We also spent 2 days travelling up to Inverness – her from London, me from Preston. The drive between Lochcarron and Inverness is super pretty, but particularly at Rogie Falls where you can walk across a small suspension bridge to get a good look at this natural phenomenon. Where to Stay in Edinburgh: We decided to treat ourselves on this first night at the Radisson Collection Hotel (formerly the G&V Royal Mile Hotel), which is a modern hotel with a fabulous cocktail bar and gorgeous views over the city. Luxury Scotland A curated selection of the very best of Scottish hospitality and adventure for those who desire the finest experience in life Read More The Castle & Gardens of Mey The Castle of Mey, located on the NC500 route near Thurso, was the only home The Queen Mother ever owned. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast that begins and ends in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. On the way to Dunrobin, you can also take a little detour to the Falls of Shin, where you can spot jumping salmon (between May and late Autumn) – but it will add over an hour to your journey! I recently took an incredible road trip driving around the Outer Hebrides in North West Scotland. Leaving Chanonry Point, you could make a stop at The Storehouse Restaurant and Farm Shop to pick up some breakfast/lunch or supplies – even if you’re not hungry, who doesn’t love a good farm shop? If you’re very lucky, you may also see dolphins off the coast. Chanonry Point lies between Fortrose and Rosemarkie on what is known as the Black Isle of Scotland. Ullapool is also a great jumping-off point to visit the Outer Hebrides via the CalMac ferry to Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. If you’re from the UK, you have certainly heard of the North Coast 500 by now. When you get the weather (which we didn’t), the Isle of Skye is a great place to visit and also a good place to start exploring both the Inner and Outer Hebrides. From an overview of the route, tips on driving and sights you can't miss, we'll help you plan perfectly for the NC500 - Scotland’s answer to Route 66. Would you? As we’d hired a car in Edinburgh, that’s where we went – but it is a pretty long drive. Both warm and exceptionally comfortable, and both virtually on the sea shore with a lovely outlook across the sea to Skye and the Applecross hills. Dornoch to Wick. These itineraries are based on the minimum amount of time we recommend to allocate for your journey. Discover 13 of Scotland’s most spectacular driving routes, from the Fife Coastal Route to the epic North Coast 500. Choose between two idyllic holiday cottages located half a mile off the NC500 route. We both got the train to Edinburgh, stayed overnight, and then picked up a car to use for the rest of the trip. We had a browse in the multiple souvenir shops, took photos with the John O’Groats sign and colourful houses (which most of the locals hate), and walked down the pier. You’ll also need a lot of blankets, a heater, and an emergency kit in case of being snowed in. The Cairngorms is also home to 6 of the UK’s highest mountains (the highest is Ben Nevis near to Fort William) and in the winter, snow permitting, you can go skiing and even husky sledding. With so much to see, we spent the majority of the time driving, doing a few little hikes and taking pictures, and not really ‘doing’ much. Where To Stay in Inverness: We stayed at the Royal Highland Hotel, which was right in the centre of town – quite grand, a little bit old school, very Scottish – we loved it. Stop at the gorgeous Eilean Donan Castle, which was used as one of the filming locations for the James Bond film, Skyfall and even better, Made of Honour (love that film… Patrick Dempsey, swoon). Or, if you want to make your trip super epic, you could head towards the Inner or Outer Hebrides. But John o’Groats to Lands End has a better ring to it, don’t you think? With beautiful nature trails and lots of flora and fauna to observe and appreciate. North Coast 500 route maps are made easily available online plan your route around Scotland's Route66 NC500 with google maps & plan your route around the Coasts of the Northern Scottish Highlands as you drive through some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, visit famous location made popular by movies like Braveheart filmed in Glen Nevis by Fort William With golden/pinky sands and cool rock formations, you’ll get plenty of amazing pictures. Give yourself a good 3 hours if you want to walk the circuit from Duncansby Head/John o’Groats and to the Stacks and back. The Ultimate North Coast 500 Itinerary – Route, Accommodation, Travel Tips and more.. How Long Does it Take to Drive the NC500? See planning guide: https://independenttravelcats.com/north-coast-500-road-trip-planning-guide-nc500-route/ Great for photographers, hikers, and surfers (when there are waves). There are tons of things to do in Ullapool, including boat trips to Loch Broom and the Summer Isles, sea kayaking, hiking, and visiting the Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve. Want the ultimate Scottish cycling challenge? If I could live in one of these, I would. If you are planning to road trip around this scenic area of the Scottish Highlands, you may be wanting to spend … This is a very popular stop as it’s close to Glasgow, so don’t be alarmed by all the tourists – you’re not on the NC500 now! John O’Groats! The route begins in Inverness, Capital City of the Highlands, and snakes along the rugged coastal edges of northern Scotland, taking in breath-taking castles, mesmerising mountain tops and glistening