Once home to highlanders and now the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’, Fort William is a brilliant wee stop on many a Scottish road trip.
It’s full of history, natural scenery, adventure sports, and whisky (no ‘e’). What’s not to love?
With such a small centre but far-reaching satellite towns, it can be tricky to know where best to set up camp.
That’s why our group of seasoned travellers have created this list of insider advice on where to stay in Fort William. You’ll be able to choose your set up based on what matters to you!
Sorting your accommodation should be stress-free so you can get to work planning the rest of your adventures.
So onwards, intrepid traveller, and soon you’ll hustling like a highlander, knowing exactly where to stay in Fort William!
Quick tips – Where to stay in Fort William
- Where to stay in Fort William your first time – Belford
- Where to stay in Fort William on a budget – Banavie
- Best area to stay in Fort William for nightlife – Waterfront
- Coolest place to stay in Fort William – Glenfinnan
- Best neighborhood in Fort William for families – Glen Nevis
- Pick up some souvenirs at Ben Nevis Highland Centre.
- Catch a ferry over the water from the port down the waterfront.
- Chill out on The Parade.
Table of Contents
- Where to stay in Fort William
- Fort William’s Neighbourhood Guide
- Fort William’s Five Best Neighbourhoods to Stay In…
- #1 Belford – Where to Stay in Fort William Your First Time
- #2 Banavie – Where to Stay in Fort William On a Budget
- #3 Waterfront – Best Area to Stay in Fort William for Nightlife
- #4 Glenfinnan – Coolest Place to Stay in Fort William
- #5 Glen Nevis – Best Neighborhood in Fort William for Families
If you’re looking for the best value and quality overall and the area isn’t as much of a focus, check out our top picks for Fort William overall!
Best Hostel in Fort William – Ossians
Looking for a central location in the Scottish Highlands which is friendly and informal? Ossians is the place, right in the centre of Fort William and close to all amenities. It offers a town centre location, local staff and comfortable accommodation.
Sometimes the best way to experience a destination is from a good dorm room with good people. Book one of these sweet hostels in Fort William and get ready for the time of your life!View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Fort William – Modern Apartment in the Town Centre
With stunning views overlooking the Loch Linnhe towards the Ardgour hills, this well-appointed modern apartment is right near the town centre. It comes with a spacious lounge with a smart TV, a dining area, a newly fitted kitchen and a bathroom with an electric shower. Located in a handy area, this place is ideal for first-time visitors in Fort William.
There are so many incredible places to stay in Fort William but if you’re looking for a spot nestled in the forests with panoramic views, check out our list of epic cabins and lodges in Fort William!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Fort William – Premier Inn Fort William
Premier Inn Fort William features complimentary wireless internet. It is set amongst a variety of clubs and establishments and is minutes on foot from the railway station. This modern hotel provides a range of facilities, such as a garden, a 24-hour reception and a lift.View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Fort William
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Fort William is a town in the Scottish Highlands, about halfway between Glasgow and Inverness, and a bit to the west.
It’s a tough, outdoorsy place, surrounded by some of the most stunning scenery on earth.
Its history too can be pretty breathtaking, being the site of battles, rebellions and land-seizures.
The second-largest highland settlement, it’s still only around 11,000 in population. The activities and atmosphere give any traveller plenty to do, despite this size, and there are different areas for different travel styles.
Despite Fort William’s fame as an outdoor capital, there are indoor events for the less hardy among you, or for those bitterer winter’s days. And, being Scotland, there are a few of those!
There’s Corpach, at the base of the magnificent Caledonian Canal and end of the Great Glen Way road that leads from Loch Lochy to Loch Eil.
On the northern shore, as the loch bends around, is the village of Fassfern, part of the territory of the legendary Clan Cameron. And there’s Trislaig, a ferry ride away on the other side of the water, where you can get a view over all the Glen.
There’s a village or hamlet for all and both peace and adventure for those who seek either!
Fort William’s Five Best Neighbourhoods to Stay In…
Fort William has a number of spots you’ll be keen to try. Here are five of the best, sorted by your travel motivation!
The area around Belford Road and Hospital is what we’re referring to here, though the map simply states this as central Fort William.
It’s right near the information centre and the railway station, so you can get in and out easily, and also without getting lost!
Belford is the best place to stay for your first time in Fort William because you’re right in the thick of it here.
Most importantly, it’s where the Old Fort is located. You know, the fort that gives the town its name? That fort.
