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Caithness beach on the NC500

North Coast 500

'And I would drive 500 miles!'
Start planning for the ultimate experience around Scotland's Route 66!

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Touring the North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 is often dubbed as Scotland’s version of ‘Route 66’. But the comparison fails to illustrate the breath-taking culture and heritage one embarks on, over this journey. Created in 2014 by the North Highland Initiative, the route brings together 500 miles (516 if we are being accurate) of the finest of Scottish scenery and landmarks.

Which route to take

The official NC500 route begins and ends at Inverness Castle. You can undertake the route either clock-wise or anti-clockwise.

For spectacular views, we recommend heading west. Features such as ‘The Bealach Na Ba’ are guaranteed to excite your palate for the experiences yet to come!

If you fancy throwing yourself deep into the Highland route, why not fly direct to Wick John O’ Groats Airport? Arriving in the middle of the 500 miles you will enjoy close access to the magnificent features both on the east and west!

Save yourself a day or two travelling and jump right into your journey. We at Mackays are more than happy to arrange a hire car to make your trip that wee bit less stressful!

Visiting attractions

With an ample supply of daily activities, it is understandable that choosing what to do during your available time scale can be quite challenging! To assist you making this decision, the official NC500 website has created an interactive map. The map features all the available activities and accommodation during your journey.

If  you fancy an in depth exploration of Sutherland and Caithness visit Venture North. This website features extensive ‘To Do’ lists ranging from accommodation to ultimate shopping experiences.

Speaking on behalf of the locals, we have also created a map of Mackays recommendations of our favourite spots in the Northern Highlands.

Travel green

Being proud owners of our Gold Tourism Award, green living is at the core of our business and weekend explorations! Ever aiming to minimize our carbon footprint, Mackays have installed a TESLA charging point for all guests. We extend a warm offer to all TESLA drivers, to charge while you dine at no extra cost!

If you too share a passion for reducing your emissions, try out the carbon calculator as recommended by the Green Tourism scheme.

Additionally if you are looking to complete some or all of your travels by bike, but don’t fancy the nuisance of extra baggage on the trip home, visit John O’ Groats Cycle Transport who supply bike taxis across the highlands.

Where to stay

Mackays Hotel is ideally situated for those looking to relax and rejuvenate before the last leg of their NC500 journey. With an ample supply of local attractions, Caithness is an area not to be missed along the map of the Highlands. At Mackays, we guarantee award-winning dining and a soft bed to leave you finishing your tour bright eyed and bushy tailed.

Don’t take our word for it? They say seeing is believing, have a look at some of our former guest’s experiences.

North Coast 500 maps and apps

NC500 Map

The NC500 Map
Better safe than sorry! Download the NC500 Map for a trusty guide on your upcoming journey.


NC500 App

The NC500 App
Download the NC500 App on Google Play or Apple App Store to explore everything there is to know about your upcoming journey.


Venture North appVenture North Heritage App
Download the Venture North Heritage App to prevent missing out on breathtaking historic landscapes!.

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