scotland road trip 500

Your e-mail will not be published or used for any other reason other than those outlined above. If you make a purchase using one of these links it means we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. If you have any local updates, please let us know!**. But as you can see there’s lots to do, especially if you enjoy the outdoors! Best, Jessica & Laurence. Yes, we have looked into offering a printed guide and get asked for printed guidebook versions of our posts fairly regularly, but we have not found an easy or economical way to do this (and keep that content updated) for people to purchase. The campsites are also usually located in scenic places and are a great place to meet other travelers. The route is pretty easy to follow and we recommend picking up the official North Coast 500 route from the visitor center in Inverness before your trip to help keep you on track. Just note that some areas near the caves are pretty steep and can be slippery. There are also takeaway places in many of the towns. Glad you are finding all our North Coast 500 articles helpful! One is to just add to overnight stops, so instead of all 1 nights stops, I’d stay two nights in the places along the route that are of most interest. Ideally a roll in shower but what is essential is the access for my chair. **Important Note: We’ve driven the route several times over the past few years and have seen a large number of openings, closings, and changes of ownership of hotels, B&B’s, restaurants, museums, shops, and other businesses. Hope that helps and just let us know if you have further questions as you plan your trip! For these, I would recommend checking on opening dates and hours to make sure you can fit them into your schedule. We list hotels, inns, B&B’s, hostels, and other types of accommodation. Glad you are finding our North Coast 500 guide so helpful in planning your trip! We list everything from sandwich shops to pubs to fine dining for each location. If you are coming from Ireland, ferries regularly run between Belfast in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan in Scotland. Inverness is about a 150 mile drive from Edinburgh (~ 3 hour drive), 170 mile drive from Glasgow (~ 3.5 hours drive), 300 miles from Belfast (~ 8 hours with short ferry ride), 370 miles from Manchester (7.5 to 8 hours), and 570 miles from London (~ 10 hours). A tranquil retreat located within the NC500. Yea meant to subscribe. Starting & Ending Point: Tongue to Lochinver 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. The perfect trip for any major golfing fan! Lochinver has a number of lodging options but most are bed-and-breakfasts which have only a handful of rooms. – Bring plenty of warm clothing and gear, and boots that can handle both water and snow. It is about a 20 minute drive from Inverness airport to downtown Inverness, or you can take a bus (check local bus schedules here), a 20 minute taxi ride (can book and compare fares on minicabit), or book a private transfer. But it depends on your interests so I’d look along the itinerary to see where you might want more time. Yes, we would recommend booking your lodging in advance and to have a general idea of the main things you want to do. 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. We’ve driven Scotland’s North Coast 500 road trip multiple times, in all seasons. 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. There is also the option to travel overnight on the overnight sleeper train the Caledonian Sleeper from London or elsewhere in Scotland. 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. If you have even more time (ideally another day) you might consider more exploration of the Tarbat Peninsula and doing the Lairg Loop. At all other places I’ve been able to book my chosen accomodation. Wild camping is meant to be for those sleeping in a tent and doing so well away from houses, livestock, businesses, and roads. Best Scotland road trip for: an epic adventure; Length: 516 miles; Time needed: one week 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. Nestled in the countryside of the tranquil coastal village of Brora, Clynelish is a perfect stop on your NC500 journey. Sadly, one of our favorite museums along the NC500 located in downtown Thurso, You might be surprised to learn that northern Scotland, particularly Thurso, is a popular place for, Those interested in birdwatching may want to make a short detour to visit, The Strathnaver Museum is also a good place to get information about the, Also near Bettyhill is the sandy and pretty Farr Beach, another place you may see surfers, and the scenic Torrisdale Bay. But if you have already checked those, or nothing is available, I’d consider just adding an extra night to your stay in or around Ullapool in the same place you are already staying there. Today there are plenty of chances for stops to see dramatic scenery, local wildlife, and sandy deserted beaches. –Kylesku Hotel in Kylesku – If there are any tours you are keen to take, I’d check ahead to see if they will do a tour in February. 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. This is not a route to drive quickly. There is also this map of the route; however, this is NOT the official NC500 route map. We recommend staying overnight in Wick tonight but if you can’t find something in Wick, or want to drive a little further, you might consider spending the night a little further north in John o’ Groats. Modify the road trip itinerary to best suit the time you have available for your trip, your preferred pace of travel, and your interests. Here are suggestions for lodging in Wick and John o’ Groats across a variety of budgets: Today you finish your exploration of the western section of the NC500 and begin your exploration of the far north of Scotland. The other thing I would consider, especially if you have 4 or 5 extra days, is a trip out to one of the islands. For example, if you want to visit Maeshowe, we’d strongly recommend booking ahead as numbers are limited and reservations are often sold out in advance for time slots, especially if traveling in the summer months. Hi guys – I just wanted to send you a big heartfelt “thank you”! Again today is not a long drive but the single track roads can make for slow going in places and there are some steep sections so drive cautiously. Personally, we have not used them and have heard mixed reviews from readers, so read reviews to decide if one of these might be helpful for your trip. Thank you Laurence and Jessica Norah for covering almost all important nuances required to successfully complete the North cost 500 road trip in a week, in a smooth way. Note that if you are really short on time today, you can skip part of the route today and drive straight from Kinlochewe along the A832 towards Achnasheen to Inverness. Sitting along the north coast of Scotland this (you guessed it!) 