The ONLY North Coast 500 Itinerary & Route PLANNER You Want (2022 replace)

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Planning a street journey to the North Coast 500 in Scotland? Questioning the place to remain or the right way to plan your route? This itinerary is the one one it is advisable to discover the perfect locations to go to and work out how far to drive every day.

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North Coast 500 Itinerary and route planner

Planning any street journey to a spot you’ve not been earlier than will be daunting, however planning a route and itinerary for the North Coast 500 (NC500) in Scotland usually appears extra overwhelming than most.

There’s a lot to see and do and it’s troublesome to understand how lengthy to allocate to every part. Some individuals drive the NC500 in 3 or 4 days, whereas others can take a number of weeks!

North Coast 500 7 day Itinerary

I’ve simply returned from the NC500 and did the western route in about 7 days. That is what I’m sharing with you on this submit.

I’ve already accomplished the east part (which incorporates John o’Groats) in an earlier journey (you possibly can see this Scotland street journey right here)

Nevertheless, there are many different locations to go to on or close to the NC500, such because the Isle of Skye or Orkney. I extremely advocate you go to each should you can- I’ll share extra particulars about them under.

I did the route in a motorhome. If you happen to’d love to do the journey in a motorhome or campervan too, you possibly can see the whole route (plus locations to cease) in our North Coast 500 motorhome information.

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North Coast 500 Itinerary- plan your street journey

As you possibly can see within the map under, the North Coast 500 is a round route. In some methods, this makes issues simpler, however in some ways it makes it tougher to plan.

In any case, individuals drive at completely different speeds, or wish to have a number of days exploring earlier than shifting on.

Within the recommended NC500 7 day itinerary under, I’ve break up the ‘days’ into elements. Every half will be pushed in a day, however you possibly can simply spend 2,3 or much more days in every space should you want to discover.

Additionally, I’m assuming a begin an finish level from close to Edinburgh. Clearly, if it’s important to drive from the south-coast of England (like me!) you’ll want so as to add a number of days both aspect of your NC500 street journey to get your self up there are again.

Which route do you have to drive the NC500?

You’ll be able to drive the North Coast 500 both clockwise or anti-clockwise. I did it clockwise and assume that’s an incredible route, however you do whichever is sensible for you.

North Coast 500 Route Planner Map

Right here’s a map of the NC500 route in its entirety.

If you happen to’d like an interactive model of the locations I visited on my final journey, you could find it right here.

Day One- Kelpies to Eilean Donan

Driving Distance: 193 miles

Approx Driving Time: 4 hours

Highlights: Kelpies, Highlands, Eilean Donan Citadel

I extremely HIGHLY advocate you go to the Kelpies in Falkirk. These horse statues are so spectacular. Ideally, you need to spend the evening right here as a result of at evening they’re lit up and look wonderful.

From right here, you’ve bought a fairly large day of driving forward of you. If it’s too lengthy, be at liberty to interrupt it up into two days.

There are a few route choices to get from the Kelpies to Eilean Donan. I took the M9 to Stirling, then the A84 to Crianlarich, then the A82/ A85 to Glencoe and Fort William and the A87 to Eilean Donan.

Eilean Donan is an unimaginable fort set in a loch. You’ll be able to go to inside it- should you’d like to do that you’ll most likely want so as to add a day so you’ve got time.

The place to remain

If you happen to’re in a motorhome or campervan, it value £7 for an evening within the Kelpies automotive park. You pay the guard on the sales space on the high automotive park (closest to the Kelpies) however the in a single day parking is simply down the street.

Close to Eilean Donan, I wild camped in my motorhome a couple of 10 minute drive away, at a Keep the Night time scheme at Loch Carron Viewpoint. This was free, however there are additionally campsites across the space you need to use should you favor.

Scotland Travel Planner
Click on to study extra concerning the Scotland Journey Planner

Day Two- Bealach na Ba (The Applecross Street)

Driving Distance (approx): 92 miles

Driving Time (approx): 3h 30

Highlights: Bealach na Ba cross

Bealach na Ba (or the street to Applecross) is usually considered one of many most scenic drives in Scotland. It’s additionally broadly considered some of the harmful!

I made a decision to drive it, by myself, in a rain storm and thick fog. As a result of I’m, apparently, insane.

I drove it in a 6.7m motorhome and had little or no bother. You probably have a bigger motorhome or campervan, you would possibly battle with a few of the bends and I don’t advocate it in any respect for caravanners.

