The route both starts and ends at Inverness Castle and in this blog we suggest how best to enjoy the popular North Coast 500 route. For instance there is no better way to begin your journey then with an amazing stay at Achnagairn Estate – the NC500 luxury accommodation partner that is closest to the start (and end!) of the route.
Heralded as one of the world’s most famous road trips, the iconic NC500 route skirts the coastal edges of the North Highlands, spanning just over 500 miles of breath-taking coastal scenery where you’ll find white sand beaches, serene lochs, rugged mountains, large sea caves, hidden gems and a wealth of unforgettable experiences.
The NC500 route itself runs from and to Inverness, and takes you through the heart of the Highlands heading up to the west coast and back via the rugged north coast - taking in the regions of Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Easter Ross, the Black Isle and Inverness-Shire.
The NC500 route is targeted at everyone wishing to experience one of the best coastal touring route in the world, from UK residents to overseas tourists. It is ideal for drivers (car, campervan and classic car enthusiasts), motorcyclists, as well as cyclists and even walkers wishing to take in some of the most scenic parts of Scotland.
At Achnagairn our motto is ”Escape the Ordinary” and that drives all we do
Well it’s all about personal preference really and it depends on what kind of experience you want to have. The North Coast 500 recommends spending a minimum of 7 days exploring it, although you could easily spend several weeks in the region on a more leisurely schedule.
For the sightseers amongst you, you might prefer to stop every 50 miles to appreciate the various famous landmarks and some of the most beautiful and diverse scenery in the world - including rugged mountains, serene lochs, large sea caves, deep glens, Caribbean-style beaches and some of the oldest rocks on the planet! Whereas, if you are a keen motorcyclist or driver you might be interested in just racking up those miles in either your vintage car or your Harley!
At Achnagairn, we have so much to offer the NC500 visitor: including a fabulous 'NC500 tasting dinner' in our award-winning Table Manors Restaurant
Set in a glorious 30 acre estate with gorgeous views and stunning grounds in Kirkhill, only 7 miles away from Inverness Castle, Achnagairn estate is the perfect location for starting and finishing your NC500 road trip, both a beautiful setting for your first night and a welcomed sight at the end of the road trip for you to relax and escape the ordinary.
At Achnagairn, we have so much to offer the NC500 visitor: from a fabulous dinner in our award-winning Table Manors Restaurant with ‘’special NC500 tasting menu’’, through to wonderful accommodation, whether an ensuite bedroom in our Mini Manors, or the exclusive hire of an entire castle if you truly want to travel in style!
With its fairytale setting, complete privacy, wonderful grounds and an array of activities and local attractions nearby, the estate provides the NC500 visitor with a perfect base to explore Inverness and the Black Isle as part of your NC500 road trip. An array of activities including hiking, cycling, whisky trails and a cruise down Loch Ness can be enjoyed with Achnagairn as your base. Glen Affric, Urquhart Castle, the Caledonian Canal and three Championship Golf courses all lie within a 45-minute drive.
At Achnagairn our motto is ”Escape the Ordinary” and that drives all we do. It’s a mantra we hear our staff repeating all the time. For everything we do, we ask ourselves – is that truly extraordinary? With luxury 5* accommodation, outstanding food and friendly and dedicated staff who are always happy to provide more, to smile more and to go not just the extra mile but maybe a whole league further!
The East Coast is a real treat for golfers and is home to the 18-hole championship Royal Dornoch golf course
The NC500 route - taking in the regions of Wester Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Easter Ross, the Black Isle and Inverness-Shire - can be explored clockwise or anti clockwise.
Inverness is the capital of the Scottish Highlands and the start and end of your NC500 adventure! Inverness is a cultural hub – located astride the River Ness with fabulous Scottish cuisine, traditional live music and picturesque riverside walks. You can find out whether Nessie really does exist by visiting Loch Ness. Jacobite , located only 20 minutes from Achnagairn Estate, organises cruises and tours of Loch Ness.
The Black Isle, located just north of Inverness, is famous for its rich farmland and increasingly popular food and drink scene. The Muir of Ord distillery, home to the famous Singleton and only 7 miles from Achnagairn Estate - is a must-see. It’s the only remaining single malt Scotch whisky distillery on the Black Isle. This region also offers many sightseeing opportunities including wonderful views of Fort George, bright green fields above the blue waters of the Moray Firth and it’s also one of the best spots in Scotland for spotting dolphins at Chanonry Point!
With its seaboard villages, Easter Ross is full of history and romance – an area blessed with a fabulous pictish past, unsurpassed views from the Fyrish monument and seals basking along the shoreline. Learn how whisky is made– Easter Ross is home to three malt whisky distilleries!
Caithness, a hive of history, nature and landscapes, is located on the most north eastern part of the North Coast 500, and serves as the most northern county in Britain to still claim royal connections. The vast open landscape, also known as the flow country, is rich in archaeological remnants of a bygone age. The geological features of the Caithness coastline feature soaring sea stacks, raucous colonies of sea birds, and vertically faced headlands jutting out into the wild waters of the Pentland Firth.
Experience some of the most incredible landscapes. Sutherlands makes up a large part of your North Coast 500 road trip. North West Sutherland covers a large portion of unspoilt, natural landscapes and world famous beaches such as Achmelvich beach in Lochinver. The mountain ranges are also quite spectacular, bringing together the peculiar ‘Policeman’s Helmet’ shaped Suilven and the mountainous tops of Ben More, Foinaven and Arkle.
The east coast is a real treat for golfers and is home to the 18-hole championship Royal Dornoch golf course. It’s also home to the fairy tale Dunrobin Castle in Golspie, the seat of the Earl and Clan of Scotland.
A must see destination with breathtaking scenery that will begin to light your imagination as your drive! Wester Ross is famous for its stunning mountains, glorious lochs and white sand beaches. Stop by Ullapool to satisfy your hilarious-Scotland-story needs or experience the breathtaking scenery of Bealach Na Ba – a stretch of road you’ll hardly ever forget.