North Coast 500
North Coast 500
4.5
About
The North Coast 500 is Scotland's biggest road trip measuring over 500 miles. The route begins in Inverness and flows along the stunning coastal edges of the North Highlands in one round trip. Bringing together the best of the Highlands from glistening beaches, haunting castles, monumental munros and hundreds more scenic stop-offs, you will be spoilt for choice on this road trip!
Duration: More than 3 hours
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  • Jason S
    Melbourne, Australia2,097 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing scenery everywhere
    Wonderful rod trip with stunning scenery almost along the whole route. Do your research so you can plan what to see and do each day. Make sure you stop any many lookouts and isolated areas to ensure the unique countryside.
    Visited January 2023
    Travelled solo
    Written 22 July 2023
  • Janice M
    Clacton-on-Sea, United Kingdom92 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Every one should do this at least once
    Wow around every corner. We did it in an all electric car and it was easy. Just remember to download charging app ChargePlaceScotland. Durness beach amazing as was Applecross Beach. Durnoch best village. Take time to stop and enjoy the views it’s not a race
    Visited August 2023
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 23 August 2023
  • Roam04667528646
    9 contributions
    4.0 of 5 bubbles
    Nc 500
    This route, is long but amazing. Don't go in peak season, the locals say its a nightmare. Only let down we had, there are so few trees, large areas are very baron. We played spot the Wildlife each day, apart from sheep there was very little of anything else. Don't be put off, this is a journey that is well worth experiencing.
    Visited April 2024
    Travelled with family
    Written 18 April 2024
  • Paul B
    Chirnside Park, Australia1,050 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Amazing drive
    Driving part of the NC500 and it is truly worth it. You get so many different aspects of the highlands, the way the terrain changes and never disappoints. Be aware the north western sections are mostly single lanes with passing bays (regular) so be patient and follow them rules. It can be difficult to stop and take photos so enjoy the views and keep them in your minds memories.
    Visited June 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 13 June 2024
  • sarah j
    London, United Kingdom349 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Truly memorable drive
    Surprised that we loved it so much as never camped before. Hired our F60 motor home from north500 motor homes near Inverness airport ( so incredibly helpful with videos and written guides/ towels/linen/ picnic gear etc) stocked up in the big nearby tescos and loved this drive. We went straight up to durnoch for first night ( lovely beach and campsite and east walk to town with restaurants) then did a very scenic drive (2 hour) cross country up to Durness and around the west from there. Our favourite campsite was Clachtoll for gorgeous coast walks and almost a St Lucia like beach in fabulous sunshine. We didn’t have any problems with drivers or tight spots. People gave way and plenty of passing places to let faster drivers past. The scenery breathtaking and varied. Stayed at Kylesku hotel ( great food) and ardmair camping. Found an amazing coffee / book shop in Gairloch - the mountain coffee company. Ullapool had another big tescos for supplies and great smokery. Our least favourite campsite was sands as more municipal and the restaurant food not a hit but the beach there was dramatic . Ended our trip in luxury at the Torridon- where the venison dinner in the brasserie was a great last supper and then just 1.5 hours back to Inverness airport. Would do this again.
    Visited June 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 29 June 2024
  • Linda M
    Newark-on-Trent, United Kingdom8 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    North Coast 500
    Cara was our guide/driver. She was a considerate driver in particular on the narrow roads. Very knowledgeable on Scottish history and wildlife - we met the koos! We made plenty of interesting stops and went through amazing scenery. Scara Brae was the highlight for us, although we visited last year with Steve (hi Steve). Small group on the bus (14) so we got to chat with everyone. Great fun for all ages. Recommended trip.
    Visited June 2024
    Travelled as a couple
    Written 2 July 2024
  • Robert H
    56 contributions
    5.0 of 5 bubbles
    Easy drive
    I have just returned from doing the NC500 with a group of friends who were on motorbikes, 6 in total, I was in the car with my partner. I had read many reviews before the trip some which were off putting, all I can say is ignore them, it’s not at all scary, in fact it was quite easy just take your time, set off reasonably early in the morning, say 08:30 to miss the rush, the trip across takes around 35 minutes and is around 11 miles. It’s an enjoyable experience, ok I couldn’t keep up with bikes over the pass but all other single lane roads we were on I did. Compared to Hard Knott pass in the Lake District it was quite easy. Do it and enjoy it.
    Visited July 2024
    Travelled with friends
    Written 6 July 2024
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Bomber County wanderers
Holbeach, UK3 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2019
We did the NC500 in April 2019 and the west coast in 2018 in a campervan, stayed on sites, left no rubbish, ate out every day at a "local business". We were going back in 2020 but it seems Scotland no longer wants us. Hate groups set up on social media and stone throwing, threats of death by burning and abuse aimed at camper vans and motorhomes. Sorry Scotland but in 5 to 10 years you'll be wishing you hadn't! A place that relies mainly on tourism to survive can't be moaning about tourists. We personally were subject to abusive locals and vandalism to our vehicle on both trips. We won't be back despite Scotland having the most amazing locations in the UK. B&B's are no use to us when we are 600 miles away.
Written 11 August 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Awizil
Aberdeen, UK11 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2024 • Friends
Id say this is not worth it especially from April to October. Crowds are less Out with this time but weather can be very nasty so it can be bit horrible and cold and daylight is restricted too.

