Even with an itinerary you will find it difficult to squeeze everything into each day. Here we offer our own itineraries for you to use, either as they are or just to give you ideas.
Our itineraries are done in an clockwise travelling direction but feel free to use it in reverse if you wish to go clockwise. This is our 7 Day Itinerary and we have highlighted in RED the places that we believe are a must.
Remember if you are at the overnight stay, and you have time then check out the 'Black' Stops for the next day as they may well be close enough to visit.
With a 7 Day itinerary you have a better chance of being able to see much of the Route.
Each Place title allows you to click to view a Map to allow for easier reference.
Driving times that are shown on the route are estimated
An Early start is recommended for each day to allow maximun time to visit the popular stops
We advise not missing the following
STOPS IN RED ARE A MUST
We firmly believe that the route should start at Culloden and not Inverness Castle.
A 10-15 minute drive East from Inverness
Culloden Moor as this is the best place to get an understanding of what the Highlands is about and where it all changed forever.
Culloden is too important to miss.
Having an understanding will allow you to enjoy what you will come across. There are many places that will refer to the Highland Clearances and to most this event is still etched into many locals around the route, especially in Sutherland.
A 45 minute drive from Culloden.
Rogie Falls are well worth the visit, but make sure the weather is on your side as you will have a walk to make before getting to the Falls itself.
A 30 minute drive from Rogie Falls
Glen Docherty Viewpoint( obviously after this stop you will need to back track to the route) Looking down Glen Docherty, you will catch a stunning Loch Maree, a magnificent fresh water loch dotted with over 60 islands which contain some of the last fragments of the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest.
A 1 Hour drive from Rogie Falls
Lochcarron is a great wee village of many whitewashed little houses. Here is the start of your Highland adventure. There are many places including a couple of campsites but we recommend making this area your first night stop.
Depoeniding on your time you can easily and should take a drive from Lochcarron to
This is just over a 30min Drive on some testing roads but all easy enough.
Eilean Donan Castle is possibly one of the most iconic Castles in the World. It has possibly been one of the Most photographed buildings in the UK.
The have a visitors centre and cafe but last admission is at 5pm which seems daft by the ammount of visitors they get.
Prices for admission are here
We visited and never entered the castle and the effort was well worth it for the stunning Castle and wonderful views across Loch Alsh towards the Isle of Skye.
Again depending on time we also highly recommend a quick trip across the Skye Bridge at the Kyle of Lochalsh to the World Famous
Just a Wee 15-20min Drive
You are too close not to go.....even if only for a few minutes.
The name Isle of Skye speaks for itself...... as this is last on the list of places to visit today and again it depends on you, and time.
In the height of summer it won't get dark till well after 10pm so light is on your side. It is worth the detour just to say, "I Was There"
Travel back to where you wish to stay in the area, and if it is Lochcarron we say take the road back from Kyle of Lochalsh via Achmore which will take you under and Hour.
From Lochcarron to the Bealach Na Ba road is approximently 10-15 mins drive
( Now rated one of the Best Drives in the World The Bealach Na Ba)
From the Bealach Cafe' (which we highly recommened) this is one drive that you will want to be able to take in the amazing scenery as you head to
Applecross, and drive the Bealach Na Ba Road, this is a must and to many the highlight of their trip although we think different.
Once at Applecross checkout the Applecross Inn, great food, great music, and great atmosphere. Depending on you and daylight there is plenty to explore just on the Aplecross Peninsula itself. The Applecross Walled Garden is well worth a look.
It is on these types of roads where your concentration is required to be at its upmost. Be fully aware of other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, or what ever form of transport is in front or behind you. Also take great care of local wildlife, especially Sheep which you will come across very often, and sadly sheep have no road etiquitte. Finally beware if you come across Deer, they tend to be very big animals and easily frightened and will leap across roads without warning and if you hit them, your vehicle will certainly know about it.
Applecross is on a Wild and Wonderful peninsula and has some stuiing scenery that you will see as you carryonwards to places like Fearnmore and Shieldaig. Again depenid on your time you may wish to lunch at the Famous Applecross Inn. With great B&B's in the Area like the Applecross Bed and Breakfast which we highly rate, it may well be a place to stick in an extra night .
