10 UNIQUE Things To Do On Scotland’s North Coast 500

Scotland's North Coast 500 driving route is very quickly growing in popularity. The trip takes you through absolutely breathtaking scenery with plenty of activities and experiences to enjoy along the way.

Scotland’s North Coast 500 was only launched in 2015 and already has been ranked by many sources as one of the best road trips in the world. The 516-mile driving route starts and ends an Inverness, a charming Scottish city.

The drive will take you to white sand beaches, mountains, and castles. Along the way you can enjoy breweries, fresh seafood, cute bed & breakfasts, fascinating wildlife, and so much more.

Say hi to Nessie on a Loch Ness cruise

Boat cruise on Loch Ness in Scotland.

Though the Loch Ness Monster was first mentioned all the way back in 565AD, it was an image captured of her in the 1930s that really helped grow her fame. The monster rarely shows herself to visitors, instead choosing to swim in the dark depths of the loch (loch is the Scottish word for “lake”). However, that doesn’t stop people from trying to catch a glimpse.

Loch Ness has plenty more to offer than Nessie, its most famous inhabitant. It’s also a stunning place to visit and the second deepest loch in Scotland. A cruise around Loch Ness, not far from the start/finish of the road trip, is a must on Scotland’s North Coast 500.

Explore scenes from the show Outlander

A group of people reenacting a Scottish war on an Outlander tour.

Calling all Outlander fans! The extremely popular TV show has caught the attention of people all over the world. The show has put Scotland’s breathtaking beauty on display.

Outlander has used a variety of locations in Scotland and with a guided tour, you’ll get to experience many of them while learning about the exciting history that made the areas what they are today. Set aside a day at the start or end of your road trip for an Outlander tour.

Take a detour to the Isle of Skye

The town of Portree on the Isle of Skye is a must-see near Scotland's North Coast 500.

There is beautiful scenery, and then there is the Isle of Skye’s beautiful scenery. Skye is an easy addition to your North Coast 500 route and absolutely worth it.

If you’re nervous about driving the winding single-lane roads yourself, you can take a 1 day bus tour of the Isle of Skye. You’ll be able to sit back, relax, and be sure you won’t miss any favourite spots on Skye.

Put on your brave face for river tubing

A person river tubing in the Scottish highlands.

Scotland wouldn’t be Scotland without the grey skies and frequent rain. Getting cold and wet on your road trip is almost a guarantee, so why not embrace it? Squeeze into a wetsuit and go for a fun ride down the river in a tube.

You’ll have an instructor teach you what to do and will get high quality GoPro videos and pictures of your day. Why not add some adventure to your North Coast 500 drive with river tubing.

Try caving at Spar Cave near Scotland’s North Coast 500

Person inside Spar Cave near Scotland's North Coast 500

A visit to Spar Cave is for the truly adventurous traveller. Heading there with an expert guide means you’ll have the proper instruction without fear of getting trapped by the tide.

Fairly recently, the route was featured by Bear Grylls who took a fearful Ben Stiller on the adventure.

Go hunting for Groatie Buckie shells with a local

A handful of Groatie Buckie shells in Scotland.

Groatie Buckie shells, also known as cowries, are a small curled seashell with a narrow opening and ridges on the back. These beautiful treasures can be made into jewelry, decor, or simply kept as a souvenir.

Head to the UK’s most northerly settlement and meet up with a local artist for a two hour walk along the shore. The guide will tell you all about life in the local area while showing you where to collect the best Groatie Buckie shells.

Learn to surf on Scotland’s North Coast 500

Surfing lesson on Dunnet Beach on Scotland's North Coast 500.

Scotland is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of surfing. The experience is a bit different than your typical tropical surfing destination, but that only makes it all the more unique.

During the more northern part of Scotland’s North Coast 500 is the opportunity for a 2 hour surf lesson. All equipment is provided and an expert instructor will help you catch a wave or two on Dunnet Beach.

Climb the highest mountain in the British Isles

Two people climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland

The summit of Ben Nevis is 1,345 meters above sea level, making it the tallest mountain you’ll find on your Scotland adventures. It’s an hour or two detour off Scotland’s North Coast 500 route but very worth it, especially with a visit to the local town of Fort William.

It will take you anywhere from 6-8 hours to get to the top of Ben Nevis and back down on a guided tour. It is not a technical climb but it is a physically challenging one, so you’ll want to be in fairly good shape to add this adventure to your trip.

Tour the Malt Whisky Trail near Scotland’s North Coast 500

The Glenlivet distillery in Scotland.

Scots aren’t just good at drinking whisky….they are excellent at making it, too! A full-day Malt Whisky Trail Tour from Grantown-on-Spey will take you to 4 different distilleries for a tour and the chance to taste the finest malt whisky Scotland has to offer.

You’ll be given a chance to explore beautiful spots and cute villages along the route.

Visit a 5000 year old village on Orkney

A white sand beach on Orkney, Scotland

Orkney islands, only a 40 minute ferry ride from John o’ Groats, is home to fascinating wildlife and exciting history.

Set a day side on Scotland’s North Coast 500 to explore Orkney on a guided tour. During your ferry crossing you may see puffins and orcas, so keep your eyes open. Once across, you’ll visit a 5000 year old stoneage village, a chapel built by Italian prisoners, a stone circle, and plenty more.