It’s a pretty worn down ruin at this stage, but it’s a great spot to take a moment to imagine the history the place has seen. The Jacobite uprisings, and the subsequent British crack-down, the thrill and terror of both.
It’s a short walk down the road to the High Street pedestrianised area, with all its shops, restaurants and cafes.
And another stroll in the other direction will get you to the Ben Nevis centre where you’ll want to buy your imitation kilts, your clan magnets and your Braveheart postcards!
There are a few good green spaces as well, where you can relax if it’s sunny, or enjoy the bracing weather if it’s not!
Things to See and Do in Belford
– Visit the Old Fort – home of the historic site and ruins. Outlander fans will know its significance!
– Pick up some souvenirs at Ben Nevis Highland Centre.
– Catch a ferry over the water from the port down the waterfront.
– Check out the information centre just south of the big roundabout to learn about exploring the greater area.
– Chill out on The Parade.
Best Hostel in Belford – Fort William Backpackers
Fort William Backpackers is a charming Victorian building with a fun, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. You can relax after a hard day’s exploring, and this cosy hostel is the perfect place to recharge your batteries and share the tales of your adventures.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Belford – Modern Apartment in the Town Centre
With stunning views overlooking the Loch Linnhe towards the Ardgour hills, this well-appointed modern apartment is right near the town centre. It comes with a spacious lounge with a smart TV, a dining area, a newly fitted kitchen and a bathroom with an electric shower. Located in a handy area, this place is ideal for first-time visitors in Fort William.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Belford – Nevis Bank Inn
Nevis Bank Inn provides modern 4-star accommodation in Fort William. Surrounded by local bars and restaurants, it is within walking distance from Fort William Railway Station. Nevis Bank has been recently refurbished and provides a tour desk, a safe and free Wi-Fi.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Belford – Distillery Guest House
Located amongst a range of tourist hot spots, boutiques and eateries, Distillery House is ideal for guests wanting to explore Fort William and its surroundings. Rooms are well-appointed and have tea and coffee making facilities and wireless internet access.View on Booking.com
Banavie is the village, still connected to the main town of Fort William, just north. Take the main road left over the River Lochy, coming from town, and you’ll be there.
It’s got its own rail station, so access is easy to and from, and it’s on the main road out toward Glenfinnan.
For the main event though: Banavie is home to one of the great feats of engineering – Neptune’s Staircase. This is the name given to the series of eight locks on the Caledonian Canal.
For the uninitiated, staircase locks lift or lower the water level between places, so boats can move upstream or downstream without traversing enormous rapids or falls. In this case, the boats and the water level can be lifted or lowered 64 feet (!!).
Just watching the boats go to and fro, and the water pouring in and out is a fantastic way to pass an hour or two. Can you tell I’m a fan?
There are cafes alongside the canal for you to keep your caffeine and cake levels up as well.
This is the best place in Fort William to stay if you’re on a budget because it has this free entertainment, as well as its walking distance proximity to other tourist must-sees.
The old Inverlochy Castle is nearby and can be visited in conjunction with the neighbouring Glen Nevis distillery. A tour and tasting are doable at a really reasonable price too!
Things to See and Do in Banavie
– Sample a local drop at Ben Nevis Distillery. Enjoy the kistch intro video!
– Marvel at the engineering feat of the locks on the Caledonian Canal at Neptune’s Staircase.
– Visit the 13th century Old Inverlochy Castle. How long it’s been called ‘Old’ we don’t know, as it must’ve been new once…
– Enjoy Fish and Chips by the water.
– Take a slow walk around Kilmallie Shinty Club and enjoy the views.
Best Hostel in Banavie – Chase The Wild Goose Hostel
Chase The Wild Goose Hostel is a family-owned and personally managed hostel, located at Banavie, close to the Caledonian Canal, a location with amazing views of Ben Nevis and just a little outside Fort William city centre.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Banavie – Cosy Single Room in Shared House
Located 3 miles from Fort William Town Centre, this cosy shared house is sightly away from the action but close enough for you to hop on a train or bus and reach Fort William’s center. With a view of Ben Nevis and Loch Linnhe from your bedroom, you’ll be just steps away from beautiful views and a peaceful village located on the outskirts.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Banavie – Moorings Hotel
Moorings Hotel is situated in Fort William and is close to the area’s popular attractions. It also provides room service, a 24-hour reception and a safe. The hotel offers a golf course, a laundry service and a wake-up service.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Banavie – Mansefield House
Mansefield House is conveniently positioned for those wanting to visit the area’s popular attractions. Guests of this 4-star guest house can plan sightseeing trips with the assistance of the tour desk. Additional services include a laundry service and a ticket service.View on Booking.com
The Waterfront refers to the area between St Andrews Church and the Lochaber Yacht Club, and then back in a few streets.