If not we drive onto Torridon
Applecross to Torridon Countryside Centre is about 1½ Hour Drive
This is one of many estates you come across as you travel the Highlands. Torridon is an ancient wilderness of fantastic Roack dating back 750 million years ago. There is a great choice of walking and Climbing routes around this area and the folk at the visitors centre will give all the details. They also have a deer Museum which is a great place to get up close and personal with these great animals.
This is approximently a 25-30 drive
The Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve is a place you could spend the enitre day or even an enitre Holiday. If you want to explore the area there are plenty walks available. All the information you need are at the Well put together visitor Centre. It is also "Free"
Approximently a 20 min drive from Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve Centre
Victoria Falls, Achnasheen from here you have wonderful views over Loch Maree, and you can follow the short path to the viewing area to see the falls. They’re named after Queen Victoria, who visited in 1877.
The water that tumbles down the falls comes from Beinn Eighe.
Approximently 5 minute drive away
Loch Maree Picnic site is brilliant but obviously weather dependant but you couldn't find a better location for a Picnic than on the Shores of Loch Maree.Also a handy toilet stop if needed.
As you descend from Achnasheen the view opens out and this wonderful loch appears with its many islands. Slioch rises from the loch and the peaks of The Great Wilderness line it on the North side with Beinn Eighe on the South side
Tonights overnight stop is or in the area of
Just a 20 minute drive from the Picnic site
Gairloch has quite a few Hotels and B&B's plus Campsites. There are also many alternatives in and around this area.
Again another early start is recommended as much to see and do as we head to next overnight stop at LOCHINVER
As we head out of Gairloch we come to
A Short 15 minute drive from Gairloch
Inverewe Gardens is a great place for those and thoswe without green fingers. Inverewe Garden is a botanical garden and is noted for the breadth of its collection. The garden was created, from barren land, in 1862 by Osgood Mackenzie on the 850 hectares estate bought for him by his mother
A 30 minute drive from Inverewe Gardens
Gruinard Beach is agreat stop as the beach is stunning and secluded with great view to Gruinard Island.
It is well liked by walkers and there are plenty of walking paths along the coast. It is also well know to geologists with it's many rare rocks that can be found.
Gruinard Islands main calim to fame was during WW2 when scientists involved in developing Biological weapons tested deadly anthrax on the island. The island was closed to everyone for 48 years and £500,000 was spent decontaminating the area
A good 30 minute drive from Gruinard Beach
Test your head for heights on the bridge and viewing platform over the dramatic gorge while the water surges many metres below your feet. The surrounding walk has spectacular views of waterfalls and the open countryside towards Loch Broom.
this is a real must visit, and if ypou feeling peckish there should be one of the Best Burger Vans to searve up a real treat, she is brilliant.
An easy 30 minute drive
Ullapool is one of the bigger settlements that you will come across as you travel the West coast, with a population of about 2,000. Although small in size it has plenty to offer the tourist here and around the village. It makes agreat place to stop for a bite to eat and a wee rest as you take in the village and its scenery.
It is a 10-15 minute drive to the light house from Ullapool. Although only a short walk from the neatest road, the headland is unspoiled and has beautiful view both across to Beinn Ghoblach and further North Ben More Coigach.
A 20-30 minute drive from Rhue Lighthouse or Ullapool
Knockan Crag is much like all the other Reserves in that it has a visitors centre and tells the story of how what where and when. You have to visit at least one of these as it is all very interesting. Like the others there are walks and trails at hand and the staff at the Centres are very friendly and helpful. Again if more time allowed you could easily spend days in these areas as some of the scenery and views you get from walking are breathtaking.
A short 20 minute drive from Knockan Crag
Ardvreck Castle is another iconic Castle even though not much of it remains. This is a great place for photos. The ruined castle dates from the 16th century and stands on a rocky promontory jutting out into Loch Assynt.
20 minutes from Ardvreck Castle
Lochinver in Assynt is one of the largest villages in the west of Sutherland. Situated on the west coast, the village is built along the shores of Loch Inver.
