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A Comprehensive Guide for Your North Coast 500 Tour

A Comprehensive Guide for Your North Coast 500 Tour

Now that you’re looking to drive along Scotland’s North Coast 500, our guide is your one-stop resource for a hassle-free journey. From must-see landmarks to the best pit stops for fare or Instagram-worthy coastal backdrops, we’ve listed some for you.

We’ll even toss in some pro tips to keep you one step ahead of the usual tourist traps. So read on, and trust us, you won’t want to miss a single detail of what we’ve got in store for you.

Time Zone

British Summer Time (GMT+1)

Best Time to Go

The best time to go to the North Coast 500 is in the summer season, between May and September. 

Visiting during the summer not only gives you longer days to soak in all the sights (cheers, Scotland’s infamous ‘tropical’ weather), but it’s also your best shot at coming face-to-face with Scotland’s stunning wildlife.

Moreover, the warmer months are also when ‘Open’ signs flicker to life across the route’s most loved attractions, the local businesses.

Things to Know

Currency: Euro
(Check the current exchange rate)

Language: French

Calling Code: +44

Where to Stay in North Coast 500

Harbour House

Address: Garve Rd, Ullapool IV26 2SX, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 185 461 2222

Pricing: ££
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Harbour House in Ullapool stands out as one of the prime accommodations along the North Coast 500 route, offering a cosy and welcoming atmosphere. The amenities here cater to both leisure and business travellers.

Here, guests can enjoy many amenities, like, of course, spacious and well-appointed rooms, Wi-Fi, and a boots and clothing dryer. What’s more, you can choose to stay in one of their lochside cabins to soak up some stunning views.

Pro tip: Remember to book directly through the hotel’s website since it often yields the best rates and special offers. 

Lochview Guest House

Address: Garve Rd, Ullapool IV26 2SX, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 185 461 2333

Pricing: ££
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Nestled along Garve Road in Ullapool, Lochview Guest House is renowned for its warm hospitality and even views of the sea loch. You can unwind and enjoy the range of amenities this place has to offer.

This includes a complimentary breakfast, a garden area where you can lounge or stroll, and easy access to hiking trails and outdoor activities. What’s more, they even have a health spa, which is perfect to try after a long day of exploring the NC500.

Pro tip: To secure your preferred dates, I recommend you book well in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. Just a heads up, though: they don’t allow pets in the area as the owner of the guest house has allergies.

NC500 Pods

Address: 101, Achmelvich, Lochinver IV27 4JB, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 791 226 1 454

Pricing: ££
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For a unique and memorable stay along the NC500, look no further than the NC500 Pods in Achmelvich, Lochinver. These cosy pods offer a great glamping experience, complete with modern amenities.

We’re talking about furnished rooms, en-suite, WiFi, a smart TV and an outdoor seating area with stunning views. Even better is its proximity to lochs, wild rivers, and scenic walking trails.

Pro tip: Be sure to book early, especially if you’re planning to visit during the summer months when availability tends to fill up quickly. Also, consider bringing along some extra layers, as temperatures can drop in the evenings.

Rocpool Reserve Hotel

Address: Culduthel Rd, Inverness IV2 4AG, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 146 324 0089

Pricing: ££
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Rocpool Reserve Hotel offers luxury and sophistication to travellers exploring the North Coast 500. This beautifully restored Georgian mansion offers a suite of modern amenities alongside a glass of champagne upon your arrival.

What’s more, you can indulge in their afternoon tea or go big with evening cocktails and tasting spoons—they’re a thing here.

Pro tip: Consider upgrading to a suite for added luxury and space during your stay. Additionally, you can take advantage of the hotel’s valet parking service for convenience.

Address: Golf Rd, Dornoch IV25 3LW, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 186 281 0279

Pricing: ££
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Situated on Golf Road in Dornoch, Links House offers elegant and spacious rooms and suites. Beyond that, this place also offers an on-site restaurant with an extensive whiskey selection and, of course, proximity to the revered Royal Dornoch Golf Course.

For the non-golfers, fear not; there’s plenty more that will lure you outdoors, from the serene spa treatments at their spa facility to the whiskey tastings through Scotland’s renowned distilleries.

