the Highlands of Scotland are unimaginable to go to! With towering mountain ranges, tranquil lochs and heaps of quaint villages, it’s the kind of space that’s excellent for a street journey; particularly across the North Coast 500 route. In truth, there are such a lot of finest locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland that you simply’re going to be spoilt for alternative.
Through the years, we’ve visited numerous occasions; following this easy-to-follow and detailed Scottish Highlands itinerary. It takes in a few of the finest locations on the North Coast 500 route, but additionally meanders (and barely detours) simply off the official route to search out some complete gems to discover.
It’s probably the most idyllic space and considered one of my favorite areas in the entire UK. Simply you’ll want to plan forward, ebook lodging in loads of time (the very best spots replenish quick in summer time) and think about that you simply could be driving on very slim roads.
The latter can at all times be a shock for North American guests!
Anyway, I don’t need to ramble an excessive amount of! Following a route north of Inverness (anticlockwise) I need to share a few of our favorite spots round and locations on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland that it’s important to go to.
Plus, a number of different little detours which might be complete gems to see. Have the very best time exploring Scotland!
In plenty of methods, Inverness is mainly the gateway to the North Coast 500 route. In truth, Inverness is prone to be the primary level the place you begin your street journey; both arriving by air (to Inverness Airport) or by way of practice.
Now, both initially (or the top of your North Coast 500 street journey, be sure to take a little bit detour east in direction of the Cairngorms. It’s one of many UK’s largest nationwide parks and completely idyllic.
We had the very best time exploring the Cairngorms, and it’s properly price popping over to Aviemore the place you’ll discover a great deal of trails, bike rental factors and Loch an Eilein which is attractive.
Plus, you’ve bought the tasty Kinrara Distillery that’s so shut by. Their gin is so good and makes use of foraged herbs to create their mix.
After arriving again in Inverness, and earlier than heading onto the NC500 route, be sure to see a few of the metropolis’s finest spots. You’ll want to try Botanic Gardens, Inverness Fortress and the Highlanders’ Museum, too.
If you happen to’re brief on time, you too can ebook this superb guided tour from Inverness that drives you to Eilean Donan Fortress and the Isle of Skye for a full-day journey. It’s nice in the event you don’t fancy driving and don’t need to head off the broader North Coast 500 route.
Learn extra: Our day-to-day Scottish Highlands itinerary
2.) Glenmorangie, Dornoch and Dunrobin Fortress
The entire space round Dornoch is properly price visiting as you drive from Inverness. You see, it’s bought heaps of little (and massive) locations to see within the Scottish Highlands.
If you happen to’ve crossed the Dornoch Firth, be sure to cease off at Dornoch Seaside. It’s an enormous white-sandy stretch that’s excellent for a stroll.
Although, at all times keep in mind that the Scottish Haar (sea fog) will be thick and are available in quick on the east coast route. So, be ready that you simply won’t see an excessive amount of if that occurs.
While within the wider space, you’ll want to cease off on the Glenmorangie Distillery Whisky (on the opposite facet of Dornoch Firth), too. You possibly can be taught most in regards to the distilling course of and have a wee pattern of their amber nectar that’s identified the world over.
Additionally, a couple of 20-minute drive north of Dornoch is the attractive Dunrobin Fortress. It’s nonetheless on the North Coast 500 route and straightforward to see as you head additional north.
You’ll get to see a lot of the citadel while exploring the 189 rooms (or not less than a good few of them). Plus, the gardens are gorgeous. It’s a very distinctive citadel in Scotland and virtually appears prefer it belongs within the countryside in France.
It’s all fairly totally different to the towering brick castles you are likely to see in Nice Britain. We adore it right here.
Afterwards, proceed driving north and cease off on the quaint little tearoom of The River Bothy. We had the very best do-it-yourself soup and haggis toasty.
Learn extra: Greatest islands in Scotland to go to
3.) Previous Wick, Previous Keiss and Sinclair Girnigoe Castles
With 1000’s of years of historical past, the Scottish Highlands has a great deal of gems you possibly can’t miss as you drive the North Coast 500.
In truth, I’d go so far as saying that the east coast has a few of the finest locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland in the event you’re into your historic castles.
Round a 35-minute drive, north of The River Bothy tearoom, you’ll get to go to Previous Wick Fortress. Now in ruins, it towers over the rugged shoreline, relationship again to the 1300s. It’s properly price parking up and strolling the coast to see – it truly is unimaginable to see.
Afterwards, observe the North Coast 500 route additional north and cease off at Sinclair Girnigoe Fortress. It’s one other gem and dates again virtually 800 years.
Oh, and don’t overlook about Previous Keiss Fortress, too. It’s in your route in direction of John o’ Groats and completely simple to search out as you observe the North Coast 500 route in Scotland.
Learn extra: Greatest locations in Scotland to go to
4.) John o’ Groats and Duncansby Head
Okay, for me, John o’ Groats is a little bit little bit of a letdown. It’s usually regarded as the most effective locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland – however I’d beg to vary.
Nonetheless, you’re passing by, so you actually ought to cease.
