For those looking to enjoy the finer things along the NC500!

If you need to hire a car or motorbike that will get you there in the comfort you deserve then check out the following vehicle hire companies. Try Cotswold in   Inverness if you need any supplies prior to your trip.

 Hire a vehicle or motorbike at:

NB: Please note that all our itineraries are based on suggestions alone. If you would like a more comprehensive option please head to our interactive map. Itineraries are based on main seasonality opening times March-September - remember to pre book meals/activities/tours

* Make sure to check our road safety section of our website- particularly how to drive single track roads!
* Watch out for wildlife and farm life who also like to roam these roads!
* The legal drink-drive limit in Scotland is lower than anywhere else in the UK: 22 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. If you are the designated driver and visiting  breweries and distilleries across the route, many of them will provide samples for your to enjoy back at your accommodation provider or on your return home.
* Make sure dogs are kept on leads.  Adhere to the
Scottish Outdoor Code. Wear sensible clothing and footwear.

Banner Image courtesy of Ackergill Tower

 Inverness to Tain (approx. 50 miles)

  We hope you enjoyed the trip up to Inverness! 
  Pick up your luxury hire car and get ready to set off. 

  It may be lunch time already so after your visit to Inverness Castle, take a stroll up Castle Street, just a 
few minutes’ walk and enjoy a delicious lunch time menu at the famous Rocpool Reserve Hotel and 
Chez Roux restaurant
(pictured); “Scottish ingredients with a French twist!” Albert Roux.

Mid afternoon at Rocpool Reserve Hotel and the hallways exude an atmosphere of quiet, modern elegance. At the end of one corridor though, just a few yards away, behind an anonymous, unmarked door, there's a completely different world, the world of the restaurant kitchen.

  Time to hit the road! Follow the NC500 out of Inverness and through the villages of Beauly and Muir of Ord where you will receive a private tour at Glen Ord Distillery (pictured) - one of the oldest distilleries in Scotland. Watch their distillers at work creating a magical malt whisky which is sweet, fruity and subtly spicy on the palate – Are you the designated driver? Don't worry, you can bring a sample back to enjoy later.

  En route to Dornoch now you will drive past the Cromarty Firth (a narrow inlet of the sea), a great spot 
to watch seals bask on the rocks along the shoreline. Spend the latter part of your afternoon exploring the charming, historic town of Dornoch. Escape the high street brands and enjoy a unique, luxurious shopping     experience! The town boasts stunning scenery, golden beaches and championship golf courses.

  Glenmorangie House or Kincraig Castle Hotel?

The award-winning 4-star Kincraig Castle Hotel is the perfect retreat for tranquillity, sublime comfort and exceptional food. For centuries, the castle was home to generations of the Clan MacKenzie and it is now a hotel synonymous with comfortable family retreats, romantic breaks and unforgettable weddings. Head up the tree-lined drive and Kincraig Castle stands majestically at the top within 10 acres of beautiful Highland countryside.

Alternatively, head along to Glenmorangie House...Glenmorangie’ is Gaelic for ‘The Glen of Tranquility’ - not a real place, but a feeling. A feeling you’ll experience at Glenmorangie House. Elegant, luxurious and full of Scottish character, the house draws you in with the warmth of a Highland welcome. So, kick off your shoes, sample their delicious food, choose your favourite room and imagine relaxing with Glenmorangie's finest single malt whisky in the heart of the Highlands of Scotland.

(Glenmorangie House is located near Tain and can be booked in its entirety for the exclusive use of you and your guests.)


Tain to Wick (approx.80 miles)


  Experience the finest Highland hospitality, in a sparkling historic setting.

After a wonderful night’s stay take a wonder over to Glenmorangie Distillery - they offer a range of tours with unparalleled access to the Distillery and its warehouses. With the help of our expert guides you will experience all stages of the whisky making process from mashing and fermenting to distilling and maturation.

A short drive up the A9 is Dunrobin Castle (pictured). Treat yourself to a private tour and gourmet lunch. The Castle, which resembles a French chateâu with its towering conical spires, is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and the largest in the Northern Highlands with 189 rooms.


  Take a rest from driving and book a tour with Caithness Wildlife Tours (pictured). They can help you discover the wildlife and sights of Caithness from the comfort of their minibus, from abundant wildlife, towering sea cliffs, beautiful beaches, and old fishing harbours. Or perhaps a castle or two, neolithic burial chambers, standing stones or iron age brochs – it’s all here in Caithness.Spend a couple of hours or a full day with them, choose between their: Puffin Tours, Wildlife Tours, Sightseeing Tours and Historical Tours.