Pro tip: For those who yearn for a slice of history, the hotel’s proximity to the Dornoch Cathedral is a boon. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the mediaeval architecture—a perfect counterpoint to a day on the green.

Where to Eat in North Coast 500

The Storehouse

Address: Foulis Ferry, Evanton, Dingwall IV16 9UX, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 134 983 0038

Pricing: ££

The Storehouse in Dingwall promises an exciting palette adventure with each visit because of its changing menu. But mostly, you’ll come across their pancakes, pies, fresh salads, and seafood caught from the nearby waters.

Not to be overlooked are the coffee and cakes, which are also one of their crowd’s favourites.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to check out their online shop or the on-site gift shop to carry a piece of the Highlands with you. From artisanal food products to unique Scottish gifts, you can snag a reminder of your journey.

Seafood Shack

Address: 9 W Argyle St, Ullapool IV26 2TY, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 7876 142623

Pricing: £-££


The Seafood Shack in Ullapool might not look like much from the outside, but trust me, it’s a seafood lover’s paradise. With a menu that changes daily depending on the day’s catch, you can expect nothing but the freshest flavours straight from the sea.

Now, if you’re craving some fish and chips, they’ve got you covered with their crispy battered haddock. Moreover, you can dive into their Cullen skink, fresh oysters or shellfish platter for something much more flavourful.

Pro tip: Try to arrive early to beat the crowds; this place gets busy, especially during peak tourist season. And if you’re planning a beach day, grab your food to go and enjoy it al fresco on the shores of Ullapool Beach.

Address: Golf Rd, Dornoch IV25 3LW, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 186 281 0279

Pricing: ££

Mara Restaurant is kind of an elegant eatery located at Links House. They have a sample menu on their website giving a preview of their sea-to-plate and field-to-fork dishes, like a variety of seafood like salmon, scallops, and halibut.

Aside from that, they also have desserts such as delectably moist carrot cake, rich chocolate mousse, and a selection of Highland fine cheeses.

Pro tip: Seafood is best enjoyed fresh, so try to sync your visit with the local catch! Ask the staff for the day’s specials; they’re usually the freshest and most seasonal offerings straight from the sea.

Cocoa Mountain Dornoch

Address: Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SN, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1971 511233

Pricing: £-££

Cocoa Mountain in Dornoch is a haven for anyone who has a penchant for anything cacao. From milk and dark chocolates and truffles to hot melted chocolates, ethically sourced cocoa drinks, and signature chocolate bars, the variety is sheerly impressive.

They have a whole range of gluten-free and alcohol-free chocolates, too! Furthermore, their selection also includes artisanal seasonal creations, an array of gift boxes, and hampers.

Pro tip: Cocoa Mountain Dornoch offers an exceptional online ordering service. Just choose from their array of chocolates online, add a personal message to your order, and they’ll send it directly to your chosen recipient’s doorstep.

Lochinver Larder

Address: Main St, Lochinver, Lairg IV27 4JY, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1571 844356

Pricing: £-££

Lochinver Larder’s menu is a celebration of all things Scottish, with a focus on pies like haggis, neeps and tatties, steak and ale, venison pie, and even vegetable pies. Each pie is handcrafted with locally sourced ingredients.

Moreover, Lochinver Larder also includes an impressive range of sweet dessert pies that are the perfect after-feast treat, making it an all-rounder pie destination. Sweet tooth or not, you can’t resist a slice of their apple pie or apricot and peaches pie.

Pro tip: If you can’t make it to their cafe, you can order their delicious handmade pies online via their “Pies by Post” service, allowing you to enjoy a piece of Lochinver wherever you are.

What to Do in North Coast 500

Try whitewater rafting at the River Garry

Media credit: dpc_photography_


River Garry has a reputation for its thrilling rides, particularly on release days when the dam is opened. It packs a punch with its power; it’s got thrills and spills and is guaranteed to make you whoop and holler like a banshee.

Now, I’m not kidding when I tell you that the rush here is top-notch, but still, it’s also perfect for first-timers. Also, companies offering rafting experiences usually provide all the gear you need, so there is no need to worry about those.

