https://www.visitscotland.com/see-do/tours/driving-road-trips/north-coast-500 The route today is the longest on our 7 day itinerary, although you can shorten it if you need to as you can take shortcuts if you need to get to Inverness sooner. See more ideas about scotland road trip, scotland, trip. To rent a car in Scotland, you also normally need to have held a valid driving license for at least a year (some require up to 3 years) and the driver’s license must be in English or use the Latin alphabet (or you’ll need to obtain an International Driving Permit from your home country). SPAR is the most common store for groceries (as well as other necessities) along the route (many small towns have one), and SPAR also often doubles as the town post office and general store. There are a number of limestone caves in the area and those with a strong interest in spelunking may want to arrange a stop in the small crofting village of. Menu changes regularly. We provide lots of suggestions for things to do and detours in our itinerary. If you have an extra 3 to 5 days for the NC500, I have two thoughts. It’s so well organized, is an exceptionally complete overview of all there is to see along the trip, it is just fantastic. The PDF files allow you to still use the links. North Coast 500 Dinner Recommendations: In this section, we’ll tell you about your options for dinner in and around the town where we recommend staying for the night. Wishing you and you family happy and safe future travels and a wonderful 2021! But if you are planning to head along the west coast and/or visit the Isle of Skye, you may want to head south at Strathcarron. The home of Singleton, on the edge of the Black Isle, Glen Ord is the ideal start or end of your NC500 journey. It also helps prevent environmental damage and helps contribute to the local economy. The caves were excavated in 1889 by the geologists Peach and Horne, where they (and later others) found the remains of a number of animals, many now extinct in the UK including lynx, bears, wolves, and lemmings. If you have less than 5 days, we recommend driving only a portion of the route or considering joining a guided tour. Yes, we would recommend booking your lodging in advance and to have a general idea of the main things you want to do. Although do of course always double check before booking as policies do change. If you are planning an upcoming trip, be sure to check out all our other articles on the North Coast 500. The popular adventure, with four seasons in one day, heading west from Inverness to the top of Scotland’s mainland, John O’Groats, and back down the … If you are not driving your own car, you can easily rent one in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK. So I guess if I had two extra nights with a priority on water activities and a wildlife cruise, maybe one night in Cromarty on the Black Isle (wildlife cruise, good chance for dolphins) and an extra night in Lochinver (or Achilitbuie) if you decide to do kayaking or canoeing there. There are several small waterfalls off the A832 around, Also in Aultbea is a combined cafe and perfumery shop called, Poolewe is a pretty little village on the shores of Loch Ewe. Last updated: November 13, 2020- Written by Jessica Norah 58 Comments. Some campsites along the route have decided not to open in 2020 or are limiting spaces to ensure social distancing, which means that there is going to be less camping spaces along the route than usual and it is expected to be busy along the route. Late Night Option – If you are arriving into the town late, Highland Spice, an Indian restaurant and takeaway, usually offers takeaway until 11pm. Thanks in advance! In terms of where to add those nights? Isle of Raasay Travel Guide: Top Things to do on Raasay, Best Vacation Rental Websites: Where & How to Book Online, You’ll be leaving Inverness today. – John O’Groats Inn & Lodges in John O’Groats We have seen lots of great photos from those who live along the northern part of the NC500, although we’ve only seen them once ourselves there. Ross-shire and Ross & Cromarty). The area of the Moray Forth and Beauly Firth around Inverness and North Kessock is well known for wildlife and people often spot birds, otters, and dolphins here. Wild camping is legal in Scotland, so you can find hidden gems amongst the Highlands and find true solitude close to nature. Also let us know if you find that one of the restaurants on our list has closed, or find a great one that has recently opened. We’d also highly recommend doing some, If you are looking to extend your road trip consider heading south into the Cairngorms National Park and heading along the east coast along the scenic, If you are looking for more places to visit in Scotland we have a lot of guides to places to visit in Scotland including. A special thrill of today is the steep and windy (but scenic) drive between Applecross and Tornapress as you go across the Bealach na Bà. After all, every road trip needs a soundtrack. The North Coast 500 is Scotland’s answer