The Essential Guide to Scotland's North Coast 500

The Essential Guide to Scotland’s North Coast 500


The North Coast 500 has been billed as Scotland’s reply to America’s Route 66 however this Scottish street journey is not like something you’ll see within the USA. The North Coast 500 takes you thru the Scottish Highlands seeing legendary castles, extraordinary coastal surroundings, and well-known whisky distilleries lining the winding single observe roads. The NC500 is among the nice street journeys on this planet.

When planning your North Coast 500 journey be certain to give loads of days to discover the sights. We spent a really two weeks on this spectacular driving route via the Scottish highlands and we’ve put collectively the final word NC500 Trip Planner to aid you take advantage of your time within the Scottish highlands. 

Top stops on the North Coast 500

North Coast 500 Guide

Dave and I’ve completed a number of street journeys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they simply could be our specialty. We’ve pushed a automobile from England to Mongolia within the Mongol Rally, we had been the primary media to drive Ireland’s whole Wild Atlantic Way (the longest coastal route on earth) and sure, we’ve pushed via giant chunks of America’s Route 66.

When we had the chance to drive the North Coast 500, we jumped on the probability, we’ve at all times needed to see the Scottish Highlands and this route takes you thru one of the best of them. We love marking our map with must-see sights, stocking up on snacks, placing collectively a playlist, and hitting the street.

The North Coast 500 loop counterclockwise from Inverness and we’ve put collectively the final word plan to aid you plan forward and take advantage of your time within the Scottish highlands.

What is the North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 (NC500) is a scenic route that runs alongside the northern coast of Scotland, masking a distance of roughly 516 miles (830 km). It was created as an official loop across the north coast of Scotland, however the roads have at all times been there.

The official North Coast 500 was launched in 2015 to increase the Northern Highland economic system and has now grow to be a preferred vacationer vacation spot providing gorgeous coastal views, rugged landscapes, and an opportunity to go to picturesque villages and cities.

The route begins and ends within the metropolis of Inverness, taking guests on a round journey via the Scottish Highlands and alongside the coast of the North Atlantic, and down the west coast.

Along the way in which, vacationers can go to iconic landmarks such because the Bealach Na Ba Pass, the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, and the white sands of Achmelvich Beach. The route additionally passes via a number of communities, offering alternatives for guests to expertise native tradition and hospitality.

The NC500 has gained recognition as one of many world’s most scenic street journeys, attracting guests from all around the world who come to discover the pure great thing about Scotland’s rugged north highlands. When you go to Scotland, you’re going to need to expertise at the very least a portion its spectacular surroundings.

Where is the North Coast 500

north coast 500 highland cow

Our North Coast 500 drive began and led to Inverness, the Capital of the Scottish Highlands. We drove counterclockwise alongside the north coast of Scotland in a 516-mile (830km) circle route via a few of the most stunning landscapes within the nation, stopping at many cities and sights earlier than returning to Inverness.

The North Coast 500 is situated within the North West nook of Scotland winding its method up the east coast, alongside the the north and down west coast of Scotland beginning in Inverness.

NC500 Car Rentals

rental car north coast 500 road trip

The finest method to discover the North Coast 500 is on a street journey is by driving. If you don’t already reside within the UK and have your personal automobile, you’ll need to guide a rental automobile effectively upfront. There are loads of locations to guide rental vehicles in Scotland. We use Rental Cars Connect to discover one of the best offers on any rental automobile. You can examine costs on their web site.

Hot Tip: Be certain your rental automobile is a smaller automobile as roads are sometimes single observe roads alongside the North Coast 500 and a small automobile is simple to navigate via the North Highlands. The roads via the Scottish Highlands are winding and slender there are a number of hairpin turns. Small vehicles also can match simply into the passing locations to let sooner drivers overtake you. Rental vehicles are scarce nowadays, so be certain to guide effectively upfront. Compare costs at

Day 1: North Coast 500 – Inverness

north coast 500 inverness
Cityscape of Inverness, Scotland in a gorgeous summer season day, United Kingdom

We began our North Coast 500 street journey in Inverness and spent two days having fun with this historic metropolis. Inverness is the principle metropolis on the North Coast 500 route and it’s the capital of the Scottish Highlands.

The capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is dwelling to the very well-known Loch Ness the place you may seek for Nessie herself. That was our predominant curiosity when visiting Inverness, however there are many different issues to see and do.

St. Andrew’s Cathedral
Abertarff House courting again to 1592
Nessie Islands – Islands linked by stunning walkways and gardens
Golf and Spa at Kingsmills Spa
Read our full article Things to do in Inverness

Day 2: North Coast 500

north coast 500 scotland itinerary loch ness center

There are loads of issues to do in Inverness and within the surrounding space, so you’ll undoubtedly need to spend a while right here. Here are a couple of high sights to see earlier than transferring alongside the North Coast 500.

Loch Ness

north coast 500 loch ness near inverness

Inverness is the principle hub for exploring Loch Ness. People go to the legendary Loch Ness in quest of the Loch Ness Monster, however it’s value exploring the sandy seashores and surroundings round Inverness as effectively.

The guests heart in Drumnadrochit is enjoyable and kitschy and is a must-stop to study concerning the historical past of the Loch Ness Monster, however exploring the large lake is the spotlight.

 Drumnadrochit and Glen Affric

If you’ve got extra time, you may keep in Drumnadrochit, there are many B&Bs within the space. If you might be staying within the space take a drive to Glen Affric to soak up its gorgeous panorama and consider the attractive Plodda Falls. This is the spot the place the tour busses cease although so be ready for big crowds and site visitors.

Be certain to watch the sundown from Dores Beach and you could even run into the Nessie Hunter who has arrange camp proper on this spot to maintain look ahead to the elusive monster.

Urquhart Castle

north coast 500 Urquhart Castle

Urquhart Castle is one other must-see cease on the lake. It is a gorgeous destroy that has survived many a battle over the previous 1000 years. The setting overlooks Loch Ness and the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands, I can see why individuals fought over this stunning setting.

Where to Stay in Inverness

north coast 500 accommodation kingsmills hotel

Accommodation Suggestion: Kingsmills Hotel and spa with swimming pool and breakfast included. We stayed right here and completely liked it.

The Kingsmills Hotel is situated on a golf course simply outdoors the downtown core. Set in a big historic mansion on an enormous treed property with spa and pool. We stayed within the newer spa portion of the lodge and the rooms had been spacious, and cozy. Parking is free and breakfasts are included. Check it out on TripAdvisor /

The Rocpool Reserve Hotel is one other beneficial lodge: Trip Advisor /

Suggested locations to eat: Rocpool Restaurant or Dores Inn at Loch Ness in Dores after you’ve watched the sundown.

Day 3 – Drive North to Dornoch

north coast 500 scotland dornoch castle

Today you’ll depart Inverness and make your method to Dornoch for the beginning of your east coast drive up North Coast 500 Road journey. Your subsequent in a single day is just a bit over an hour’s drive away, however it’s the good base to your subsequent set of explorations as there’s a lot to see and do within the space.

Along the A9 in direction of the NC500 gives many issues to see and locations to cease. Dornoch is legendary for the Dornoch Castle and makes base to discover the whisky route.

Don’t simply beeline it to the following city, be certain to pop into these highlights in your method out of Inverness earlier than hitting the North Coast 500 Route.

