The Ultimate Guide to the North Coast 500 Route in Scotland

The North Coast 500 is one of Scotland’s most popular road trips, offering breathtaking views of Scotland’s stunning coastline, magnificent mountains, and picturesque villages. This scenic route has gained popularity among tourists and travelers from all over the world, attracting adventurers, cyclists, and motorists alike. In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about the North Coast 500 route in Scotland.

What is the North Coast 500?

The North Coast 500, also known as the NC500, is a 516-mile (830 km) route that runs along the northern coast of Scotland, starting and finishing at Inverness Castle. This circular route takes you through some of the most scenic and remote parts of Scotland, including the rugged coastline, mountainous landscapes, and quaint villages. The route is marked by the North Coast 500 logo, making it easy to follow. You can use a map or a GPS device to navigate the route.

The NC500 route takes you through several counties, including Ross and Cromarty, Sutherland, Caithness, and Inverness-shire. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of Scotland’s most iconic landmarks, such as the Bealach Na Ba pass, Applecross peninsula, and the fairy-tale castle of Dunrobin.

If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, the North Coast 500 is a must-see destination that showcases Scotland’s beauty and charm. Whether you’re a nature lover, history enthusiast, or simply looking for an adventure, the North Coast 500 has something for everyone.

How long is the North Coast 500?

The North Coast 500 route covers 516 miles (830 km) of Scotland’s coastline, making it a challenging but rewarding road trip. The estimated driving time for the entire route is around 12-14 hours, but this can vary depending on your pace and the number of stops you make. We recommend taking at least five to seven days to complete the North Coast 500, allowing plenty of time to explore the attractions along the route.

What to see on the North Coast 500?

The North Coast 500 route offers a plethora of natural landmarks, historical sites, and cultural attractions that will leave you amazed. Here are some of the top attractions to see along the North Coast 500:

  1. The Bealach Na Ba pass: This winding road takes you up to a height of 626 meters (2054 ft) and offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  2. Applecross peninsula: This picturesque village is home to sandy beaches, clear waters, and a vibrant community of locals. Don’t forget to sample the local seafood at one of the many restaurants.
  3. The fairy-tale castle of Dunrobin: This 19th-century castle is located in the heart of the Scottish Highlands and features a beautiful garden, museum, and falconry display.
  4. Smoo Cave: This unique sea cave in Durness features a 50-foot waterfall, underground river, and dramatic rock formations.
  5. John O’ Groats: This tiny village is located at the northernmost point of the British mainland and offers spectacular views of the North Sea.
  6. Eilean Donan Castle: This iconic castle is located on a small island at the meeting point of three lochs and is one of the most photographed castles in Scotland.

These are just a few of the many attractions that the North Coast 500 has to offer. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, or adventure, you’ll find plenty to see and do along the route.

How long does it take to do the North Coast 500?

The duration of your North Coast 500 trip will depend on your pace and the number of stops you make. As mentioned earlier, it’s recommended to take at least five to seven days to complete the route. However, some travelers prefer to take longer to explore the area in more depth, while others complete the route in a shorter amount of time. It’s worth noting that the North Coast 500 route can be challenging in places, with narrow, winding roads and steep gradients, so it’s important to take your time and drive safely.

What is the North Coast 500 route?

The North Coast 500 route is a circular route that starts and finishes at Inverness Castle, taking you through some of Scotland’s most scenic and remote areas. The route takes you along the A835, A837, A838, A894, A9, and A99, and covers a total distance of 516 miles (830 km). The route can be driven clockwise or counter clockwise, and there are several suggested itineraries available to help you plan your trip.

The route is marked with the North Coast 500 logo and includes several notable stops, such as Ullapool, Durness, John O’ Groats, and the Isle of Skye. Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning landscapes, charming villages, and friendly locals who will welcome you with open arms. The North Coast 500 is a journey of a lifetime that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.

And Finally

The North Coast 500 is a must-see destination for anyone planning a trip to Scotland. This stunning route offers amazing views of Scotland’s coastlines and mountains, as well as a chance to experience the country’s rich history and culture. With plenty of attractions and activities to choose from, the North Coast 500 is a perfect destination for nature lovers, history enthusiasts, and adventure seekers alike. Whether you’re driving a motorcycle or cycling the route, the North Coast 500 promises to be an unforgettable journey that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Start planning your North Coast 500 trip today and discover the beauty of Scotland’s coastline.

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Author: NC-500

I have a passion for adventure and exploration and have travelled extensively across Scotland, exploring some of the country's most remote and scenic areas, plus of course the North Coast 500. While a motorcyclist, I also enjoy hiking, fishing and wild camping.

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