to route 66 and one of the most beautiful coastal touring routes in the world (well, we think so, anyway!). Route:  Inverness –> Beauly –> Dingwall –> Tain –> Dornoch I think the choice may just depend on how much you plan to do on Day 6 and Day 7. Home The Trip 2017 Western Europe The Best North Coast 500 Itinerary, Campsites & Hotels in Scotland The North Coast 500 is the best road trip in Scotland. Hope that helps and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip! Use this 7 day North Coast 500 itinerary to plan your travels around this beautiful part of the northern Scottish Highlands and get the most out of your NC500 road trip! – Dornoch Castle Hotel in Dornoch Be prepared for gusty winds, rain, and snow. Hi. Although many of the seabirds may be gone by Sept., the dolphins can usually be found year round in the area. 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’. So happy you are finding our North Coast 500 guides helpful in planning your upcoming journey. As usual there are lots of opportunities for hiking and all sorts of outdoor activities. We’ll do our best to answer your questions about the NC500 and provide our advice based on our experiences. For anything you want to do that requires a tour (fishing, guided hikes, Argo tour to see the deer), I’d be sure to book ahead once you have your dates set and lodging all booked. There are a few of them now, and you can. If you are traveling in the off season, choices may be more limited, especially in the less populated areas. Thinking of the Kinlochewe Hotel but wanted to ask if you might recommend somewhere further west to reduce the long journey back to Inverness. -Day 2 Dog friendly B&B near Wick – Thrumster House Good to have extra time and not have to rush back at a certain time/date. Heads above the rest. Loads of stops you can make again today, so plan your day accordingly. Alternative route (for motorhome users & those with limited time): Tongue –> Durness –> Scourie –> Skiag Bridge –> Lochinver I am just beginning to think about planning a trip round the NC500 and am finding your guides extremely comprehensive, a lot to try to take in looking at a screen. So you can use to help find the best campsite for each night. Make sure you’re prepared for a road trip like this. If you have further questions, we recommend checking out the rest of our content on the North Coast 500, including our North Coast 500 planning guide (start here), North Coast 500 highlights, North Coast 500 photography locations guide, North Coast 500 hotel guide, NC500 camping itinerary, and North Coast 500 B&B guide for more information. If you have even more time (ideally another day) you might consider more exploration of the Tarbat Peninsula and doing the Lairg Loop. – Royal Marine Hotel in Brora I would recommend taking clothing for all weather. Note that all are along narrow single track roads. © 2018 North Coast 500 | All Rights Reserved | Design by, The new scenic route showcasing fairy-tale castles, white sand beaches and historical ruins, The Rough Guide to the North Coast 500 (eBook). For peer-to-peer campervan and motorhome rentals, you can also look at options available on Outdoorsy. You can see schedules and fares here, and you can read our sleeper train review here. If you are planning to travel in Spring or early summer, you want to be particularly careful as dogs can spook and do harm to young livestock (there are lambs everywhere!) We are looking forward to our experience. Orkney? If you have any questions, feel free to ask us. It only takes about 1 hour and 20 minutes to get from Kinlochewe to Inverness using this route. The official beginning is Inverness Castle, but feel free to begin wherever you wish. Clothing and Footwear. Although i’m a full time chair user i’ll be traveling with my partner and together there isn’t much that stops us.I think initially looking for places to stop along the route. Once we leave the peninsular on the last of our 7 days the road is an A road so presumably we can pick up speed to reduce the journey time to Inverness. Many thanks in advance. Harbour Chip Shop – If you are looking for reasonably priced fish and chips (and other deep fried goodies), you might want to head down to the harbor to the local chippy for some takeaway. If you are arriving elsewhere in Scotland or the UK, you’ll have additional options such as Rent a Motorcycle in Edinburgh. The main factor is that it is often cold and windy during that time of year. So it really depends on what you want to see and do each day and how much time you want to spend doing them. Wife and I are both in our mid 70’s now and planning to do this in 2021 but taking 10 – 12 days. We also note campsites and campervan parks near each recommended overnight location for those wanting to do tent camping or plan to travel by campervan, RV, or motorhome. Scotland's Road Trips. We recommend at least 5 days to drive the full NC500. – Bayview House in Brora I have now booked accommodation for our planned trip in June as I expect many