Culloden Battlefield

north coast 500 cullodon battlefield
Memorial to the Clans

The Culloden Battlefield is among the finest stops on the North Coast 500 street journey. As you make your method via the Scottish Highlands, be sure that to cease at some of the historic websites on the itinerary. The trendy customer’s centre opened in 2008 and is a stark distinction to the empty land the place one of many bloodiest battles on British soil happened.

On a spring day in 1746, greater than 1200 males had been killed in only one brief hour. It was the ultimate battle of the Jacobite rebellion and it got here to its fateful finish.

north coast 500 scotland battle of culloden

Visitors are given headsets triggered by GPS telling them the story of the bloody battle as they stroll either side of the battlefield. One of essentially the most highly effective moments comes once you enter the inside museum and stand inside a room projecting a 360-degree reenactment of the battle. You are surrounded by the cries of the soldiers assembly their destiny.

If you might be fascinated with Highland historical past (as we’re) this can be a place the place you may simply spend hours. For extra info see Culloden Battlefield Visitor’s Centre

Clava Cairns

north coast 500 clava cairns
Clava Cairns

Clava Cairns will not be removed from the Culloden Battlefield and is an effective cease for at the present time of sightseeing on the North Coast 500. Cairns are historic stone cemeteries courting again 4000 years. There are a number of cairns alongside the nc500 however none as well-known as Clava Cairns.

Clava Cairns was used because the inspiration for the Outlander sequence (that is the place the place Claire was transported again in time) you may perceive why Diana Gambon felt time journey may occur right here.

north coast 500 stops clava cairns

The standing stones and round cairns really feel like magic. The Cairns of Scotland had been burial tombs used to home the lifeless and at the moment, guests can stroll the grounds and stroll proper into the centre of the tombs feeling the peace and quiet of the sacred web site. It’s free to go to so don’t miss it!

Black Isle

It’s time to transfer on from Inverness and cross into the Black Isle portion of the driving route. Black Isle is a peninsula situated simply north of town of Inverness. Despite its title, Black Isle will not be an precise island however reasonably a peninsula, bounded by water on three sides: the Cromarty Firth to the north, the Beauly Firth to the south, and the Moray Firth to the east.

The title “Black Isle” is alleged to come from the truth that when considered from a distance, the realm seems to be black due to the forests that cowl a lot of the peninsula. Black Isle is a well-liked cease on the NC500 for many who desire a style of the route with its scenic villages away from the bigger cities, seashores, and wildlife reserves. You can simply discover Black Isle on a day journey from Inverness.

Road Trip Snacks

North Coast 500 Road Trip Snacks – We stocked up on water and snacks in Inverness, however there are many native outlets alongside the route. One of our favourite stops for native meats & cheeses, recent fruits, and native treats, be certain to cease in at Roberston’s The Larder.  

You also can meet the livestock together with Highland Cows. If you might be fearful about not seeing the well-known highland cattle alongside the route, (don’t be) you’ll have probability right here. It is situated on the route from Inverness to Glen Ord Distillery.

Singleton Distillery

north coast 500 distillery tours
The fermentation course of at Glen Ord takes place in wood barrels.

Located within the coronary heart of Black Isle, The Singleton Distilerry is the closest distillery to Inverness so it could possibly simply be completed as a day journey from there. What makes a go to to Singleton distinctive is that it is among the few distilleries in Scotland that also malts its personal barley and their Singleton mix can solely be purchased in Scotland or if you happen to go to Asia.

For us, it was additionally the primary time we’d seen wood fermentation barrels. Every different distillery tour we’ve ever taken was stainless-steel.

Dornoch Castle

north coast 500 dornoch castle
Beautiful Dornoch Castle

The finish of day 3 in your North Coast 500 journey ends at Dornoch Castle. Dornoch is a vacation spot unto itself with the fortress at its heart. The Scottish highlands are crammed with outdated castles which were transformed into motels. Do your self a favor and guide an evening at the very least one fortress lodge.

Dornoch Castle is situated proper available in the market sq. of Dornoch immediately throughout from the Dornoch Cathedral. This Twelfth-century cathedral is such a draw that Madonna had her son Rocco christened right here.

The fortress units the tone for this distinctive Scottish street journey. The pub makes you are feeling like you might be sitting in a Seventeenth-century tavern as the hearth roars and the whiskey pours. The set dinner menu is divine and the rooms make you are feeling like royalty.

Dornoch Castle and Whisky Bar

north coast 500 dornoch castle whisky bar
Stay at Dornoch Castle

Dornoch Castle is dwelling to top-of-the-line whisky bars on earth. It was voted the #1 Whisky Hotel of the Year by It’s the whisky bar that’s the predominant attraction. Sitting contained in the thick outdated stone partitions with the enormous fire roaring with flame you are feeling as if you happen to’ve stepped again in time to when clans dominated the land.

The in depth whisky inventory has received awards as one of the best whisky bar on this planet and is presently the reigning number one whisky lodge of the yr as named by

Having the distillery tour helped us to perceive the distilling technique of Scottish whiskey and gave us perception into aromas and flavors after we determined to style a couple of drams at Dornoch Castle’s whisky bar. This really made us really feel like we had been taking a tour via historical past and our information Alistair was as captivated with his scotch as he was informative.

North Coast 500 Dornoch Whiskey Bar

We ordered a tasting flight of three whiskeys after chatting with the bartender who will assist us resolve what pictures to select. He will decide your mind to see what kind of Scotch you like and supply up selections of various whiskeys at completely different costs to fit your wants.

Note: Scotland spells whisky with out an “e”. So once you go to Scotland, be certain to spell it the way in which they do in Scotland, it’s whisky NOT Whiskey. 

Where to Stay in Dornoch

north coast 500 dornoch castle room

Dornoch Castle – We liked our keep within the historic Dornoch Castle. Whenever we go to Ireland or Scotland, we at all times strive to keep in a fortress for a really genuine and historic expertise. Trip Advisor /

There can also be The Dornoch Hotel you may see extra info on Trip Advisor /

Royal Marine Hotel – Just just a little farther up the East Coast is the Royal Marine Hotel which was voted top-of-the-line locations to keep in Britain. Just an hour from Inverness alongside the North Coast 500, this can be a good place to make a base whereas exploring the east coast of Scotland. Check charges and availability on

Day 4: North Coast 500 – Dornoch to Wick

north coast 500 wick

Click right here for an interactive map of NC 500

Day 4 of your North Coast 500 street journey is all concerning the whisky and the spectacular surroundings of the North Highlands. The drive from Dornoch to Wick takes roughly 4 hours however as with each a part of the NC500 route, you’ll find yourself taking for much longer as there’s a lot to see and do.

Distillery Tours

North Coast 500 Singleton Glen Ord Distillery

There are a number of distilleries in Northern Scotland the place street trippers can decide up a bottle of their favourite Scotch whisky. It is value stopping at the very least as soon as however if you’d like to spend longer within the space, examine all of them out on a day tour. From the city of Dornoch, there are half a dozen distilleries to go to which might be from mere minutes to solely a few hours away.

Dunnet Bay
Pulteney Distilleries are all close by.

If you might be on the lookout for one thing outdoors of distilleries, make your method to the Black Isle Brewing Company. Black Isle is an natural brewer with a variety of natural beers and seasonal specials.

If you’re a whisky lover, Dornoch fortress or Royal Marine Hotel is the proper place to base your travels as you discover the distilleries of the route. Visit their web site for bookings and availability.

Dunrobin Castle

north coast 500 dunrobin castle
The stunning gardens at Dunrobin Castle

Open from April 1 to October 15, visiting Dunbrobin Castle is a should. You can go to the gardens and grounds year-round. We parked our automobile and walked down the steps to a powerful view of this 800 year-old fortress. It’s completely different from different castles in Scotland resembling a French Chateau reasonably than the stark stone constructions in different components we noticed.

