9 North Coast 500 Campsites Not To Be Missed This Year

Scotland North Coast 500 Campsites

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White sand beaches and blue turquoise water in – Scotland? That can’t be right! You bet your bottom it is. These are the kinds of sights that you can see along Scotland’s North Coast 500 road a.k.a. “the Scottish Route 66” and the following North Coast 500 campsites are not to be missed.

This guide will include official campsites on the North Coast 500 with options for campervans.

You may also find our NC500 itinerary useful.

Join my free Scotland Facebook group to ask questions about your trip to Scotland.

Loch Doon From Camper Galloway Forest Park South Scotland_

Why Camp Along the North Coast 500?

Besides the tropical-like scenery, you’ll enjoy the grandeur of the Highlands with its emerald hills and lochs (lakes) while driving along this road.

What more could nature/adventure enthusiasts ask for?

As hotels, hostels and B&Bs book out fast on the NC500, camping is ideal for those booking quickly.

If you prefer to book self-contained apartments, here’s our guide.

North Coast 500 camping is economical, for the most budget-friendly option adheres to Scotland’s wild camping rules.

Unfortunately, there are have reports that some visitors have not been following the Scottish Outdoor Access Code when it comes to camping resulting in fragile areas of the Highlands being used as a base.

Please do not do this. 

Read below for an outline of what wild camping in Scotland means.

Lately, locals have not been so welcoming to wild campers, so please be considerate to those who live in the Highlands.

Chanonry Point Lighthouse Craig Scottish Highland NC500

North Coast 500 Campsites

The North Coast of Scotland boasts a variety of different landscapes.

Camping allows you to get up close and personal with nature, disconnecting from technology if you wish!

The Highlands is geared up for campers and camper vans, with its campsites offering shared bathroom facilities, recycling, hookups, waste disposal and sometimes even WiFi.

Chanonry Point Scottish Highland NC500

Where To Camp?

Several fantastic NC500 campsites with modern facilities are dotted around the Scottish Highlands.

There are also many private spots for those looking to go off the grid during their NC500 camping trip.

In this section, let’s explore the sites and what each offers

1. Applecross Campsite

Applecross is a popular camping spot in the Scottish Highlands.

It is often the first main stop road-trippers make after taking on the hairpin Bealach na Bà road.

So what’s the appeal?

Applecross boasts views over to the Isle of Skye and a hoaching eatery called the Applecross Inn.

Applecross campsite is a 10-minute walk from the Inn.

The site offers large tent areas, free hot showers and toilets, shaver points, dishwashing facilities and free WiFi around the reception area.

Applecross also caters for camper vans and motorhomes via ten serviced hard-standing pitches and nine electric grass pitches.

Don’t fancy camping?

There are glamping huts on site, too.

Applecross used to be popular, now it is off the chart in demand so book using their online system.

Applecross Inn Scotland, people sitting at lunch

2. Achmelvich Bay The Shore Caravan Site

This award-winning beach sits next to the family-friendly Shore Caravan Site, which offers no-set pitches but aims not to turn anyone away.

They have an overrun campsite close to the caravan site.

Facilities include a toilet block with showers, launderette, on-site shop, chip shop and WiFi.

Campfires are allowed, but not on the grass.

Shore Caravan Site is open end of March to mid-October. Prices start from £11.

Achmelvich Beach NC500 Motorhomes

3. Clachtoll Beach Campsite

The family-run Clachtoll Beach Campsite welcomes eco-friendly guests to their campsite close to the town of Lochinver.

Facilities include electric hook-ups, toilet and shower facilities, hair straightener points, dishwashing, laundry, eco-friendly toilet waste disposal, a vending machine with hot drinks, media charging lockers and WiFi!

Prices start at £20.

4. Scourie Campsite

Scourie Campsite is located in the centre of Scourie village which has a shop, a hotel and a restaurant.

The campsite is near the ferry port for Handa Island, where day trippers go to see the local puffins.

Campsite facilities include showers, water, and waste.

Prices start at £13, and this is one of the few campsites on the North Coast 500 that is open all year round.

Staffa Tours Fingal Puffin On Cliff Mull Scotland

5. Sango Sands

At the top of the NC500 route lies the town of Durness.

Durness is home to Smoo Cave and Sango Sands campsite.

You feel like you are at the end of the world staying at this campsite in the North West.

Sango Sands is open from April to the end of October and offers 58 electric hook-up points, both hard standing and on the grass.

Facilities include toilets, shower block, kitchen, waste disposal, dishwashing, laundry facilities and a restaurant with a bar.

Furry friends are welcome at this pet-friendly campsite.

Like many of northwest Scotland’s campsites, there is a lack of shelter, so it can get windy up there.

6. Ceannabeinne Beach

To reach Ceannabeinne Beach, take the A838 road east of Durness.