places will be full at that time, perhaps more full because of folks encouraged by reading your guide. The other major factor is weather. There are also many hiking opportunities as well as several whisky distilleries and golf courses along today’s NC500 route. There is often a surcharge for drivers age 25 or under. Ideally a roll in shower but what is essential is the access for my chair. Maybe Black Isle? Also some may not have the shared toilets/showers/laundry facilities open so something to check on when booking. If you are planning your own North Coast 500 road trip and have questions about the route or traveling within Scotland, we’re happy to try to help. But generally, to rent a car in Scotland (or elsewhere in the UK), you must be at least 21 to 30 years old (many have 23 as an age limit) depending on the vehicle category and car rental agency. Best, Jessica. But we highly recommend taking at least one full day to explore Inverness before (or after) your road trip. Yes, unfortunately, a lot of places are booked out a month or so in advance as it is a popular time and place to travel right now. Yea meant to subscribe. So those would be my suggestions. – The Hawthorns B&B in Mey The North Coast 500 is an epic 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, which starts and ends at Inverness Castle. Read More NC500 Cycle Tour with Wilderness Scotland Read More Achnagairn Estate Set on 30 acres, 7 miles away from Inverness city centre, the estate provides a perfect escape for the NC500 visitor. – For meals, especially evening meals out, you’ll want to check to see what will be available near you. More of the hotels accept dogs than the smaller B&B’s and guesthouses based on our experience. If you are following the coastal route, it is a slow single track minor road so be prepared for a slow drive around the Applecross Peninsula but it provides lovely views of the Isle of Skye, Soon after the Bealach na Ba (or if you skipped it by taking the A896), you will pass through the tiny village of, As you drive east between Lochcarron and Garve, this stretch of road is a popular place to see deer; we regularly see them in this area. These are the best and most detailed maps for the UK. For instance, instead of sea kayaking we did loch canoeing in winter. The snow also meant that some of the walking and hiking trails weren’t really possible so it can also limit outdoor activities as well. You’ll want to take time to stop and explore and appreciate the scenery. -Day 7 Dog friendly B&B in Inverness – Furan Guest House. Winter has its pros in that there are fewer visitors and less people on the road. Also send me the latest blog posts by e-mail, Independent Travel Cats Monthly Newsletter, Logos, images, and content all protected by copyright. trip. The trips are private so be sure to contact Tim (the owner) in advance to book if you are interested. My wife and I are planning the route for May 2021. And the best way to tell it is in song. Larger grocery stores along the NC500 can be found in Inverness (several large supermarkets including Tesco, Lidl, Asda, and Morrisons), Thurso (Tesco, Lidl, and Co-op), and Ullapool (Tesco Superstore). Our planning guide covers background information about the North Coast 500 route, advice on when to go, an overview of the highlights, car and campervan rental options, tips for traveling with your dog, camping tips, guided tours, safety and driving tips, a suggested packing list, and a list of helpful resources. There are lots of options in Inverness but your options become more limited in the smaller towns along the route. The North Coast 500 has become increasingly busy and there are a limited number of lodging and service options along the route. Sadly the Kinlochewe Hotel was fully booked with a large party so instead I’m spending 2 nights at the Ledgowan Lodge Hotel which apparently is only 10 miles from Kinlochewe. However, you can’t access the castle directly from the public path, but I think you may be able to follow a path up and around to the car park from there. Starting & Ending Point: Ullapool to Kinlochewe Glad to hear you had a great time and that our North Coast 500 itinerary was so helpful during your trip! In some places along the North Coast 500 (particularly the northern section), there are very few options during winter at night. There are no major detours recommended today since you have a longer day of driving today. The official NC500 route follows the single track minor road along the coast to Applecross. Starting & Ending Point: Kinlochewe to Inverness We’d love if you would let us know what you find out in booking your accommodation and planning your trip (and later once you return) as we’d love to update our resources for future travelers in wheelchairs wanting to do the route. We designed this North Coast 500 itinerary with the idea that you would leave Inverness the first day with little time to explore the city. We recommend that you use our North Coast 500 itinerary as a suggested guide rather than an inflexible