Standing towards the south end of Lochinver'sLochinver's Main Street and looking across it out over Loch Inver is the superb Assynt Visitor Centre.
There are many places to stay in and out of Lochinver, we certainly highly recommend B&B Philosophy which is a great 20 minute drive from Lochinver towards Stoer Lighthouse and it is highly recommended a visit.
Another recommended place is the Green Cruachan B&B which is 20 minutes away and is a stay and can't be faulted. Camping, then nowhere better thatn the awesome Clachtoll Beach Campsite, sitting on one of the best beaches you will find and only a 15 minute drive from Lochinver.
15 Minute Drive from Lochinver
You can't stop at Lochinver and not visit one of the most popular beaches on the entire route, Achmelvich Beach. This is a fabulous place, and you shouldn't let the idea of some unusually challenging single track roads put you off making the short trip from Lochinver. You can also visit Highland Stoneware one of the most successful potteries in Scotland.
Leaving the Lochinver area we head towards Durness, our next overnight stop
15 minute drive from Lochinver
Beautiful clear water and clean sand. Just stunning. A short walk from Clachtoll sands caravan park. Well worth a visit. Clachtoll is one of the best beaches on the route
A 20 minute drive from Clachtoll Beach or a good 30 minutes from Lochinver
Stoer Lighthouse is a fully Furnished Self Catering Lighthouse dating to 1870' and is a great place for a few days.
To visit is well worth it as the views from the cliffs are spectacular,
A 30 minute drive from Lochinver or 20 minutes from Stoer Lighthouse
Clashnessie Falls is a very impressive sight when the falls are in full flow. The walk is not the easiest but certainly not the worst. Stick to the Footpaths and you'll be fine.
A 20 minute drive from the Clashnessie Falls.
Drumbeg lies on the remarkably beautiful Assynt coastal road, the B869. This single track road provides a scenic link between Lochinver and Kylesku, and takes in some of Scotland's best scenery.
A good 30 minute drive from Drumbeg Viewpoint
Kylesku Bridge opened by the Queen in 1984. This is not just a spectacular bridge but also a fantasic place for photos with a great view.
Just a 5 minute drive from the Kylesku Bridge
Assynt Viewpoint is well worth a quick stop. The views are well worth the time.
A good 40 minute drive from Assynt Viewpoint
Kinlochbervie is slightly off route but if you have time it is a well worth detour. Kinlochbervie is suprisingly one of the buisest harbours in Scotland. Close to Kinlochbervie is the beach at Oldshoremore and the tiny village of Polin, complete with its own beach. If time allows I would certainly recommened this area.
Durness is proobably the area where it will be hard to choose where to go and what to see. Accomodation is plentiful from Sango Sands for campers etc and an endless list of B&B's and hotels although our favourite was Smoo Cave Hotel.
There is so much that choices will have to be made. The only alternative is to make it more than one night. The advantage of the summer is daylight lingers here virtually till mid night and is light in the wee small hours so an early start is highly recommended......who said this is a holiday......
We will list the places we feel you should visit, then you will have to make your choices
This was our No1 place of the entire trip in 2018. Cape Wrath is an amzing wilderness and is well worht the time to visit. It has the only 24hr 365 days a year Cafe and Giftshop. You take a ferry from East Keodale Pier and check out their website as you cannot book in advance which is a shame. I suggest email of calling them. Between the Ferry and Bus the guys are great and the banter and stories we got were just so good as you bump your way to spectaular view at the Lighthouse.
Smoo Cave is possibly the one stop virtually everyone makes and rightly so. Just ensure you are fit enough for the walk down and back up, although it is certainly recommended to all except those with walking problems and families with buggies.
A Personal Favourite although the Gardens are tiny and not the greatest, it is a place to remember this Legend of a Human. Take time to read the words from the song he apparently wrote about his time in Durness as a child, "In My Life"
Along with the nearby beach this is another one of those places that a photo or two are great for the memory box.
A very popular place with folk mainly local with lots of different crafts available to see and buy......
Cocoa Mountain has gone from strength to strength since it was founded and opened in 2006 by two entrepreneurs James Vincent Findlay and his civil partner Paul Maden. One of the most popualr places in Durness and in fact on the route itself.