Pro tip: River Garry releases are scheduled, so check the release dates in advance to plan your trip. Also, rafting is typically a morning affair, so booking an early slot can give you an uncrowded river experience.

Enjoy playing golf at Royal Dornoch Golf Club

Media credit: linksgolfer_de

Address: Royal Dornoch Club Golf, Golf Rd, Dornoch IV25 3LW, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1862 810219

Royal Dornoch Golf Club’s links are challenging, the greens are immaculate, and the views are breathtaking. It’s got history oozing from every divot and bunker—we’re talking about a golf course that’s been around since 1877!

That’s old school in the best way possible, so whether you bogey or birdie, you’re walking in the footsteps of legends, and that’s pretty cool.

Pro tip: This joint is popular, so book your tee time well in advance. Oh, and pop by the clubhouse for a tasty lunch and maybe a wee dram of whisky.

Visit and admire Dunrobin Castle

Address: Golspie KW10 6SF, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1408 633177

If you’re into jaw-dropping architecture and gardens, Dunrobin Castle is your spot. Think turrets, spires, and enough stately rooms to make you feel like you’re in a period drama.

Not to mention, this castle is one of the oldest continually inhabited houses in Scotland, dating back to the early 1300s! Plus, the falconry displays here are unmissable.

Pro tip: Here’s the skinny: go right when they open or a bit later in the afternoon to miss the tour buses. Trust me, you’ll want some elbow room to take in all the awesomeness without a herd of tourists.

Explore the past at Groam House Museum

Address: High St, Rosemarkie, Fortrose IV10 8UF, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1381 620961

Don’t let the size fool you; the Groam House Museum is a little powerhouse of history. The museum is packed with carved stones that are like the comic books of the Pictish world—those mysterious folks of ancient Scotland.

Plus, the volunteers here are gems and know stories that’ll make the hairs on your neck stand up, which kind of keeps the experience enjoyable.

Pro tip: After soaking up all that Pictish culture, why not take a wee walk down to the beach? It’s just a short stroll from the museum, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins.

Go strolling or have a picnic at Attadale Gardens

Address: Attadale Gardens, Strathcarron IV54 8YX, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1520 722603

Attadale Gardens offers about 20 acres of trees, flowers, and sculptures that seem to bloom with magic. And for the views, you’ve got the Skye Mountains as a backdrop while you wander around, getting your zen on.

The gardens are full of secret spots and little surprises. One minute you’re admiring a Japanese garden, and the next you’re face-to-face with a cheeky sculpture.

Pro tip: Remember to pack your picnic, but leave room for something sweet from their wee café; their cakes are the bomb. And while you’re in the area, pop over to the neighbouring Loch Carron, which is a great spot for a leisurely drive or even kayaking.

Where to Shop in North Coast 500

Brook Taverner Inverness

Address: 34 Academy St, Inverness IV1 1JT, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1463 713510

Brook Taverner offers a shopping experience tailored for those seeking a touch of class. You’ll find a wide array of men’s clothing—formal wear, casual wear, outerwear, and accessories—all showcasing fine craftsmanship.

The quality of the materials and the range of styles make it a leading choice for anyone wanting to look sharp. Finding that perfect fit isn’t always easy, but this shop is known for its excellent customer service and expert fitting sessions. 

Pro tip: Make use of their in-store tailoring service to get that just-right custom fit on your clothing purchases.

The Jail 

Address: Castle St, Dornoch IV25 3SD, United Kingdom
Phone:  +44 1862 810555

The Jail (not the kind with bars and a grumpy warden), located in a former courthouse and jail, has it all: clothing, accessories, gifts, homewares, and even some vintage pieces. Sure, the name’s a bit quirky, but that’s part of the charm.

The staff are known for their friendly approach and deep knowledge about the products, ready to share stories or offer recommendations. 

Pro tip: Keep an eye out for local artisan goods sold here. It’s a great way to support Scottish craft while taking home something truly unique. 

