If you are arriving elsewhere in Scotland or the UK, you’ll also find plenty of options around Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, London, etc. We have a post full of, To get started I’d advise first reading these. How to Avoid the Crowds along the North Coast 500? However, this is only a small advantage as you often need to park and walk a little to see the coastline along the route. The Scottish Highlands touring route has been named one of the top coast roads in the world! As noted earlier (worth repeating! Such a good post this is – most helpful info out there on driving the NC500! If you have any further questions as you plan your NC500 trip, just ask! Many of the indoor and paid attractions (museums, castles, guided tours, gardens) along the route do not allow pets. There are small advantages to driving the NC500 in each direction though. Inverness. and share your route ;), Arguably one of the best road trips in the world! Definitely think we would want to do that, and I can take a break from driving. However, if you really want to travel via train you can do a portion of the route by train and stop at several of the towns in the area. Enjoy your time in northern Scotland! The Scottish Dolphin Center at Spey Bay is a great place to stop for more information on dolphins and other area wildlife. For those interested in sea mammals or seabirds I’d recommend the section between Inverness and Thurso. To me the beauty starts from Tongue Smoo Cave Kinlochbervie Kylesku Bridge Drumbeg Viewpoint Ullapool Well most of the roads in this section are single lane with 2 way traffic. Hi Michelle, Yes, I think if you enjoyed your prior trip to the Scottish Highlands, you would really enjoy the North Coast 500. Hope that helps, and just let us know if you have any further questions! Please, please, please familiarise yourself with how to drive on a single-track road in Scotland. Kincraig Castle or Tulloch Castle are two options. The North Coast 500 is a 516-mile (830 km) scenic route around the north coast of Scotland, starting and ending at Inverness Castle. She’s not enormous – 3 tonne laden and about 21ft long (Luton van rather than Transit- if that makes any sense in the US!) As you say, there are plenty of other places to occupy our attention. There are also takeaway places in many of the towns. I think all of the ferries allow pets, but have different restrictions in terms of where they can be within the ferry so I’d check ahead. The North Coast 500 can be a fun trip for families. Hoping to go to Skye for a night or 2 and maybe isle of Harris and Mull depending on time. The official route is a little over 500 miles but in reality, you’re bound to add a few more miles with diversions you take along the way. Like always, your guides are so detailed. We will be in an Elddis Autoquest 200 motor home which is approx 19 feet in length and 7 feet wide. Closer to Inverness, you can also find some nice little local beach spots around Nairn, the Black Isle, Potmahomack, Dornoch, and Embo. There are a couple of places you can rent motorcycles along the North Coast 500. – Loch canoeing is possible with Tim Hamlet of Kayak Summer Isles, we can highly recommend him as a local guide. No matter where you dine, I’d highly recommend trying dishes using the local produce and products such as local seafood (e.g., salmon, crabs, scallops), lamb, game, Stornoway black pudding (from the Isle of Lewis), and fresh in-season vegetables. To get even further away, head to towns and areas located just off the official route, such as Nairn, Borgie, Altnaharra, Portmahomack, Cape Wrath, Forsinard Flows Nature Reserve, or Bonar Bridge. September will get calmer once schools are back in session. I’d recommend a night or 2 in Inverness as there are plenty of things to see in and around the city (e.g., art museum, Fort George, Black Isle, Cawdor Castle, Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, Culloden battlefield, Inverness Castle). You’re very welcome, and happy to look over an itinerary or answer more questions as you get further along in your planning. If you are traveling from outside the UK you will need to make sure you check the laws and guidelines (papers, vaccinations, quarantine) for bringing a dog into the UK as it differs depending on the country of origin. Your tales got us all excited for the NC500 and We plan on taking the route from Inverness. This way all you need to worry about in advance is your transportation and camping gear and you will have the flexibility of either traditional lodging or camping each night. – Loch Fleet – This national reserve is a nice spot and there are plenty of walking trails, many flat and easy. You want to drive at a speed that feels safe and you are likely going to be driving slower if you are new to single-track roads or are driving a motorhome or caravan. However you can of course start and end your drive wherever you please. If the license is not in English or Latin alphabet, then you will need to get a validated English translation or have an International Driving Permit. The city offers attractions and there are several things you can do within an hour’s drive for day trips from Inverness, such as the Culloden Battlefield, Loch Ness, and Cawdor Castle. Please also utilise local campsites and accomodation, local shops and petrol stations, and cafes/pubs, as the people who fill up in Inverness on fuel and food then don’t spend money in local villages really damage the fragile local economy. Best, Jessica, Hi guys thanks for all the great info. Enterprise are usually our favourite for car hire. The North Coast 500 is a road-tripping route around the far north coast of Scotland. The northern part of the route is lovely . What a great write up, thank you…. Glad to hear that you have found our North Coast 500 guide helpful in planning your trip. W. e’ve had several readers ask us if the North Coast 500 is appropriate for younger children and what stops we’d recommend for kids. Indeed, over 500 miles of gorgeous scenery. Indoor attractions often don’t allow dogs (as you probably expect) but you can always take turns watching the dogs when you want to visit these places. The other issue, of course, is that it is rarely listed in the information when booking online, so I think the only way to guarantee this would be to call an agency directly and request to book a car specifically with a spare although I am not sure all agencies would be able to guarantee this. However, this also corresponds with the busiest time along the North Coast 500 which is from early May to late September. Having said that, it would be great if you could provide us with some advice, considering the following: 1. Just wanted to know if these creatures are commonly sighted in highlands in summer months. So if you drive the full route, you’ll end up where you started which can be very convenient if you are flying in and out of Inverness or renting a car. However, you are likely going to be causing frustration to those behind you wanting to drive at a normal speed, especially those not on vacation. Note that the North Coast 500 route is a route that has a lot of single-track roads and it is best to drive it slowly so we would recommend a minimum of 5 days to do the full route without being too rushed which might be hard with only 6 nights total in Scotland. Are NC500 Guided Group Tours or Private Tours Available? Yes, since many of the attractions are outdoors and natural, some may not be an option for someone with restricted mobility. However there is no right way to drive the route so head in the direction that makes the most sense for you! Glad you are enjoying our monthly newsletter and articles. The main thing to know when bringing dogs to this area is that they will need to be kept on a lead (leash) in most places because of livestock and wildlife. It has become a major tourism success in Scotland with tens of thousands of people having already driven the route. Hope this helps as it is difficult to know how busy it will be at any one time along the route, but booking at least a little in advance can definitely give you some piece of mind in knowing you’ll have a good place to stay. We will hope not to need it, but I also know we will be somewhat removed from AA and would prefer to fix it ourselves if needed!