Yet again another great Beach and well worth a wee walk and paddle.
A good 40 minute drive from Durness
Ard Neakie Lime Kilns is not so much a place to visit but has become aphoto spot for many as they pass It is a fascinating place with a great stroy behind it.
A 20 Minute drive from the Ard Neakie
As you enter Tongue you cross the amazing Kyle of Tongue and it is well worth a stop on the Crossing Marker to grab a few photos....
A good 30 minute drive from the Kyle of Tongue Crossing Marker
The Strathnaver Museum is possibly the one museum you should visit on the route, there are many.
A quick 10 minute drive from Strathnaver Museum
A Great place for a photo especially with the last glimpses of the West looking towards Ben Hope.
Thurso a 45 minute drive from the Bettyhill Viewpoint.
A Good 15 minute drive from Thurso
One of the Big success stories of the North of Scotland in recent times. The Dunnet Bay Distillers have produced award winning Gins Like Rock Rose and Holy Grass Vodka. Well worth a Visit and definately well worth the Taste.....Hard luck if your the driver.....
2 minutes from the Distilleries
Mary Ann's Cottage is a fantastci place top take you back in time as to exactly how we lived in the old days in Caithness. Certainly worth a visit.
A 15 minute drive from Dunnet
The Ever so popular Castle of Mey, made famous by the Queen Mother who gave life back to a run down Castle and used it as her Holiday home for Many Many years.
A 15 minute drive from the Castle of Mey
What more can one say about this iconic place. John O'Groats is to us a place to get your photo with the famous sign post and apart from the great Ferry that will take you to Orkney on a great day out, sadly John O'Groats is a big let down for most. Sadly we agree, so head east to the wonders of....
A Quick 5 minutes from John O'Groats
Duncansby Head has two great things going for it, and first is the Lighthouse where the road ends. A a good walk away but well worth it are the Duncasby Stacks. We cartainly recommened walking past the Stacks for even more terrific photos.
A Good 30 minute drive from Duncasby Head
Established in 1826 this is one of the best Distilleries and Malts in Scotland. Pultneytown Distillery is certainly worht a visit and taste.
Possibly the Best Heritage Museum on the Route. Wick Heritage Museum is definately a stop that will take an hour of your time, but you will learn so much that it makes it a great visit.
10-15 minute drive from Wick
Whaligoe steps is surrounded on three sides by 250ft cliffs and forms one of the most remarkable harbours you will find anywhere. It is reached by the Whaligoe Steps, which descend to the harbour: and a trip down the steps and the hard slog back up them make for a spectacular experience. Count them 365 ? And as an added bonus you hace the Cafe at the top which serves up tremendous food. Downside is the car Park is tiny and that it is not sign posted from the road so keep you eyes open for the turn off.
A 20 Minute Drive from Whaligoe Steps
The Camster Cairns are two large Neolithic chambered cairns located about 8.5 miles south of Watten and 5 miles north of Lybster in Caithness, in the Highland region of Scotland. They are among the oldest structures in Scotland, dating to about 5,000 years ago.
A Good 30 minute drive from The Whaligoe Steps
Badbea (pronounced bad-bay) is a former clearance village perched on the steep slopes above the cliff tops of Berriedale on the east coast of Caithness, Scotland. Situated around 5 miles (8 km) north of Helmsdale, the village was settled in the 18th and 19th centuries by families evicted from their homes when the straths of Langwell, Ousdale and Berriedale were cleared for the establishment of sheep farms.
A short 10-15 minute drive from Badbea
The Emigrants Statue is just by the road side as you leave Helmsdale. It is certainly worth a look and to be able to understand its meaning to the Highlands past and present. The Highland Clearances is still soemthing that modern day Highlanders still feel very strongly about. As you pass Golspie, take a look on the Hill and you will see a reminder of the clearances, a 100 foot / 30.4 Mtrs tall, it sits on top of Ben Bhraggie, and is of the First Duke of Sutherland. Ask a local and they will tell how much the man to this day is hated by Highlanders.