There’s nothing actually right here than an indication pointing to different locations the world over. Famed as being one finish of the longest distance between two inhabited factors in Nice Britain, John o’ Groats has grow to be a photograph spot for those that have additionally visited the opposite spot (Lands Finish, Cornwall).
I’d say we spent about quarter-hour right here, earlier than heading for the views at Duncansby Head. Which, is named the UK’s most north-easterly level and never too removed from John o’ Groats.
Right here, you possibly can see the facility of the North Sea’s waves, which have carved the rugged shoreline over 1000’s of years.
Although it’s a fleeting cease, the views dealing with south, down the coast, are attractive.
Oh, and don’t overlook you possibly can ebook this Orkney Islands day journey from John o’ Groats, too. It’s so good and properly price becoming a member of in the event you’re wanting to go to the Orkney Islands.
5.) Driving to Loch Eriboll
After departing John o’ Groats, head east on the North Coast 500 route in direction of Loch Eriboll. It’s a couple of 2-hour drive and you’ll simply cease off at locations like; Castletown Seaside, Dunnet Head and Drumhollistan for his or her rugged coastal magnificence.
Plus, you possibly can seize a chunk to eat at Côte Du Nord, a stunning fine-dining restaurant on the north coast.
Anyway, when you get to Loch Eriboll, be sure to cease off to see the Neakie Lime Kilns, which you’ll spot from this viewpoint. It’s a very attractive space of Scotland.
Learn extra: Greatest cities in Scotland to go to
6.) Durness, Balnakeil and Ceannabeinne Seashores
One of the vital north-westerly coastal areas you’ll go to within the Scottish Highlands, Durness Seaside is properly price a go to as you drive the North Coast 500.
As soon as right here, you’ll want to take a while to relax on the attractive sandy seaside and head over to the close by Smoo Cave which is Scotland’s largest cave to see.
Oh, and don’t overlook to drive a number of extra minutes west to Balnakeil Seaside and Ceannabeinne Seaside (a little bit east).
The previous is an unlimited open and westerly-facing seaside that’s gorgeous at sundown. The latter has a big zipline the place you possibly can glide over the seaside space itself.
You possibly can simply go to all three in a day they usually’re all excellent stopping spots in your NC500 drive.
Learn extra: Greatest issues to do in Edinburgh
7.) Sandwood Bay
Sandwood Bay is one other gem to see while driving the west coast of the NC500 route in Scotland. Through the years, it’s even been voted as considered one of Britain’s most lovely seashores.
This being mentioned, it does require a reasonably hefty hike to get to; it’s round an eight-mile spherical journey hike to this place. Most individuals driving the North Coast 500 route in Scotland find yourself not visiting this bay, which suggests it’s principally abandoned.
Good if that’s the vibe you’re going for. You possibly can have the place to your self and benefit from the white sands and towering cliffs so long as you want.
It’s excellent if you’re wanting a day hike but when not, head to close by Oldshoremore Seaside as an alternative. For the latter, you possibly can park proper at Oldshoremore Automotive Park which is very easy to get to in the event you’re shorter on time.
8.) Achmelvich Seaside
Following the B869 street, you’ll get to cease off on the completely attractive Achmelvich Seaside. It’s a very lovely seaside that’s properly price visiting in the event you’re going to relax out or stroll for a number of hours on a sunny day.
Belief me, it has an ideal mixture of turquoise waters and white sand, which is gorgeous.
Alongside the street (and earlier than you get to the seaside), you’ll additionally discover Clashnessie Falls and Clachtoll Seaside.
Clachtoll Seaside is ideal if you wish to spend a while alone since this can be a little quieter than a few of the bigger seashores shut by. Although, saying that, none are busy!
Oh, and don’t overlook to cease off at Lochinver Larder that’s previous Achmelvich. It’s properly price stopping for one of many well-known pies.
Lastly, as you attain Loch Assynt, you’ll want to cease off at Ardvreck Fortress. It’s considered one of our favorite citadel ruins in Scotland and properly price visiting because it’s only some minutes stroll from the roadside.
Relationship again to the 1400s, now you can stroll across the citadel and its outdated grounds. It’s so unimaginable to see.
Learn extra: Our day-to-day Scottish Highlands itinerary
Though small, the village of Ullapool will probably be one of many largest settlements you come throughout on the northwest coast and properly price making a cease.
Not solely that, there are a number of ferries from Ullapool, too. This implies it’s the proper stopping level if you need a detour from the NC500 and head over to a few of the prettiest Scottish islands. You’ll have the ability to catch the boat over to Stornoway and head additional down Lewis and Harris (that are gorgeous, by the way in which).
If that’s not your jam, you’ll want to try the close by Corrieshalloch Gorge (About 10 miles south). It has the attractive Falls Of Measach and the Corrieshalloch bridge with trails and viewpoints galore. An awesome place if you wish to stretch your legs.
Oh, and don’t overlook to go to the Seafood Shack for dinner. Open in the summertime months, they’ve a few of the finest seafood on the west coast; all of which is cooked contemporary to order. We ate a lot, right here.
Simply be sure to take a coat, the seating is outdoors and it might probably get chilly if a westerly wind is available in.
