North Coast 500 - a Self Drive Adventure

North Coast 500 - Scotland’s answer to Route 66! A 516-mile round trip, that runs to and from Inverness, and around some of the most stunning coastal and mountain scenery in Europe.

North Coast 500 - a Self Drive Adventure

North Coast 500 - Scotland’s answer to Route 66! A 516-mile round trip, that runs to and from Inverness, and around some of the most stunning coastal and mountain scenery in Europe.

North Coast 500

Your North Coast 500 Tour Includes:
  • 4 Nights accommodations in your choice of a 3 Star B&B or Hotel, with private facilities
  • Pre and Post Night in Edinburgh
  • Breakfast daily, continental or Scottish depending on accommodation provider
  • Service Charge & VAT at the current rate of 20%
  • Economy car rental with super collision insurance (upgrades to larger cars are available)


Day 01: Arrive Edinburgh


Here you have a private transfer from the Airport to your pre-booked hotel. Time to explore Edinburgh independently. Overnight in Edinburgh.

Day 02: Edinburgh to Inverness (189 miles).

Check out of your hotel and collect your car rental from the local Edinburgh location. Depart from Edinburgh this morning and head over the Forth Road Bridge, opened in 1964 by the present Queen, into what is know as the ancient Kingdom of Fife. From the Forth Road Bridge you can enjoy wonderful views over the Firth of Forth. When you reach Perth you may want to make a stop at nearby Scone Palace, a grand gothic stately home at the site where Scottish kings were crowned. There are also wonderful gardens and a maze. Heading further north you will be passing Dunkeld with a notable cathedral dating back to 1260. By Dalwhinnie you can turn onto the A86 which takes you past Loch Laggan and onto Spean Bridge and Fort Augustus. Here the Great Glen starts and you continue your journey along the entire length of famous Loch Ness. Reaching Inverness later that day for overnight. (B)

Day 03: Inverness to Ullapool (182 miles).

Leave Inverness this morning and you will start travelling along the North Coast 500 route. It takes you past Strathpeffer and from here along some quieter roads surrounded by beautiful remote scenery. You will reach Applecross at lunchtime - we recommend taking lunch at the Applecross Inn. Between the mainland mountain masses and the Isle of Skye, the Applecross Peninsula is home to just 238 people. Accesses by only two roads this is a haven away from noise and clutter of modern life.

Nearby is Bealach Na Ba, which makes a great photo stop. You continue on a winding road into Torridon and along beautiful Loch Torridon, which invites to some gentle walking (*see note) and on to Beinn Eighe Visitor centre stopping for photos of Liathach, the most famous of the Torridon Hills. With a cluster of mountain peaks, ancient pinewoods, secretive crossbills and soaring golden eagles, it's no wonder that Beinn Eighe was Britain's first National Nature Reserve. From a distance the pale scree slopes on the mountain-side look like barren fields of snow, but get up close and you'll be amazed by the diversity of wildlife that thrives on this reserve. You continue further along beautiful Loch Marie and on to Gairloch. Here you find a small Heritage Museum which tells of live in the Highlands in the olden days. The afternoon invites to visit Inverewe Gardens, a botanical garden just to the north of Poolewe. The garden was created in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie on 850 hectares. Enjoying the influence for the Gulf Stream the gardens have a wide range of plants including palm trees. For overnight continue on to Ullapool (50 miles/ 1.5hrs driving distance from Inverewe to Ullapool). Overnight in the small harbour town of Ullapool. (B)

*Note: if you want to spend more time in Torridon walking, you might want to take a shortcut to Ullapool taking the fast road via Garve. Or simply drive the rest of the route without stopping at Inverewe Gardens (2hr10). You may have time only for a visit EITHER at Gairloch Heritage Museum or Inverewe Gardens.

Day 04: Ullapool - Tongue/Thurso (100 miles).

