A part of the North Coast 500 route

North Coast 500

A section of road with scenic views on the North Coast 500 route

Preparing for the North Coast 500

Known as Scotland’s Route 66, the North Coast 500 is road that boasts dramatic landscapes, ancient ruins and historic castles. The route starts and ends in Inverness, and is a total length of 516 miles. Here, you’ll find some of the most breath-taking scenery in the UK. First, you’ll start at Inverness Castle, before passing through Dingwall and on to the Black Isle. Then, you’ll follow the Sutherland and Caithness coastline, before reaching Applecross peninsula and John O’ Groats via Wester Ross. Finally, you’ll make your way inland back to the historic city of Inverness.

While it is one of the best Scotland road trips you’ll take, like all remote areas, there are also hazards. Here’s our guide to safely exploring the North Coast 500 route and some tips on the best places to see along the way:

Be Prepared for the North Coast 500

The key thing to any road trip is to be prepared for all scenarios, particularly in wintry weather. So, start by filling up on oil, water, screen wash and fuel before you set off. Then, packing essentials like rugs, waterproof clothing, a map, water, food, torches and phone power bank will be handy. While there are quite a few petrol stations along NC500 Scotland, you never know how far away the next one will be. So, make sure you always have half a tank full and refuel when you can. Also, plan your route well and leave enough time for detours to nearby attractions.

Respect the Environment and Locals

Like any places of natural beauty, they’ll stay that way if you respect the environment and its inhabitants. Take all rubbish with you, no matter how small. Also, don’t walk on private or prohibited land and stand far back from any animals or wildlife. When driving on single tracks, be respectful and pull over in the nearest layby to let oncoming cars pass. Then, don’t forget to give a wave of thanks to other drivers. While touring Scotland by car, drive slowly and watch out for animals, walkers, hitchhikers and cyclists.

Eat, Sleep and Drink

During your Scottish Highlands road trip, you’ll find plenty of accommodation, pubs, cafes and restaurants along North Coast 500. However, it’s advisable to book in advance wherever possible to avoid being stranded and hungry. Remember, due to the remote areas of these venues, opening hours are likely to be limited. You’ll find everything from hostels and B&Bs, to hotels and self-catering accommodation. And, remember that summer months are particularly busy, so try booking early.

See the Sights

While taking in the scenery, you’ll find an array of fascinating attractions along this picturesque route. From historic castles and ancient ruins, to whisky and gin distilleries, there are plenty of places to stop off and explore. Here, you’ll find beautiful beaches, rolling hills, craggy headlands and rugged mountain ranges. Also, there are many natural wonders, from the Smoo Cave and Old Man of Stoer, to the majestic northern lights.

Now, you have all the top tips to safely enjoy your North Coast 500 road trip. So, pack up your car, plan your route and activities, and get ready to see some of Scotland’s most magnificent landscapes, wildlife and attractions.


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