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. 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!) Very informative and easy to follow/read have just returned from Clachtoll having been driven out by the weather, we have a 7.5m motorhome and in places it was definitely tight, all been well I would like to return sometime next year (current circumstances allowing) many thanks again for taking the time to write such an informative article/guide Not only is the NC500 one of the world’s best road trips, but it’s also one of the most beautiful. We have found that the more expensive lodging providers and the larger hotels are the most likely to have fully wheelchair accessible rooms, so it is a bit more challenging for those looking for budget and mid-range places. You can check out the local ferry routes and schedules here. but they pretty much all offer the basics of water and electrical hookups, toilets, showers, picnic areas, waste disposal points, etc. If you decide to stay outside of Ullapool, just note that the main dining options in the area are located in central Ullapool. It has been so helpful to us. We have attempted to provide options that will suit all kinds of travelers from budget travelers to luxury travelers; however, know that many towns along the route do not have any 4- or 5-star hotels and many towns don’t have any hostels. There are at least two companies that offer wildlife tours from there (we did ours with EcoVentures) with a good chance of seeing dolphins, seals, and seabirds. Yes, motorhomes of that size or larger are going to struggle on the narrow side roads and curvy parts of the route. These are also good things to book well in advance as many of the tour operators we recommend are small (sometimes just a single person) and they are often booked full once summer comes around. North Coast 500: Road trip - See 704 traveler reviews, 806 candid photos, and great deals for Inverness, UK, at Tripadvisor. 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. Hi, i’m in the early stages of planning a trip. So if you are planning to arrive around 9pm or later, we’d recommend picking up something to eat before you arrive. The area around Cromarty is one of the best places to see dolphins in Scotland. I’m in a wheelchair an wondered if you had any information on accessible accommodation along the route. I’d also check out the Gairloch whale cruises but you could book and do that within the Day 6 itinerary (as noted on our itinerary) between Ullapool and Kinlochewe as that day only has a short amount of driving. If you have a few extra days, I’d turn a couple of the 1-night stays into 2-night or 3-night stays so you can better explore areas that are of most interest to you. Yes, definitely more to explore and I hope you have a chance to return in the future! There are lots of options in Inverness but your options become more limited in the smaller towns along the route. I’m sticking to your origian 7 day journey travelling anti clockwise. But it really depends on what is most of interest to you. Alternative route (for motorhome users & those with limited time): Tongue –> Durness –> Scourie –> Skiag Bridge –> Lochinver You can check the latest road conditions and traffic in Scotland online at Traffic Scotland. 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. If you are not a subscriber, it is free and easy to join and you can learn more and join here. It is recommended that you don’t drive or rent any vehicle that has a total length of more than 18 feet. If you have questions about any specific places or have trouble finding a place to stay in a certain area, let us know and we can try to help. This has been a great help to plan our family NC500 trip in readiness for May. The Orkney “mainland” (the largest and main island of Orkney) has a number of important historical attractions – just note that some attractions will require you to book in advance to be able to visit them. ), Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter where we share our latest travel news and tips. We were in Elgin last year – stopped at the cathedral, town museum, and had a wander around, had a nice visit . Below is a brief guide to each of the sections within our North Coast 500 itinerary to help you understand and make the most of it: Starting & Ending Point: This provides our suggested starting and ending point for each day. It can be a magical time to take in the scenery. Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands, has a number of attractions in the city itself such as. -Day 6 Dog friendly B&B in Torridon – The Torridon Inn (inn not hotel) For more on wild camping, campsites, and such, I’d check out this camping itinerary. Also lots of places to get drinks in Inverness whether you have a desire for a Scottish lager, craft beer, whisky, or a fruity cocktail. Don't miss out on our exclusive monthly giveaways with lots of fun travel and photography related prizes! The official NC500 route follows the single track minor road along the coast to Applecross. Bringing a car to Scotland may be against your car’s rental terms (particularly any ferry crossings). 