NEW COVID-19 GUIDANCE. See the latest advice on staying safe in Scotland this winter.

Duncansby Head
Caithness, Scotland © Nordic Visitor

North Coast 500 & The Orkney Islands

From £1880 per adult

Departure days

  • M
  • T
  • W
  • T
  • F
  • S
  • S

April — October

Book now

Take on Scotland's most iconic drive at your own pace with a Nordic Visitor self-drive tour. This road trip will take you around the country to see some of Scotland's most beautiful landscapes, including the NC500 and the Orkney archipelago.

Stop when you want to and visit what you want to see most with a self-drive tour of Scotland. With 13 days, you'll have plenty of time to drive the North Coast 500 route, explore all its gems, and get a taste of the rugged Scottish isles.

This tour includes a Historic Scotland Pass so you can visit some of the country's most famous attractions, including Edinburgh Castle, amongst many more.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN EDINBURGH

Upon your arrival in Edinburgh, make your way to your hotel located in the city centre. For those arriving early in the day, we recommend spending the afternoon walking through the city, strolling along the Royal Mile and exploring the Old Town and New Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are also plenty of museums and landmarks to visit within the city centre, including the majestic Edinburgh Castle.

Spend the night in Edinburgh.

DAY 2: INTO THE HIGHLANDS

Start your road trip into the majestic Highlands by stopping at the quaint towns of Dunkeld and Pitlochry. You’ll then travel into the Cairngorms National Park and if time allows you could pop by Scotland’s highest whisky distillery, Dalwhinnie.

Spend the night in the Inverness area.

Driving distance: 251 km / 156 miles

DAY 3: EXPLORE THE HISTORY OF THE INVERNESS AREA

Inverness marks the true start of the North Coast 500 but today you have the day to explore the area at your leisure. You could visit the famous Battlefield of Culloden Moor and roam the Bronze-age cemetery Clava Cairns. Or drive south to marvel at the famous Loch Ness and nearby Urquhart Castle ruins.

Spend another night in the Inverness area.

Driving distance: 66 km / 41 miles

DAY 4: JOURNEY TO ORKNEY

Today, you head north to catch the ferry from the north coast to Orkney. Along the way, you could stop at the fairytale-like Dunrobin Castle.

Once you reach Orkney, you can drive to Kirkwall, its capital and a former Viking stronghold. You have the rest of the day to explore at your leisure.

Spend the night in the Kirkwall area.

Ferry Scrabster to Orkney: 1.5 hours

Driving distance: 205 km / 130 miles

DAY 5: WONDERS OF ORKNEY

Spend your entire day discovering the highlights of Orkney. The most famous area is the UNESCO-listed "Heart of Neolithic Orkney". It is made up of Skara Brae, a prehistoric village, the Ring of Brodgar stone circle, the Standing Stones of Stenness, and the chambered cairn of Maeshowe.

Spend another night in the Kirkwall area.

Driving distance: 56 km / 35 miles

DAY 6: FERRY BACK TO THE MAINLAND

Spend a little more time exploring Orkney before taking the ferry back to the mainland. Then you have the rest of the day to discover the many gems of this corner of Scotland. Take a short drive south to descend the 330 stone steps of Whaligoe down to the sea. Or you could explore John O’Groats and Dunnet Point.

Spend the night in the Thurso area.

Ferry from Orkney to Scrabster: 1.5 hours

Driving distance: 93 km / 58 miles

DAY 7: DISCOVER THE TRUE NORTH COAST

Continue on the famous North Coast 500 route. Today’s journey is not particularly long but there are plenty of chances to stop for magnificent seaside views. A must-see is the beautiful Smoo Cave, the largest and most dramatic sea cave in Britain.

Spend the night in the Tongue/Durness area.

Driving distance: 114 km / 71 miles

DAY 8: COASTAL ADVENTURES AND SCENERY

Start your day exploring the “Drumbeg Loop,” one of the most scenic circuits of the northwest Highlands. Visit the Stoerhead Lighthouse and marvel at the Old Man of Stoer sea stack.

You can also stop at some of Scotland’s most beautiful beaches and enchanting castle ruins before arriving at the charming and whitewashed village of Ullapool. 

Spend the night in the Ullapool area.

Driving distance: 183 km / 114 miles

DAY 9: DAY AT LEISURE IN THE ULLAPOOL AREA

You have the day to explore the area as you wish. Stay in Ullapool or go enjoy a walk at the breathtaking Corrieshalloch Gorge.

Spend another night in the Ullapool area.

Driving distance: 21 km / 13 miles

DAY 10: STUNNING COASTLINE TO RUGGED HILLS

You'll start the day on the scenic coastal road to Gairloch. On the way, visit the town of Poolewe where you can explore the Inverewe Garden and its exotic plants.

Then, drive south into the Torridon Hills, a spectacular mountain range. We recommend stopping by the Beinn Eighe Nature Reserve Visitor Centre for a short nature walk.

Spend the night in the Torridon area.

Driving distance: 138 km / 86 miles

DAY 11: EXPERIENCE THE THRILLING BEALACH NA BA

Today you could choose to drive one of Scotland’s most incredible roads – the historic mountain pass known as the Bealach na Bà, or “Pass of the Cattle”. En route, stop by the quaint village of Applecross to enjoy some delicious seafood.

On your way to Fort William, take photos at the picturesque Eilean Donan Castle. 

Spend the night in the Fort William area.

Driving distance: 224 km / 139 miles

DAY 12: TRAVEL ALONG DRAMATIC GLENS

Today’s drive will take you through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park all the way back to Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. You can also choose to end your trip in Edinburgh.

Start the day with a short detour to Glenfinnan before driving past the magnificent Glen Coe, Scotland's most famous and scenic valley. For a fun photo opportunity, don't miss Doune Castle, feature in Monty Python and Outlander.

Spend the night in Glasgow.

Driving distance: 251 km / 156 miles

DAY 13: DEPARTURE FROM SCOTLAND

Today you say goodbye to Scotland. If your flight is in the afternoon, you may have time for some last-minute shopping on Buchanan Street, a visit to one of Glasgow’s museums, or one last stroll through the charming West End.

Contact details

Nordic Visitor UK
139/2 George Street
Edinburgh
City of Edinburgh
Scotland
EH2 4JY
Starting
Edinburgh Edinburgh & The Lothians Edinburgh - City Centre Edinburgh Airport
Length
10+
Days
Transport
Self drive
Languages
English
Themes
Ancestry Architecture Castles Food and drink Island Hopping Landscapes

Tour prices

From

  • £1880 Per Adult
Book now

Prices are subject to change depending on season

Attractions

Tour company information

Nordic Visitor UK

Nordic Visitor provides tailored tour packages in Scotland. Our travel experts are based in Edinburgh and will craft a personal itinerary for you based on your vacation or holiday needs. All our travel packages are tested by our consultants to ensure your Scottish getaway is everything you dreamed of and more. Choose from self-drive, small group or private tours. You'll also find a range of special interest packages including tours focusing on castles, whisky, cuisine, Outlander and more!

Opening times

Monday: 9am–5pm
Tuesday: 9am–5pm
Wednesday: 9am–5pm
Thursday: 9am–5pm
Friday: 9am–5pm
Office closed during local Edinburgh holidays.

Social Channels