beaches. Brenna and I had a LOT of fun filming our Instagram Stories here. Get off the main roads and tour Scotland the scenic way now Day 2 … The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s iconic coastal route that covers over 500 miles of the stunning North Highlands. The afternoon was spent… Leaving Ullapool, your next destination could be the fantastic Corrieshalloch Gorge Nature Reserve. Savour some of Scotland's best seafood, local produce & distilleries. March is generally a crappy month in the UK, weather-wise, but it turned out pretty well for us actually – it rained a lot, but we were also blessed with plenty of sunshine and therefore, rainbows. Whilst we didn’t go on this trip, on another trip to Edinburgh I went for dinner and dancing at Ghillie Dhu, a Scottish ceilidh extravaganza. Make your way to Balnakeil Beach – potentially the most stunning beach in the area. Scotland’s North Coast 500, also known as the route 66 of UK – something we’re yet to do, but has been on our bucket list for years! You could easily keep yourself occupied for 1 – 2 weeks! Dog friendly Cafes. Whoop whoop! At Africa & Wi, ✨ANNOUNCING✨ Then it heads north along the scenic west coast to Durness, and across the northern edge of Scotland to John O’Groats before returning to Inverness. The NC500 passes through six regions of Scotland - Inverness-shire, Wester … There is really only one option for romance and luxury in the Torridon area of the Scottish Highlands and that is the respected hotel, ... my main plan is to drive through france and tour north west spain. Ever wanted to climb the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis? Alternatively, you can head back towards Glasgow or Edinburgh where you can spend a final night or catch your transport home. When I’m not writing, you’ll find me teaching or leading adventure tours and yoga retreats in Africa with my tour company Rock My Adventure. I wouldn’t mind living on a gorgeous island in the middle of a loch. We rarely get snow where I live in North West England, so this was a real treat for me. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland's northern coast, offering drivers rugged landscapes, sandy benches, wildlife, museums, castles, whisky distilleries, and so much more! During spring and early summer, this includes a high number of puffins as they come here for nesting season. Where to Stay in Ullapool: I’d definitely recommend the Silver Darlings B&B which is owned by one of my very good friends from uni. However, they offer free camping with limited availability in the offseason. There are more stunning views of the coastline but it is a little off the main road of the North Coast 500. There are 330 steps to be precise and they can be treacherous, so take care – and just remember, what goes down, must come up. Now you could either stay in Ullapool or head down to Applecross, but I’d definitely recommend staying in Ullapool as it really is lovely, and will keep the driving distances short. Edinburgh also has great nightlife too, and tons of great bars and restaurants. I’d like to think it was because he was excited to meet two fellow travel writers and adventurers, but I think it may just have been a coincidence…, We had a little chat at the bar about travelling in Africa, Brenna chatted to him about her book, I introduced him to ‘Johnny Fox’ (“Have you met Johnny Fox?” is the Scottish equivalent of “I carried a watermelon.”), he took the piss out of me for being a Scouser and said he’d give my blog a read – which I’m sure he does on a regular basis these days (Hi Lev! The castle resembles a French chateau and the design of the gardens was inspired by Palace of Versailles in Paris – it looks like it came straight out of a Disney movie. You can tour the distilleries and learn about the whiskey-making process – as well as doing a little bit of tasting too. From there, continue around the coast to Fearnmore a remote part of the loch, edging out to the sea. If you don’t want to walk, you might enjoy seeing the steps and harbour from the sea with Caithness Seacoast. On a clear day, you may be lucky enough to see puffins and the Orkney Islands…. Where to Stay Near to the Grey Cairns of Camster & the Whaligoe Steps: The village of Lybster, near to both the Camster Cains and Whaligoe Steps is a good place to rest your head for the night if you don’t want to travel too far. We have created ten itineraries to help you plan your ideal North Coast 500 trip. T. hen we had one final night in Edinburgh on the way back down. This route also passes Eilean Donan Castle, Ben Nevis/Fort William, and Glencoe. Plus, we saw lots of snow too, and who doesn’t love to play in the snow? The Castle & Gardens of Mey, previously owned by the Queen Mother, are also nearby, you’ll just need to ensure you book your tickets in advance as they often sell out. Where to Stay in the Cairngorms National Park: There are literally so many gorgeous places to stay in the Cairngorms, you’ll be spoilt for choice. If you get peckish, you can visit the Whaligoe Steps CafÃ© and Restaurant, perched on a clifftop overlooking the North Sea. The top was covered in snow which gave us a great opportunity to take lots of snow pictures! Dolphin Spirit leaves from Inverness, whilst North 58 Sea Adventures and Dolphin Trips Avoch leave from nearby Findhorn and Avoch respectively. Please Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which will earn me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Inverness is the UK’s most northerly city, the capital of the Scottish Highlands, and the jumping-off point for the North Coast 