United Kingdom

A road trip to Scotland’s North Coast 500

Dubbed as Scotland’s answer to Route 66, the North Coast 500 promises an exciting 516-mile road trip that will take you between 5 and 14 days to complete. With the North Coast 500 route offering plenty of culture, picturesque views, and stunning castles, it promises to give you an unforgettable journey. However, to ensure that your road trip of a lifetime goes without a hitch, it’s crucial that you plan every detail thoroughly.

The right set of wheels

The North Coast 500 route takes you into the heart of the Scottish Highlands, including Inverness. The highlands are famous for being hilly and you’ll encounter 200-miles of country lanes during your journey. To ensure that your time on the road is problem-free, you’ll need a vehicle that’s powerful, easy to handle, and is good in variable weather conditions. Of all the vehicles on the market, SUVs and 4x4s are two of the most popular when driving the North Coast 500 route as they rank highly among consumers, have good-sized engines, and are large enough for multiple pieces of luggage.

Photo by Tim Trad on Unsplash

Be prepared for a memorable drive

There’s no denying that the North Coast 500 route is a stunning one, but it’s important that you pay thorough attention to the roads as you never know what you’ll encounter. As there’s so much countryside along the route, it’s common to come across livestock, including sheep, lambs, and cows in the middle of the road. You also need to be on your guard for deer that can appear out of nowhere. Then, of course, there are fellow tourists to be wary of. Since it’s launch as a tourist attraction in 2015, tourism in the area has increased substantially. In 2018, the North Coast 500 was responsible for a £22.8 million boost to the economy, according to the BBC, but this means that there are plenty of other vehicles and people to maneuver during your drive. There will be tourists taking photos and admiring the views at scenic attractions, such as the Castle of Mey, the ruins of Ardvreck Castle and the Kyle of Tongue, so you should always drive with due care and attention around these areas to avoid an incident occurring. 

Photo by Eric Welch on Unsplash

Plan your route

There are various routes you can take while exploring the North Coast 500. Ultimately, the route you choose will depend on which activities you want to do and the sights you want to see. If you wanting to participate in paid-for activities, make sure you book them in advance. Similarly, you should book your overnight accommodation ahead of your trip, too, as research shows that room occupancy in the area has risen by 26% in just four years. As such, planning ahead means you won’t be disappointed and you won’t have to frantically drive around looking for a place to stay.

Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

Be flexible with the length of your stay

It’s fairly easy to complete the North Coast 500 route in just 5 days. However, you’ll miss out on a whole host of unforgettable things to see and do if you try to cram your road trip into such a short amount of time. To ensure you can explore Smoo Cave, the view at Rogie Falls, relax at Sandwood Bay, and experience a tour of Old Pulteney Distillery, plus all the other sights and activities you’ll encounter during your trip, be prepared to spend a solid 2 weeks on the road. In fact, with there being something new and exciting to see or do in every town you come across, you could stretch out your trip for weeks, so long as you’ve packed enough provisions to see you through.

Scotland’s North Coast 500 packs in a whole host of things to see and do along a scenic route. To ensure that your road trip is one that you’ll talk about for the rest of your life, make sure you’re fully prepared for your trip by sourcing the appropriate type of vehicle and thinking ahead about your stops.

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