Having lived in the area and been visiting family many times there i can say that the area has been destroyed by its success in 3 ways; Too crowded, filthy and expensive.

Route is far too busy and now filthy. People leaving garbage in laybys, including Human faeces!

Campers parked everywhere in towns too and a lot of irresponsiblity leaving rubbish but also Scotlands local authorities need to get a grip- have a permit system to limit numbers or have better roads and facilities built as area can’t cope with the crowds.

Crowds generally spoil what was the unique thing in this area so the real feel and magic is gone now anyway

You need a moon buggy to successfully get by in some areas now due to the amount of potholes.

Local walks have dog poop and litter everywhere and flies galore in hot weather.

Also prices have increased hugely especially following staycation wave after 2020. Its pricing locals out of their local recreation, cafes and restaurants and there is a slow growing resentment appearing towards tourists which is very uncharacteristic for this part of the world and was complete opposite 5 years ago.

On plus side scenery is good but for the feel of what this area was you have to go in winter when quiet but daylight hours is short so id consider going to another area in Scotland or go on a tour from Edinburgh as this route is really a victim of its success and is a bit misleading these days.
Written 4 May 2024
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

joppie230261
Glenrothes, UK37 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2023 • Couples
Having worked in the Highlands and Islands on and off for the last three decades visiting as a tourist never occurred to me.However a friend of my wife told us we should visit Achmelvich in Sutherland. I wasn't keen on taking my EV (Kona 64Kw) but my wife persuaded me. From home to Achmelvich is just over 220 miles and I thought we would do part of the '500' as my wife has never been north of Inverness. So it was up and down in a day which took over 14 hours to complete. The scenery as others testify is quite stunning, but not so much when it's pouring rain horizontally in October. But this is Scotland and that is how it is. I was quite surprised how little cafe's etc were open. Evanton where we stopped to re-charge the cafe/restuarant looked like it had been closed for years. The nearby petrol station had a small Spar so we got a hot coffee while we waited for the car to charge to 80%. Then we looped round on part of the 500 then headed to Lochinver where again we stopped to recharge. Again very little cafe wise was open In fact only one that we could see. Then we headed to Achmelvich which was quite stunning with the contrast between white sandy beach and the rocks. After lots of photos we decided it was time to head back to Fife stopping in Kingussie to charge yet again.

This brings me to the point of stating I had an EV. Although I had actually no problem charging on the '500' I found the costs exorbitant. Evanton was 82p per KW and Lochinver was 75p with a 45 minute time limit, no return in 30 minutes. This was for 50KW EVSE which actually supplied power at 36kw which may have been a function of the car due to the battery being over 30% but still very expensive. I totally understand the time limit but the cost was eye-watering. It is four times the cost of charging in Fife and more than double charging in Dundee, Angus or Perthshire. I can understand why no-one was charging except me as for most these costs can only be absorbed by tourists and business people.

