The Ultimate North Coast 500 Itinerary – Route, Accommodation, Travel Tips and more.. How Long Does it Take to Drive the NC500? Begin your NC500 itinerary in the lovely city of Inverness. The Store Cafe is literally an old store that’s been renovated into a part store, part coffee shop, and part off-license. If you are not sure what you will be needing for your camping trip have a look at our Packing Guide for Cheap Glamping. Most of the pictures of the beaches along the northern coast of Scotland could be mistaken for the Caribbean, and Sango Sands is no exception. These itineraries are based on the minimum amount of time we recommend to allocate for your journey. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book. ITINERARY Day 1 - 64miles (2450ft elevation gain) Day 2 - 69miles (7230ft elevation gain) Day 3 - 80miles (4552ft elevation gain) Day 4 - 81miles (4428ft elevation gain) This is one of the most beautiful beaches we found on the NC500 and is definitely worth a visit. What were your favourite sights? Main Photography Camera – Sony A7 Mirrorless Camera. North Coast 500 Budget – How Much Does the NC500 Cost? I don’t think this is a good idea if you’re visiting outside of that season. Turn right onto Old March Road and continue all the way along to the end (take it slow, it gets quite bumpy!). We also offer a longer version, that also takes in the Isle of Skye and our Scottish Highlands and North Coast 500 tour, out of Edinburgh. I’m sure you will have a story or two to tell! So, if you’re looking for the perfect 7-day Scotland road trip then keep reading for all you need to know about the NC500 road trip! Smoo Cave is free to enter (which is a pleasant surprise) and it’s a nice stroll down to it. You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here. Inverness to Dornoch. From the Falls of Measach, there is a right turn just after the car park that will take you along the seaside route through the towns of Poolewe and Gairloch, which are both beautiful places to stop and stretch your legs. North Coast 500 Itinerary: 5 Days. For example, it is not legal to camp on the western shores of Loch Lomond due to overuse and lack of respect. The town was originally known by the Gaelic term tarvodubron, or “bull water”, and was once an important Norse port until the Nordic rule ended in the 13th-century. We love wild camping and since our campervan is fully self contained (shower and everything), we took advantage of the beautiful wild camping spots along the NC500!Â. Make sure you subscribe to our Youtube channel for more by clicking here! Sights include beautiful architecture, ancient castles and the stunning landscape of Knockan Crag Nature Reserve. The horizon is endless and the sights along this remote part of the world are incredible, so let’s get going! These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations. Life back in these times was unfair and quite miserable, due to harsh living conditions and extortionate rental costs by the greedy land-owners. Read more about these holiday parks in our complete guide to the best NC500 campsites. This cafe is sister to the one in Dornoch and is a good stopping point before you head south to your next destination. When Bradley and I road tripped the North Coast 500 in Scotland, there was hardly anyone around, so we didn’t really consider whether going clockwise or counterclockwise made a difference, but after some research it does!Â, Bradley and I drove the North Coast 500 in a clockwise direction, so essentially going left from Inverness.Â, I would imagine that in the summer months when the route gets super busy, it may be better to choose different routes to avoid a buildup of traffic, but in terms of beauty, you’ll be seeing the exact same sights on both routes, especially if you intend on doing the full loop!Â, If you do NOT intend on doing the full NC500 loop and just doing the half, then I suggest going clockwise, and I think the scenery is slightly better.Â, If you have an argument for either of these directions, then please do comment and let me know!Â, The NC500 can be driven all year round, and I’m going to suggest an argument for each season:Â, If you do not know what a midge is, then click here. Be sure to share this article with your family and friends to let them know all about your big plans. Get covered for your next trip and get a quote from World Nomad’s right here. Keep an eye out for dolphins and whales off the shore and as you make your way across to the island by boat. The Ceannabeine story, however, tells of a more lighthearted victory by the villagers when locals rose up again this greed resulting in the riot of 1841. The island is around 300 hectares in size and has a highest point of over 120-metres. The view from our tent was absolutely spectacular. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket. Your driver-guide will take you to towering mountains, banks of shimmering lochs, and the shores of beautiful beaches. Above the falls lies a suspension bridge that spans the gorge and delivers a beautiful, birds-eye view of the waterfall below. The North Coast itinerary is now followed by drivers, cyclists, locals and visitors ticking over the 500 miles (516 to be exact) of ‘Scotland’s Route 66’. Sitting along the north coast of Scotland this (you guessed it!) But Victoria Falls is an easy-breezy waterfall, it’s located next to Loch Maree, which is an absolutely beautiful loch in Scotland (there are many!). Read more about the campsites on the NC500 in our full guide. It’s so well put together, but of course, when we visited, it wasn’t open to the public so we didn’t get to look inside, which is a pity. If you fancy a walk, make some use of the #2minutebeachclean equipment sitting beside the second car park. This article may contain affiliate links that provide us with a small income. Consider the sunsets at around 3.20 pm in November.Â, I know at first glance that these drive times do not sound like a lot, but remember they aren’t including any delays and don’t include any stopping at sights, any walks, any toilet breaks, lunch, dinner breaks ect, so be wary of that when planning your North Coast 500 itinerary.Â, So there you have it, I hope this North Coast 500 itinerary has been useful to you! This will be more bearable in the summer months when you’ll have far more daylight to work with. Tongue to Lochinver. Read more about this wild camping spot and all the best wild camping spots along the NC500 in our full guide. For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here. The beach itself stretches for miles along the coast, with the softest sand I have felt in a long time! If you then continue along the with for another few minutes, you will eventually reach the man-made viewing platform that stretched out from the cliffside and gives a spectacular view down the gorge of the waterfall and bridge. Given the additional size that these vehicles possess, I can only say that you should take extra care while driving the roads around this route, especially on the western coast. It’s called the NC500 because it’s 500 miles long and as you can see it’s pretty much a nice loop around the northern highlands of Scotland! After only 24 years of living here, we decided it was finally time to make the trip to the true north and see what lay there. If you are looking for stunning landscapes, fascinating history, endless horizons, ancient castles, golden beaches and crystal-clear water, all wrapped up in a 500-mile road trip, then the NC500 is for you. You should see the castle once you reach the end of the road, so park up and walk it from there. It’s your final day on the North Coast 500 and as the sun rises over Ullapool, gently illuminating the surrounding hills of Loch Broom, it is time to head south for the final time. We here at North Coast 500 pods have put together a North Coast 500 tour plan and itinerary of key stops along the way for those wishing to experience a true Scottish adventure. The earliest parts of the castle date back to the 15th century, where over the years it has been subject to a huge amount of horrifying history. This route today provides lots of scenery of lochs, mountains, and coast as you take in the rugged vistas around Torridon and then head along the Applecross peninsula for coastal views. In order to reach the castle, head down the high street towards the river and take a left along the river bank. Day 2: Black Isle to Wick. Due to this there are no advance bookings. As one of the larger towns on the North Coast 500, there is plenty of accommodation available in the town centre of Thurso. This is a great first day on your North Coast 500 itinerary! Day 3: Wick to Dunnet Bay. Our Itinerary & Stops Day One. Read more about the best campsites on the North Coast 500 in our full guide. Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. If you visit here during the summer, there is a possibility of seeing these migratory salmon in action, leaping metres into the air to ascend the falls. We decided to pull in here and explore the beach to decide where we would stay for the night. Follow along on this couple’s round the world trip and get inspired to make every day a wonderful adventure. At the time of its construction, the Kings of Norway dominated this area of Northern Scotland. It is believed to have been built Earl Harald Madadson, the earl of Orkney, with intention of the castle being his chief seat on the mainland. You’ll also need a lot of blankets, a heater, and an emergency kit in case of being snowed in. Did you know that this part of the world once sat where South America currently is? As the type 1 diabetic half of Dream Big, Travel Far, I'm passionate about encouraging fellow type 1's to travel the world and not let their diabetes hold them back. Just google the pictures of the stop and you’ll why...it looks amazing!Â. The basic answer is “it can take however long you want it to”.eval(ez_write_tag([[300,250],'highlands2hammocks_co_uk-medrectangle-4','ezslot_5',115,'0','0'])); There are people who race around the NC500 in one day, making the most of the beautiful scenery, winding roads and white-knuckle driving conditions in certain areas. Smoo Cave is one of the most fascinating stops you can make on the NC500 and is one we highly recommend. When we were visiting we saw that there is also the chance to take boat tours under the waterfall in the cave at certain times of the year. But it’s a very popular stop on the NC500, so I assume it’s popular for a reason...