Dunrobin fortress has been dwelling to the Earls and Dukes of Sutherland because the thirteenth century.

This fortress will be visited from Dornoch, or you may plan as we did and make it a cease alongside the way in which to our subsequent vacation spot which in our case is Wick. Read all about Donrobin Castle right here.

Where to Stay – Ackergill Tower Hotel

north coast 500 ackergille tower hotel

Something we liked about driving the North Coast 500 was the prospect to keep in historic castles. There are many distinctive lodging alongside the route from farmhouses, B&Bs, lighthouses, and luxurious estates. Making our method up the East Coast in direction of the northernmost tip of Scotland, we stayed on the Ackergill Tower Hotel.

north coast 500 ackergill billiards

We loved a scrumptious meal on this grand lodge. Like Dornoch Castle, Ackergill Tower is an lodging that could be a vacation spot. The Tower is an unimaginable 600-year-old stone tower that stands proud on the shores of Sinclair Bay. The Northernmost level of Scotland. This luxurious highland property is as romantic as it’s distant.

Dining within the nice corridor, we ate a scrumptious three-course menu earlier than retiring to the sitting rooms for an after dinner drink. It felt recent out of Downton Abbey. As we sat by the hearth we learn concerning the historical past of the fortress and puzzled what life might need been like again in time.

north coast 500 deb at ackergill tower hotel

The most well-known story of the fortress tells the story of Helen Gunn, often known as the Beauty of Braemore who was kidnapped on her wedding ceremony night time and held prisoner on this very tower. To escape her destiny she leapt to her demise. It is alleged that her ghost haunts the halls to at the present time.

Day 5: Wick to Dunnet Head

north coast 500 dunnet head
Around the Northern Tip of Scotland on the North Coast 500

Once we reached the Northern Tip of Scotland, the surroundings turned to dramatic views. This was most likely our favourite space to discover on the street journey. Everyone instructed us the west coast was one of the best, however the northern tip was gorgeous. We may have spent at the very least two extra days exploring the strolling trails alongside the coast.

It is the realm the place you see these huge sea cliffs and sea stacks housing migrating seabirds and seals. If you want mountain climbing and wildlife, you’ll love this space.

Whaligoe Steps

whalegoe steps north coast 500 scotland
the view from Whalegoe Steps

If you need to get down inside one thing related to the Geo of Sclaites, the Whaligoe Steps is an outstanding trek. The Whaligoe Steps include 330 steps main down to some of the inaccessible harbors in Scotland. Dating again to the mid 18th century, the Whaligoe Steps had been utilized by fishermen’s wives to haul fish up of their baskets. At its prime, 24 fishing boats had been working these waters fishing for herring.

Wick Heritage Centre

If you need to study extra concerning the fishing and historical past of the realm, the Wick Heritage Centre is the place to go. Wick was Europe’s premier herring fishing port in the course of the nineteenth century and devoted guides volunteer their time to inform share their historic information.

There are many artifacts on show and rooms furnished to painting the previous. To get instructions and lookup hours go to the Wick Heritage Centre web site. 

Dunnet Bay Distillery

Scotland could also be recognized for its Scotch, however Gin is making an enormous mark within the nation. Tours function from May to Sept at 3 pm on Mon, Wed, Fri and on Saturdays at 11 am and 1 pm.

This was most likely our favourite space to discover on the North Coast 500. Everyone instructed us the west coast was one of the best, however the northern tip was gorgeous. It is the realm the place you see these huge sea cliffs and stacks housing migrating seabirds and seals. If you want mountain climbing and wildlife, you’ll love this space.

Ackergill Tower – Overnight

accommodations on the north coast 500 are a destination

The Ackergill Tower Hotel turned our base for exploring this portion of the Scottish Highlands and we stayed right here one other night time.

Like Dornoch Castle, Ackergill Tower is an lodging that could be a vacation spot. The Tower is an unimaginable 600-year-old stone tower that stands proudly on the shores of Sinclair Bay. The Northernmost level of Scotland. This luxurious highland property is as romantic as it’s distant.

The most well-known story of the fortress tells the story of Helen Gunn, often known as the Beauty of Braemore who was kidnapped on her wedding ceremony night time and held a prisoner on this very tower. To escape her destiny she leaped to her demise. It is alleged that her ghost haunts the halls to at the present time. Check out Ackergill Tower to guide your lodging

Day 6: North Coast 500 – Wildlife and Scenery

North Coast 500 wildlife spotting
Dave and Katie nesting birds within the distance

Dave and I like taking excursions. As a lot as we get pleasure from exploring on our personal, we discover that helps us uncover hidden gems and areas we might by no means have considered visiting. We spent a half day exploring with Caithness Wildlife Tours. Guide and proprietor Kate is a marine biologist and out of doors lover who takes guests to see view seabirds, seals, and different wildlife within the space.

But she additionally confirmed us historic websites corresponding to Mary Ann’s Cottage courting again to 1850 and The Castle of Mey. The Queen Mother purchased and restored the Castle of Mey and King Charles nonetheless visits every summer season.

Castle of Mey

North Cost 500 castle of mey scotland
The Castle of Mey

It was the spectacular views of Dunnet Head and Brough Harbour that basically took our breath away. But what we liked essentially the most was studying the attention-grabbing details of the realm from Kate. For instance, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin was an everyday customer to the realm and almost purchased an property in Caithness for a recording studio.

He by no means did purchase the studio, however he did rebuild the harbor and there’s a plaque along with his title on the Harrow Harbour commemorating the reopening.

Castle Sinclair Girnigo

North Coast 500 scenery
Abandoned Mill on our Wildlife Tour

Located only a brief stroll or drive from Ackergill Tower the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigo is an imposing sight on the coast. We noticed this from the street, however after we determined to go for a stroll to it, the rain got here down in full pressure.

There was one specific second after we actually appreciated being on the tour. We had stopped with Kate to view seals within the harbor (an everyday vacationer would miss seeing this on their very own) and he or she instructed us to flip round.

The harbor was good, however the scene behind us was stunning. The peaceable setting housed an outdated mill and quiet brook that was simply screaming to be photographed. Other vacationers drove proper on by us as a substitute of the scene and missed this spotlight of the coast.

Duncansby Head

north coast 500 hiking at John O Groats

If you lookup photos of the North Coast 500 on Google, likelihood is you’ve seen numerous photos of Duncansby Head. Hiking right here is spectacular with many strolling paths alongside the coast. Located only a mile and a half from John O’Groats, make your method to parking on the Duncansby Head Lighthouse.

If you’ve got extra time, you may hike immediately from John O’Groats to soak up your complete spectacular view. It is essentially the most northern level of mainland Scotland, We had restricted time, so we began our hike from the lighthouse and made our method to the awe-inspiring stacks. It’s solely a couple of 10-15 minute stroll, however alongside the way in which, be sure that to stick to the coast so you may view the dramatic slender sea gullies often known as the Geo of Sclaites.

north coast 500 duncansby head at john o groats
Stacks of Duncansby Head

After marveling on the views right here, we moved alongside the North Highlands to the stacks of Duncansby Head. There’s a path proper alongside the coast overlooking the stacks so you may view them from all instructions.

