The largest and most significant harbour in Highland, and one of Scotland's most sheltered natural deep-water ports, Inverness Harbour (or the Port of Inverness) lies a mile (1.5 km) north of the city centre, around the mouth of the River Ness. It opens onto the Inverness Firth, 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Chanonry Point. Most activity today takes places on the eastern shore of the river, at Longman Quay adjacent to the Longman Industrial Estate.
The harbour handles oil tankers, coal, timber, paper pulp, road salt, animal feed, grain and a host of other dry cargos, transported between ports in the UK, Scandinavia, the Baltic States, the Low Countries and the wider European Union. Imported fuel oils are distributed by road around the north of Scotland. The spacious port includes large modern transit sheds on Longman Quay, together with significant areas of open and covered storage.
The port is owned and operated by the Inverness Harbour Trust, established by an Act of Parliament in 1847. Previous to this the port was run by Inverness Town Council, and records show its use as early as 1249. The Old Quay, upriver of the present harbour, dates from c.1675, while the New (or Citadel) Quay was added 1725-32. Thornbush Quay was built on the west bank of the river between 1813-17, under the supervision of Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834). The construction of the Ness Viaduct for the railway in 1862 blocked access to the Old Harbour and a new quay was built alongside Shore Street at the railway company's expense. This quay was rebuilt in 1883, while a slipway was added to Thornbush Quay in 1908 which encouraged the development of ship-repair and small-scale ship-building industries. The 183-m (200-yard) Longman Quay was built on land reclaimed on the east bank of the river in 1985. To the north of Longman Quay is a 150-berth marina opened in 2008. This is run by Inverness Marina Ltd., a joint venture between the Harbour Trust and the family-run Caley Marina.