney Isles
East: to John O’Groats and Caithness
South: to Dunrobin Castle and Inverness

Further resources
See the drive from Inverness to Scrabster and our complete guides to the Castle of Mey and Dunnet.