If you want to stop, find a safe place to pull off in a designated parking space or lot. I don’t think you should have any issue getting a van of that size to Applecross along the coastal route (barring any bad weather or road closures of course). For more reasons to drive the NC500 and themes read this article. Obviously, the best time to drive the North Coast 500 is the time you have available, and if you need to set out at a less than opportune time of the year, just be prepared and be flexible. :D like reversing into a trailer. Some campsites (in order as they are located counterclockwise along the route) include Bught Park Camping and Caravan Site in Inverness, Bunchrew Caravan Park near Inverness, Camping and Caravan Club Sites (multiple locations including Rosemarkie, Nairn, and Dingwall), Fortrose Bay Campsite in Fortrose, Black Rock Caravan Park near Dingwall, Inver Caravan Park near Dunbeath, Caravan and Motorhome Club Sites (multiple locations including Inverness, Dunnet Bay, and Kinlochewe), Sango Sands Oasis in Durness, Clachtoll Beach Campsite in Lochinver, Shore Caravan Site in Achmelvich Bay, Sands Caravan and Camping Park in Gairloch, and Applecross Campsite in Appelecross. Those driving this route should consider whether they should drive this section of the route or not, and if decide to do so, be sure to be careful. For example, Càrn Liath (an Iron Age broch) is a short walk from the parking area. There are also local buses mostly run by Stagecoach that connect many of the villages along the route. There is no strict North Coast 500 route – where you stop, stay and play is entirely up to you but here is a flavour of the villages and activities we think make up the best North Coast 500 places to visit. If you are looking for more luxury oriented properties, expect prices in the £160 to £350 range. There is also of course the National 1 cycle route that runs through this area and you could do sections of that. the Bealach Na Ba) may be closed due to bad weather. Even more excited to get going now!! 3. The NC500 is a popular route for car clubs so you are likely to see some groups of very expensive and vintage cars out on the road. Clear descriptive text supported by stunning photographs provide an outstanding resource. There is also Salmon Landings – it is a bit before Tongue but a fantastic B&B. If you want a physical copy of the official North Coast 500 map, you can often find it on ebay, such as this listing. Thanks, Jessica! We definitely agree with encouraging people to stop and spend money at the local campgrounds, hotels, museums, restaurants, shops, visitor centers, etc. We expect more will continue to pop up as the tourism increases in this area. The NC500 is a 516-mile loop of the tippy-top bit of Scotland, which officially starts and ends at Inverness Castle. Please scroll to the end to leave a comment. I understand that what I’m contemplating does not include many stops along the way. From there, we want to rent a car and take 7 days to drive from Inverness to Glasgow and leave back to Canada on June 1st so would arrive in Glasgow on May 31st. 6. If you really want to do the NC500 in 3 days, I’d consider driving or taking the train to Inverness and then consider joining this tour with Rabbies as they will take care of the planning, ensure you see all the main highlights, and keep you safe on the road. Yes, the weather is definitely fickle in Scotland. Note that many businesses don’t have street numbers in the Scottish Highlands but since the towns are so small, just keep an eye out once you are near and you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them. Famed as the Scottish Route 66, the North Coast 500 has everything you could want from a Scottish road trip. We will be sure to bear this in mind when we undertake the trip whisky distilleries on the North Coast 500, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, photography highlights of the North Coast 500, Royal Links Championship Course & Struie Course, camping or campervan trip along the NC500, bed-and-breakfasts along the North Coast 500, book your RV for the UK through them here, 5-day Northern Scotland and Orkney Island tour, https://www.facebook.com/groups/travelloversandphotography/, calling and getting online while traveling, https://www.mylpg.eu/stations/united-kingdom/#map, Gifts for Travelers – Travel Gifts Made in the USA. When is the Best Time of Year to Travel the North Coast 500? Most towns have a small grocery store (not usually open late in the evenings so stop during the day) where you can pick up picnic supplies, snacks, and food to cook your own meals. If you are using your phone or GPS to help you navigate, I’d try to download any needed maps beforehand as you’ll likely lose satellite and Internet connections during parts of the road trip. Hoping to go to Skye for a night or 2 and maybe isle of