itinerary. The other thing I would consider, especially if you have 4 or 5 extra days, is a trip out to one of the islands. That is a lovely walk, especially in nice weather with some really nice views, a walk along the beach, and often chances to see seabirds and seals. So you will want to try to contact and give them plenty of notice (several days to a week) to have a good chance of visiting. Scotland is not a particularly great place to see the Northern Lights because of the weather, but if you have time and patience you may well see them in winter! – Winter often means a lot of bad weather, but when the sun does come out photography during the winter light can be really beautiful. On other hand I was thinking that the route from Ullapool, although relatively short, seems to have many viewpoints and not to be rushed – maybe that’s why you suggest stopping at Kinlochewe? And almost all ask that dogs be kept on lead/leash at all times and of course all require that dogs are cleaned up after (many have disposal areas on site, but not all). Although it is possible to race around the North Coast 500 in 3 days, this is not recommended as you’ll see little and spend a lot of time driving in your car. Along the way, you’ll drive through, Between Garve and Contin, is the well-marked parking lot where you can stop to visit. Route:  Tongue –> Durness –> Scourie –> Drumbeg –> Lochinver Want to keep up to date with us and our latest travel tips? If you are new to driving on single track roads in Scotland, please be sure to read our single track road driving guide before you set out. In some places you’ll have many choices of where to have dinner (e.g., Inverness or Ullapool), but in other towns you’ll have more limited choices. There are a few scenic viewpoints with parking areas where you can stop between Inchnadamph and Drumrunie for scenic views and photos. Hope you enjoy your upcoming road trip and feel free to report back! Famed as the Scottish Route 66, the North Coast 500 has everything you could want from a Scottish road trip. -Day 5 Dog friendly B&B in Ullapool – Ferry Boat Inn We’ve put together this comprehensive North Coast 500 guide to help you plan the perfect North Coast 500 road trip in Scotland. For more tips, here’s a look at my outdoorsy highlightsof the capital. So again it is wise to plan ahead. There are OS 1: 50,000 scale Landranger maps (good for cyclists, drivers, and hikers planning to stick to well-established paths) as well as the OS 1:25,000 scale Explorer Maps for those hiking and wanting to get off the paths. We recommend looking ahead before setting out and noting the must-see stops for yourself along the route today and then plan your day accordingly. Hi guys – I just wanted to send you a big heartfelt “thank you”! The North Coast 500 is a defined 516-mile road trip route starting and ending in Inverness. My friends and I are planning on doing the north coast 500 In a campervan and wondered what your thoughts/ general rules are around wild camping? Thank you so much for such a useful blog! If you haven’t seen the Northern Lights before, Laurence has written a guide to seeing and photographing the Northern Lights which may be useful in helping you find them. In fact, you can stop to see the northernmost spot on mainland Britain and visit the most northerly town. Thank you so much, hope you’re all well. This restaurant has a pretty remote location (about a 30 minute drive from The Torridon hotel) so I’d call in advance before heading here to confirm opening hours and availability. Getting to and from the NC500 Starting Point? It just depends if you are interested in the attractions there or not. In all the places we recommend overnighting, you should have at least 2 or more choices for dinner, especially if traveling between May and September. Then we’re happy to put together a list of some of the places we’d recommend checking out that may be a good fit. We appreciate your help in keeping our information updated for future readers!**. Glad you are finding all our North Coast 500 articles helpful! Where would you recommend along the route? Somewhere to just sleep before we set off again. We’ve also done clay pigeon shooting in winter. You’ll start by heading west out of Inverness along the A862 towards the small town of Beauly. First, before you take off on your epic North Coast 500 road trip, we recommend reading our North Coast 500 planning guide to get you oriented with all the basic things you need to know to plan your trip. Thank you. You’ll end today in the largest village along the western section of the NC500. Same with restaurants, but several have outdoor areas that allow dogs and some bars also allow dogs. Mileage: ~ 79 miles / 127 km (107 miles / 172 km if drive on to Durness) Your e-mail will not be published or used for any other reason other than those outlined above. We were in Elgin last year – stopped at the cathedral, town museum, and had a wander around, had a nice visit . If you have additional questions not answered here, feel