 Geo of Sclaites

north coast 500 scotland  Geo of Sclaites
Spectacular surroundings alongside coastal hikes

Be certain to maintain an eye fixed out for seabirds. Different are consistently migrating via the realm always of the yr. Including puffins! A Geo is a deep inlet of water with excessive seacliffs and whereas there are a lot alongside the northern coast of Scotland, none are fairly as dramatic because the Geo of Sclaites.

Rock formations date again 4000 years and you may take strolling paths proper to the sting of the cliff to see migrating birds and the spectacular surroundings.

Where to Stay close to Dunnet Head

Ackergill Tower Scotland
Ackergill Tower

Ackergill Tower was the proper base for exploring the northernmost level of Scotland. This Sixteenth-century tower has a number of historical past, and you may sit by the hearth studying about its checkered previous as you get pleasure from a dram of whiskey. Dining within the nice corridor, we ate a scrumptious three-course menu earlier than retiring to the varied sitting rooms for an after-dinner drink.

We love street journeys! We included the North Coast 500 in our finest street journeys we’ve ever taken. 

Day 7: Dunnet Head to Tongue

north coast 500 route northern scotland
Continuing alongside the Northern Coast

This stretch of the nc500 takes you throughout the highest of Scotland. It was shocking to take a look at our map and see simply how far north we had been. Northern Scotland is the equal of being midway up the Hudson Bay in Canada’s north, or simply one-degree shy of Oslo, Norway, Stockholm Sweden, or St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s no surprise Northern Scotland reminded us a lot of Iceland! 

Surfing in Scotland

north coast 500 road trip Armadale Bay

It was additionally actually shocking to discover out that this space is a well-liked browsing vacation spot. World browsing occasions are held right here. We didn’t courageous the water, however whereas driving via the likes of Armadale Bay and Melvich, we did see surfers within the water taking up the swells. These bays are nonetheless method up within the north coast of Scotland so I can solely think about what the temperatures had been like.

We had been a bit too early within the season for kayaking and after we return to Scotland we will certainly give it a go. But we did see a couple of skilled kayakers within the water. Looking on the tough seas, we determined it was finest left to the professionals presently of yr. We’ll courageous the North Sea when the climate is a bit more inviting.

Castle Varrich

Hopefully, by the point you go, the ruins of Castle Varrich will probably be open. It was beneath scaffolding after we arrived as we had been instructed that that they had simply found a bone and it was being excavated. It needs to be open now for you to see.

You can hike from the Tongue Hotel. It is believed that the fortress was constructed within the 14th century upon an outdated Norse fort. So you will be certain there’s a number of historical past simply ready to be found right here.

Kyle of Tongue

north coast 500 kyle of tongue reflections
Admiring the lake reflections

Instead of driving immediately alongside the A383 to cross the Kyle of Tongue, take the scenic route across the tip of the loch for extraordinary scenic views. We had the only observe roads all to ourselves. We’d spy a lake, park the automobile and hike to extraordinary views.

We spent the day right here earlier than assembly up once more with the A383 on the Kyle of Tongue Bridge. We made certain to cross the bridge for a full view of the highlands earlier than turning round once more to proceed our journey.

Overnight at Tongue Hotel

where to stay on the north coast 500
Our room on the Tongue Hotel

The Tongue Hotel It has a comfortable ambiance with giant rooms, and there’s at all times somebody providing a drop of sherry once you arrive. There is a eating room and on the town there’s a retailer shut by to refill on provides for the remainder of your street journey. See costs on Trip Advisor /

Ben Loyal Hotel is one other urged place to keep on this portion of the north coast 500. Located on Main Street Tongue. View it on Trip Advisor /

Day 8 – Tongue to Balnakeil

nc500 map tongue to balnakiel
Tongue to Balnakiel

This is one other fabulous stretch crammed with lengthy abandoned sandy seashores, extra coastal hike and one unimaginable cave.

Smoo Cave

north coast 500 smoo caves
Entrance to the Smoo Caves

One of our favourite issues on our journeys was to discover the Smoo Caves. Stopping within the city of Durness, the Smoo Caves are stunning to see in and out. There are boardwalks main down to the caves on both aspect providing you with views of the steep path. A bridge helps you to cross the river main in from the ocean whereas wanting into the enormous cavern.

north coast 500 road trip smoo caves

Many individuals simply go into the caves and take a fast look, however we extremely suggest taking a geological tour. Previously it was run by Colin who spent his lifetime excavating these caves. We had the privilege of doing a tour with him, however sadly he handed away in 2019.

Check out the web site for extra info on his excursions and the geology of the caves. It’s an interesting learn and also you’ll end up getting misplaced within the details.

Balnakeil Bay

north coast 500 road trip Balnakiel Beach
Admiring Balnakiel Beach

An attractive stretch of sandy seaside will be discovered simply out of city and it’s undoubtedly value visiting. Not solely is it very picturesque, however you’ll additionally expertise the distinctive feeling of strolling on a seaside whereas army automobiles drive by with nice goal.

The Royal Naval gunnery ranges are situated out right here and army personnel comes to this space to prepare. You consistently hear weapons and bangs within the distance making you surprise “what on earth is going on out there?”

John Lennon

John Lennon memorial Durness Scotland on the North Coast 500 road trip
John Lennon Memorial

There is a scenic cemetery situated on the positioning by the seaside housing an outdated church and tombstones. It’s very photogenic and John Lennon’s aunt is buried right here.

John Lennon visited the realm many occasions to see his aunt and there’s a memorial within the city of Durness. He revisited it once more with Yoko Ono and it’s mentioned that a few of his happiest reminiscences happened right here.

Belnakeil Craft Village

north coast 500 best road trips in the world
Picking up snacks for the street

This is a cool spot the place locals are beginning to construct a craft neighborhood changing an outdated army camp into an artist’s compound. The most well-known attraction right here is the Cocoa Mountain espresso store. We stopped right here to load up on chocolate and decide up a takeaway cappuccino for our drive out of city.

We didn’t strive the new chocolate, however we heard two completely different prospects give glowing suggestions on our method out. Don’t fear although, we undoubtedly had our fill of handmade chocolate and an oh so easy cappuccino.

Be ready to give your pockets a exercise. When you stroll in, you’ll need to pattern all of the truffles and handmade native chocolate within the retailer.

Smoo Cave Hotel

Smoo Cave Hotel a fundamental lodge, however the location is an ideal cease after driving from Tongue, providing you with the prospect to spend a day or two in Smoo. There’s bar they usually have a few of the finest Haggis round.

Where to eat – Sango Sans, The Whale Tale, or Pick up a picnic lunch on the Carfour and cease on the Cocoa Mountain  espresso store in Belnakeil Craft Village 

Smoo Cave Hotel has bar they usually have a few of the finest Haggis round.

Day 9: North Coast 500 – Belnakeil to Lochinver

north coast 500 guide Achmelvich Bay Scotland
Kylesku to Achmelvich Bay Scotland

Today is a giant day as we make our method down the west towards Achmelvich Bay. It is throughout this part that the driving will get actually enjoyable. The single observe roads can get fairly hair-raising and the drive is alongside enormous lakes and thru mountains is a thrill.

This is one other gorgeous drive alongside a single observe with views to die for. The surroundings alongside the North Coast 500 is exclusive. It varies from place to place, so be sure that to take your time to actually get pleasure from all the views. If you may, take your time and presumably keep in Lochinver for an evening. We nevertheless moved on.

Kylesku Bridge

north coast 500 kylesku bridge
Kylesku Bridge

Located the place Loch Glencoul and Loch Glendhu meet, this can be a very picturesque spot within the coronary heart of the highlands. The Kylesku bridge is among the Most Photographed Stops on the North Coast 500.