Â, On a good day, you can wander around the loch, shop for souvenirs, grab some lunch, and visit museums!Â. Pitch up here for the night here and you will not regret it! Head around the cafe and down the hill and you will find the steps. Thurso was a much larger town than we expected, with a high street, plenty of shops and lots of bars and restaurants to choose from to rest for the night. From Edinburgh head north on the A9 towards Inverness, stopping in Pitlochry at the world renowned House of Bruar to stock up on kit- fine sport cloth… Save this image to your Scotland Pinterest board for later! We spent the first day driving up from Edinburgh to Inverness. Did they use them to shelter from the harsh Scottish weather, or were they killed by a larger predator that called these caves home? However, if you fancy a trip a little more on the wild side, it is legal to wild camp in Scotland and there are a lot of wild camping spots along the NC500 route as well. The laundry facilities are £2 for the washing machine and £1 for 30 minutes in the drier. For affordable and comfortable accommodation, you can choose from the Seaview Hotel, Puffin Cottage, the Anchorage B&B and Hamnavoe. Perched on the edge of a cliff, with a drawbridge entrance and over 3 stories, this castle has an incredible vantage point and stunning views over the ocean. 500-mile road trip takes you along some of Scotland’s most incredible scenery. This castle ruin sits on an outcrop of land from the surrounding cliffs, with perilous drops on either side. Heading north from Inverness, the next stopping point is the glorious Falls of Shin. Read more about all of the best campsites on the NC500 in our full guide. NORTH COAST 500 ROUTE MAP. Whenever we travel abroad, we get covered with World Nomad’s Travel Insurance, a reliable, friendly and extremely affordable method of covering yourself on any adventure. Our trip actually began a little further south of Inverness, in the small town of … The Scourie Guesthouse is your best option, comfortable, affordable and with exceptional reviews. No matter what type of adventure you are heading on, whether it is a mountain adventure or a relaxing beach destination, one thing we all need to be aware of is that accidents can happen. Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C, Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C, Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C, Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C. As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. So I just mentioned Loch Maree above, and this is one of the most beautiful lochs in Scotland (in my humble opinion). Note: Some posts may contain affiliate links. It turns out the carpark for the Duncansby Light House is a popular layup spot for motorhomes, but we were the only ones to enjoy the scenery from a tent. We highly recommend you visit the western coast of the NC500 if you can only do part of it as, in our opinion, this is where the most spectacular scenery sits. A lot of the cave openings are currently inaccessible due to being underwater, however, it is believed that during the time of the Vikings, the lower sea levels meant that the cave floor was actually about 10ft lower than it is today, giving access to the huge expanse underneath. Your email address will not be published. This is a method growing in popularity, mainly because of how much more spectacular the west coast is compared to the east. Today, the town is a peaceful place, with a community of around 80 locals. This campsite sits on the edge of Scourie Bay, with spectacular views towards Handa Island and beyond. Although the pail in comparison to its African twin, Victoria Falls is still a beautiful place to visit as you wind your way through the Scottish highlands. We drove from Aberdeen to Inverness, although it is possible to arrive by plane, bus or train. The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. Really Cool. Day 4: Dunnet Bay to Durness. This sits about 20 minutes north of Dornoch and will cost you £12 to go inside the castle to have a look around. This is another beautiful route that will take you through to Ullapool. The final stop of the day is at the small town of Thurso, which is home to one of the most northerly train stations in the UK. 6 Sample North Coast 500 Itinerary. We get them in Ireland too, and they’re the most annoying things ever, not to mention the fact that they just love your blood…, So if you are planning on doing the NC500 in summer, then make sure you pack your bug spray!Â, Our campervan is a Peugeot Boxer LWB, and before we headed off on our trip, we often heard people say that the single pass roads on the NC500 might not be able to handle campervans or motorhomes.