If you happen to’re driving the NC500 in a automotive, you’ll be completely tremendous.

It took me about 90 minutes to rise up to the highest, the place I then stayed for a number of hours while ready for the fog to clear. The route from the highest all the way down to Applecross is far simpler.

From right here, I drove across the coast from Applecross to Sheildaig, which took about 3 hours should you embrace all of the stops for photographs and for highland cows!

Bealach na Ba street

The place to remain

I carried on round to Gairloch, and I used to be exhausted once I bought there. If I hadn’t already booked the campsite I’d most likely have stopped close to Sheildaig. There have been an incredible trying campsites close to there.

Because it occurred, I stayed at Gairloch Vacation Park and it was a beautiful web site, with nice sea views. There’s additionally a beautiful chip store simply down the best way (they fry all the things in beef dripping, which sounds terrible however is scrumptious!)

Half Three- Scotland’s south West Coast

From Gairloch, you possibly can select how far you need to drive and the way a lot time you need to spend on the west coast.

For reference, I drove from Gairloch to Ardmair Level simply north of Ullapool in in the future. This was about 90 minutes and 60 miles.

I loved trying round Ullapool and stayed two nights on this web site. Ullapool is the final huge city earlier than you head North, so you should definitely top off on the grocery store, replenish with gas and refill your fuel tanks you probably have them.

If you wish to hold going, you possibly can push on to Clachtoll Seaside campsite, which is one other hour and an additional 40 miles, so simply doable in in the future.

North Coast 500 Motorhome tour
Clachtoll Seaside campsite

The place to remain

Each campsites I used on this part have been fantastic. Ardmair Level has unimaginable views throughout the bay, however could be very uncovered if the winds are robust (which they have been once I visited.)

Clachtoll Seaside is probably my favorite campsite alongside the NC500 for motorhomes and campers. It has unbelievable services, together with a canine bathe, laundry, a microwave & toaster (yep, I used to be excited!) and essentially the most golden sandy seaside I’ve ever seen.

It’s not low cost, but it surely was value each penny and I’d keep there once more in a heartbeat. I stayed there two nights and will simply have spent a 3rd simply lazying and having fun with the surroundings.

Issues to not miss

Undoubtedly go to Clashnessie Falls (it’s muddy, however value it!) and Clashnessie Seaside. There’s additionally an incredible chip van close to the campsite on sure days- effectively value testing out.

Clachnessie Falls - North Coast 500 motorhome tour
Clachnessie Falls – North Coast 500 route

Half 4- Scotland’s north west coast

Driving Distance (approx): 60 miles

Driving Time (approx): 1h 50

Highlights: Kylesku Bridge, Wailing Widow Falls

From Clachtoll, I continued up the A894, previous Scourie and all the best way to Durness. I took the slower route by way of Drumbeg. It was driveable in a motorhome however some passing spots have been very tight.

Keep in mind should you do that route, you’ll miss the Wailing Widow Falls until you double again barely. Because it occurred, the climate was AWFUL that day so I made a decision to not trouble, however apparently the falls are effectively value visiting if it’s not blowing a gale!

The street from Scourie to Durness is fairly sufficient however not jaw-dropping (or maybe I simply grew to become immune!) so it’s not value spending too lengthy on this part.

Having stated that, you probably have time and don’t thoughts driving down small lanes, there are LOADS of pristine white sand seashores to get pleasure from which most individuals don’t go to.

Sandwood Bay is the one you’ll see on postcards everywhere in the place- it appears unimaginable however should you solely have 7 days to do the North Coast 500, you’ll most likely should miss it on this event.

Scotland scenic drives
Kylesku Bridge

The place to Keep

Sango Sands Oasis is one other unimaginable campsite, set proper on the clifftop. Sadly, my expertise there was marred by very unfriendly workers, however I’d most likely nonetheless keep there once more, because the seashores and views have been unimaginable.

Issues to see and do

They make an enormous deal concerning the ‘greatest sizzling chocolate’ on the Balnakeil craft village, which is a couple of 20 minute stroll from the campsite. To be trustworthy, I discovered it too sickly, and I wasn’t an enormous fan of the craft village both.

BUT- whilst you’re there you could journey the Golden Eagle zipline at Sango Sands. It’s £15 for a go and it’s a lot enjoyable. I additionally liked visiting Smoo Cave. Sadly, the boat tour wasn’t operating as a result of heavy rains, but it surely was unimaginable to go to contained in the cave anyway.

