Welcome to the North Coast 500! Known by the locals but still relatively undiscovered by tourists, experience Scotland off-the-beaten-track. The route starts and ends in Inverness, the capital of the Scottish Highlands. It will take you through some of the most beautiful and remote parts of Scotland, including the North Highlands, Wester Ross, Caithness, and Sutherland. With picturesque villages, historic sites, white sandy beaches and opportunities for outdoor activities, there is something for everyone on this northern adventure in Scotland's far north. 


Day By day

Welcome to the Highland’s gateway


Welcome to Scotland! Inverness is the starting and finishing point for the North Coast 500 (NC500) & the gateway to the Scottish Highlands. Before you set off on your journey around the far north of Scotland discover the delights of Inverness and its surroundings. First set sail on Loch Ness in search of the elusive Loch Ness Monster, known by the locals as “Nessie.” After a morning of monster-hunting, take a step back in time and set foot on Culloden Battlefield; the site of the final confrontation of the Jacobite Rising of 1745. One of our experienced, partner guides will take you through the history of the battle, bringing it back to life. Overnight: Inverness

Look for dolphins!

Hit the road as you start your North Coast 500 adventure. It’s only a short drive to Dornoch for your next overnight stop, but there’s plenty to take in along your journey. The Black Isle (which isn’t actually an island) is home to the Fairy Glen, an enchanting woodland with small waterfalls and wildlife, and Chanonry Point – if you’re lucky, you will see dolphins swimming by! Continue to Tain and a tour of Glenmorangie Distillery, perhaps one of the best-known whiskies worldwide. A short drive north and you will arrive in Dornoch, home to a magnificent cathedral and some spectacular golf – 18 holes at Royal Dornoch anyone? Overnight: Dornoch

Marvel at Duncansby Stacks

Drive from Dornoch to John o' Groats along the NC500 for approximately 80 miles, the road offering stunning coastal scenery along the way. You'll pass through picturesque coastal villages and have opportunities to enjoy the rugged beauty of the north eastern Scottish coastline, including the majestic Duncansby Stacks. A photo opportunity with the iconic John O’Groats signpost awaits as you reach the far north of Scotland! Overnight: John O’Groats

Discover a hidden cave

Continue your North Coast 500 adventure as you head west from John o'Groats to Durness, sightseeing the most spectacular and remote landscapes in the Scottish Highlands as you go. On this leg, you'll have the opportunity to see beautiful coastal views, with secluded beaches, dramatic cliffs, and wildlife. Durness itself is a picturesque village on the northwest coast of Scotland, known for its stunning beaches, cliffs, and natural beauty. While you’re there, venture into the heart of Smoo Cave with a guided tour of the inner chamber – this can only be reached by boat! Here in the far north of Scotland, the days are very long in early summer; and after your traditional Scottish dinner, you'll have plenty of time to enjoy a twilight stroll! Overnight: Durness

Enjoy a white sand beach in Ahmelvich

Travelling south now, you’ll pass through some of the most remote and beautiful areas of Scotland's northwest coast. Discover dramatic landscapes, lochs, and rugged coastline along the way. Achmelvich Beach, on a summer's day, is truly spectacular, where pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters await. Lochinver is a picturesque village known for its scenic surroundings, including the stunning Loch Inver itself. There is also a celebrated Pie Shop here, The Lochinver Larder, a must for the weary traveller seeking sustenance! Overnight: Lochinver

Fishing village nestled in the Highlands

As you continue southwards through Scotlands beautiful and wile countryside, you will reach the charming coastal village of Ullapool on the shores of Loch Broom, known for its harbour and fresh seafood. On the way, you’ll drive past Ardmair Beach and Rhue Lighthouse before reaching the village itself. If you are looking for an afternoon hike, a short but steep ascent to Ullapool Hill will reveal superb views over Loch Broom and the surrounding area. Overnight: Ullapool

Village lost in the middle of the Highlands

Next up on your Scottish journey along the North Coast 500 is Gairloch, a beautiful coastal village located in the Wester Ross region. Renowned for its breathtaking scenery, the village is situated on the shores of Loch Gairloch, and the surrounding area features mountains, forests, and a stunning coastline. Enjoy panoramic views from the nearby hills or take a stroll along Big Sand Beach! Overnight: Gairloch

Drive through the renowned Bealach na Bà

The drive from Gairloch to Applecross along the NC500 is approximately 55 miles, but due to the challenging terrain of Bealach na Bà, it may take a couple of hours to complete the journey! Applecross is a picturesque village on the Applecross Peninsula known for its remote location, natural beauty, and seafood. The drive over Bealach na Bà is particularly famous for its breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and seascape. If taking this route, be aware it’s recommended only for experienced drivers. Another route is available (along the coast) via Kenmore and Cuaig if you prefer. Overnight: Applecross

Look for Nessie

You can choose between two options for your return to Inverness: Head north via Achnasheen, Garve and Contin, the route takes 2 hours or head south and visit Dornie (home of the breathtaking Eilean Donan Castle) then skirt along Loch Ness via Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit, taking approximately 3.5 hours. Upon arriving in Inverness, what better way to round off your Scottish adventure than with a wee dram and some traditional Scottish music at Hootenanny, or one of Inverness’s other well-loved traditional food and drink spots!  Overnight: Inverness

Memories of the North Coast 100

It's the end of your road trip adventure around the far north of Scotland. The North Coast 500 is certainly one of the greatest journeys by road in Britain, if not Europe and for many it will be the trip of a lifetime! After a hearty Scottish breakfast at your hotel, one of our partner chauffeurs will be on hand to transport you to Inverness Airport or train station for your onward journey. 


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Our Expertinsight

"There are two perfect seasons to do Scotland's North Coast 500, and it depends on your preferences. If you are looking for a quiet getaway, choose autumn, but the weather is less favourable. If you are looking for some rays of sunshine, prefer the late spring or summer. When driving on Scotland’s north-east coast, the enchanting Dunrobin Castle is a must-see. Other stops not to miss are visiting the Old Pulteney Distillery in the northern town of Wick and setting foot on the beautiful beaches at Balnakiel & Durness on Scotland's north-west coast."

Neil, Local Expert



We thank Stephen, William and Celina for organising a wonderful holiday for us in Scotland. The attention to detail was outstanding particularly given it was the winter season when many venues are closed. Nothing was too much trouble and always available and keeping in touch. We had a sensational time staying at terrific hotels often wonderfully located in the country, and made many happy memories out in the Scottish Highlands. A lovely outdoor adventure... favourite spot is Applecross!!! We could imagine the Vikings landing there from the sea.
Anne W.


More than once, we asked each other whether we could stay in a place for two or three weeks more. This was truly more wonderful than we imagined. Thank you Stephen for helping us to plan and for checking with us several times to make sure the trip was going well.
Lyn S.

We are

a full-service Tour Operator and our trips generally include:
accommodation, transportation, visits, immersive experiences, personal crafting, unique roadbook creation and assistance on the ground (meals & flights excluded). Please note that this trip price will vary based on factors such as your hotel preferences, your favourite transportation mode, whether you want to take part in shared group activities or private experiences, travel dates, and more. To receive a customized quote for your tailor-made trip, please reach out to us directly.