Kylesku sits in the midst of Scotland’s 2,000 km2 (770 sq mi) Global Geopark. There is a number of historical past human and geological on this land and the Geopark is acknowledged by UNESCO and is about up to promote and protect that historical past.


north coast 500 scottish highlands cow
Famous Scottish Cattle

Many individuals reduce this portion of drive and head immediately to Lochinver alongside the A894 and A837 however some of the picturesque street routes we took within the north highlands had been towards Drumbeg. The open roads that we had seen up to now, gave method to slender single observe roads dropping off into deep valleys.

north coast 500 road trip wildlife

It was a gorgeous winding journey. It was solely 10 miles lengthy nevertheless it took us effectively over an hour to navigate and take within the sights. It was right here that we noticed numerous stags working via the hills. And, it was right here that we got here throughout the very fairly highland cows, and it was right here that we noticed a whole bunch of sheep grazing within the fields and skittering away every time we drew close to.

Stoerhead Lighthouse

north coast 500 guide Stoerhead Lighthouse
Stoerhead Lighthouse

The Stoerhead Lighthouse was definitely value a brief detour. The lighthouse itself isn’t tall, nevertheless it stands on a cliff that’s 54 meters (162 ft) above sea degree jutting out from the West Coast of Scotland.

The scene is spectacular and you may really guide a keep within the lighthouse. There are two flats and a kitchen, so if you’d like to spend extra time exploring the realm, that is as distinctive because it will get for lodging and also you’ll have unimaginable views of the ocean!

north coast 500 coffee stop
Flossies espresso store has wonderful espresso

Dave and I like espresso on a street journey and admittedly the alternatives for on-the-go espresso on the North Coast 500 had been few and much between. That’s why after we noticed an indication selling espresso forward, we adopted it.

Flossies is a tiny espresso store situated on the aspect of the street, however it’s an establishment within the space. Opened in 1972 by Mrs Flossie Machphail it has now been taken over by her son William and his spouse Caroline who proceed the custom of creating nice espresso to heat your bones from the damp Scottish climate. When driving via this part, be certain to refill!


The single observe roads proceed from Clachtol via an extremely stunning rocky and rolling panorama. When in Clachtol be certain to try the stone broch. Scottish Brochs date again to someplace across the first century BC.

Experts can’t fairly agree on what they had been, however these stone constructions are value a go to to witness how these mounds of stones have survived via the centuries.

Achmevilch Beach

Achmevilch Bay is outwardly fairly gorgeous and a great spot to park your caravan. Unfortunately for us, we had been heading in that course whereas the street was beneath development. We had been instructed to come again in a couple of hours by staff, however alas, we had to transfer on as we had been on a mission to end our NC500 street journey.

The time to go to Achmevilch Bay is in the course of the summer season season anyway as there’s water snowboarding, windsurfing, a number of strolling trails and fishing. Okay then, it’s settled, we should return to Northern Scotland!

Where to Stay

north coast 500 kylesku hotel
The Kylesku Hotel

Kylesku lodge is an effective base There are boat journeys, mountain climbing trails and wildlife excursions the place you may spot sea otters, seals and migrating sea birds. See it on Trip Advisor / There can also be the Drumbeg Hotel.

We stayed at a small farmhouse referred to as the Croft 338 B&B. It’s a fundamental B&B, however the Internet is nice, there’s cable TV and he or she makes a hearty breakfast within the morning.

Day 10 – Lochinver to Ullapool

north coast 500 stag

The surroundings is breathtaking within the North Highlands, and as soon as once more as we make our method additional down the west coast to Ullapool we’re treating to gorgeous views. The single-track street weaves via mountainous terrain and closely wooded areas. Have your digital camera prepared, there are many photograph alternatives of untamed deer on this leg from Lochinver to Ullapool.

Staic Pollaidh

north coast 500 saic pollaidh
Hiking to Staic Pollaidh

On our method to Ullapool, we met up with adrenaline junkie and information extraordinaire, Tim Hamlett. Tim runs Hamlett Mountaineering and we immediately turned quick mates. He’s undoubtedly that man that you really want to hang around with. He gives guided climbing journeys and guided treks into the mountains. Tim actually does all of it!

With kayaking adventures and snorkelling journeys coming quickly, you possibly can spend every week hanging with him exploring the highlands. He gives multiday treks, however we had been on a schedule so solely had the morning with him. You can stroll the paths your self, however to rent a information is the place you actually get the true expertise.

North coast 500 guide to staic pollaidh
Tim of Hamlett Mountaineering

We met Tim on the Stac Pollaidh automobile park the place we joined up to climb Stac Pollaidh. This is a premiere attraction within the space however we met early sufficient within the morning that the opposite trekkers had but to arrive and we had the path all to ourselves.

Tim instructed us of the geology and different climbs within the space. His spouse works for the GeoPark and he’s very captivated with selling tourism and conservation within the highlands. His enterprise is increasing quickly and we are able to’t wait to come again within the close to future to do some correct mountaineering with him.

You ought to undoubtedly guide a visit with him and tell us what we must always do subsequent! Visit Hamlet Mountaineering for extra particulars.

Corrieshalloch Gorge

Corrieshalloch Gorge north coast 500 scotland road triop
Corrieshalloch Gorge

Located simply quarter-hour outdoors of Ullapool, the Corrieshalloch Gorge is an attention-grabbing cease. A brief but steep stroll from the automobile park takes you to a deep and slender field canyon the place you may cross the suspension bridge.

The bridge is a bit hair-raising because it’s slender and the railings are low, however it’s well worth the view. There are mountain climbing trails to discover and a waterfall to go to.

Overnight in Ullapool

north coast 500 road trip ulapool

Ullapool is a picturesque fishing city that’s bustling with enterprise. It appears that everybody driving the North Coast 500 stays right here. We liked our B&B and extremely suggest it. We put it up there as the good lodging on the NC500.

Where to Stay in Ullapool

north coast 500 westlea house ullapool
Our room on the Westlea B&B

Westlea House Boutique B&B was by far our favorite place to keep on the North Coast 500. You’ll need to sit by the hearth perusing the massive selection of books and magazines, or it’s your decision to pop into the music room and select from the in depth assortment of vinyl data.. Check it out on Trip Advisor /

Argyll Hotel is another choice for motels on this portion of the NC500 – See it on Trip Advisor /

Ullapool gives a substantial selection of eating choices for the dimensions of the city. Recommendations are the Arch Inn, Argyle Hotel Seafood Bar for recent native seafood, The Ceilidh Place and Ferry Boat Inn.

We totally loved espresso at Mountain Supplies Coffee Shop. Located on the second flooring of a mountaineering gear retailer, this café has a hipster vibe with and out of doors lover’s twist. The pleasant employees made us really feel heat and welcome.

Day 11: North Coast 500 – Gairloch

north coast 500 gairloch
Dave goes again to his roots in Gairloch

Gairloch makes for an excellent base when exploring the west coast portion of the NC 500. You can go up and down the coast in each instructions. There is lots to see and do right here and you may cowl a number of floor so if you’d like to make a base right here for a few days, it’s an excellent possibility. Gairloch is a particularly necessary city in Scotland with a number of historical past.

Gairloch was based by the McKenzies as a secure vacation spot for Scottish Highlanders to put on their kilts and proceed their Scottish traditions when the British weren’t permitting them to achieve this. Dave has ties to Gairloch. We discovered about it after we had our Ancestry DNA completed simply earlier than leaving. 