I think CPS (Chargeplace Scotland) should have a word with Highland council or whoever owns the EVSE's.

One thing I will point out is when on the '500' there are small single track roads that lead off to elsewhere. These roads aren't particularly well maintained and the edges are crumbling Be wary of going into passing places to let other vehicles pass as sometimes there are huge holes filled with water that can easily burst a tyre. It's happened to me a few times with cars, vans and small lorries. My car like most nowadays doesn't come with a spare tyre and mobile phone coverage at best can be quite patchy (at best). So beware.

I suspect that the '500' is marketed for late spring to the end of summer and that's when most people will travel. Autumn and winter not so much although I have been in the Highlands working during the winter and spotted Motorhomes so there are a few hardy souls.

So next time I'm taking my diesel van. I'll only have to fill up once and I can carry a spare tyre or two with ease.

Written 4 October 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Xyz
cumbria283 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2022 • Couples
We have talked about the NC500 for years and have just completed it, I can ONLY recommend it, the road trip that just keeps giving, what stunning scenery from start to finish. Unbelievable. Seeing the very best of Scotland. You can see our reviews of camp sites. There were lots of little coffee shops and stop off places closed, do not know whether that is time of year or just post Covid. I’d recommend spring or autumn as these roads would be torture when busy with campers etc. We have now tootled across to Portree on Skye which is nicely quiet too. Enjoy the NC500 👍🏻
Written 16 October 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LondonVectis
London145 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2021 • Couples
NC500 is a fantastic hook for a road trip with terrific experiences to be had. To optimise your personal experience as the Highlands emerge from lockdown you can't plan ahead enough, before and during your visit. We rented a house in Lairg for a week and have had days out in all directions and a common theme has emerged... not all businesses have reopened, and those that have not necessarily at the same capacity as before. Definitely book your accommodation ahead, and on any day if you have a particular attraction/food venue in mind check in advance if it is open, bearing in mind that the relevant websites etc might not be up to date. Driving on single track roads takes planning too, is your vehicle suitable, for example, who is behind you never mind who is ahead of you, be considerate, give way and get over. Finally, choosing a base for your visit, like Lairg, and driving out and about is a good alternative to the road trip, worked well for us.
Written 28 May 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Kath T
Bristol, UK15 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2021
Drove this in an RS6 over 3 days, clockwise, we were going against the traffic most of the time.
Inverness to Ullapool, Ullapool to Thurso and Thurso back to Inverness.
It was great to complete this route but if/ when I do it again I will drive days 1 and 2 again but wouldn’t bother with the route on day 3. The roads are mundane and quite busy. Unless you want to visit John O Groats or Dunnet Head I wouldn’t bother.
I think I will try driving diagonally across this part of Scotland, I.e. on the A838, the A836 or the B871. Watch the “Grand Tour” as they chose one of these routes instead of the boring east coast.
Definitely go off route and drive the A890 to Eileen Donan Castle, the road is awesome. And if you can drive the Cairn Gorms “Old Military Road”. This road is immense!!!
Definitely go and take as long as you can. I found that because I was driving these awesome roads l was missing the equally awesome views. Wish I had longer to drive it so that I could do it once for the driving experience and back again to take in the stunning scenery. The North West of Scotland is my new favourite place.
Written 11 July 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

itchyfeet2014
Glasgow, UK2,300 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sept 2021 • Couples
We really enjoyed this road trip which covered 500+ miles as we did a few detours to places we had always wanted to visit but were quite remote for us, even though we live in Scotland.
Many of the places we visited were breathtakingly beautiful, even though we are well used to great scenery here.
Our reservations were the difficulties in booking accommodation and the heavy vehicles. We traveled for 9 days in total and stayed mainly in hotels. Our route was done in a comfortable family car. Many of the roads were single track over large distances. So staying alert was essential. Clearly some drivers were not used to the etiquette required for passing places etc. It was mostly ok but there were still an awful lot of very large camper vans to negotiate.