Â. Visits to this castle are on a donation basis and it is open 24-7, perfect for a beautiful sunrise location if you fancy an early morning on your North Coast 500 road trip. So this is actually one of the things on the NC500 that Bradley and I didn’t do, but I had to mention it because the only reason we didn’t do it was because the weather was absolute crap. Opposite the small lochen on your lefthand side of the road, there is a flat patch of earth on the raised hill on your right that is perfect for pitching up for the night. Our camping spot for the night was right at the top of the Ceannabeine village trail, as we had decided to camp wild for the night. If you arrive late and leave early (and of course leave no trace! Everything you need to plan your Scotland North Coast 500 Itinerary.. We completed Scotland’s version of Route 66 over 7 days in September 2018. If you are brave enough to face the cold North Sea, then this is the best spot for a quick dip or even to do some harbour jumping. Diabaig - Whilst at the car park for Beinn Alligin, you’ve already driven a third of the way to Diabaig so … Inverness to Applecross. The castle is open for tours between 1st April and 31st October annually. There are great waterfalls on this route and many viewpoints!Â, Don’t forget to get a delicious coffee at the Mountain Coffee Co!Â. The 7 Day “Tourer” challenge is suitable for sportive riders who want to challenge themselves over a 7 day cycling touring adventure around the stunning North Coast 500 route. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 7-day NC500 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. As you approach the small village of Tongue, keep an eye on the coast to your right. [affiliate links]. When you get back to Inverness, take a few hours to explore the city if you haven’t already. It is believed that at one time they were home to the chief of Clan Mackay, and consists of two floors plus an attic. Named “the pass of the cattle“, the Bealach na Ba was once the only route from Applecross to the rest of the country and was used by farmers to transport livestock to the markets in central Scotland. It is a beautiful little town, full of character and quaint charm. It seemed most places didn’t open until 9, so we suggest buying food and cooking on a stove. However, they do have a large Tesco shopping center here so it’s a good place to stock up on food if you need to! We found this to be enough time to see all of the best sights on the NC500, however, we could have easily spent more time at some of the beaches and mountain ranges to really explore them properly. There are walking trails to be found here, and since the loch is so big, you’ll find little villages, restaurants, and hotels on your way.Â. So expect the weather to change. There’s even a walkway to an almighty waterfall, which you will get soaked at when you stand beside it!Â, It’s such a cool spot to visit in Scotland.Â. Day 1: Inverness to the Black Isle. Dunrobin Castle is known as one of Scotland’s great northerly castles, dating all the back to the 13th century. For the best place to rest your head after your first, whirlwind day on the North Coast 500, there are plenty of places to choose from in the Dornoch town centre. A 3 day North Coast 500 itinerary will mostly see you sightseeing from your car seat window, but if that’s okay with you, then you’ll be fine. A glimmer of golden sands will appear far below, hidden behind the bushes that line the road. I will drop in a couple of other itinerary suggestions for those who are restricted on time! This spot is right beside the main road so it can be quite noisy during the night, however, it is very hidden so you won’t be bothered. The perfect place to stop for a bite to eat, some food and even a place to rest your head. This beautiful stretch of sand is overlooked by one of the best campsites on the NC500, Sango Sands Oasis, and is popular for wildlife watching and watersports. This bay is extremely popular with sea kayakers as it is the ideal location to for camping north-west Scotland and to set off out to the open ocean. The small town of Ullapool is the main harbour town for the Outer Hebrides, with boats leaving from here to the enchanting islands of Lewis and Harris. | highlands2hammocks, North Coast 500 Highlights - 19 Best Sights Along the NC500 | highlands2hammocks, Visit the John O'Groats Sign Post - Britain's Most Northerly Point | highlands2hammocks, Wild Camping North Coast 500 - The 10 Best Places to Wild Camp | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Duncansby Stacks and Lighthouse | highlands2hammocks, Castle Sinclair Girnigoe Ruins, NC500 - WHAT, WHERE AND WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Whaligoe Steps - WHAT, WHERE and WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, 10-Day Scotland Road Trip Itinerary - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Isle of Skye | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to the Falls of Shin - WHAT, WHERE and WHY.. | highlands2hammocks, Complete Guide to Coldbackie Beach - Scotland's Hidden Gem | highlands2hammocks, Durness – Ceannabeine Beach / Village Trail. 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