The NC500

Scotland's greatest road trip

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Discover the real heart of Scotland


Scotland’s world-famous road trip .

516 miles of unequivocal beauty. From the rugged coastline to its dramatic peaks, this route will show you many hidden gems and leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
Whether you choose to take this trip in the warmer months or in the autumn or winter, each season will bring you an unforgettable experience. Summer will bring you more daylight to explore and take a late evening stroll along some of the purest, whitest beaches Scotland has to offer.
You will also have a better chance of seeing more wildlife, birds nesting and if you’re lucky, spot dolphins or whales and the fluffy highland coos famous for their long ginger fringes and horns.
But autumn will provide you with immense colours and stags rutting in the highlands. Also, the chance to see the northern lights between October and February can be immense, especially the more northernly you are.
Here are some tips that hopefully will help you to plan the most unforgettable trip.

Typically, your route will start from Inverness, along the west coast to Applecross and then heading north to Torridon and Ullapool. There you will be on the northern coast, passing by Caithness and John O’Groats before heading back down south through Dingwall.

However, you can also do this route anti-clockwise. Why? Because it just gets better as you head toward the west coast. The east has more castles and history, and the west has more beaches and striking landscapes.

It is recommended that you spend between 5-7 days minimum to get the most out of this road trip. There are some spots you simply don’t want to miss. Any could make an experience to be savoured feel somewhat rushed.

Give yourself plenty of driving time. Don’t rely on Google maps or other GPS to always be accurate. Between the single-track roads, farming vehicles and Scottish Highlands traffic jams, (otherwise known as sheep), travel can take longer than anticipated.

Plan the main things that you want to see and excursions that you would like to do. However, and as much as planning is emphasised, don’t over-plan. Simply because there is so much off-track to see that we would encourage you to park, get out and walk a few miles to see some of the hidden gems that aren’t necessarily right on the route. On average, 2/3 nights in each location is a good rule of thumb.


Transport has been a much talked-about issue. If you are driving anything bigger than a car, (camper/motorhome), be very careful and be courteous. On small roads, such as the Bealach Na Ba (Applecross Road), the bends are tight, and the road is steep. Conditions can be treacherous in the winter with the snow and almost impossible in the ice.

Scottish Weather. Well, as Billy Connelly wisely said – “there is no such thing as bad weather. Just wrong clothing.” And he is right. Pack with all weathers (in one day) being possible. Whilst us Scots boast about this being the most beautiful country, we never claimed to have the best weather. So just be prepared with layers and waterproofs. 


And lastly – have fun. Be safe. You will not regret this trip. It is truly one of the most unforgettable routes and a lifetime experience to tick off any bucket list.

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