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. The PDF files allow you to still use the links. You can take a. I’d just be sure to always allow in a bit of extra time each day for flexibility in case you decide to make extra stops or things take longer than planned. You can see schedules and fares here, and you can read our sleeper train review here. To do this, we store the data as outlined in our privacy policy. Loads of stops you can make again today, so plan your day accordingly. Mileage: We list the approximate mileage that would be driven that day if you follow the NC500 route. – Bank House in Thurso Yes, we have indeed driven the North Coast 500 in winter, including in February, but haven’t written a specific post about it yet. If you want to rent a motorcycle for your NC500 road trip, you can check out the North Coast 500 Moto Experience in Inverness and the Highland Motorcycle Hire in Muir of Ord (20 km west of Inverness). So happy to hear that you are finding our North Coast 500 blogs helpful in planning our upcoming road trip! Enjoy flawless natural beauty along the incredible coastline on the epic North Coast 500 route. In some places along the North Coast 500 (particularly the northern section), there are very few options during winter at night. 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. From supremely popular road trip routes, to lesser-known roads in the more remote corners of Scotland, these are the best driving holidays. Other stops will be: Getting to and from the NC500 Starting Point? 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. Have booked in to all our chosen accomodation except for the night at Kinlochewe. Don’t plan a trip that will require you to rush around at top speeds; be a safe and responsible driver. A carefully designed itinerary, travelling the North Coast 500 driving route – covering more than 500 miles of the best coastal scenery the North Highlands has to offer, but within a leisurely week’s holiday. Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any questions as you plan your trip! We can easily spend a few weeks in the area ourselves and you’ll have plenty to do and see if you enjoy outdoor activities. Glad to hear you had a great time and that our North Coast 500 itinerary was so helpful during your trip! Area of Scottish Highlands: Sutherland. Hope that helps and let us know if you have any further questions as you plan your NC500 trip! Each rental car agency has its own rental policies. 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!). We’ve eaten at about 70% of the restaurants we list, so feel free to give us a shout if you have any questions or want a recommendation for a certain type of food or for a certain budget. You have a chance to explore a large cave, visit a craft village, stroll along white sandy beaches, learn why the local geology is so important, and admire the dramatic scenery of this northwestern tip of Scotland. Note that in many of the smaller towns, these stores close between 5:00pm and 6:00pm (17:00 and 18:00). If you are arriving elsewhere in Scotland or the UK, you’ll have additional options such as Rent a Motorcycle in Edinburgh. 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). If you want some more specific suggestions, feel free to let us know what you enjoy doing most and what areas/towns look most interesting to you and happy to suggest some places. Today you’ll drive the final section of the North Coast 500 route as you make your way back to Inverness. Also note that some of the hotels and B&Bs we list are almost full for 2020 and a couple of them have decided not to open this year, so finding accommodation in some areas can be tricky (especially in northwestern part of route) depending on when you plan to go. 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. Will do now! Please make sure you know the code when planning your trip. We haven’t seen whales along the route ourselves, but they are a possibility from any of the wildlife boat tours and people with telescopes have told us they’ve seen them from various spots along the coastline. I think the biggest downside is that so much is closed. So you can use to help find the best campsite for each night. I would be sure to book these before your trip. Search our map to find things to see and do along the NC500. 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). Bleakly beautiful, the North Coast 500 is Scotland’s very own Route 66. Hi Jessica, 2nd time of trying to reply to this, if you got a part reply please ignore!! You have inspired us to go in September. Also send me the latest blog posts by e-mail, Independent Travel Cats Monthly Newsletter, Logos, images, and content all protected by copyright. Starting & Ending Point: Ullapool to Kinlochewe 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). In this guide, we cover scenic viewpoints, beaches, castles, museums, golf courses, natural wonders, whisky distilleries, historical sites, suggested detours, and so much more. Here are several more hotels which we think also have at least one wheelchair accessible room, but are on the more pricey end of accommodation along the route: – Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness (have several accessible rooms) But here is a list (in counterclockwise order starting in Inverness) that will hopefully get you started with places that have at least one accessible room that we believe have step free/single step/can add ramp on request and also has a roll-in shower. They will take care of the planning, ensure you see all the main highlights, and keep you safe on the road. 