North Coast 500: A Short & Sensational Guide to the Greatest Scottish Road Trip


North Coast 500: A Short & Sensational Guide to the Greatest Scottish Road Trip

Constantly daydreaming of your next big getaway?

Us too.

With our globetrotting adventures currently on pause (damn you, COVID), the UK staycation is back with renewed vigour, and we’ve well and truly rekindled our love for the classic road trip.

And this is possiblymaybe… DEFINITELY… the greatest UK road trip about.

The North Coast 500 is a five hundred-mile stretch of staggering Scottish scenery taking you from Inverness to John o’ Groats, across to the west coast and back to the start.

So if you want to know all you need to know about this stunning Scotland road trip, check out our swift and simple guide to the ‘Scotland Route 66’ now.

“…But I would drive 500 miles and I would drive 500 more…
…Da Da Da (Da Da Da)…

Continue Reading Below

The Proclaimers

North Coast 500 Itinerary

What You Need To Know

  • Where to go… obviously!
  • Best pubs en route… yes, it definitely is the second most important thing!
  • Stuff to look at… the sights to be seen!

What You Don’t Need To Know

  • How long to spend in each placewe’re not going to tell you how long to spend in each place. If you want to surf for an extra few hours, you go ahead and surf for an extra few hours; if you want to sit and watch the world go by for a few extra hours, you go ahead and do so!
  • Everything about everything… we’re not going to tell you every intricate detail about each place – the fun is in the exploring!
  • All the lyrics to 500 miles by The Proclaimers – nobody needs you singing this the whole trip!

The Stints

First Stint

Inverness to Wick (via Dunrobin Castle)
104 miles / 2 h 20 mins / Adventure starts here!

Second Stint

Wick to Durness (via John o’ Groats)
105 miles / 2 h 40 mins / Head to the most northerly part of mainland Britain!

Third Stint

Durness to Applecross Bay (via Eas a’ Chual Aluinn)
133 miles / 2 h 57 mins / Don’t leave your charger in Durness!

Fourth Stint

Applecross Bay to Inverness (via Loch Ness)
90 miles / 2 h 8 mins / Snap the monster and get famous!

Best Pubs En Route

Perfect… for everyone except the designated driver!

  1. The Castle Tavern – Inverness
  2. The Ship Inn – Invergordon
  3. The Old Smiddy Inn – Thrumster (near Wick)
  4. John o’ Groats Brewery – OK, not a pub, but they’re in the process of constructing a visitor centre
  5. The Strathy Inn – Strathy
  6. Sango Sands Oasis Restaurant and Bar – Durness
  7. The Seaforth – Ullapool
  8. The Applecross Inn – Applecross Bay
  9. The Lock Inn – Loch Ness

North Coast 500 Sights

Whilst there are some key landmarks you’re gunna want to venture to, the beauty of a road trip is taking in the stunning scenery which unfolds around you as you go – “Road Trip, Baby!”

Dunrobin Castle – This fantastic fortress ticks all the castle adjective boxes: majestic, regal, awe-inspiring, pretty darn big!

Hill o’Many Stanes – An excellent Insta photo op. Check out the two hundred stones spread across the side of this hill!

Sinclair Bay – A great chance to soak up some rays on the beach (if the weather’s on your side) or carve up the coastal waters with a spot of surfing!


John o’ Groats – Snap a selfie by the famous sign as you pitch up at the most northerly inhabited part of mainland Britain.

Strathy Bay – A great place for a pitstop, soak up the sun, sea and sand as you relax and recline on this beautiful beach.

Dunnet Head Nature Reserve – Tonnes of trails to traverse and a brilliant chance for any amateur Twitchers to see some lesser-spotted birdie species!

Smoo Cave – Explore the interior of an awesome 50ft sea cave as you dive down into the heart of Scotland.

Eas a’ Chual Aluinn – The highest waterfall in the UK, two-hundred-metre torrent is a must-see, although it’s a six-mile stomp… definitely worth it!

Loch Ness – Scotland’s most famous monster-infested loch needing zero introduction, it’s simply a place you must visit.