It is in a small bay facing north towards Eilean Hoan island.

Golden Eagle Zipline at Ceannabeinne Beach is one for adventure lovers.

The nearest campsite is Sango Sands Oasis.

7. Thurso Caravan and Campsite

Thurso Caravan and Campsite is a large campsite featuring individual plots, shared bathroom facilities and public picnic tables.

Showers are hot, and the site is across from a supermarket.

The site has views of Orkney and a nice pathway walk along the coast.

Prices start at £9.

We have stayed here.

Thurso Campsite Campervan North Coast 500 Scotland_

8. Sandy Bay near John o’ Groats

As you reach the John o’Groats tourist info centre, stop by to grab a map of the area, and on it, you’ll see a marked Sandy Bay.

It is a 10-minute drive from the centre, and you will see off-road, grass parking when you get there.

John o’Groats Caravan and Campsite is the closest park with facilities.

Prices start at £12.

John o Groats signpost bright North Coast 500 Scotland_

9. Ardtower Caravan Park

A very busy all-year-round campsite in Inverness, Ardtower books up fast, so reserve early.

This site has shared shower and toilet facilities, a shop and a shared cleaning area.

Charming vibe, plus views over the Kessock Bridge.

Prices start at £16.

We have stayed here.

Ardtower Campsite Inverness Scotland_

North Coast 500 Wild Camping

The beauty of camping in Scotland is that you can camp anywhere, to an extent.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code states you must:

  • Respect the interest of locals – this is especially true when camping on land
  • Care for the environment – leave the land as you find it, no digging or fires at cultural sites
  • Take responsibility for your actions – be safe, stay away from buildings, farms and roads
  • Here is advice on how to deal with emergencies while camping.

The grey area with NC500 wild camping is that the primary way to get around the route is by car, and wild camping in other areas of Scotland is often utilised by those on foot. See our West Highland Way guide for more details on Scotland’s West Coast hike.

As you are not supposed to wild camp near roads, you will need leave your car as you hike to your camping spot.

That being said, these rules are in place to protect you, locals and the environment and not infringe on your rights to explore the Highlands so be smart but have fun.

Chanonry Point Flowers Scottish Highland NC500

Camping Gear List

Before you set out on your NC500 adventure, you will need to have your equipment in order.

So what is it exactly that you’ll need?

Everyone’s packing lists may vary, but here is what a list of the essentials might look like:

  • A quality tent that will keep you safe from wind and rain
  • Layers
  • Waterproof jacket and overtrousers
  • Comfortable footwear such as hiking shoes like these Salamon trek shoes US / UK
  • Personal hygiene products and sunscreen
  • Portable cooler
  • Extra phone battery packs like Anker US / UK (you will need it for maps)
  • Bag to collect rubbish – leave nothing behind
  • A strong stomach, you shouldn’t do the toilet in a public place
  • Don’t forget to bring a lot of money for petrol/gas and food/water!
Shieldaig What to Pack NC500

The Best Time For Camping

In case you didn’t know, the weather in this region is unpredictable, and some would say that you can experience multiple seasons in one day.

However, some months are preferable to others when it comes to camping.

Late spring to late summer is the best time to go here.

May is often a great time to visit Scotland before the dreaded midgies take force.

The daylight lasts about 16 hours a day during the summer, giving you a lot of sunlight to enjoy the scenery.

North Coast 500 Motorhomes

Camping not your cup of tea?

Hiring a campervan or motorhome for the NC500 is very common and is a relatively easy way to get around.

You do have the winding roads of the Bealach na Bà to contend with and Scotland’s single-track roads make driving on the other side a slight challenge but fellow drivers are courteous if you are too.

There are plenty of ‘passing places’ for you to pull over in to let other drivers pass.

If you see lots of campervans together, it is not a sign that it is a good overnight stop.

It’s a signal to move on and find somewhere else…

Dunnet Head Campervans North Coast 500 Scotland_
Scotland North Coast 500 Campsites

There are many benefits of taking a North Coast 500 motorhome trip, such as flexibility with your itinerary, avoiding hotels that book up quickly, and the fact that campers offer a bit more luxury than camping in a tent!

North Coast 500 caravan sites tend to run alongside the camping sites mentioned in this article.

The facilities available at each one have been discussed above.

Achmelvich Beach white sand and turquoise waters on the North Coast 500 Scotland Highlands


This NC500 camping guide has detailed where to stay on the NC500 if camping or campervanning.

If camping is not your thing, I’d still recommend you check out this road and all it offers, as you can find plenty of decent accommodation here too.

27 thoughts on “9 North Coast 500 Campsites Not To Be Missed This Year

  1. Kerry E says:

    we are staying by trailer tent and with our children and dog, do you have any suggestions for us of where to stay , we would also love to see the isle of Skye too. we have a 4 week window give or take.

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