Caithness Wildlife Tours even offer tailor-made tours to suit your own individual needs. If there is something specific you wish to see, they can then discuss your requirements further before booking your tour.

  Want to see the North Coast 500 from an alternative view? Experience the thrill of Caithness Seacoast’s  high-speed RIB as it bounds along the waves with some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery the NC500 has to offer. Spot a rich array of seabirds and marine wildlife; gaze at stunning geological formations such as caves, arches and stacks, or marvel at precipitous coastal castles!

If you would prefer a private charter, you can travel with friends or family and choose your own destination as long as it is within their operating range. They tailor each charter to your individual requirements. All you need is warm clothing and a sense of adventure.

  Escape to a secluded castle and indulge yourself in five star luxury at Ackergill Tower (pictured). From the Tower’s stout granite walls, to Europe’s largest treehouse with a bedroom, discover what makes Ackergill Tower the jewel in the Highlands.

  Enjoy an after dinner stroll along their formal grounds or their seven miles of private, unspoilt beach, perhaps stopping to warm yourself with a whisky or hot chocolate beside a specially built bonfire, maybe with the incredible northern lights dancing in the sky above you.

Wick to John O’Groats  (approx.15miles)

  The most northerly point on the UK mainland!

  After a scrumptious night’s stay in a stunning location, head along to the tiny hamlet of John O’Groats, near Dunnet Head- the north most point of mainland Britain. With so much to do in Caithness, you will spend just a short time on the road today. Drop your bags off at Natural Retreats and spend the day exploring the area.

  A few miles east of John O’ Groats you will arrive at Duncansby Head (pictured), which has two spectacular sea stacks, with the greatest stack towering at 60m high. Take a wonder by foot along the coastline to get a better view.
  Enjoy a private tour and lunch at the Castle of Mey (pictured), the Queen Mother’s Pad!
  The Castle of Mey is the most northerly castle on mainland Britain and is afforded beautiful views across the Pentland Firth to Orkney.  Once the home of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother it is now run by The Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust. The Castle of Mey is a five star visitor attraction and holds Gold accreditation for Green Tourism. Enjoy the walled garden, take a stroll around the Animal Centre and then peruse the well-stocked Castle Shop for wonderful gifts.

  Heard of the famous Rock Rose Gin or Holy Grass Vodka? If you have a keen interest in premium Scottish spirits or locally made goodies, get yourself along to Dunnet Bay Distillery.Come and meet Elizabeth, their traditional copper pot still - take a tour of the gardens and receive a private tour of their multi-award winning products.
         (Designated driver? samples can be brought back and enjoyed at your hotel)

  Before setting down for the night, take a drive up to Dunnet Head- At 58degrees north, geographically it is the most northerly point on mainland Britain. There is an array of wildlife and birdlife - such as the North Atlantic puffin, razorbills, guillemots, fulmars, kittiwakes, shags and cormorants, and the grey seal. Historically it also has significant World War II importance, see if you can spot the remains of old military buildings. 
  Tucked away in an area of outstanding beauty and wild Scottish landscapes is Natural Retreats (pictured), which boasts bespoke self-catering apartments (choose between 1, 2 or 4 bedrooms). Natural Retreats was lovingly restored as part of a multi-million pound regeneration of this stunning area.

  For your evening meal choose between a gourmet dinner for two in Mackay's Hotel or a fine dining experience in Forss House Hotel. (Both also provide luxurious and comfortable accommodation).

  Retrace your steps back to Wick! Mackays No1 Bistro may be located on the shortest street on the world, but it has gone to considerable lengths to ensure the freshest local ingredients are sourced. Their talented kitchen team take a healthy helping of Highland fayre, add a dash of locally grown vegetables, a sprinkling of care, a pinch of pure creativity infused with love, to bring you a tasty, mouth-watering Highland menu which offers something for everyone.

   Forss House Hotel is a 40 minute drive west from John O ‘Groats and is the only 2AA Rosette Restaurant in Caithness. Their Chefs are lucky enough to have wonderful produce to cook with, straight from the neighbouring estates and seas that surround us and their menus are based around the freshest produce for the time of year.


John O’Groats to Durness  (approx. 90 miles)

  A Highland hideaway!

  Before leaving John O’Groats, you cannot leave without getting the obligatory photo of the iconic “Journey’s End” signpost (pictured), probably one of the most photographed sign posts in the world.

