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. 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.

Luxury - Day 1


AM The perfect way to start your day

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 ; “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.

PM Explore the capital of the Highlands

Spend the remainder of your afternoon exploring the capital of the Highlands – although the castle is not open to the public (it is a court), you can visit their north tower and see 360 degree views of Inverness and the surrounding area. Plus, unearth some of the capital’s myths and legends associated with the capital – including how St Columba saw and banished a monster from a our famous Loch – could this be the very monster we know today?

Alternatively, what’s a trip to the Highlands without a visit to Loch Ness. Cruise the waters of loch ness and discover the real treasures of the loch – experience its castles, monuments, wildlife and history with Jacobite Cruises.

If you would rather see dolphins up close – take the ultimate wildlife watching adventure with EcoVentures.

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

For tonight’s accommodation and evening meal – we recommend that you stay outside of the city.
Situated a mile off the main NC500 is Achnagairn Estate – the perfect starting and ending point of your NC500 journey.

Escape the ordinary – simply book a room or hire an entire lodge.

Each lodge has its own large kitchen, making the self-catering experience stress-free – if you are a group – why not hire your own private chef or dine in their onsite restaurant – recently been awarded Two Rosettes from the AA, Table Manors is set on Achnagairn Estate (less than a minutes a walk from your accommodation), which is well known through Inverness for its 5* accommodation and has recently been voted the No.1 wedding destination in the UK by Hapers Bazaar – they aim to bring that same outstanding quality to their food at Table Manors. The bedrooms of these large luxury lodges are also sublime. Every one is individually designed, to create the boutique feel of Achnagairn Estate.

Luxury - Day 2

Inverness to Tain (approx. 50 miles)

AM Time to hit the road!

Follow the NC500 through the villages of Beauly and Muir of Ord where you will receive a private tour at Glen Ord Distillery – 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.

If you are more of a beer fan – collect your very own NC500 beer from the Black Isle Brewery and find out how the world class organic beer is produced by taking a tour of their distillery. Talk to their brewers, bottlers, cask and keggers. Taste some fresh organic beer, home-grown in the Highlands.

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 and a superb location to stop for lunch.


The Storehouse of Foulis Ferry on the shores of the Cromarty Firth has been described by locals as “our worst best secret” – eat where the locals (and visitors) eat and enjoy quality locally produced food in their self-service restraurant. Browse their shop for gifts and local delicacies’.

PM The east coast is as romantic as it is historic

Drop your bags at your accommodation provider and spend your afternoon exploring the charming, historic towns and fishing villages along the east coast.

Escape the high street brands and enjoy a unique, luxurious shopping experience in Dornoch! The converted Jail Dornoch has an extensive range of high end products. The town also boasts stunning scenery, golden beaches and championship golf courses.

Discover the small fishing village of Portmahomack – the village in fact benefits from its own micro climate and is one of the driest places in Scotland. Unearth the east coast’s pictish past – join the Pictish Trail and discover the stories behind the Pictish times. More info here. Otherwise pop into Tarbat Discovery Centre – a local heritage museum and the only Pictish monastic site found in Scotland to date -‘The Iona of the East’.

Alternatively, take Glenmorangie Distillery’s ‘Heritage Tour’ and join them back at the house after.

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

So much choice..

The award-winning 4-star Kincraig Castle Hotel, near Tomich 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.)

Otherwise continue on to Dornoch and stay at Links House Hotel – a country hotel offering luxury accommodation coupled with charm, grace and elegance and that has been charmingly restored to reflect the strength and drama of its location.

Luxury - Day 3

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

AM 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, 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.

PM The Queen Mother's pad!

Enjoy a private tour and lunch at the Castle of Mey, 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.

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

Tucked away in an area of outstanding beauty and wild Scottish landscapes is Natural Retreats, 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.

Luxury - Day 4

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

AM A Highland hideaway!

Before leaving John O’Groats, you cannot leave without getting the obligatory photo of the iconic “Journey’s End” signpost, 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.

