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Unmissable experiences along the North Coast 500

With its epic highland scenery, foodie hotspots and chic and cosy boltholes, the North Coast 500 is a dream for road trippers. Dubbed 'Scotland's answer to America's Route 66', strap yourself in as you take in some of Scotland’s finest coastal scenery and these unmissable experiences.

1. Stay at The Inn at John O’Goats

A contender for the coolest-looking place to stay is The Inn at John O'Groats, a 19th-century hotel that's sporting a colourful Scandi-style makeover in mainland Britain's most northerly hamlet. You can choose between its sleek apartments or self-catering lodges.

The Inn at John O’Goats, John O’Goats

2. Explore Smoo Cave

Smoo Cave, Scotland. Credit: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins

Smoo Cave is a mystical limestone sea cave, with a staggering 50ft entrance and impressive cascading waterfall which is especially mesmerising following wet weather. Found around a mile to the east of Durness, the cave can be accessed by boat, or by descending a pathway from the clifftop.

Smoo Cave, Lairg

3. Visit Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle, Scotland. Credit: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins.

Gracing the northern coastline is Dunrobin Castle. The historic seat of the Sutherland Clan, this French-inspired chateau enchants visitors with its fairy-tale spires and turrets and pulse-raising falconry displays. Featuring the architectural influences of Sir Charles Barry, who designed the Houses of Parliament, and Sir Robert Lorimer, the castle has acted as a naval hospital, boarding school and country house during its rich history.

Dunrobin Castle, Golspie

4. Take tea at The Torridon

Experience Afternoon Tea at The Torridon in the luxurious library, complete with roaring log fire and spectacular views across the Loch Torridon. Set in 58 acres of magnificent parkland, it’s an opportunity to relax before taking in more of the North Coast 500 route. If you’re keen to sample the afternoon tea, you’ll need to book at least 12 hours in advance.

The Torridon, Achnasheen

5. Drive along Bealach na Bà (Pass of the Cattle)

Bealach Na Ba, Scotland. Credit: VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins.

A steep, serpentine single-lane track that affords stirring panoramas of some of Scotland's 790 offshore islands. You mustn’t be too distracted by the window views, though. On the pass's hairpin bends, you might encounter roaming sheep and shaggy highland cows, or the occasional cyclist and campervan.

Bealach na Bà, Wester Ross
29 Dec 2020(last updated)