The North Coast 500 (NC500) is a scenic driving route that spans the Scottish Highlands and is often referred to as Scotland’s answer to Route 66. The route covers over 500 miles of rugged coastline, dramatic mountain ranges, and stunning lochs, and has quickly become one of the most popular road trips in the world. In this post, we will explore the NC500 route and what makes it such a unique and special experience.
Overview of the NC500 route
The NC500 route starts and ends in the city of Inverness and covers over 500 miles of Scotland’s stunning North Coast. The route can be completed in 5 to 7 days, depending on the pace and number of stops along the way. The NC500 route takes visitors through some of Scotland’s most breathtaking landscapes, including the rugged coastline of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the dramatic peaks of the Scottish Highlands, and the tranquil lochs and glens that are scattered throughout the region.
Highlights of the NC500 route
- Inverness – The starting point of the NC500 route, Inverness is a bustling city that is steeped in history and culture. It is known as the capital of the Highlands and is home to several historic landmarks, including Inverness Castle and St. Andrews Cathedral.
- Applecross – A small village located on the west coast of Scotland, Applecross is known for its stunning scenery and outdoor activities, including hiking and fishing. Visitors can also enjoy a meal at the award-winning Applecross Inn, which serves fresh seafood and traditional Scottish dishes.
- Ullapool – A picturesque fishing village located on the shores of Loch Broom, Ullapool is a popular stop on the NC500 route. Visitors can take a boat tour of the loch or explore the town’s many shops and galleries.
- John O’Groats – Located at the northernmost tip of Scotland, John O’Groats is a popular tourist destination and a symbolic end point for those completing the NC500 route. Visitors can take a ferry to the nearby Orkney Islands or simply enjoy the stunning views of the North Sea.
- Durness – A small village located on the north coast of Scotland, Durness is known for its stunning beaches and rugged coastline. Visitors can explore the nearby Smoo Cave or take a walk along the famous Sango Sands beach.
- Lochinver – A small fishing village located on the west coast of Scotland, Lochinver is known for its fresh seafood and stunning scenery. Visitors can take a boat tour of the nearby lochs or explore the many hiking trails that are located in the surrounding area.
- Isle of Skye – Located off the west coast of Scotland, the Isle of Skye is a stunning island that is home to some of Scotland’s most breathtaking landscapes, including the Cuillin Mountains and the Quiraing rock formation. Visitors can explore the island’s many castles and historic landmarks or simply enjoy the stunning views of the sea and the surrounding hills.
Tips for driving the NC500 route
- Plan ahead – The NC500 route is a popular driving route, and it is important to plan ahead and book accommodations in advance. Many of the small villages and towns along the route have limited accommodations, and it is essential to book early to avoid disappointment.
- Drive safely – The NC500 route is a scenic driving route, but it is also a challenging one. The roads can be narrow and winding, and it is important to drive safely and be aware of other drivers on the road.
- Be prepared – The Scottish weather can be unpredictable, and it is important to be prepared for all conditions.