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AITO Tour Operator of The Year 2016 - Gold AwardThe Telegraph Travel Awards Winner 2017

North Coast 500

Experience Scotland's answer to Route 66 on our scenic self-drive tour of the North Coast of Scotland.

A carefully designed itinerary, travelling the newly launched North Coast 500 driving route – covering more than 500 miles of the best coastal scenery the North Highlands has to offer, but within a leisurely week’s holiday. Enjoy challenging drives such as the hairpin bends of the “Bealach na Ba” road to Applecross, then relax in our selection of characterful small hotels and guest houses.

Take a look at our other North Coast 500 itineraries as well, including Premier North Coast 500, Scotland’s North Coast by Tesla, and North Coast 500 and Orkney.

At A Glance

Best Time To Go

Mar - Oct. We particularly enjoy the misty lochs and autumn colours.

Why not...

extend your holiday to include 2 - 3 nights on Orkney?

Prices From


No of Nights


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Office Hours (UK time) Mon-Fri: 9.00-18.30
Sat: 9.30-16.30

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Day One – Torridon

This driving route could start in Inverness, or further south and we can tailor-make it to suit.
Your first destination is in one of the most scenically beautiful and secluded locations in the whole of Scotland in the wild and rugged area of Wester Ross.  Your route today could include Loch Ness and the famous Bealach na Ba (Pass of the Cattle), with its series of exhilarating hairpin bends.

Your Hotel

This small, family-run inn makes a picture-perfect base for exploring the dramatic west coast with its abundance of lochs, forests, mountains and rivers. The grandeur of the surrounding mountains forms a stunning backdrop to your hotel, which nestles in the crescent-shaped village high street.  Converted from a row of white-washed fishing cottages, the hotel overlooks an idyllic loch which reflects a tiny island covered in Scots Pines.  Two snug lounges both feature glorious views over the peaceful loch, and offer visitors the chance to idle away an afternoon watching the occasional boat come and go, and maybe enjoy a wee dram from the honesty bar in the corner.  If you’re lucky you could even be treated to one of the west coast’s spectacular sunsets.  

Day Three – Ullapool

Next head further north, following the coast road as it traverses deeply set lochs, and pass more soaring mountains. Plenty of time today to explore as you tour. Your next stop is the colourful harbour village of Ullapool.

Your Hotel

This unique hotel offers visitors a genuinely warm welcome, and is a particularly interesting place to rest awhile. Behind a traditional row of whitewashed fishermen’s’ cottages lies an assorted collection of coffee bar, book shop, arts venue, restaurant and hotel. The owners have developed their eclectic establishment over the years to become the genial and sociable hub of the local arts community.

The large and cheerful visitors lounge on the first floor is stuffed full of comfy sofas and cosy corners, books, games and pictures. Conversations spill out into general discussions, with excellent advice offered on local things to see and do. Ceilidhs, plays, poetry readings, and local artists’ exhibitions are frequent events. Complimentary tea and coffee is available here and there is an honesty bar too. The excellent food is sourced locally with the emphasis on fresh seafood and vegetarian dishes.

The book shop is a great place to browse. Here you will find a large selection of special and unusual Scottish literature, arts and history books, and can stock up on scarce editions and hard-to-find volumes. Each bedroom also has a selection of books which guests are welcome to read during their stay, and are available to buy when they leave.

Day Five – Caithness

Drive further north, now entering Sutherland and some of Scotland’s most dramatic coastal landscapes, passing Durness and crossing the Kyle of Tongue before entering the region of Caithness at Scotland’s northeastern tip.

Your Hotel

Your hotel is a delightful 1810 country home nestling in 20 acres of woodland, below a waterfall, on the gently meandering River Forss. In truth there can be few finer spots to linger in the big sky country; a place where time always seems to be on your side. The hotel restaurant has a reputation as one of the finest in the North and is the only 2AA Rosette restaurant in Caithness.

Day Six – Caithness

You have a full day to relax and explore Caithness – perhaps visit John O’Groats for those keen to cover one of Britain’s “extremities” and the Castle of Mey, as well as Wick, home of the Old Pulteney Distillery. A day trip to Orkney is also possible.

Day Seven – Cromarty

Drive south down the east coast of Caithness and Sutherland and on the Black Isle to the intimate village of Cromarty. Your route could take you inland to explore the remarkable flow country of Sutherland, or keep to the coast to find the Whaligoe Steps, Dunrobin Castle and the cute Highland town of Dornoch.

Your Hotel

Just on the edge of Cromarty, down a leafy driveway, your guest house here is an acclaimed five-star Victorian property of fine quality, whose proprietor is a skilled hospitality professional of many years. Step through the glazed vestibule to the welcoming hallway, with comfortable guest lounge featuring honesty bar just off; relax here with a dram after the splendid home-cooked dinner, available on selected evenings. Beautifully presented ensuite bedrooms feature views across the garden to the Cromarty Firth and Nigg beyond, while the house couldn’t be better placed as a base from which to explore the Black Isle.

Day Eight – Cromarty and the Black Isle

Despite its name, the Black Isle is a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by firths Moray, Cromarty and Beauly. The village of Cromarty betrays its merchant history with fine Georgian houses and rows of fishermen’s cottages, and contains two fine museums telling the story of its bustling past. Fortrose, overlooking the Moray Firth, is the isle’s largest town, not far from the fine sandy beaches of Rosemarkie, home also to a clutch of Pictish stones at Groam House. Wildlife lovers are drawn to Chanonry Point, where the resident pod of bottlenose dolphins are spotted gambolling throughout summer months, or two one of two RSPB reserves, particularly at Fairy Glen, whose eerie wooded glen features rushing waterfalls, a great place for an energetic stroll and picnic.

Day Nine – Return Home

The trip ends making the short drive to the Highland capital of Inverness. We can arrange additional nights here or further south as suits.



Following the North Coast 500 touring route, from Inverness to the west coast by Torridon, Ullapool, then along the “top” of Sutherland to Thurso, and finally down the east coast to Cromarty. The itinerary also works perfectly well in reverse order.


£795 per person for March, £845 for April & October, and £895 per person for May to September.

Price is based on two adults sharing a double or twin ensuite room for eight nights on a bed and breakfast basis in our hand-picked selection of small hotels and guest houses.

Before your departure, you will receive personalised holiday information including full directions and recommended routes from your specified starting point, and suggestions on places to visit depending on your interests and our local knowledge to help you get the most from your holiday.

All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.

The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee

All our holiday prices include a service charge of £9 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday.

We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value. All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.

Along the North Coast 500 (Part 1)

Along the North Coast 500 (Part 1)

Drive the North Coast 500, Scotland’s acclaimed 516-mile touring route around some of the country’s remotest parts, and chances are you’ll end u...


Check availability for North Coast 500

This holiday can be arranged from March to October.

To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us. We will respond to your availability check within one working day if at all possible. Please bear with us on this - we work with a hand-picked selection of smaller hotels, guest houses, and other independent businesses, ensuring that you have the chance to explore off the beaten track and really get under the skin of the destination.

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