Inverewe Gardens

north coast 500 inverewe gardens
Inverewe Garden

Inverewe Gardens is an attention-grabbing cease crammed with unique vegetation that merely shouldn’t give you the option to develop on this nook of northern Scotland. In 1860 Osgood McKenzie created this rigorously sculpted backyard out of some scrub willows and naked rocks.

The 50-acre backyard stands on the shore of Loch Ewe and unique vegetation from around the globe thrive right here due to the nice and cozy currents of the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic. Drift In 2016 the home was opened to the general public after present process a £2million restoration by the National Trust for Scotland.

Isle of Ewe Smokehouse

north coast 500 isle of ewe smokehouse
Esle of Ewe Smokehouse for fish and snacks

Fishing is a big a part of the economic system in Northern Scotland and when you are in Gairloch, it’s your decision to cease on the Isle of Ewe Smokehouse. It’s attention-grabbing to cease and see what occurs to the fish after the catch. This family-run store smokes all its fish in conventional stone kilns utilizing whisky barrel staves & native Larch to give their fish its personal distinctive taste.

They have a present store the place you may decide up provides and native seafood to your street journey or seize a present field for somebody particular at dwelling. You may even order on-line! 

Loch Maree

north coast 500 road trip stops Loch Maree
Sunrise at Loch Maree

There are so many lochs in Northern Scotland it’s tough to select the place to cease, however Loch Maree is certainly a gorgeous place to go to at dawn. Campervans park in a single day on the shores of this loch however you may drive in for a view as effectively. It’s not extremely traveled and will be tough to discover.

At first, we parked at a logging street and began to stroll the space to the loch, however fortunately we determined to transfer on. Just a few kilometers down the street we discovered the reduce off to the seaside and had been handled to a spectacular view.

Beinn Eighe

Beinn Eighe is Britain’s oldest nature reserve and a premier mountain climbing vacation spot. There is 48 Square km to discover with trails as brief as 1 1/2 km. Hiking is standard in Scotland and you may’t go to the nation with out doing a correct trek.

The predominant entry is from Loch Maree close to the village of Kinlochewe and trails depart from both the customer centre right here or the Coille na Glas-Leitir automobile park additionally on the shores of Loch Maree. For full path maps and data see the go to Scotland National Nature Reserve web site

Klinlochewe Viewpoint

north coast 500 applecross to klinlochewe

Picking up a espresso on the newly opened Klinlochewe Coffee Shop on the fuel station we chatted with the homeowners who gave us some tips about one of the best viewpoint within the space. I can’t consider we nearly missed this!

Many individuals miss this view as a result of they take the coastal scenic route to Applecross. But be certain to at the very least drive up to the perspective. Top Gear named it one of many nice drives of the UK.

We had been fortunate as a result of we had a few days within the space so we drove the coast the day earlier than and may take the shortcut via the mountains at the moment. Both are extremely beneficial.

Diabag Viewpoint

Diabag Viewpoint north coast 500
Diabag Viewpoint

Another unimaginable view that we stumbled upon was Diabag Viewpoint. Driving from Torridon we heard that this was an excellent place for panoramic views and whoever gave us that recommendation was proper!

The street is an unimaginable thrill of 1 lane switching forwards and backwards up a steep mountain. There are a number of stops to see views to the east, to the west, and over the water wanting from Scotland’s gorgeous west coast.

It’s well worth the drive and to do your complete route to Lower Diabag took us about an hour every method. (we do like to cease for lots pictures although)

Where to Stay in Gairloch

north coast 500 gairloch where to stay
The Old in outdoors Gairloch

The Old Inn. It’s an outdated teaching inn reworked with trendy conveniences. Set on a gorgeous property, there are strolling trails, gardens and streams working via the property. On-site, there is a wonderful seafood restaurant and an award-winning pub. This is a spot that felt like we had been in the actual Scotland. See it on Trip Advisor /

Shieldaig Lodge This outdated looking lodge is situated on Loch Gairloch. It is about on a 26,000 acre property within the West Highlands. See it on Trip Advisor /

Day 12: North Coast 500 – Klinlochewe to Applecross

When it comes to the North Coast 500, the surroundings is the star attraction so take your time to cease, go for hikes, benefit from the trails, guide a path journey (the Highlanders had been nice horsemen), go kayaking, crusing, and seek for wildlife. The sky is the restrict right here.

This last stretch of driving alongside the coast might be essentially the most scenic and enjoyable driving you’ll have alongside the North Coast 500. There are so many viewpoints to cease and benefit from the scene, you’ll spend a whole day getting via only a brief 32-mile stretch. As you drive from Torridon the views are plentiful.

We picked up a scrumptious cappuccino for takeaway (have you ever observed we like espresso?) on the Torridon Hotel and bar and started our scenic journey alongside Upper Torridon Loch. This is a good day journey for a coast journey taking you all the way in which across the route to Applecross the place you drive essentially the most spectacular cross Baelnabach Pass; The star attraction of the North Coast 500.

Town of Sheildag

north coast 500 town of sheildag
View of Sheildag

Be certain to pull over as a lot as potential alongside this route as you’re going to discover some wonderful overhead views. The preliminary climb up the coast has hairpin turns and viewpoints. A beautiful one we discovered was a pull-off with a brief path main to a view of the city of Sheildag.

Famous Red House

famous red cottage of the North coast 500
Famous Red Farmhouse

Have you ever seen the pictures of the little crimson home in northern Scotland? Well, it’s right here alongside this route that you simply’ll discover it. Enjoy a quiet cease on the aspect of the street right here and watch the sheep graze within the yard.

Non-stop pullovers  and Passing Places

north coast 500 beautiful coastal views
Plentiful Coastal Views

This route across the North Highlands takes you alongside the ocean aspect of the west coast and there are such a lot of stops you simply might take a whole day to get to your vacation spot. We noticed a number of highland cows alongside this street too. The slender roads have pullovers and passing locations the place you may both get out of your automobile for pictures or let sooner drivers cross. This is a spot you need to take your time, but additionally be thoughtful of sooner drivers.

Flocks of sheep had been plentiful and there have been even views of the Isle of Skye. It was an unimaginable drive however be ready for lots of wind. We had stunning sunny climate, however the wind was robust. When getting out of the automobile we had to placed on a jacket. Never assume you’ll be advantageous in shorts or a t-shirt all day when driving in Northern of Scotland.

Applecross to Baelnabach Pass

north coast 500 road trip applecross
All Around Applecross

This is the spotlight of your complete North Coast 500 and it doesn’t disappoint. Baelnabach Pass used to be an outdated cattle path that was became a driving transport route and is now a preferred vacationer route.

The drive is thrilling with hairpin activates single-lane tracks that you simply nonetheless share with transports. There are a couple of pullovers and it’s value stopping if you happen to see one and really feel assured. The views are magnificent wanting down the valley.

When you get to the highest of the cross be certain to get out of your automobile and go for a hike. The rocky panorama is like nothing you’ve ever seen main out to the ocean.

Kishorn Seafood Bar

north coast 500 road trip where to eat
Kishorn Seafood Bar for Lunch

It’s been a giant day and also you’ve most likely constructed up an urge for food. If you retain following the principle street in direction of Lochcarron you’ll come throughout the nice Kishorn Seafood Bar. Serving recent native seafood, this isn’t to be missed.

This family-run eatery is crammed with wonderful selections for lunch or dinner and the employees is pleasant. They even gave us a style of the native specialty. If you haven’t tried oysters earlier than, that is the place to do it. They even give certificates to first-timers.