Back on the North Coast 500 now, you will pass through some amazing scenery of Ben Loyal, Ben Hope and Loch Eriboll. Be careful whist driving as our friendly sheep and Highland Coo’s tend to like walking the road too.

  On the eastern edge of Durness, be sure to take the 20 minute cave tour of one of Britain’s largest sea cave, set into limestone cliffs Smoo Cave is a popular and unique attraction for the small hamlet. The cave was formed over many thousands of years and was originally a small swallet cave, carved along the line of a weak fault. However the cave has been dually carved by sea water on the outer chamber, which enlarged the entrance and the internal chamber has been formed by the action of fresh water rivers which flows through it today.
  Cocoa Mountain is a chocoholic’s heaven! One of the best reasons to travel to Durness is the amazing hot chocolate served at Cocoa Mountain cafe. You will never have a better mug of hot chocolate. Probably the most geographically remote chocolate producer in Europe!

  Spend the afternoon exploring Balnakeil Bay (pictured) and admiring the sights of Sango Sands. Don’t forget to stock on some groceries for your evening meal.

  Mackay’s (pictured) offer a premium collection of properties in the rugged far north-west corner of the Scottish Highlands. For tonight, choose between their cosy cabin retreats, their stylish chic Rooms or for the larger groups, check out their 4 star bunkhouse. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the sea loch and mountains. Indulge in sensuous luxury at the very heart of wilderness.

  For your evening meal, cook up a gourmet feast by taking part in their sustainable ethos and shopping locally, this will not only give you a flavour of the area but it will also help support the local community.

With a good selection of wine and nibbles, relax after a full day - feet up, peat fire on and a dram in hand!  

Durness to Lochinver ( approx. 60 miles)

  After a busy few days, why not take the morning at a more leisurely pace...
  Mackay’s are passionate about food with breakfast being their most important meal..Awaken your senses with a delicious Mackay’s breakfast- freshly prepared every morning using the very best seasonal, local and organic ingredients.

  If you are an experienced driver and enjoy a challenge, take the very remote and extremely narrow B869 to Lochinver, situated just outside of Unapool. You will visit some of the west’s most spectacular white sandy beaches and turquoise waters.. Approximately 22 miles of single track roads, steep hills and unexpected hairpin bends. Remember to allow for over taking and lookout for farm life and wildlife who also share these roads.

  Alternatively if you prefer a less challenging route then follow the A894 road until you reach the junction to Lochinver (A837).


  The Little Soap & Candle Company is nestled in the tiny picture postcard hamlet of Drumbeg, halfway along the spectacular B869 coastal road. Hidden from view, take a look out of the back door of their Candle Shop and you will discover their Secret Tea Garden. You can relax with a delicious slice of cake, scone or freshly made sandwiches, a cup of fresh roasted coffee, tea or choice of herbal teas.
  Discover their beautiful evocative scented Candles, luxurious organic body care, and natural artisan soaps. An exclusive range you won’t find on the high street!

  Feeling adventurous? The North West Highlands of Scotland offers some of the most stunning and dramatic mountain scenery anywhere in the UK. Explore the rugged Highland mountains with
Hamlet Mountaineering (pictured) , who provide quality mountain guiding, scrambling and rock climbing experiences, tailor made to suit your experience level and ability.  
  After arriving in Lochinver after a long day relishing in the beauty of the North Coast 500, sit back and relax at Inver Lodge hotel and Chez Roux Restaurant (pictured). The hotel and restaurant offers visitors a tranquil retreat, where you will be fortunate enough to experience Scotland’s spectacular natural environment in the comfort of luxurious accommodation and superb cuisine.

Lochinver to Poolewe   (approx. 86 miles)

  At 3,000 million years old, the rocks at the seashore are even older than the hills – and what hills they are!

  Before you leave, don't forget to explore the tranquil fishing village of Lochinver. Assynt Visitor Centre is well worth a visit, at first, you wouldn’t expect the indoors to be an ideal place to spot wildlife, but in the case of Assynt Visitor Centre you couldn’t be more wrong. If the weather proves tricky, there is nowhere better to learn more about wildlife and the famous geology of the area. Did you know you are passing through the North West Highland Geopark?

  Take a visit to Knockan Crag.  Here you can see the internationally-famous Moine Thrust, where much older and darker Moine schists have been pushed over the younger lighter Durness limestone so the older rocks are on top of the younger ones.