Depart from Ullpool and make the short drive (13 miles) to Knockan Crag which offers a great photo opportunity of Stac Pollaidh a spiky mountain which rears up immediately to the north of the single track road from the A835 to Achiltibuie. At Knockan Crag visitor centre Scotland's story of ancient oceans, vast deserts and ice sheets, crashing continents and epic journey from pole to pole is told through poetry, sculpture and interactive exhibitions. Continuing on the A835, you will see Ardvreck Castle, a ruined castle dating from the 16th century which stands on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Assynt. At Achmelvich* we recommend a visit to its beautiful white sandy beach. The unique morphology of the area, means there are many nearby walks and climbs, including the famous Suilven, for those interested in hiking. Lochinver offers some nice lunch options before continuing to Smoo Cave for a possible visit with photo stops at Kylesku Bridge. Smoo Cave is a large combined sea cave and freshwater cave in Durness in Sutherland. Located at the eastern edge of the village of Durness it is a dramatic location and on the only primary road in the area, the A838. Overnight tonight will be in Tongue or Thurso. *Note: if walking/hiking is an interest around Assynt then can take A894 and miss out Achmelvich and Lochinver saving 1.25hrs (B)

Day 05: Tongue/Thurso - Inverness (181 miles).

Departing this morning you are on your final leg of the North Coast 500 route. *Today you may want to consider a visit at Castle of Mey, located in Caithness, 6 miles west of John O' Groats (2 hrs driving from Tongue). In fine weather there are views from the castle north to the Orkney Islands. It was home to the Queen Mother's and is the most northerly inhabited castle on the British mainland. You may want to take lunch in John O'Groats before continuing on to Dunrobin Castle, family seat of the Earl of Sutherland and the Clan Sutherland. The Castle, which resembles a French chateau with its towering conical spires, has seen the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed London's Houses of Parliament and Scotland's own Sir Robert Lorimer. The gardens of the Castle are wonderfu l and throughout the summer there are regular falconry displays.

Continuing towards Inverness and to conclude your North Coast 500 route, there may be time for a visit at Glenmorangie Distillery to round off the journey on one of the most stunning driving routes in Europe. Overnight in Inverness. (B)

*Note: if you would like to make this a day with less mileage you can exclude Castle Mey and John O'Groats and take a shortcut from Thurso along the A9 via Achavanich to Dunbeath and along the coast road meeting the North Coast 500 route again. This reduces the route by 33 miles.

Day 06: Inverness - Edinburgh (187 miles).

It is time today to leave the Highlands and you will travel south following the A9, past Aviemore and the Cairngorms National Park, the first national park in Scotland. If you would like to visit another Whisky Distillery we recommend Dalwhinnie Distillery, which is the highest distillery in Scotland. Why not stop at the Hermitage near Dunkeld which invites for a short walk. A National Trust for Scotland- protected site, it is just to the west of the A9 on the banks of the River Braan in Craigvinean Forest. At Perth you may want to turn off to make a worth wild tour to Stirling to visit Stirling Castle and the pretty Old Town below it. Stirling Castle is one of the largest and most important castles, both historically and architecturally, in Scotland. Knights, nobles, and foreign ambassadors once flocked to the Royal Court at Stirling Castle to revel in the castle's grandeur. Follow in their footsteps and see history come to live. Return back to Edinburgh later that afternoon. Here you will return your car rental and check into your pre-booked Edinburgh hotel. The remainder of the day is free to enjoy Edinburgh. Overnight in Edinburgh. (B)

Day 07: Edinburgh - Edinburgh Airport.

A leisure transfer from your hotel to the airport is included. Bid farewell to Scotland with a promise to return. (B)

Rates & Hotels

2019 Dates & Prices (Click Date to Book)
Dates Land Only

Featured Hotels

North Coast 500 - a self-drive adventure
Celtic Tours - Pre and Post UK Hotel
Rabbie's Tour Operator

Tour Details

Your land package begins: / Your land package ends:

(As most International flights are overnight flights - please book air accordingly)

Flight Details

Accommodation Details

UK Hotel


Pre and post nights booked at a mid-level hotel [more]

Accommodations booked by Rabbies UK


Depending on package booked, accommodations can be BB/Guesthomes, 3* Hotels/Inns (and some packages may include 4* Hotels) [more]

This tour does not include: 

  • Lunches
  • Entrance Fees
  • Tips to driver/guide
  • Car Hire

To Book Airfare, please visit our Vacation Builder.