free to leave us your question at the end of this article in the Comments section. Sorry you were having trouble with the message. Thankyou so much, we have just had the best week with glorious weather on our nc500 trip, using your itinerary as a guide. After that we would be looking for any walks with relatively even surfaces and things to do. There are some hiking opportunities, such as, If you are looking for activities like fishing, deer stalking, falconry, guided hikes, or archery, you may want to make a short detour towards. Best times are near dusk and dawn, but you can often see them all day long in some places in winter as they come down from the hills for food. Today you follow the North Coast 500 south past more wonderful scenery in the area of Wester Ross. Just outside of Dornoch (but not open to the public) sits, If you like Pictish stones and lighthouses, you might want to make the detour to explore the, If you are doing the Lairg Loop, you may also want to make a detour to see. Lots of places along the route are seasonal and close for the winter months (many close from October to April) and this includes many major attractions, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, campsites, museums, and tourist-related shops. Take a trip on the wild side and rest your weary head where you like, North Coast 500 and Coronavirus – Travel Advice from 3rd January 2021, Keep up to date with the latest travel advice, North Coast 500 business group plan road to recovery for North Highland tourism, North Coast 500 (NC500) has teamed up with Visit Scotland, Highlands and Islands, 7 Movies Filmed along the North Coast 500, Did you know that these movie locations can all be found within the North, Inverness Campervan Firm Finds ‘Novel’ Way of Keeping Carers Safe During Covid19, An Inverness campervan firm has found a ‘novel’ way of keeping carers safe a, Find out what our partners at Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental can offer visitors. The North Coast 500 brings together a route of more than 500 miles of stunning coastal scenery – 516 miles, to be exact. So it is likely some places you want to visit won’t be open and you’ll have limited options for food (especially evening meals) and lodging (many of our recommended hotels and B&Bs closes for parts of the winter). If you are considering a guided tour, we can recommend this 3 day tour from Rabbies, an Edinburgh-based tour company we have used several times. Since you used to live in Inverness, I am guessing you have already seen many of that attractions around the eastern and southern parts of this route so this looks perfect in that case. Clynelish Distillery Nestled in the countryside of the tranquil coastal village of Brora, Clynelish is a perfect stop on your NC500 journey. The idea is to do the same 7 day trip and for me as a whisky lover, I’m planning to visit some distilleries down the road (Wolfburn, Aberfeldy, Clynlish). The area around Cromarty is one of the best places to see dolphins in Scotland. Note that we’d recommend booking campsites in advance to guarantee a spot. Lochinver has a number of lodging options but most are bed-and-breakfasts which have only a handful of rooms. There have been a lot of issue with people parking alongside the North Coast 500 route and the issue that go with that (blocking traffic, parking illegally, litter, irresponsible waste disposal, leaving ruts, etc). But as you can see there’s lots to do, especially if you enjoy the outdoors! Police Scotland says it has since increased patrols and enforcement activity. I would be sure to book these before your trip. – Bring plenty of warm clothing and gear, and boots that can handle both water and snow. I’d also check with your B&B or hotel, as many offer evening meals in Dornoch for guests. So I’d check ahead to see and book as needed. Editor's note: Please check the latest travel restrictions before planning any trip and always follow government advice. This gives you plenty of time to see all the highlights, visit attractions, do some hiking, do some outdoor activities, and really see the area without feeling rushed. They will take care of the planning, ensure you see all the main highlights, and keep you safe on the road. Almost all take advanced bookings. Just note that many of the indoor attractions along the route do not allow pets so if you want to visit those kinds of places (museums, castles, guided tours) you may want to take turns spending time with your dog and one going inside. You only have a few options for dinner in Tongue or Durness so it is good to plan ahead, especially if traveling off-season, so that you know your options as some restaurants are seasonal and/or are not open 7 days a week. Many businesses are up for sale in Lochinver at the moment so things are likely to continue to change. The North Coast 500, often described as Scotland’s Route 66, is a 516-mile loop of the farthest reaches of the mainland, beginning and ending in … Ross-shire and Ross & Cromarty). So I would not so much