top of page

New to the NC500? - A beginners guide.



The NC500, or North Coast 500, is a 516-mile (830-kilometer) scenic driving route that loops around the northernmost part of Scotland, starting and ending in the city of Inverness. The route was launched in 2015 by the North Highland Initiative, with the aim of promoting tourism in the area and showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Scottish Highlands.


The NC500 takes in some of the most breath-taking landscapes in Scotland, including rugged coastlines, towering mountains, peaceful lochs, and historic castles. Along the way, visitors can explore charming villages, sample local cuisine, and take part in a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, kayaking, and fishing.


The route can be completed in as little as three days, but most travellers should take around a 10-14 days to fully appreciate the sights and experiences along the way. There are plenty of accommodation options, ranging from traditional B&Bs to luxury hotels, as well as campsites and self-catering cottages. Travelling by Campervan or Motorhome has become a very popular option, because of the flexibility it offers.


The NC500 has quickly become a popular destination for both domestic and international tourists, with its stunning scenery and unique cultural experiences. However, it is important to note that the route can be challenging in parts, with narrow, winding roads and unpredictable weather conditions. It is recommended that visitors plan their trip carefully and take appropriate precautions.


Some popular destinations on the NC500 include:

1. Inverness: The starting point of the NC500, Inverness is a vibrant city with plenty of history and culture. Inverness is a charming city with a rich history and plenty of shops, restaurants, and attractions to explore.

2. Applecross: A small village on a remote peninsula on the west coast, Applecross offers breath-taking views and a peaceful atmosphere. Be sure to drive over the Bealach na Ba, a steep and winding mountain pass.


Cooper about to tackle the Bealach-Na-Ba - Hold on tight!


3. Ullapool: A picturesque fishing village with great seafood restaurants and a lively music scene. A popular stop on the NC500, it's a great place to enjoy fresh seafood, go hiking or kayaking, and visit the local museum.

4. Durness: A small village with beautiful beaches, sea caves, including the impressive Smoo Cave.

5. John o' Groats: Famous northerly point on the British mainland. A well known landmark and a popular destination for tourists. Be sure to get your picture taken at the famous signpost.

6. Thurso: A town with a rich Viking history and great surf beaches.

7. Dunrobin Castle: A stunning castle with beautiful gardens, Dunrobin Castle is a must-visit for history and architecture buffs. Be sure to check out the Falconry Display. The castle is located near the town of Golspie.


Dunrobin Castle and its glorious Gardens


8. Gairloch: A coastal village with scenic walks and boat tours to see dolphins and whales.

9. Torridon: A mountainous region with great hiking trails and stunning views of the Loch Torridon.

10. Culloden Battlefield: A historic site where the Jacobite uprising came to an end, and the last battle on British soil took place.


These are just a few examples of the many fantastic destinations you can explore on the NC500. Whether you're interested in history, outdoor activities, or simply soaking up the natural beauty of Scotland, the NC500 has something for everyone.


If you are planning to visit Scotland then we thoroughly recommend taking the route and will be more than happy to help you with your visit.

bottom of page