This is the end of the West Highland Way walking trail, the 100 mile slog between Milngavie (near Glasgow) to Fort William, through some incredible scenery and weather.
The finishers will definitely be up for a bit of celebration, once they’ve had a shower, and this is one of the reasons the Waterfront is the best place to stay in Fort William for nightlife.
There’s also a high concentration of drinking establishments, serving as much whisky and ale as you could want. The stretch of road from the pedestrianised High Street up to Middle Street (great naming skills there) is particularly thirst-quenching! Winner of our ‘best named pub’ award is the Grog and Gruel. They know what you’re there for!
And there’s a bunch to sort your daytime hours too.
The ferry port is in this part of town, where you can catch a ride over to the opposite banks to take a look around. Or to eat the outrageously fresh catch of the day at the Crannog Restaurant that sits literally on top of the port.
History buffs will be keen to check out the West Highland Museum, to get a deeper understanding of what went on here and in the Highlands in past centuries.
Things to See and Do in Waterfront
– Salute the finishers reaching the end point of the West Highland Way. Now they deserve a dram!
– Learn your Jacobite history at the West Highland Museum.
– Eat fresh at the Crannog Seafood restaurant.
– Bar hop along the road from the ferry landing to the big roundabout – this is quite the feat so pace yourselves!
– Check out the Lochaber Geopark Visitor Centre.
Best Hostel in Waterfront – Bank Street Lodge
Bank Street Lodge in the heart of Fort William offers superb value accommodation with clean, comfortable rooms and friendly staff. We are situated in Fort William’s town centre, only a 5 minute walk to the bus and train stations.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Waterfront – Shared Peaceful Central Double Bedroom
This shared house is in a fantastic location in Fort William, just a few minutes walk away from the town centre and bus and train stations. It’s also very close to restaurants, shops and tourist attractions like the Ben Nevis and Old Inverlochy Castle. It’s ideally located to go out for a drink at night and walk back to a comfortable home.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Waterfront – Glentower Lower Observatory
Glentower Lower Observatory is a comfortable base when visiting Fort William and is close to everything the area has to offer. The bed & breakfast offers spacious rooms equipped with a shower, plus several rooms available for families.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Waterfront – Cruachan Hotel
Located amongst a range of tourist attractions and eateries, Cruachan Hotel is ideal for guests wishing to discover Fort William and its surroundings. Guests can enjoy free internet access in all areas. Guests can make the most of the outdoors on the terrace or have a drink at the bar.View on Booking.com
Now Glenfinnnan is technically a short drive outside of town, but it’s deserving of its title as the coolest place to stay in the Fort William area.
First and foremost, Potterheads, this is where the grand sweeping viaduct is that transports the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 and ¾ . You’ll recognise it from the scene with Harry and Ron in the flying car!
It’s a magnificent view, whether you’re a fan of the series or not, and you can even catch a ride on the train yourself.
This stretch of track has twice been voted the most scenic railway in the UK, so it’s worth a look.
Glenfinnan sits on the banks of Loch Shiel, so there’s all the nature you could want.
On the banks, you’ll also find a monument. This is the place where ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ landed and raised his flag to indicate his rebellion and intention to reclaim the British throne for his father in 1745.
There’s a cool wee visitor’s centre at the base of the viaduct walk that has a bit about this history and time period, for those who are interested.
Things to See and Do in Glenfinnan
– Take a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train that runs through this area.
– Channel your inner Harry and Ron at the Glenfinnan Viaduct. Just don’t fall out of the car!
– Enjoy a walk around the glassy Loch Shiel.
– Pay tribute to the courageous defiance of the Jacobites at the Monument overlooking the lake.
– Spend a decent amount of time in the museum at the visitor’s centre. Try to untangle the relationships behind the ‘45 Rising!