10.) Gruinard Bay and Wester Ross area
Becoming a member of the A832 street, You’ll drive south from Ullapool to Loch Ewe and across the round street till you get to Loch Maree and the beginning of the Beinn Eighe Nationwide Nature Reserve.
It’s the most effective locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland, particularly for all of the picturesque and quiet stopping factors in your drive.
As you meander the little roads, be sure to cease off at Gruinard Bay, which is completely pretty. Plus, you too can get some pretty views from this viewpoint on the facet of the street.
In your drive to Gruindard Bay, you’ll want to cease off at Ardessie Falls that’s simply off the roadside. Oh, and let’s not overlook about Gairloch Seaside or stopping off at Hebridean Whale Cruises that depart from Gairloch. They even have orca cruises in the summertime months.
11.) Beinn Eighe Nationwide Nature Reserve
Usually regarded as the primary Nationwide Nature Reserve in Britain, Beinn Eighe has heaps of unspoilt nature to discover by way of trails which you’ll simply go to in the summertime months.
Actually, in the event you’re one thing of a rambler, you’ll simply discover it to be the most effective locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland. Now, don’t fret about strolling routes earlier than you arrive.
There’s a very useful customer centre situated outdoors Kinlochewe which you’ll try from the month of April to October. They’ll even advise you on the very best spots to go to, and get near Beinn Eighe.
If you happen to don’t need to cease, you possibly can benefit from the scenic view as you drive east from Slattadale, on the shores of Loch Mare. You’ll even move the close by Victoria Falls, too. Simply be sure to drag into this may parking space.
There’s a picnic web site of Loch Maree, so that’s one spot you possibly can cease in. when you’re right here, you possibly can expertise Loch Maree’s shore whereas admiring the Slioch mountain peak from afar.
On the shores of Loch Torridon, Shieldaig is well the most effective locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland. In truth, this space of Scotland is as a lot in regards to the lovely drive as it’s about every pitstop you make.
To get right here, drive down the A896 street in direction of Shieldaig from Kinlochewe. We love this drive and also you would possibly even spot deer, particularly round this small parking spot on Google Maps. We’ve seen a resident stag, simply there, each time we’ve pushed this street.
Oh yeah, and whereas I’m at it, bear in mind street numbers beginning with ‘A’ will likely be larger, two-way roads with markings within the centre (these would be the largest roads you expertise within the Scottish Highlands).
Roads beginning with ‘B’ will sometimes be single-lane and slim roads that are extra winding and far slower roads.
You received’t have the ability to keep away from both in your journey across the Scottish Highlands but it surely’s worthwhile realizing what every street is when wanting on the street indicators.
Not too far-off, you’ll additionally discover The Torridon, which is a good place to spend the evening (or two) exploring the broader space. The resort is attractive and considered one of our favourites alongside the NC500 wider area.
While within the space, you’ll want to drive throughout to the opposite facet of Loch Torridon and discover the tiny hamlet of Decrease Diabaig. We at all times cease for a tasty, do-it-yourself, lunch at Gille Brighde. It’s so good.
Learn extra: Our day-to-day Scottish Highlands itinerary
13.) Bealach na Ba viewpoint
Driving from the scenic route from Shieldaig, by way of Applecross and onto the Applecross Move, be sure to cease off at Bealach na Ba viewpoint.
Though this steep incline street is simply open in summer time, it’s properly price driving for the dramatic views down the glacier valley that was carved out within the final ice age.
It’s so dramatic to see and the most effective locations to see on the North Coast 500 route in Scotland.
14.) Plockton, Eilean Donan Fortress and Loch Ness (and detouring off the NC500)
Usually known as the Jewel of the Highlands, Plockton is a small city that’s properly price taking a detour off the North Coast 500 route and together with the Wester Ross Path.
You see, most individuals don’t head additional south after reaching Strathcarron and begin heading again to drive to Inverness.
We at all times, if we’ve time, embody a visit to Plockton and the broader peninsular right here. Sure, it’ll add a number of extra days onto your journey but it surely’s completely price it.
As soon as right here, be part of considered one of Calum’s Seal Journeys that he runs alongside the coast (we beloved it) and cease off on the Plockton Inn for a few of the freshly caught native seafood. It’s scrumptious.
Afterwards, you possibly can both head over to the Isle of Skye by street (for an extended journey), or head across the coast to Ardelve to go to Eilean Donan Fortress.
It’s most likely considered one of Scotland’s most well-known castles and properly price seeing while you’re within the Scottish Highlands.
Head inside and plan to be there for round two hours. Oh, and for a few of the finest views of the citadel, pop to this spot on Google Maps (it’s simply earlier than Loch Lengthy Bridge).
Lastly, be part of the A87 street, taking you to Loch Ness to discover the little villages and Urquhart Fortress.
Additionally, you possibly can simply ebook this Loch Ness boat tour from Clansman Harbour that reveals you all the very best spots on the loch, together with
Simply maintain your eyes peeled for the Loch Ness monster earlier than heading again to Inverness!
Learn extra: Our day-to-day Scottish Highlands itinerary
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