A 30 minute drive from Helmsdale
Dunrobin Castle has been Top attraction on the NC500 Route for the last few years and a visit will show why. This is not just a stunning Castle but has much more to offer. You could easily spend a day here due to the ammount of attractions on offer. It is definately worth the stop
A 20-25 minute drive from Dunrobin
This is one of the favourite areas Norht of Inverness. This whole area has it all and you could easily spend the kids summer holidays here without them being bored. Dornoch itself offers so much for young and Old, and further afield there is so much too.
Accomodation here is from the High end of Luxury to simply Glamping and Caravan sites. It caters for all. We recommened Mary Ann's Luxury Caravan at Embo, you wont find a better Host. Or the luxury side at Dornoch Castle Hotel
There are quite a few interesting places or drives worth considering whilst at Dornoch, and obvioulsy it will depend on time available but certainly worth considering.
Here is just a wee sample
Dornoch Cathedral Like any other Cathedral it is ceratinly worth a look. It is old in that it was built in the 13th Century. Also of interest, are the stained glass windows on the north side of the chancel. These windows were donated in memory of Andrew Carnegie, who was born in Dumfermline and often summered at his estate Skibo, located four miles from Dornoch. Carnegie is possibly best known in the USA.
Embo, what can one say about a childhood haunt. For those who have never been, then it is certainly worth a visit. There has been a settlement here since the bronze age and an example of that can be seen with a burial cairn at the centre of the village st the entrance to the carvan park.
A good 30 minute drive from Dornoch
The Falls of Shin if time allows is a great place for all the Family, especially during the salmon season as you watch them trying to jump up the falls.
Our Final Day, and I am sure when you reach the end, you will wish you had done this or gone there. If thats the case then as we say up in the Highlands, 'HASTE YE BACK'
15-20 minute drive from Dornoch
If you have never been to a distillery then this is one of the best and would nigh on complete your Highland Adventure.
A 30 minute drive from Glenmorangie.
Worth every mile. Tarbat Ness Lighthouse is on this great wee penninsula which has so much to offer over and beyond the Lighthouse.
A 25 minute drive from The Lighthouse
Definately worth a wee look this statue in 2012 was damaged by a severe storm. Originally made from wood and resin, she was not strong enough to withstand the stormy weather. In 2014 the mermaid was replaced with a bronze cast model and this was aided with a grant from the SSE.
A 45 Minute drive from Mermaid of the North
The Clootie Well is like many other 'Clootie Wells' that are places of Celtic origin and this is much the same. Bright Coloured rags litter the area but these are rags placed by people in the hope that the pieces of cloth which are generally dipped in the water of the holy well and then tied to a branch while a prayer of supplication is said to the spirit of the well.
A 10 minute drive from the Clootie Well
Chanonry Point and Lighthouse is such a popular place to visit, especially for the Dolpins and Lighthouse.This place is certainly regarded as the best Dolipn spotting place in Scotland, but remember there is no guarantee.
A good 30 minute drive from Chanonry Point
Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands. Like most cities there are plenty to see and do here. In the City our just outside, the list is endless.
We will name just a few, but the one thing with this trip around the Highlands, North Coast 500, or Scotland's Route 66, what ver you call it, it has beem here a long time and hopefully you will have enjoyed it enough to return one day.
Opened in 1993 by Prince Edward, Inverness Botanic Gardens, formerly known as the Floral Hall and Gardens, are an oasis of calm and beauty within walking distance of the bustling city centre.
With each new season the gardens are an explosion of colour and texture with borders planted to demonstrate a wide variety of plants and growing conditions. The impressive glasshouses reveal the drama of plant diversity ranging from the tropical rainforests to arid, heat scorched desert.
Virtually in the city centre and well worth a wee look to see and learn how it is all done.
The Jacobite Cruises is the ultimate trip on Loch Ness. Hunt for Nessie or just take a look at this awesome Loch and all the beauty that surrounds probably the Most Famous Loch of them All........BOOK IN ADVANCE
This is Our 7 Day Itineray.....Feel free to use it share it or ignore it.
It is here as a guide to be used anyway you wish.
We hope that it has helped and that if and when you do your trip we wish you a magnificent time and a safe journey.
We have always said that travelling the Highlands is More than Just a Journey, we hope it is that for you too