Best NC500 motorhome campsites- Scotland North Coast 500 motorhome tour
Sango Sands campsite

Half 5- North or center?

The following a part of the North Coast 500 is a selection. If you happen to solely have a 7 day itinerary, you’ll want to decide on what you do subsequent.

Personally, should you’ve by no means visited John o’Groats earlier than, I really feel it’s best to go there. Sure, it’s touristy, however sure, you want that photograph by the submit.

The street alongside the highest of Scotland is fairly however nothing unimaginable. It’s about 90 miles and can take you round 3 hours.

If you happen to simply need to drive it, cease for a fast photograph at John o’Groats after which keep on to Shin (see under), it’s going to take you about 5 hours (190 miles). You’ll additionally cross Brora Seaside (which is spectacular) and Dunrobin Citadel, which is certainly value a go to you probably have time.

If you happen to’d love to do these stopoffs, I’d positively advocate a minimum of two days for this part so you possibly can see all of it correctly.

North Coast 500 itinerary route planner- John o'Groats
North Coast 500 itinerary route planner- John o’Groats

The place to remain on the north coast

If you happen to’re in a motorhome, cease at Dunnet Bay campsite- it’s fantastic and the seaside there may be additionally unimaginable. Don’t miss the Duncansby Stacks- they make nice photographs.

Additionally, you probably have time, I extremely advocate a day journey to Orkney– it’s an interesting place.

The Various route south

If you happen to’ve already been to John o’Groats, you’ve seen one of many main highlights on the NC500 route.

If you happen to’re restricted on time, you possibly can ignore the North East nook and lower down the center, which is a way more dramatic route with unimaginable surroundings.

I drove from Durness to Tongue, after which down previous Loch Loyal, heading for the Falls of Shin.

The Falls of Shin close to Lairg are well-known for the salmon ‘leaping’ as they swim upriver to spawn. I’d been there just a few minutes once I noticed one, and I noticed a number of over the following half an hour or so.

The place to remain

The automotive park on the Falls of Shin was incredible, degree and FREE should you didn’t want facilities. Alternatively, there are locations round Lairg to remain.

Scotland road trip travel planner route map guide

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Half Six- Loch Ness or The Cairngorms

The North Coast 500 technically goes Inverness to Inverness, however my opinion is it’s best to add on a few further stops (and days, should you can!)

First of those is the Cairngorms. These mountains are residence to Aviemore (the UK’s main ski centre) and likewise residence to Balmoral.

I stayed in a single day at Balmoral, but it surely was shortly after the Queen’s demise so the fort wasn’t open. Nevertheless, the stroll as much as King Albert’s Pyramid (yep, an precise pyramid!) was open and that was a incredible expertise (though it was VERY steep!)

In earlier journeys, we’ve visited Aviemore, taken cable automobiles up the mountain and loved lots of the different unimaginable issues to do across the Cairngorms. You possibly can simply spend a number of days to per week right here should you can.

North Coast 500 itinerary route planner- Cairngorms
Add the Cairngorms to your NC500 itinerary

Loch Ness

Nevertheless, should you’ve by no means seen Loch Ness and should you can solely do one or the opposite, the drive down Loch Ness is effectively value it, if solely as a result of it’s so well-known and everybody ought to search for Nessie a minimum of as soon as of their life.

I’ve by no means been into Inverness Metropolis, however I hear it’s lovely and price a day should you can spare it.

If you happen to drove previous Loch Ness, you’ll find yourself in Fort William once more, which technically closes the loop and now you can proudly show your North Coast 500 street journey sticker in your automobile.

Half Seven- Loch Lomond

If you happen to nonetheless have time, I extremely advocate visiting Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Nationwide Park.

The entire space is gorgeous, however Loch Lomond needs to be one in every of my favourites. Each nook of it has unimaginable views.

The place to Keep

I parked up at Firkin Level, the place motorhome parking is allowed. In excessive season (March- finish September) you want a allow (purchased on-line), however I used to be there first week in October and was capable of keep totally free.

There was a incredible little seaside and likewise an incredible pedestrian-only walkway which went for about 3 miles and have Mac and I a flat and protected area to run.

I hope you discovered this 7 day North Coast 500 itinerary useful. It’s rather a lot to cowl in 7 days, so ideally you probably have 10-14 you’ll discover it way more enjoyable and can be capable of see and do extra.

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