Best Airbnb in Glenfinnan – Serene Cabine in the Middle of a Wild Garden
Recently renovated, this charming and peaceful cabine in the middle of a wild garden surrounded by 3 hectares of beautiful woodland is one of the coolest places to stay in Fort William. The bungalow comes with a living room, a galley kitchen, a wood stove, a double bedroom and a large bathroom with a shower.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Glenfinnan – Glenfinnan House Hotel
Located a short walk from Glenfinnan Railway Station, the hotel is a convenient base when visiting Glenfinnan. It is ideally positioned for those wishing to visit local attractions. Glenfinnan House Hotel has 14 individually-decorated rooms to ensure a comfortable stay.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Glenfinnan – The Prince’s House Hotel
The Prince’s House Hotel is ideally positioned in peaceful surrounds in Glenfinnan, a short drive from Fort William and Arisaig. There are a variety of facilities at Prince’s House Hotel Glenfinnan, such as luggage storage, a ticket service and a golf course.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Glenfinnan – The Armoury
Located within a 10-minute walk of Glenfinnan Railway Station, The Armoury is a convenient base when visiting Glenfinnan and Fort William. The property offers a comfortable villa, equipped to fit the needs of any traveller.View on Booking.com
Glen Nevis is the name given to the valley at the foot of Ben Nevis.
It’s an area popular with people rushing through on their way to complete the three peaks challenge (Mt Snowden, Scafell PIke and Ben Nevis), as well as those taking a bit more time.
This is where the name of Fort William as the ‘Outdoor Capital of the UK’ can really be seen to be true.
There are a bunch of adventure races that take place here. The Downhill is a mountain bike flying down one of the peaks of the Nevis Range.
The Glen Nevis River Race is a bit less hectic but no less insane, as the participants float down the river on lilos, raising money for the Lochaber Mountain Rescue.
For the less professional, this is a great area to stay in Fort William with kids as the great outdoors has it all!
There’s the Steal Waterfalls to the south of our accommodation picks. The water is freezing but also incredibly fresh.
And there’s the big campground, with play areas, where day visitors can spend a while.
Lastly, film fans can go on a mission to find the filming locations for Braveheart. Two spots claim they have the true location of the ‘Village’ so you’ll have to see and decide for yourself!
Things to See and Do in Glen Nevis
– Try your hand at fishing in the river, then see if your hosts will cook if up for you. If you’re successful, that is!
– Filming locations for Braveheart – this might be more of interest to the parents than the kids!
– Climb Ben Nevis. The tallest peak in the UK. Simple. Seriously, though, there are options for all ages.
– Get downhill on some mountain bikes. There are a bunch of rental companies about.
– Head to Steal Waterfalls for an easy walk and adventure.
Best Hostel in Glen Nevis – Glen Nevis Youth Hostel
A five star VisitScotland accredited youth hostel, Glen Nevis offers guests private en-suite rooms and comfortable shared accommodation. Facilities include a contemporary open-plan living space with log-burning stove and panoramic mountain views.View on HostelWorld
Best Airbnb in Glen Nevis – Spacious Apartment in Glen Nevis
This spacious two bedroom apartment can accomodate up to six guests and comes with two baths. It consits of a kitchen, two bathroom, a dining space and a lounge space. This is an ideal place for a family travelling to Fort William and who are seeking a home away from home and want to relax during their time in Fort William.View on Airbnb
Best Hostel in Glen Nevis – Ben Nevis Inn
Ben Nevis Inn offers a comfortable setting when in Fort William. It is moments from Grey Corries. Ben Nevis Inn provides cosy rooms, designed to fit the requirements of any guest. There are a variety of restaurants and cafés near the inn.View on Booking.com
Best Hotel in Glen Nevis – Glen Nevis Holidays
Glen Nevis Holidays provides comfortable 4-star accommodation in Fort William. Guests can also enjoy free internet access. The property has 7 well-appointed lodgings that are accompanied by a range of essential facilities to ensure guests have a comfortable stay.View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Fort William
Fort William is a gem of a town and area. It combines the adventure of outdoor sports with the epic scenery of the highlands, the romance of history, and the smoky deliciousness of whisky!
Spending a few nights at our best hotel pick overall, Premier Inn Fort William, will have you in the middle of the lot. Near High Street, near the Loch, near the Fort, near the Castle and near the pubs!
So get out and explore, and see if you can find a side to the place that we haven’t covered yet. There’s always more to find!
And that’s it for our travel pros’ recommendations on where to stay in Fort William. Bonus points if you get there via the West Highland Way!
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.