PM A chocoholics heaven!

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 and admiring the sights of Sango Sands. Don’t forget to stock on some groceries for your evening meal.

Evening Indulge in sensuous luxury at the very heart of wilderness.

Smoo Lodge offer a premium stylish night stay in the rugged far north-west corner of the Scottish Highlands. Enjoy uninterrupted views of the sea loch and mountains.

For your evening meal, Korean/Japanese influenced cuisine is on offer – using fresh locally grown produce and seafood where possible. Evening meals must be pre-booked (subject to minimum numbers)

Luxury - Day 5

Durness to Lochinver ( approx. 60 miles)

AM After a busy few days, why not take the morning at a more leisurely pace...

Smoo Lodge offer a fresh continental breakfast buffet with fresh fruit, as well as cooked dishes including Porridge, Full Scottish breakfast, Korean breakfast, Smoked Salmon, Smoked Haddock, Marinated Herring, etc.

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).

PM Discover the secret garden

Assynt Aromas 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.

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

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.

Luxury - Day 6

Lochinver to Poolewe (approx. 86 miles)

AM At 3,000 million years old, the rocks at the seashore are even older than the hills

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.

PM Experience our spellbinding other world under the waves

Join Gairloch Marine Life Centre and Cruises, Gairloch for an afternoon boat trip venturing out to the whale and dolphin feeding grounds – they are the longest running wildlife operator in Europe – experience moments of awe-inspiring animal behaviour – they have the longest running porpoise survey world-wide.

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

Enjoy a luxury overnight stay with gourmet dinner at Pool House. 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.

Luxury - Day 7

Poolewe to Torridon (approx. 36miles)

AM 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. Once checked in make yourself comfortable, perhaps a spot of lunch!

Enjoy a full day or half day with Torridon Activities 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)

PM Relaxed afternoon?

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!

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

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.

Luxury - Day 8

Torridon to Inverness (approx.110miles)

AM 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, 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, 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.

PM Why not prolong your stay for a day or two..

Explore the city of Inverness before you leave, 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!

Evening Where to stay and evening meal

The Glenmoriston Town House is a luxury boutique hotel, perfectly located next to the river Ness and close to all amenities.

Alternatively, discover the east coast further and enjoy a delightful night’s stay at Boath House. 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.

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Vehicle Hire Suggestions

Hire a car:

Whether you need a compact car, an off-roader or something to keep the whole family comfortable, Arnold Clark, official partner of the NC500 offer an unrivalled range of vehicles to take on every terrain.

You can now experience luxury electric vehicles for both self-drive rental and chauffeur driven tours with Ecosse EV, official partner of the NC500.

Other car hire companies:

Focus Vehicle Rental, Highland Sports Car hire, Aberdeen/Inverness 4×4

Hire a bicycle:

Ticket to Ride

They provide transport for walkers, cyclists, bikes and all your gear between Inverness and Durness and all points in between.This is not a scheduled service but operates more like a cyclist taxi service.

Hire a motorbike:

North Coast 500 Moto Experience Inverness, Highland Motorcycle Hire, Muir of Ord, Haggis Tours, Tore

Hire a campervan/motorhome:

Highland Coastal Campers, Highland Trail Motorhomes, Highland Campervans, North 500 Motorhomes, Rover Rentals

Road Safety & Advice

  • 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.

Itineraries Info

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.

Luxury chauffer driven tours/ Motorbike guided tours

Alternatively, take a luxury chauffer driven tour by the all-electric Tesla supercar. Ecosse EV, is the official partner of the NC500 – providing luxury electric vehicles for both self-drive rental and chauffeur driven tours.

Or hire a motorbike and a guided tour with Haggis Tours.

Additional Itineraries

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Achnagairn ecosse EV Ackergill Singleton Clynelish Natural Retreats Dunnet Bay Distillers Cottages and Castles Galbraith Arnold Clark