Harris and Mull depending on time. There are several places to rent bikes along the NC500. The Highlanders' Museum (Queen's Own Highlanders Collection). If you have any further questions as you plan your NC500 trip, just ask! So if you have a week, I’d recommend choosing two islands to explore and add to your NC500 itinerary. We have driven Route 66, and we can say that there are a lot of differences between a historic route that spans over 2,400 miles and crosses 8 U.S. states and the North Coast 500. So be mindful and pull over into a passing place or parking area every so often to let faster traffic pass you. I also wanted to say that there are several people who are part of our Facebook group who are planning to drive the North Coast 500 at the end of summer or in September. Main rental car companies include  Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Arnold Clark, Europcar, Hertz, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and Focus Vehicle Rental. We’ll explain the North Coast 500 route, what you can expect to see, the best time of year to plan a road trip, how many days you need to drive the NC500, suggestions on where to stay and eat along the route, what to pack, and tons of other tips and advice on driving the North Coast 500. However there is no right way to drive the route so head in the direction that makes the most sense for you! For non-whisky stops, consider Black Isle Brewery and Dunnet Bay Distillery (best known for its gin and vodkas). Most outdoor spaces and campsites do allow dogs although in many places they need to be on a lease to not disturb livestock and/or wildlife. Want to keep up to date with us and our latest travel tips? As noted, the weather is pretty unpredictable year round and I’d come prepared for some cool weather and rain. We hope to go June 2017 stopping at dedicated camp sites en route. Hi guys my wife and I have been thinking of seeing Scotland for a while , came across your information about the north coast 500, sounds great,we have 7 to 10 days in September 2020 and that co insides with our wedding anniversary, would like to do b&b going anti-clockwise,hire a car from Inverness airport and do a relaxing trip ,recommendation as to b&b’s would be great and best car hire ,thanks ,gr8 blog by the way. The North Coast 500 route is Scotland’s answer to Route 66. However you can of course start and end your drive wherever you please. Check the ScotRail website for the route details and to buy tickets. We’ll also have more NC500 content. For camping / caravaning, see our suggested NC500 camping itinerary for suggestions. So we recommend this direction for those tackling single track roads for the first time. Cheers. Inverness is probably the most convenient place to start a NC500 tour, but tours can also be arranged to depart and return from Edinburgh, Glasgow, or Inverness. The Jacobite steam train leaves from Fort William so that is easy enough to arrange. The drink drive laws in Scotland were changed in 2014 and are now very strict with low limits to discourage drinking and driving. If she needs a SIM, you can check out this post about calling and getting online while traveling. This looks amazing! I’m just trying to make sure that I have emergencies covered. Being able to reverse into passing places is a necessary thing to be able to do to drive this route safely, but we often encounter people who refuse to reverse despite being near a passing place. It is about a 2 hour drive to reach the Skye Bridge from Ullapool following the quickest route via A835 and A890, but will take much longer if you go the scenic route. You may also want to bring water proof bags to keep wet clothing, supplies, and camera gear. I would focus on either a section of the route or focus on a special interest or theme (e.g., castles, historical sites, beaches, distilleries). Great article guide on the North Coast 500. Really useful , Thanks Lois, glad you enjoyed our guide and hope you have a wonderful North Coast 500 road trip. I have been looking forward to a roadtrip since 2014 and have driven to highlands from the South East of England many times but nothing north of Inverness. The route is just over 500 miles and mainly hugs the northern coast of Scotland, hence the name. Whilst this is great news for the local economies in this otherwise fairly remote part of the UK, it has also meant that it can be tricky to find accommodation. This is such a great comprehensive post on the North Coast 500! Another great post and really informative, you’ve managed to cover so much. Do let us know if you have any questions. North Coast 500 Route Map. We’ll explain the North Coast 500 route, what you can expect to see, the best time of year to plan a road trip, how many days you need to drive the NC500, suggestions on where to stay and eat along the route, what to pack, and tons of other tips and advice