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6 Epic Alternatives to the North Coast 500

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Scalpsie Bay viewed from the Isle of Bute

The North Coast 500 is one of Scotland’s most popular driving routes. But there are plenty more fantastic road trips to be had in Scotland. Here are some other fantastic driving routes you can follow which are just as spectacular and jam-packed with memorable experiences and incredible things to see and do.

Driving is a fantastic way to see the country. But it’s even better when you can take your road trip in an electric car or vehicle. Look at our 5 Days in an Electric Car itinerary for a great introduction on how to hit the open road and reduce your carbon output.

Locate nearby EV charging points using Zap-Map, Tesla and ChargePlace Scotland.

THE CRIEFF CLOVERLEAF

Scotland’s remarkable landscape isn’t just a dream for car drivers. It was made for motorbike touring too. The Crieff Cloverleaf is a four-day motorcycle route in Scotland stretching 878 miles, with all routes starting and finishing in the beautiful hillside town of Crieff in Perthshire. But you can also explore large swathes of it in your car. Spanning rural byways and rugged single tracks, this motorcycle network has something to delight riders of all stripes.

It also spans the length and breadth of the country. Soar the heights of the northerly Cairngorms or cruise the undulating lowlands of the Scottish Borders. Skirt the stunning west coast with its gleaming lochs and mist-shrouded islands or head to the east to uncover unspoilt beaches and post-card perfect countryside. Whichever direction you head in, the Crieff Cloverleaf is one of the best ways to explore Scotland on motorbike.

Find out more about Crieff Cloverleaf.

HEART 200

From tumbling waterfalls to romantic castles, magnificent forests and pristine lochs, Heart 200 is one of Scotland’s newest driving routes which will take you on a 200-mile circular route to the heart of the country. Connecting the Cairngorms with Loch Lomond, the route takes in some of the country’s most spellbinding landscapes including the Trossachs and Highland Perthshire, as well as cities of Stirling and Perth.

Beginning in the pretty town of Bridge of Earn, it meanders through the equally charming towns of Crieff, Comrie and Dunblane before turning west to the banks of Loch Lomond and then north to the edge of the Highlands.

Along the way you can visit famous beauty spots like The Hermitage, explore legendary long-distance footpaths like the Rob Roy Way, or even try white-water rafting on rivers like the Tay and Tummel. Stop by Gleneagles Hotel for afternoon tea, and indulge in some retail therapy at the House of Bruar.

Find out more about Heart 200.

THE KINTYRE 66

Most people have heard of Route 66, but do you know about the Kintyre 66? The 66-mile loop around Kintyre follows the A83 and B842 and branches out in six directions allowing drivers to really delve into the peninsula. Nestled between the magical isles of Islay to the west and Arran to the east, the drive offers spellbinding views all around, following a circuit starting at Campbeltown to the South and Kennacraig to the north. On clear days you can sometimes even see as far as Northern Ireland!

Once you’ve had your fill of the scenery, tee off on one of six golf courses in the area, or take advantage of the balmy effects of the Gulf Stream and try some watersports at spots like Westport Beach. You can also stop by the distilleries of Springbank and Glen Scotia in Campbeltown for a wee dram or two – provided you have a designated driver. Or why not hop on the ferry at Tayinloan? Sail to the community-owned island of Gigha, famous for its white sands and tropical gardens.

Find out more about the Kintyre 66.

SOUTH WEST COASTAL 300

While the North Coast 500 route is all about rugged, dramatic scenery, this new driving circuit showcases the natural beauty of Scotland’s south west with its verdant, rolling hillsides and picturesque coastline. Cruise the quiet country roads of this tranquil corner of the country while taking the time to experience its local highlights.

Marvel at the medieval stronghold of Caerlaverock Castle, gaze out at the granite island of Ailsa Craig on the banks of the Firth of Clyde, take a walk to Scotland’s oldest lighthouse at Southerness and along stunning beaches like Sandyhills, enjoy breathtaking views of the Mull of Galloway from the top of its lighthouse, and wander among the red sandstone ruins of Sweetheart Abbey  This is just a taste of the fantastic experiences which await on a road trip along the SWC300.

Find out more about the South West Coastal 300.

NORTH EAST 250

This 250-mile loop of Scotland’s north-east is just as spectacular as the North Coast 500. The route follows the Moray Firth coast, dotted with pretty fishing villages including Portsoy and Cullen – the original home of the classic Scottish dish, Cullen Skink (a mouth-watering fish soup), glides along towering cliffs and pristine sandy beaches, before descending on the east coast in the direction of Aberdeen.  From here it skirts the eastern edge of the Cairngorms National Park. Why not extend your road trip with and join the Snowroads Scenic Route? This 90-mile journey traverses the quieter but no less magnificent areas of the park, the largest in the UK.

Find out more about the North East 250.

THE COIG

There’s so much to explore on the western Clyde Coast and islands that one driving route isn’t enough. Instead The Coig (Coig is Gaelic for five) offers multiple routes around this splendid part of the country. First up is The Shire which skirts along the coast taking in seaside resorts like Ayr and passing places connected to legendary figures including Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.

The Shiel takes in more lovely seaside towns like Largs, famous for its ice cream, as well as heaps of attractions including Kilwinning Abbey and Kelburn Castle. You can then catch the ferry and circumnavigate the Firth of Clyde’s largest island on The Isle of Arran route. Feast your eyes on incredible scenery, romantic ruins, beautiful beaches and bays.

The shortest of the routes is The Cumbrae.  Set on the mostly flat Isle of Cumbrae, this route is perhaps better tackled on bike. It offers a leisurely 90-minute cycle around the edge of the island, dotted with tranquil bays and secluded beaches, where you can spot seals, porpoises and other wildlife.

Lastly, there is The Bute, measuring just 22 miles, offering a whistle-stop tour of this equally enchanting island, boasting a Victorian promenade at Rothesay and the neo-Gothic mansion of Mount Stuart.

Find out more about The Coig.

Discover more about driving and road trips in Scotland and start planning your next journey with Scotland’s Road Trips, our itinerary planner and route map.

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