Day 13: North Coast 500 – Plockton

north coast 500 plokton
Plockton again to Inverness

Our last vacation spot earlier than ending off the loop to Inverness took us to Plockton. Plockton turned our dwelling base to discover the realm. Like different components of the nc500, there’s a number of historical past, wildlife and surroundings to get pleasure from and listed below are a couple of highlights of what you have to see and do!

Reraig Forest Tour

north coast 500 reraig forest
Buggy journey on the Reraig Forest

We met our information Colin at Lochcarron village not having a clue as to what we had been doing or the place we had been going. Hopping into his truck he took us to Reraig Forest the place we obtained right into a buggy to make our method up a steep mountain.

The buggy was an journey sufficient as we clung to the sting of steep banks, rammed via deep mud and trotted alongside the rocky panorama. But that was simply a part of the journey.

north coast 500 road trip reraig forest
The huge deer herd of Reraig Forest

The true magnificence got here after we reached the pack of deer and stags roaming the land. It’s right here that you simply’ll discover stunning deer that roam free on hundreds of acres of property.

Colin feeds the deer particular pellets to subsidize their weight loss plan as he says the vegetation doesn’t give them the vitamins they want. You can inform he loves the herd and he even identified a couple of that jumped over the fence to stick round.

Colin additionally has sheep and rams on the land that come working when he arrives. It was fairly humorous to see the deer observe our buggy over the hills like a flock of sheep. They had been very excited to see him!

Eilean Donan Castle

north coast 500 eilean donan castle
Walkway to Eilean Donan Castle

Possibly essentially the most well-known fortress within the land, Eilean Donan Castle was used for the set of Highlander, James Bond’s The World is Not Enough, and the New Avengers. It’s a gorgeous fortress the place you may tour and study concerning the historical past of the clans that dominated the Highlands.

It tells the story via a superb audio-visual show concerning the Jacobite rebellion and fall, and the wars of the clans. You can stroll via the completely different rooms of the fortress which might be embellished simply as they had been a whole bunch of years in the past and get a real sense of what life was like. The reward store is superb and it was right here that we purchased a woolen scarf within the colours of Dave’s ancestors the McKenzies.

Strome Castle

Strome Castle overlooks the ocean

A far much less intact fortress however nonetheless stunning to go to is Drome Castle. Today it’s in ruins, the outer partitions are nonetheless standing and you may stroll in and out exploring the coastal piece of land.

At low tide you may stroll fairly far out to the ocean for view of the fortress and you may snap the compulsory image via the doorway arch.

Duncraig Castle

north coast 500 duncraig castle
Duncraig Castle

Duncraig Castle is a fortress that has been became a mattress and breakfast and is value a photograph cease if you’re not staying there. The street main to the railway station goes immediately via the fortress grounds, you may simply drive your automobile proper up to the entrance door to take a look. It’s situated on Loch Carron and will be seen from the city of Plockton. There are even hikes that lead out to the fortress.

Where to Stay in Plockton

north coast 500 road trip plokton accomodation
Downtown Plockton Hotel

The Plockton Hotel – Located on the waterfront of Plockton, the Plockton Hotel is the preferred spot on the town. With a Michelin rated pub, it has a few of the finest pub meals and ambiance in Scotland. We ate there every night time, having fun with native seafood with whiskey and wine. Trip Advisor /

Plocton Inn is one other lodge on the town and it has wonderful eating as effectively.

Duncraig Castle is a fortress that has been became a mattress and breakfast and is value a photograph cease

Where to eat in Plockton: The Plockton Inn, Plockton Hotel, and Plockton Shores all concentrate on seafood and are all wonderful. 

Day 14: Isle of Skye – North Coast 500

game of thrones filming locations Scotland
The Old Man of Storr from our Scotland Road journey on the Isle of Skye

Visiting the Isle of Sky is an good optionally available aspect journey. While it isn’t situated immediately on the North Coast 500, it’s a stones throw away. Plockton can also be a superb place to make a base for visiting the Isle of Sky. As one particular person mentioned to us, “You can’t really come to this part of Scotland and not visit Skye.” We made some extent to go to the Isle of Skye to see a few of the highlights. A day will not be sufficient however was simply sufficient to view its high sights.

When visiting the Isle of Sky, don’t miss seeing the Old Man of Storr, its most well-known web site. We made a b-line on the market whereas the climate was good after which weaved our method across the island to see its stunning panorama from its dramatic sea cliffs, waterfalls, fairy swimming pools and the city of Portree. If you’re a whisky lover, pop into the Talisker Distillery for a tasting.


north coast 500 inverness capital of the scottish highlands

And that ends a two-week North Coast 500 itinerary. You could make your method again to Inverness or proceed on to discover Scotland. If you’ve got your personal automobile, why not keep a month? There continues to be a lot to see from Edinburgh to Glasgow and in every single place in between.

The NC500 is among the biggest drives on this planet. In the long run, the single-track roads could also be became double-lane highways and extra motels could be popping up in every single place. But if you happen to get there shortly, you’ll get pleasure from outdated Scottish hospitality with some extraordinary scenic views. So what are you ready for? Book your North Coast 500 Accommodation now, rooms replenish quick and you could miss out if you happen to wait!

North Coast 500 Tips

tips for driving the north coast 500

The North Coast 500 covers an enormous portion of mainland Scotland and planning will be overwhelming. We’ve put collectively a couple of suggestions to aid you arrange your lodging, packing and automobile leases to your official North Coast 500 street journey.

The climate adjustments dramatically in Scotland. When asking the locals what the temperature is like in the summertime season, many mentioned it wasn’t a lot completely different from after we visited in late March/early April.

So when touring Northern Scotland, be certain to pack layers, waterproof mountain climbing boots, and waterproof outer layers. We had all of this with us and aside from this one time at Castle Sinclair Girnigo, we didn’t let wind or rain cease us from exploring and also you shouldn’t both.

That is the appeal of Scotland. It’s precisely the identical as Iceland. If you don’t just like the climate simply wait a minute or so, it can change. 

How to Get to Inverness

north coast 500 inverness

There are a number of methods to get to Inverness, Scotland. If you aren’t driving your personal automobile from one of many different nations within the United Kingdom, likelihood is you’ll be flying.

Inverness has its personal airport (Inverness Airport – INV) with home and worldwide flights. From main cities within the UK, corresponding to London, Manchester, and Birmingham, you may fly immediately to Inverness. There are additionally direct flights from some European cities, corresponding to Amsterdam and Dublin. Once you arrive on the airport, you may take a taxi or bus to get to town heart.

By Train: Inverness is well-connected by rail to different main cities within the UK, together with London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. The prepare station in Inverness is situated within the metropolis heart, making it handy for vacationers. You can examine prepare schedules and guide tickets on-line by way of web sites corresponding to National Rail Enquiries.

By Automobile: Inverness is accessible by automobile by way of the A9, which is the principle street linking town to the remainder of Scotland. If you might be driving from the south, you may take the M6 and A74(M) to attain the A9. The journey time from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Inverness is roughly 3-4 hours by automobile, relying on site visitors circumstances. There are a number of automobile rental corporations accessible at Inverness airport or within the metropolis heart, if you happen to want to hire a automobile.

Tips for Driving the North Coast 500

north coast 500 road trip tps

The North Coast 500 is a scenic driving route that covers the northern coast of Scotland, and it may be an exhilarating journey for drivers. Here are some suggestions to take note when driving the North Coast 500.