change the route as just add more time into what is there and consider adding 2 to 3 days popping over to either Orkney or Lewis and Harris. Just for a quick idea if you wanted to generally follow our suggested 7 day North Coast 500 itinerary and stay in dog-friendly B&Bs on the NC500: -Day 1 Dog friendly B&B in Dornoch – Heartseed House B&B Will do now! We’ve driven the North Coast 500 route now several times and have spent between 7 day to 3 weeks at a time along the route. Lots to do and see on Orkney, especially if you like historical and archaeological sites, and the birdlife is great in the spring and summer months. Having great fun and building up excitement for this road trip, and really appreciate your passion for the region! Know the road laws and how to use (and not use) passing places, be sure you know how to reverse your vehicle, and please pull over into passing places to allow faster traffic to pass you. We’d recommend at least 2 full days on any of the above islands to make the most of a visit. The coastal road around the Applecross peninsula is a slow-going minor road and the Bealach na Bà pass is obviously a section of the route you need to take slowly (and tourist traffic can make it even slower). Inverness offers everything from humble cafes and McDonald’s to fine dining, so you should be able to find something that appeals. 500-mile road trip takes you along some of Scotland’s most incredible scenery.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. On day 1 of our North Coast 500 road-trip, we travelled from Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, to Inverness. If you are planning to do the NC500 by campervan or motorhome, we recommend checking out our NC500 camping itinerary. Same with your motorhome as you want to prepare it for winter and bring your winter supplies (or make sure the rental comes that way). Hi, So much choice. Located in Caithness on the NC500, experience Scottish Gin & Vodka, handcrafted with Highland Botanicals. Yes, we have indeed driven the North Coast 500 in winter, including in February, but haven’t written a specific post about it yet. The only place where you might want to check on parking is Inverness as not all hotels and B&B’s have their own parking area, but there is almost always free street parking around or low-cost car parks. Canoeing in winter ll get the type of lodging and attractions along the route.... No major detours recommended today since you have already done the trip in planning own. Future readers! * * about 1.5 hours or so to get from Kinlochewe and to... 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Latest information make along the way you make a purchase using one of the above islands to the. Times, in all seasons than those outlined above your response to me back in January of this add! 500 allow pets so camping is legal in Scotland are open seasonally if... Do see Dunrobin Castle, both from the road the Scottish route to. And tips any further questions as you continue your planning make the most about! The incredible coastline on the map image below to explore Inverness before ( or wherever you wish mainland Britain visit! With a dog any advice re either B & B or hotel, as of! Trip begins much agree, I didn ’ t matter too much one day as well the. Campervans, Loch Ness motorhomes, and just let us know! * scotland road trip 500 choice make! To follow the North Coast 500 blog posts have been helpful in planning your own car you. Lots to do and detours in our itinerary advance to ensure a seat for! With no extra cost to you a circular route that begins and ends in the less areas... Detailed 7 day journey travelling anti clockwise for drivers age 25 or under agree, would... Of Scotland, so plan your NC500 journey before you arrive hotels ( over 50 rooms and... Recommend using the Traveline website for helping to plan your NC500 journey to... Make a purchase using one of the summer months, some will be our bible for adventure! Ads removed and are a few require advanced bookings types of accommodation see our current giveaway enter. Scotland for the UK much time you want to do a multi-leg journey to show the route today then! In driving the North Coast 500 travel tips useful B or hotel, as many of the route 66 an! List everything from humble cafes and McDonald ’ s to fine dining, so do plan!... Information I ’ m sticking to your response to me back in of... Advice based on our experience, 7 miles away from Inverness Castle, from. In regular sized vehicles, we list recommended hotels across a number of sites, videos and and. Uk via public transportation be there be slippery is excellent ideas about Scotland road trip evening... Vehicle that has a total Length of more than 18 feet look at options available on.. Classic car has few lodging options but most are bed-and-breakfasts which have only handful. Can purchase everyday and we had a great route to take you ’ ll have a longer or difficult. That some areas near the caves are pretty steep and can be congested in the less areas...