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By North Coast 500
Published: 14th November 2023

Winter Wonders: Top Things to do on the NC500 in Winter

Think that the North Coast 500 is just a summer route? Think again! As the colder months cast a magical spell on the Scottish Highlands, the allure of winter adventures beckons. Explore the untamed beauty of this iconic route in a whole new light. Here’s our guide to the top things to do on the NC500 in Winter.

Chase the Northern Lights

Embrace the enchantment of the winter nights by chasing the elusive Northern Lights. With its minimal light pollution, the skies in the North Highlands offers a prime location to witness the majestic beauty of the Aurora Borealis.
This ever-changing natural wonder can often be seen during the autumn and winter months. Often, seeing the Northern Lights is all down to luck – it’s about being in the right place at the right time. However, you can monitor the Aurora App to check when your best chance of viewing the Aurora Borealis will be. Find out the ‘Top Tips for Taking Photos of the Northern Lights‘ from the talented and local photographer Graham Bradshaw.

Photo by Graham Bradshaw Photography 

Winter Wildlife Spotting

The NC500 in winter is not just about landscapes, it’s also a haven for wildlife. Keep an eye out for red deer, seals and various birds’ species.

Want that perfect photo of a deer? There will be plenty of opportunities to see deer throughout your journey, however, why not live among the deer at Ben Damph Estate where you can see them up close – you may also catch a glimpse of pine martins and otters. Ben Damph Estate offers photography and stalking trips, for a more immersive experience.

Interested in spotting the diverse birdlife along the NC500? Check out the top tips from RSPB Scotland to discover the best locations along the route for a birdwatching adventure.

Please note. The spring and the summer months tend to offer the best chance to see many whale species and nesting bird life, so if those are your main focus of your North Coast 500 trip, then perhaps consider visiting once the winter frost has lifted. Please do not approach or feed wild animals, always admire from a safe distance.

Winter Walks

Lace up your boots, take a walk and breathe in the fresh winter air in the North Highlands. From forest walks to frost-kissed glens, each step reveals a new facet of this breathtaking landscape. Check out our top locations for winter walks here.

Beaches, too, aren’t just for summer – read up on our favourite beaches along the North Coast 500, wrap up warm and enjoy a bracing winter walk.

Fun Activities

There are various fun activities to suit all ages and abilities along the NC500 in winter. Why not go walking and climbing with Hamlet Mountaineering or Liquid Footprints. Depending on snowfall, why not build a snow palace, or brush up on your winter walking skills with a course run by Liquid Footprints. If you’re not a confident walker, we’d always recommend hiring a guide.

Dare to brave the chilly waters and ride the winter waves of the cold-water surfing Mecca? The winter surf along the Nc500 is so legendary that it draws expert-level surfers from across the globe. Want to discover more about surfing on the North Coast 500, then dive into our guide here.

Whisky Tour

There’s nothing quite like a dram of whisky to bring a cosy warmth during the winter chill. Whether you’re just starting your whisky journey, savoring the taste as a novice, or already a seasoned connoisseur, our whisky itinerary is designed to cater to every level of enthusiast.

Please remember Scotland’s drink drive limit – either choose accommodation in walking distance or take your whisky sample back to your accommodation to enjoy when you return.

Winter unveils a different facet of the North Coast 500, offering a serene and enchanting experience for those willing to embrace the chill. Bundle up and embark on a North Coast 5oo adventure like no other.

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