23 April 2021 Travel
When searching the web for the most beautiful itineraries through Scotland, you can be sure Route 500 will be on every list - with good reason. North Coast 500 is without any doubt one of the most well-known itineraries in Scotland and is considered as one of the most beautiful coastal routes worldwide! This 500-mile track will leave you stunned by the beauty of Scotland’s North Highlands, its beaches and impressive coastlines. Our 5-day campervan route will guide you amongst the most important points of interest and places to see in this magnificent part of Scotland.
In order to take the most out of your NC 500 road trip, we recommend to travel by car or even better by campervan. As Scotland has plenty of lonely and wild corners to offer, it can be tricky to reach them by public transportation. Travelling by campervan however allows you to travel in a flexible and independent way. Your motorhome enables you to plan and adapt your itinerary as you go. You came across a magnificent place and would like to wake up tomorrow morning right next to this spectacular view? Just prolong your stay for a night! There is no hotel or hostel booked, just you and your camping car… By the way: Did you know that in Scotland you can camp on most unenclosed land? For more information on which rules to follow, you can visit VisitScotland.com. However, there also are many campsites available, as we will show you in this North Coast 500 route planner.
Our itinerary starts at Inverness, guides you along the north western coast, passing Wick, Sinclair’s Bay, Scrabster Harbour and Loch Ness, before returning back to Inverness. If you decide to take the car or camper van you should take at least 5 days for your roadtrip of the North Coast 500.
Driving time: 13.5 hours
Recommended trip length: 5 days
Itinerary: Inverness - Dalmore (30 min) - Dunrobin Castle (40 min) - Hill o’Many Stances (1h) - Wick sea (15 min)
Begin your journey in the beautiful Inverness, capital of the Highlands and home of Inverness Castle. Enjoy the view on the River Ness, stop by the Old High Church and Inverness St. Andrew’s Cathedral. After a 30-minute drive you will arrive at Dalmore, home of a nearly 200-year-old whisky distillery - a great opportunity to get to know a bit more about an important part of Scottish heritage: Scotch whisky!
Continue your Route 500 trip and drive to Dunrobin Castle, the largest castle in the Northern Highlands. Take a moment to visit the impressive gardens which are inspired by the Palace of Versailles in Paris. From April to October you can even visit the insights of the castle and the 189 rooms!
The next stop on our voyage is a magical place called Hill O’Many Stanes, a hillside which has about 200 upright stones set out in rows, probably representing a relic of Bronze Age times. At a 15 min drive you will find Wick, a small historic village, which invites you to enjoy the beautiful view on the coastline!
Itinerary: Wick - Castle Sinclair Girnigoe (10 min) - Sinclair’s Bay (20 min) - RSPB Scotland Dunnet Head Nature Reserve (30 min) - Scrabster harbour (30 min)
The first stop of the day is Sinclair Girnigoe Castle, located only 3 miles north of Wick. You will find the ruins of two castles: Castle Girnigoe (built in the 15th century) and Castle Sinclair (17th-century castle). Both were destroyed by George Sinclair of Keiss in 1960 who thereby destroyed his own heritage. Not far from there you will find Sinclair’s Bay, a large white beach on the east coast of Scotland, perfect to take some pictures and enjoy the peaceful and wild nature. But hey, do not stay too long, there is a lot more to discover on our North Coast 500 voyage!
The next point of interest on your trip is the Dunnet Head Nature Reserve, the most northerly mainland point of Britain. This is a great place to enjoy impressive views on sea cliffs and a variety of different seabirds.
Ready for the last stop for the day? It takes us to Scrabster Harbour, an important port for the Scottish fishing industry and a great place to enjoy your dinner after a long and exciting day of discoveries.
Our camping site tip: Check out the Caravan park of the Caravan and motorhome club at Dunnet Bay, with great pitches right next to the beach. A second option is the Murkle Caravan Park, located only 10 minutes from Scrabster.
Itinerary: Scrabster Harbour - Strathy Bay (30 min) - Durness (1.30h) - Smoo Cave (3min) - Eas a’Chual Aluinn (1h) - Inchnadamph and River Caves (5 min)
After waking up to the sound of waves, take your campervan to Strathy Bay to take a morning stroll alongside the beach. Take your breakfast in this 8,000 year-old village and strengthen yourself for another exciting day on Scotland's north coast route. In Durness you will witness another idyllic village, located right at the coast with yet another spectacular view. Big recommendations here in Durness are Smoo Cave, a conjoined sea cave and freshwater cave and the biggest coastal cave in the UK. You can also glance at a waterfall and white beach surrounded by cliffs.
After having enjoyed this magical place, take your campervan and head on to Eas a’Chual Aluinn, Britain's highest waterfall! When in full flow it is more than three times higher than the Niagara Falls! In order to reach it, some physical effort if needed, as it takes a hike of 10 kilometres. If that seems too far and exceeds your available time, there is a great alternative: Just next to Eas a’Chual Aluinn, you can check out Inchnadamph and the River Caves, Scotland’s largest cave system.
Itinerary: Inchnadamph and River Caves - Ullapool (30 min) - Corrieshalloch Gorge (20 min) - Inverewe Garden (50 min) - Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve (30 min)
More than half of our Route 500 road trip is already behind us, but there still is so much more to discover! The first stop of day 4 is the small harbour city Ullapool. There are plenty of outdoor activities, which you can do, such as sailing down Loch Broom, climb Ullapool hill or take a relaxed stroll along the riverside, enjoying the local wildlife. When you're ready, head on to Corrieshalloch Gorge, a 1.5 km long and 60m deep gorge and certainly one of the most impressive gorges of Scotland. We highly recommend a visit!
It takes about one hour to arrive at Inverewe Garden, a botanical garden in the Scottish Highlands. 850 hectares of colourful plants, native and non-native trees and ponds leave its visitors stunned and impressed by this diverse beauty.
Hopefully you have some energy left, as the last stop of the day requires some physical activity! Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve is the perfect place to take a good long hike alongside ancient pinewoods, mountain-sides and stunning views. What is particularly great about this National Nature Reserve is that there are paths of different degrees of difficulty.
Itinerary: Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve - Achnasheen (17 min) - Glen Ord Distillery (40 min) - Loch Ness (40 min) - Urquart Castle (5 min) - Inverness (30 min)
Our 5 day motorhome trip of the North Coast 500 is nearly over. After making a stop at the small village Achnasheen, pass by Glen Ord Distillery to bring home a souvenir reminding you of this extraordinary road trip! Finish your journey by passing by famous Loch Ness, which still attracts many tourists looking for the Loch Ness Monster. We guarantee you, even without coming across Nessie, it is a beautiful place to visit! While your stay there you should stop by Urquart Castle, a ruin of a castle dating back to the 13th to 16th century before finally heading back to Inverness.
We hope this itinerary of the North Coast 500 route could inspire you and helps you to prepare your coming road trip through Scotland! You are looking for a campervan hire at Route 500? Find your dream vehicle and rent a campervan from experienced travellers! Have an amazing trip through beautiful wild Scotland!