on driving the North Coast 500. if you want to rent a campervan for the drive, we recommend using Motorhome Republic, They compare prices across the major rental firms in the UK to find the best price for you. Crime happens everywhere of course, but you should be fine taking normal precautions (keeping money/valuables hidden away, locking doors, telling someone your travel plans, etc.). I’d probably set your dates and flights first, and then you can think about hotels and any tours. Wow! If you are planning to spend time camping outside (and standing/sitting in one place for awhile) or are particularly sensitive to insect bites, you may consider a midge net. The North Coast 500 is an epic 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, which starts and ends at Inverness Castle. If you plan to drive the NC500 out of season (e.g., October to March) just note that many businesses (including hotels, restaurants, tourist information offices, and attractions) in the Scottish Highlands are seasonal or have reduced winter hours. We got a good bit of single track (and drive on the left!) ), Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter where we share our latest travel news and tips. May is a good time of year to travel in Scotland, it tends to be one of the better weather months. You can check out our guide to the top things to do in Edinburgh, lesser known Edinburgh attractions, and Edinburgh photography guide for idea to put together an itinerary there. The History, Heritage and Archaeology and the Luxury itinerary are available to view fully, however to unlock the full NC500 itineraries, you […] Something to think about when planning your route and time in the Scottish Highlands. For those wanting a private tour, you can arrange a private NC500 tour from Rabbie’s or other local tour companies. If you are looking for stunning landscapes, fascinating history, endless horizons, ancient castles, golden beaches and crystal-clear water, all wrapped up in a 500-mile road trip, then the NC500 is for you. 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. But you have plenty of time . We followed your trip having a couple of nights in Inverness and enjoying the city there is plenty to see. But if you just prefer hiking, scenic drives, and time outdoors than you might prefer spending the extra night near Torridon instead. Thank you on a detailed impressive guide! I would just recommend never letting your car get near empty and to fill up during the day as not all pumps are open overnight. Their website also lists some affiliate hostels along the NC500. Visit Dunrobin Castle in the morning, then head back south towards Inverness and around to Ullapool. If you plan to speed around, you could do it with 3 full days and night, but we’d recommend more time. We are doing the trip, starting the 4th October for 10 nights and haven’t planned any stops yet along the way. If we will later be visiting Skye, would it make sense then to just do a portion of the East Coast of the NC500, rather than the West Coast? For those interested in geology, I’d recommend heading to the North West Highlands GeoPark which covers a large section of the northwestern part of the route and includes sites such as Smoo Cave, Knockan Crag, and The Bone Caves near Inchnadamph. I think that obviously you want to be prepared as you could be cycling a fair distance to the nearest village in some places so good to always have the basics on you of course (repair kit, first aid kit, food/water, safety gear, emergency numbers) and I think the phone could come in handy as reception is not great in certain places with a regular cell phone. But if you are looking for places to go and things to do, I’d spend the extra night in Inverness. Hope that helps and let us know if you have further questions as you continue your planning. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter. If you are looking to drive the route during a quieter time of year, I’d consider April, early May, late September, or October, avoiding holidays, festivals, special events, and school breaks. We’ve done many of their tours and happy to answer any questions about those if you have any. There are also a couple of specialty food spots along the route such as, Some places we’d recommend checking out for sit down lunches or dinners include the, Hotels and B&B’s represent the most popular lodging option along the North Coast 500. You can also do a tour here but that might be a bit too much for the kids. The Skelbo Forest Walk is an easy and mostly shaded option and there are some woodcarved animals along the walk. There are at least a dozen hostels located along the North Coast 500, and you can easily do an entire NC500 road trip only staying in hostels. – Achmelvich Beach is a really pretty beach and fairly protected by the bay. 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