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 … I’ve added an extra day in John o’ Groats to have a 1 day trip to Orkney and an extra day at Kinlochewe to spend the day in the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve. Our 7 day itinerary lists most things you might want to do, but then you’ll just have to pick and choose the ones of most interest to you each day. Its taken my husband and I two evenings to go through it and take in and take note of all of your knowledge. It’s very detailed, provides excellent information and makes our planning much easier or maybe not as there is so much to choose from. – Summer Isles Hotel in Achiltibuie Many of the companies are just run by one or two people so they can only run one or two tours each day. Your email address will not be published. Route:  Dornoch –> Brora –> Helmsdale –> Dunbeath –> Wick As noted from the itinerary there are a few different places in the northwestern part of the route where you can get a ferry to Orkney around John o’Groats. So happy you are finding our North Coast 500 guides helpful in planning your upcoming journey. If you are well-outfitted then it will allow you to really explore more no matter what the weather throws at you. If you have driven the NC500 or some section of it, we’d love to hear about your own experience and any favorite spots along the route. We recommend a minimum of 5 days to drive the NC500 route, and you can see our suggested itinerary for 5 days around the NC500. But several months ago we introduced an easy way for people to print them from home (or from a copy shop/print store/library). and can harm nesting birds. You can end your NC500 journey early here or add some days to your itinerary to visit places along the west coast before heading back to Inverness. Set on 30 acres, 7 miles away from Inverness city centre, the estate provides a perfect escape for the NC500 visitor. Filled with mysterious lochs, towering mountains, ancient castles and secret beaches just waiting to be explored. Sorry you were having trouble with the message. – Coul House in Contin. The Scottish Highlands are synonymous with untouched wilderness and when it comes to awesome scenery the Nor… You have some choices today regarding how you get to Inverness. Epic landscapes = epic road trip. If you have less than 5 days, we recommend driving only a portion of the route or considering joining a guided tour. Hopefully things will be open and restrictions will be lifted in Scotland by then! Inverness Airport has flights to and from a number of locations in the UK, Ireland, and continental Europe. Another island trip idea is to head over to the Isles of Lewis and Harris from Ullapool – again lots of historical and archaeological stuff, wildlife, beaches, places to buy tweed, etc. We’ve driven the NC500 route several times ourselves so we’ve been to all the highlights and many of the lesser known spots. Thanks for a very informative guide to the route and kit to take. Everyone’s needs will be different but here are some of my recommendations. Have you considered having these printed, especially the 5 day and 7 day itineraries, for people to buy from you? Along the way, you’ll drive through, Between Garve and Contin, is the well-marked parking lot where you can stop to visit. Bird and wildlife reserve areas often do not allow dogs for obvious reasons. Required fields are marked *, Notify me of replies to my comment (just replies to your comment, no other e-mails, we promise! Known as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the incredibly scenic North Coast 500 has been Scotland’s most popular road trip since its launch in 2015 And with good reason… it’s amazing! Jessica. For example, this is the Landranger Map for Assynt & Lochinver and this is the Explorer Map for that same area. If you will be driving beyond the NC500, we also recommend getting a good driving map of Scotland or a road atlas like this one. or double click on the map image below to explore or save the map. Winter has its pros in that there are fewer visitors and less people on the road. Inverness offers everything from humble cafes and McDonald’s to fine dining, so you should be able to find something that appeals. NC500 B&Bs: -Day 4 Dog friendly B&B near Lochinver – The Green Cruachan (in Stoer) or Suliven View Pods If you are wanting to detour to visit the. 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. 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). You can check out accommodation in Torridon, Shieldaig, or Applecross to save some time for Day 7. Say goodbye to Kinlochewe (or wherever you spent the night) and head southwest towards Torridon. We are looking forward to our experience. Many hotels and inns serve meals in Ullapool. trip. We recommend that you use our North Coast 500 itinerary as a suggested guide rather than an inflexible itinerary. You’ll start by heading west out of Inverness along the A862 towards the small town of Beauly. For more tips, here’s a look at my outdoorsy highlightsof the capital. Note that if you would like to do any activities along the route (e.g., wildlife watching boat tours, fishing, golfing, clay pigeon shooting, guided hikes, surfing lessons, cooking classes, geology walks, etc.) Sean & Gemma. Many holiday rental homes also accept pets, but that is going to generally be a more pricey option if than B&Bs or camping. Many businesses are up for sale in Lochinver at the moment so things are likely to continue to change. – The Torridon in Torridon The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile scenic route along Scotland’s northern coast that begins and ends in the city of Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. There's a few things you need to know before you take on one of the most beautiful drives in the world which is often regarded as the Route 66 in Scotland. Starting & Ending Point: Kinlochewe to Inverness While the North Coast 500 is an experience in itself, you’ll also find plenty of adventures to be had along the way. So just use good judgment and check with locals about suggestions. 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. 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. Mileage: ~ 53 miles / 85 km (~ 93 miles / 150 km if do Black Isle detour) One of our favourite road trips in the UK is the North Coast 500 – a driving route that loops around the far north of Scotland, taking in fantastic scenery, gorgeous castles, and loads of attractions. Yes, we recommend using the Traveline website for helping to plan your trip tend enjoy. And I hope you enjoy the outdoors course verifiy that before booking as policies do.... Which spots on our experiences bible for our adventure campers who follow the NC500 ’ ve been a... This bypass takes about 25 minutes to get from Shieldaig to Ardarroch along near... Explore our guide to route 500 with a good place to spend doing them always. 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scotland road trip 500 2021