When it comes to visiting Scotland, there are few better ways to explore all that the country has to offer than the North Coast 500. One of Europe’s foremost scenic routes, driving through the North Coast 500 offers the chance to take in the Highlands of Scotland, along with countless picturesque towns and villages, winding country roads, sprawling beaches, and rugged mountainous landscapes.
‘Scotland’s Route 66’ – named one of the top coastal road trips in the world.
What is the North Coast 500?
The North Coast 500, Commonly known as the NC500, is a scenic route that runs across the Northern coast of Scotland. Beginning and ending at Inverness, the NC500 is a 516-mile round trip takes you through Scotland’s breath-taking landscapes throughout the Highlands, stopping off a various towns and villages along the way.
While you can divide where and when to stop, the traditional NC500 route involves stops at the likes of Applecross, Gairloch, Ullapool, Durness, Thurso, John o’Groats, Wick, Golspie, and back to Inverness, to name just a few.
It’s recommended that visitors spend at least five to seven days travelling the NC500, as this gives the opportunity to take in the various sites along the way.
Best Time to Travel the North Coast 500
Being Scotland, you’re never guaranteed good weather during a visit regardless of the season, although the best chance to enjoy some nice weather will between April and September. The route is very popular during the summer months too, which makes sense as this is typically the driest time of the year!
Of course, Scotland is known for being quite rainy, even during summer, so there are few guarantees you’ll get nice weather during your visit. Travelling during the winter is possible although the roads are wetter and the weather is usually a lot worse.
Where to Stay
One of the most challenging aspects of the NC500 is planning accommodation.
From hotels to local B&Bs to lighthouses, luxury castles and manors, there are all kinds of places to stay across the NC500, so it typically depends on your budget. You can also wild camp in Scotland, so you could bring your tent. While many preferring to camp at the various dedicated campsites throughout the route.
Therefore, you should take the time to plan your NC500 ahead of time so you know the places you’re visiting and can choose accommodation from there.
It’s recommended that you book 3-6 months in advance as many of the accommodation gets booked up months ahead of time, especially in the more remote locations in small towns and villages along the route.
Places to Visit
Given the fact the NC500 takes you through more than 500 miles of the Scotland’s Highlands and Northern Coast, there is no shortage of attractions to visit during your journey. From castles and castle ruins, sweeping gold sandy beaches, majestic mountains, long windy roads.