We had many highlights. And a number of disappointments as places were closed due to covid. I feel sorry for the local people in the more remote areas with the insurgent traffic. However we are so grateful for the hospitality of the many
establishments that ensured we enjoyed our holiday. Thank you.

Our favourite places:
Inverness- great city
Beautiful Beauly
Strathpeffer and Rogie Falls
Plockton, just off the route
Attadale gardens
Strome castle
Inverewe gardens
Lochinver and the mobile cinema
Loch Maree
Clachtoll beach
Loch Assynt
Lairg
Castle of Mey
Duncansby Head
Dunrobin castle
Dornoch
The list could go on and on. Scotland is an amazing country.
Written 19 September 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PaulNa
Aylesford, UK195 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2022
I've been reading about and looking forward to riding my motorcycle solo around the NC500. She's a 1977 BMW R100/7 which I had spent the last eight months restoring. She was finally completed only a week before the start of the trip in the last days of May. Now my aim was the road, the ride and the experience. At 75yrs of age there may not be many more of those. I set off on the Monday and suddenly the clutch failed approaching the Dartford Tunnel. A 10p circlip had fallen out of the actuating arm. The AA man fixed it so she was rideable so I returned home in Kent. I ordered the new parts, fixed it and delayed my departure for a week. The following Monday I set off again with my first stop in Washington, Co.Durham. The next night was in Stirling where I stayed with an old friend I'd joined the Army with in the 70s. The next night was a B&B in Inverness. I had reached the start of the NC500! The next day I reached Reiss and visited nearby John O'Groats when an incident happened. Within yards of the main car park, a Mercedes with black tinted windows reversed into my smashing the immaculate front mudguard. Tipping the bike onto it's side. Profuse apologies from the driver and I limped back to the B&B. Half a mudguard would have to do. Next morning I headed off along the route - remember I wasn't there to se caves, beaches, castles, and other places. It was the road that for me was so important. The concentration on such a narrow twisty road was both intense and tiring, especially as it began to rain. I finally reached Ullapool and a comfortable B&B where I stayed for two nights. It continued to rain. Ullapool is a village with two real ale pubs and a few eateries. On one day I took the 2 1/2hr ferry trip to Stornaway just to escape the rain. An hour on land an then back on the ferry. I'd had enough. Next day I rode to Carlisle (400 miles in 8hrs) then returned home (300 miles in 6hrs). Utterly worn out by the long days, and the weather, it was a mistake to ride the NC500. I saw a few views but riding safely was more important. If I was to do it again, I'd drive, stay warm and stop and see more.
Written 21 June 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Yazmin
4 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2020 • Friends
The NC500 is incredible! So many stunning points on the west side i.e. Clashnessie Falls, Applecross and Bealach na Bà. Lots of bathroom and fuel stops available but definitely cease the opportunity as it arises! The beaches are clean and quiet, the roads are well maintained with plenty of passing points. Look out for little road signs to hidden gems (i.e. Victoria falls)

Would recommend to avoid Thurso and Wick, especially if you've driven West to East as it is a major change with less scenery and attractions.

Food is a little disappointing - would recommend planning ahead to ensure you like the menu and that it will be open when you require it.

Sad to see the deforestation and timber industry throughout - understand that it supports local economy and hope it is responsibly maintained.
Written 10 August 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

clare💖
Lancashire, UK203 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2021 • Couples
So we did this over 6 days, absolutely amazing. As long as you have your route mapped out. We lost light after 4 pm so we made sure we were up & out early giving ourselves at least 7 hours in-between our next stop over, we started at Fort william went up, down, round, across, finished in Aberdeen. We took lots of sweets, plenty of socks, lots to drink. We made sure we had blankets (just in case) & topped up on petrol. We took plenty of pictures & were fortunate that it never rained once. We seen some beautiful sites, even seen the swimming seals. Visited lots of little towns & castles. Its a definite must. The key is go with someone you.like 🤣 as there some long hours in that car. Thankfully were still friends. Highly recommended & was done on the cheap. 100% on the bucket list. Thankypu to the pandemic, cause if it hadn't been for you I would never of dreamt of visiting such a beauty
Written 5 November 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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NORTH COAST 500 (2024) All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)

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