  Before reaching the small fishing village of Ullapool, enjoy a browse of Rhue Art Gallery, the studio celebrates diverse, contemporary art by established and emerging artists whose work encompasses painting, film-making, prints, photography, textiles and sculpture. Those who live and work in the area cannot help but have their work influenced by the environment around them.
  Out of a shack! Try a different dining experience in the small fishing village of Ullapool with The Seafood Shack (pictured) who offer top quality, local seafood that is caught and landed locally.

  Join Hebridean Whale Cruise, Gairloch for an afternoon boat trip venturing out to the whale and dolphin feeding grounds- They have a long and proven track record of whale and dolphin sightings and a history of encounters with rare and unusual species and moments of awe-inspiring animal behaviour.

  Enjoy a luxury overnight stay with gourmet dinner at Pool House (pictured). Here you'll discover accommodation rarely found in the Highlands or in fact anywhere in Scotland. Pool House reflects a passion for eclectic opulence. Every suite has been lovingly themed and furnished with antiques and curios from around the world.

  Relax in the dining room with views across Loch Ewe, making this room the perfect spot for bird, seal or otter sightings. Alternatively, cosy up in front of the fire with a book from their library.

Poolewe to Torridon  (approx. 36miles)

  Full Day

  Explore the sub-tropical style Inverewe Gardens, set amidst the stunning rugged west coast landscape on the edge of Loch Ewe, the world famous garden is regarded as one of the most beautiful gardens in Scotland.   Did you know? Inverewe is the 2017 BBC Countryfile Magazine Garden of the Year!

  Check into The Torridon Hotel (pictured). Once checked in make yourself comfortable, perhaps a spot of lunch!

  Enjoy a full day or half day with Torridon Activities (pictured) at Torridon Estate. You will receive complimentary use of their activities when you stay at the Hotel. They have an extensive list of activities to choose, from: archery, clay pigeon shooting, guided walks, coasteering, gorge scrambling, canoeing and more, there is something for everyone!
 (Remember to pre book and check out their daily activity programme, should you wish to book an activity outside of this programme please see their bespoke activity prices for more information)
  On the other hand, maybe you would prefer a relaxed afternoon with a walk along the loch and some afternoon tea in the drawing room. Spend your afternoon by the roaring fire with a glass of champagne, or pull up a chair and enjoy a local dram in their whisky bar. There are over 350 different malt whiskies to try, find your favourite whisky with a whisky nosing, treat yourself!
  Enjoy an exquisite fine dining cuisine in Torridon’s 3 rosette dining restaurant where they offer daily changing 3, 4 or

treat yourself and a loved one to the ultimate dining experience with a 7 course tasting menu? Following your meal enjoy petites fours and a digestif in their supremely relaxing whisky & gin bar.

  Should you wish to dine privately? The library is the perfect place to dine in private and enjoy a meal with your chosen company. Whether you wish to make a romantic gesture or simply dine in the company of your family they can offer private dining for groups of between two and sixteen people.


Torridon to Inverness (approx.110miles)

  On the last stretch of your North Coast 500 adventure now!

  Travel to Inverness via the stunning Applecross peninsula, as you may have realised by now, we are a country of proud food and drink heritage so be sure to visit the family run Applecross Smokehouse (pictured), situated on the magnificent coast road overlooking Loch Torridon and the Torridon Mountains.. Why not order some local smoked fish or cheese to be delivered on your return home and enjoy, while you reminisce on your travels along the NC500?

   Leaving the picturesque village of Applecross, you will find yourself at the spectacular Bealach na Bà (pictured), Gaelic for  'Pass of the Cattle'. The route is an unforgettable drive along one of the most dramatic mountain roads on mainland UK, rising up to 626 metres (2,054ft) above sea level; the third highest road in Scotland. 

  Don't forget to explore the city of Inverness before you leave, the Glenmoriston Town House is a luxury boutique hotel, perfectly located next to the river Ness and close to all amenities.

  If you wish to prolong your stay for another day or two, you are only 20 minutes from Loch Ness if you wish to cruise Loch Ness!

   Alternatively, discover the east coast further and enjoy a delightful night’s stay at Boath House (pictured). The luxurious family run house is a beautifully restored Georgian house hotel, widely renowned for its style, quality and fine cuisine. This 5 star restaurant with rooms and an award winning garden is nestled on the Moray Firth coast, by Nairn.


Well done you have completed the North Coast 500!
Your NC500 luxury travel adventure is complete!

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