When driving the North Coast 500 be ready for singletrack lanes. You share one lane in each instructions and you’ll have to again up or pull over typically for oncoming site visitors. The guidelines work that if there’s a passing place in your aspect, you’re the particular person to pull over. If the passing place is on the opposite aspect of the street, they’ll.

There are loads of passing locations the place slower drivers can transfer out of the way in which if they’ve vehicles behind them, and there are pullovers the place you may pull in to let oncoming site visitors via. In the summer season season, site visitors is busier, if you happen to journey within the low season, you’ll come throughout fewer vehicles.

In Scotland, like within the UK, site visitors drives on the left aspect of the street. If you aren’t used to this, take a while to alter and be further cautious when driving, particularly on slender and winding roads.

The North Coast 500 can get busy throughout peak season, so be respectful of different drivers and locals. Follow the velocity limits, yield to different automobiles, and use pull-outs or designated passing locations to let different vehicles cross if you’re driving slower. There is not any hurt in pulling over to let somebody cross you. It is a standard courtesy so be respectful of the drivers behind you.

Driving the North Coast 500 will be difficult. The route runs via a various panorama with slender single observe roads winding via steep hills, and blind corners. Stay alert and targeted, particularly when driving within the night or early morning when visibility is low.

Be ready for all climate circumstances: Scotland’s climate will be unpredictable, so be prepared for all sorts of climate and climate can change right away. You may encounter snow, rain, wind and sunny climate. Dress in layers and pack waterproof clothes. Bring heat clothes, waterproof gear, and a primary assist package in case of an emergency. See our suggestions

Watch out for wildlife: The North Coast 500 takes you thru some wild and distant areas, so maintain an eye fixed out for wildlife on the street, corresponding to deer, sheep, and cows. They will be unpredictable, so decelerate and drive cautiously.

Car Rentals and Driving

north coast 500 car rentals

Make certain to be thoughtful of different drivers when driving the NC500. The roads are slender and many individuals don’t use the passing locations devoted to permitting others to cross. If you might be driving slowly, pull over when one of many passing locations comes up to let one other cross.

Plus, it’s simpler to discover parking in cities and you may pull off on small turnouts alongside the route to be out of the way in which whereas capturing these awe-inspiring pictures of the panorama and gorgeous coastal surroundings. If you’ve got a smaller automobile, you received’t have an excessive amount of hassle getting round.

We rented a small automobile and it made issues a lot simpler to pull over for oncoming site visitors. Many individuals camp on the NC 500. Campervans are allowed, however can not navigate a few of the trails and smaller tracks. So take that into consideration when reserving your car.

Scotland is on the Pound Sterling – 1 Pound Sterling = 1.30 USD. For up to date alternate charges go to XE Currency Convertor. 

Eagle Creek Plug Adapter – This multi functional adapter is all of your want for Scotland shops and different European and world travels.

Get your tunes prepared, there are a lot of locations you received’t get radio service – See our Road Trip Songs Playlist

Take your time and benefit from the surroundings: The North Coast 500 gives a few of the most breathtaking surroundings in Scotland, so take your time and revel in it. Stop typically to take pictures, stretch your legs, and benefit from the views. There are loads of scenic spots to cease and admire, corresponding to seashores, cliffs, and waterfalls.

By following the following pointers, you may have a secure and gratifying driving expertise on the North Coast 500 in Scotland.

North Coast 500 Packing Tips

north coast 500 packing tips

The climate adjustments dramatically in Scotland. When asking the locals what the temperature is like in the summertime, many mentioned it wasn’t a lot completely different from after we visited in late March/early April.

Packing for the North Coast 500 in Scotland requires cautious planning, particularly if you’re touring in the course of the cooler months. Here are some packing suggestions to think about:

Warm and waterproof clothes: Scotland’s climate will be unpredictable, and it could possibly get chilly and moist even in the course of the summer season months. Pack heat and waterproof clothes, together with a water-resistant jacket, pants, and sneakers. Layering can also be important to keep heat, so deliver sweaters, long-sleeved shirts, and thermals.

Comfortable mountain climbing boots: The North Coast 500 gives loads of alternatives for out of doors actions, corresponding to mountain climbing and strolling. Bring comfy strolling sneakers or mountain climbing boots with good traction to discover the countryside.

Sun safety: While Scotland’s climate will be chilly and moist, the solar can nonetheless be robust, particularly in the course of the summer season months. Pack solar safety, together with sunscreen, sun shades, and a hat.

Insect repellent: Scotland has its justifiable share of midges, tiny flying bugs that may be a nuisance in the course of the summer season months. Pack insect repellent to keep away from being bitten.

Camera and binoculars: The North Coast 500 gives a few of the most gorgeous landscapes and wildlife in Scotland, so deliver a digital camera and binoculars to seize the surroundings and wildlife.

Mobile telephone and charger: Make certain to deliver a cell phone and charger, as there are many scenic spots with no telephone protection. It can also be important to have a GPS and a paper map to navigate the route. We additionally carry a conveyable adaper.

Cash and bank cards: While there are ATMs and bank card services accessible alongside the North Coast 500 route, it’s at all times good to have some money available for smaller transactions, corresponding to parking or buying objects from native companies.

Where to Stay on the North Coast 500

where to stay on the north coast 500

We broke down the place we stayed on the North Coast 500 in every part, however to make issues simpler for you, we’ve rounded up one of the best luxurious motels, self catering lodging, and BnBs for you to try on this wonderful driving route. You ought to guide your lodging upfront as this



Dornoch Castle – A historic fortress situated within the coronary heart of Dornoch Trip Advisor /
Royal Marine Hotel – One of the few luxurious motels on the North Coast 500 East Caost and makes for an excellent base to discover this portion of the driving route.

Wick / Dunnet Head

Ackergille Tower Hotel – If you might be on the lookout for extra luxurious motels on the North Coast 500, try the fortress motels. We liked our keep at Ackergille Tower lodge making for an outstanding base to discover alongside the north coast. Check it out on Trip Advisor /

If you might be on the lookout for self catering lodging, Riverside Apartments has kitchens, washing machines and free WiFi view it on Trip Advisor /


Smoo Caves

Smoo Cave Hotel a fundamental lodge, however the location is an ideal cease after driving from Tongue. There’s bar they usually have a few of the finest Haggis round. Compare costs on TripAdvisor

Lochinver / Drumbeg / Lochinver

Kylesku lodge is an effective base There are boat journeys, mountain climbing trails and wildlife excursions the place you may spot sea otters, See it on Trip Advisor / There can also be the Drumbeg Hotel.
We stayed at a small farmhouse referred to as the Croft 338 B&B. It’s a fundamental B&B, however the Internet is nice, there’s cable TV and he or she makes a hearty breakfast within the morning.




The Plockton Hotel – Located on the waterfront of Plockton, the Plockton Hotel is the preferred spot on the town. Trip Advisor /
Plocton Inn is one other lodge on the town and it has wonderful eating as effectively.
Duncraig Castle is a fortress that has been became a mattress and breakfast and is value a photograph cease

Plan your route and stops upfront: The North Coast 500 route covers over 500 miles and takes you thru some distant areas. Plan your route rigorously, and analysis the sights and guide your lodging upfront.

When you go to Scotland, be sure that to add the North Coast 500 to your itinerary. It is among the nice street journeys on this planet and takes you thru a few of the most gorgeous coastal surroundings within the nation and really helps you to expertise all of the highlights of the Scottish Highlands.

Disclosure: There are some affiliate hyperlinks on the publish under the place theplanetd will earn a fee. But it’s no further value to you. This publish is in partnership with Visit Britain, Check out their web site for extra particulars.


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