The North Coast 500
Famed as the Scottish Route 66, the North Coast 500 has everything you could want from a Scottish road trip. Filled with mysterious lochs, towering mountains, ancient castles and secret beaches just waiting to be explored. Wild camping is legal in Scotland, so you can find hidden gems amongst the Highlands and find true solitude close to nature.
Or you can head out to campsites where you can meet other travellers and get close to some of the incredible sites that Scotland has to offer.
What is the North Coast 500?
The North Coast 500 (NC500) is a 516-mile scenic drive. It starts and ends at Inverness Castle, close to Loch Ness. You will explore the best parts of the North Highlands via wild coastal roads, seaside villages and historic towns.
What can you do along the way?
No matter if you are searching for adrenaline-pumping sports, tasty food, traditional pubs, rare wildlife, hiking trails or spectacular views, you will find it all on North Coast 500.
Travel through the Black Isle to snack on woodland berries, gaze at faerie glens and sit out on sunny bays trying to catch a glimpse at the dolphins.
In Wester Ross, you can drive along Bealach, a stretch of road where you can see far into the distance. A single lane mountain pass that stretches through Applecross peninsula. However, this road could be closed in winter months.
Across to the North East, there’s Caithness where you will find the Castle of Mey, where the Queens comes on vacation. You will find fishing ports and great food.
And then Inverness itself is a fantastic place to spend some time, and not far from Loch Ness, where you can try and spot the water monster Nessy.
How long does it take?
Allow for a minimum of 7 days to explore the route. However, there are plenty of opportunities to stay somewhere for a few days. It also depends on what activities you plan on doing; you may want to leave more time if you plan on fitting in lots of hiking. Consider 14 days if you would like to allow yourself more freedom to fall in love with different places and stay longer or break your plan and go off course to hunt down a hidden gem.
When should I go?
The seasons in Scotland are dramatic, and the landscape changes dramatically. In the winter you will see snow, the summers can bring sunshine if you are lucky, spring can also bring sun, and you will see lots of wildlife or the autumn is filled with colours of falling leaves. Depending on what you want to do and what whether you will determine when you go. However, the peak summer season could see the roads busier so you may want to avoid the end of mid-July – the end of August.
Where will I stay along the route?
There are plenty of campsites where you can meet other people travelling. Scotland is a popular destination for people holidaying in campervans, and you are likely to spend nights swapping travel advice and making new friends.
Alternatively, wild camping is free across Scotland.
For more information please visit: www.northcoast500.com/
North Coast 500 Route
North Coast 500 Map