Drumbeg Stores 

Media credit: anneaddrumbeg

Address: Drumbeg, Sutherland, Near Lochinver IV27 4NW, United Kingdom
Phone:  +44 1571 833235

Drumbeg Store may be small, but they’re the heart of the village and a treasure for those touring the North Coast 500. Expect local crafts, gourmet treats, specialty whisky, gifts, and even outdoor essentials.

Plus, they’ve got postcards for you to jot down your adventures!

Pro tip: Try asking for local recommendations, especially for the whisky. The staff are usually locals themselves and can point you towards some hidden gems.

Loch Ness Nessie Shop 

Address: Inverness IV3 8AU, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1456 450743

Loch Ness Nessie Shop in Inverness fully embraces the spirit of the myth, with a myriad of Nessie souvenirs to suit all ages. Plush toys, postcards, T-shirts, mugs, keychains, and more—all celebrating Scotland’s favourite cryptid.

While it might lean towards the touristy side, the sheer variety of Nessie-themed items makes it a fun stop for picking up souvenirs. And seriously, who can resist a cute Nessie plushie peeking out of their suitcase?

Pro tip: Be sure to check out their informative displays about the famous Loch Ness Monster. And remember, the shop can ship your purchases back home if your luggage space is already overstuffed!


Media credit: highlandfoodies

Address: Dalmore Rd, Alness IV17 0UY, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 1349 884132

When you’re on an epic road trip like the NC500, having access to a supermarket like Morrisons can be a game-changer. 

Fresh produce, bakery items, pantry essentials, and even clothing and home goods – it’s the one-stop shop you didn’t know you needed until now.

Pro tip: Be sure to explore their local range of Scottish produce. This is a great spot to find Scottish delicacies like shortbread, haggis, and local whiskies that you can take home as tasty souvenirs.

Are there NC500-guided tours available?

Yes, there are available guided tours for NC500. Some folks dig the freedom of setting their itinerary, while others love kicking back and leaving the planning to the pros.

Rabbie’s Tour

They offer small group tours that put a spotlight on Scotland’s off-the-beaten-path treasures. The North Coast 500 3-day tour includes gems like Cirnigeo Castle, Ullapool, and Thurso.

Scottish Tours

Their Skye, Orkney and the North Coast 500 – 8-day tour gives you time to soak in all the sights, and they’ve even squeezed in a trip to the mystical Orkney Islands, Smoo Cave and remote Assynt. Cool, eh?

Highland Explorer Tours

With the Isle of Skye, Orkney, and North Coast 500 tour, you get to hang out at all the smashing spots on the route. Think Glen Coe, Dunrobin Castle, and the Kelpies.

Driving Safety Tips for NC500

Embarking on the North Coast 500 (NC500) route is an adventure of a lifetime; however, the sheer beauty and remote nature of this route demand a bit more caution and preparation than your average road trip.

So, here’s a list of driving safety tips to ensure your NC500 journey is safe.

  • Go slow: Speed isn’t everything, particularly when you’re driving on single-track roads. Enjoy the vistas and take the time to learn the rhythm of the roads.
  • Use passing places: On single-track roads, use “passing places” to let faster traffic pass and to allow oncoming vehicles to pass safely.
  • Keep to the left: Remember, circulation in Scotland drives on the left-hand side!
  • Take breaks: Being rested is crucial for maintaining focus on the roads. Stop every few hours to stretch, rest, or switch drivers.
  • Check your vehicle: Make sure your car is in good condition before setting off. Check your tyre pressure, oil level, and brakes.
  • Pack a map: While GPS is handy, having a physical map is a great backup in case your battery dies or you lose signal (it happens!).
  • Stay sober: Scotland has strict drunk driving laws. Stick to soft drinks when you’re planning to get back behind the wheel.
  • Respect the weather: Scottish weather is famously changeable. Be ready for sudden downpours, fog, or even snow if you’re driving in the winter.
  • Wildlife: The Highlands are teeming with wildlife, including deer. Be vigilant, particularly at dawn and dusk, when animals are more likely to be on the move.
  • Stay patient: Patience is key in Scotland. From slow tractors to cyclists, you’ll encounter all sorts of road users on the NC500.

FAQs about Scotland 500

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