500. The North Coast 500, or NC500, can be thought of as “Scotland’s answer to Route 66”. Things To Know Before You Drive Scotland’s North Coast 500, Inver Coille glamping pods & camping site, Assynt Aromas Candle Shop & The Secret Garden Tea Garden, lovely campsite overlooking Clachtoll Beach, boat trips to Loch Broom and the Summer Isles, Badrallach Campsite, Bothy and Holiday Cottage, 10 Incredible Books to Inspire You to Visit Africa, California Road Trip Itinerary: San Diego, LA, San Francisco & the Pacific Coast Highway, 15 Things to Know Before You Visit Benin: Voodoo's and Voodon'ts, 30 Things To Know Before You Drive Scotland's NC500, My Top Africa Travel Tips (After 11 Years of Travelling the Continent), 25 Awesome Things to Do in Nairobi, Kenya, An Epic (and Affordable) Two-Week Hawaii Itinerary: Oahu, Maui & the Big Island, 39 Things You Need To Know Before Backpacking Africa, How To Plan Your Dream Trip To Africa (in 18 easy steps). Another ‘activity’ you might like to try whilst in the area is taking the Malt Whiskey Trail. Join the revolution and become a member of the NC500 club to get access to exclusive deals and key benefits to get the most of your NC500 adventure. The Perfect 5 Day North Coast 500 Itinerary: The Ultimate Scottish … It’s a bit of a walk to get to the Duncansby Stacks, parking either at Duncansby Head or you can park a bit further away at John o’Groats. Another great stop on your itinerary should be the fairytale-esque Dunrobin Castle. Leaving Applecross, we drove across Bealach na Bà, one of the highest roads in the UK. Bealach Na Ba! Hopefully, you enjoyed your first taste of the North Coast 500 yesterday and are … For camping, try Broomfield Holiday Park or nearby Badrallach Campsite, Bothy and Holiday Cottage. Finally, head down to Applecross and get yourself a whiskey or a nice cup of hot chocolate at the Applecross Inn – you deserve it. With just over 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery, the route path naturally follows the main roads across the coastal edges of the North Highlands taking in … The NC500 route is just over 500 miles and begins in the capital of the Highlands- Inverness. This some of the best North Coast 500 accommodation which we tried and tested on our 12 Scottish Highlands road trip. We didn’t have tons of time in the city as we wanted to get straight out onto the North Coast 500, but a few more of the highlights of Inverness include a walk along the River Ness, a visit to Inverness Cathedral, the Victorian Market, and, Inverness Castle. So in total, our trip was 7 nights, 8 days in total. What’s next? It is said that the castle is haunted and there are plenty of spooky stories of mermaids, ghosts, and the devil himself! Loch Eriboll is a gorgeous sea lock, with a number of great stopping points. So you have planned your dream North Coast 500 route, decided on your basic itinerary – Dundrobin Castle! By the time we got to Inverness, it was just time to check into our hotel and have a shower before dinner. Dunnet Head is a great place for bird watchers as there are several different bird species in residence. From Oban you can catch the ferry to the islands of Mull, Coll, Colonsay, Islay, and Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, Barra and South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, as well as Kennacraig and Mallaig on the mainland. https://www.spendlifetraveling.com/north-coast-500-itinerary View Our NC500 Cycling Tours. Alternatively, I love Tigh na Mara for a romantic getaway. Whichever you choose, there are lots to see and do on the way! Have a look at the options below! You can also visit the Strathnaver Museum which will give you an insight into Scottish history. Thinking of taking a North Coast 500 road trip? Just be aware that they advise some campervans not to travel this road and it may be closed in bad weather – but you can go around it. The castle is open from the 1st of April to the 31st of October and up until the end of September, you can also watch their twice-daily falconry displays. Built by Clan MacLeod, it was later taken over by Clan Mackenzie. The route is officially 516 miles, although if you want to do the route justice you are likely to do a lot more as you'll want to take detours to find those fantastic views and hidden beaches. Families or groups will also like the Scandanavian Village Aviemore which has apartments, suites, and villas. fancy a bit of skiing (in season)? Known alternatively as the Scottish The raw and rugged scenery you can expect to find along the North Coast 500 road trip. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland's northern coast, offering drivers rugged landscapes, sandy benches, wildlife, museums, castles, whisky distilleries, and so much more! North Coast 500 route map. Are you ready for a week packed full of adventure? Here you can take a walk to the lighthouse, see the coastline and brag that you’ve been to the most northerly point on the British mainland. This video details my planning for my upcoming trip to Scotland's North Coast 500 (NC500) with some additions. The area just north of the Cairngorms is home to 9 of the UK’s Scotch malt whiskey distilleries. Driving Scotland’s North Coast 500 is just wow! They’re free to visit and open to the public all year round, so definitely worth the visit. The route begins in Inverness, Capital City of the Highlands, and snakes along the rugged coastal edges of northern Scotland, taking in breath-taking castles, mesmerising mountain tops and glistening beaches. Open 9am – 6pm daily. 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