North Coast of Scotland

The North Coast 500 has become a hugely popular scenic driving route that loops around the northern coast of Scotland.

North Coast of Scotland Road Trip (also known as North Coast 500 / NC500)

The North Coast 500 has become a hugely popular scenic driving route that loops around the northern coast of Scotland. It was launched in 2015 and has become a well-loved road trip. The route features stunning coastal scenery, historical castles, whisky distilleries, quaint villages, and the Scottish Highlands.

Embark on a legendary road trip, uncovering the rich history, culture, and vivid landscapes of Northern Scotland at your own pace. Around every bend, a new magical memory awaits on the nation's most treasured coastal route - the sensational North Coast 500!

Key destinations and highlights

Key destinations include Inverness, Wick, John O'Groats, Durness, Ullapool, Applecross, Torridon, Isle of Skye, and Caithness.

Key highlights include castle ruins at Dunrobin and Dunvegan, geologic formations at Kylesku, the Bealach na Bà mountain pass, turquoise waters at Achmelvich beach, fishing villages like Ullapool, and walks through the dramatic Torridon hills.

There are many hidden gems and viewpoints that can be enjoyed, as well as detour options and wonderful overnight spots to stay, so careful planning will ensure you make the most of this road trip.

When to go and how long for?

It typically takes 5-7 days to complete the full loop, but many choose to extend this to a fortnight to enjoy stops on the way and explore off-the-beaten track. Whilst most people drive anti-clockwise starting from Inverness, the route can of course, be done clockwise and there are many little detours that can be taken from the route, so you can really make the road trip your own.

The best time to drive it is from April to October when the weather is milder. Summer is peak season with more crowds and it can get really busy. The roads are mainly single-track with passing places, so it requires slow and careful driving and can be tricky with lots of traffic.

Planning your road trip in advance

Planning in advance is crucial to get the most out of your road trip. In particular, reservations in peak travel times can mean campgrounds and attractions book up quickly. Planning ahead lets you reserve spots at your top choices and schedule must-do experiences. You don't want to risk places being full when you arrive. When you book your motorhome hire, it’s a good time to book your top choices too.

Mapping your route allows you to maximise scenic drives, interesting stops, and efficient daily mileage. This avoids backtracking or long dull stretches of driving. You can plot out the most exciting journey. It also helps with budgeting. Good planning builds in budget-friendly options for food, fuel, and activities.

A planned itinerary helps optimise your time so you can relax rather than rush. Scheduling minimises wasted time each day and helps discover closures. Research ahead uncovers if certain roads, attractions, or campsites have seasonal closures. You can confirm they are open during your trip dates.

In summary, advance planning reduces stress while allowing you to maximise your time, budget, and experiences. Being proactive is the best way to craft your dream road trip! If you need assistance, read on.

The North Coast of Scotland Road Trip Planner

If you are looking for an online ‘guidebook and map’, our road trip guide partner, Uncover Britain Road Trips, provides an online North Coast of Scotland road trip plan, that will help you experience the adventure of a lifetime on the spectacular route as it loops around the stunning northern coastline of Scotland.

The route intricately connects the best attractions, scenery, and destinations in the northern Highlands for an awe-inspiring road trip. Marvel at dramatic seascapes, charming villages, ancient castles, and the rugged natural beauty of Scotland.

The detailed trip planner maps out 18 top destinations, including the magical Isle of Skye. Discover hidden gems, scenic detours, and local secrets to maximise your NC500 experience. Find overnight stays spots to rest with the Overnight Stay map, including 50 NC500 campsites and 15+ motorhome stops, including nearly-wild spots.

Immerse yourself in over 100 incredible attractions and activities waiting to be discovered, where you can spot wildlife, sample whisky, hike through majestic glens, or relax by the sea. The Uncover Map showcases scenic viewpoints, secluded beaches, beautiful forests, and invigorating swimming holes for a wild swim if that takes your fancy.

The North Coast of Scotland road trip plan is available at £9.99 to access for 12 months, with no subscription to cancel. Purchase all Scotland road trips to weave together, if you have longer to spend in Scotland, with the Scotland region at £19.99. Read more on here.

Uncover Britain

Access the North Coast of Scotland Road Trip plan for 12 months with no subscription to cancel.

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Uncover Britain

Access the Scotland Road Trip plans for 12 months if you have longer to spend in Scotland.

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