3 North Coast 500 Tours: Let Someone Else Do The Driving

Winding Belach Na Bah road on the North Coast 500 Scotland

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The North Coast 500 (NC500) is Scotland’s most famous road trip. Thousands flock to the Scottish Highlands every year to drive the stunning 516 miles from Inverness to John O’Groats and then back to Inverness.

But what if you can’t or don’t want to drive in Scotland? No stress! There are now North Coast 500 tours in Scotland, taking small groups of landscape, food, and heritage fans around our equivalent of Route 66!

Here’s our jam-packed road trip itinerary, too.

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Is a North Coast 500 Tour For Me?

North Coast 500 tours are aimed at visitors who:

  • Enjoy small group company.
  • Who don’t want to be behind the wheel on the ‘wrong side’ of the road.
  • Like to experience the Scottish Highlands with an expert guide, sometimes in a kilt!
  • Don’t mind itineraries, trusting their guide knows all the top NC500 highlights.
Duncansby Stacks North Coast 500 Scotland_

3-Day North Coast 500 Small-Group Tour from Inverness

  • Leaving from: Inverness Bus Station
  • Number of days: 3
  • Accommodation: 2 nights
  • Language: English
  • Max number of participants: 16
  • Price: From £175
Groam House Museum Flowers Fortrose on North Coast 500 in Scotland_

The 3-day North Coast Small-Group Tour leaves from the ‘capital of the Highlands’ Inverness. An excellent starting point as this is where the NC500 route officially kicks off.

This NC500 tour includes two nights stay in an NC500 accommodation, easy level guided nature walks and the following North Coast 500 itinerary:

Day 1: Inverness to Ullapool

Leaving Inverness Bus Station at 8 am, the first-day route may include a stop at the National Nature Reserve, Corrieshalloch Gorge (weather permitting) with an easy walk to one of Scotland’s waterfalls.

Day one’s drive takes you along winding roads, through enchanting hills, and past the glorious coast.

I’m excited that you get to stop in Shieldaig, one of my recommended points of interest on the NC500. It’s such a cute wee town with lovely views of Shieldaig Island.

The midges can be fierce, remember to pack Smidge or Avon Skin So Soft UK/US.

The day ends in the port town, Ullapool.

Ullapool is one of my top 10 recommended places to visit in Scotland. The bars are always full of music and good spirit.

Look out for my friend Kim Richards. Hopefully, she will be singing and playing while you are there.

Don’t get too lost in your dram, you have an early start tomorrow!

Ullapool, houses, sea, sky, mountain_

Day 2: Ullapool to Thurso

On the second day, you drive up to the top of Scotland!

Weather depending, you may stop off at Ardvreck Castle ruins, the white sandy beaches of the NC500 and visit the famous Smoo Cave in Durness.

Your second night is spent in Thurso.

Thurso Beach North Coast 500 Scotland_

Day 3: Thurso to Inverness

Heading down the east coast of the North Coast 500, this is where you get to experience more of Scotland’s history but not before a wee stop at a Highland’s whisky distillery.

Learn why the ‘water of life’ is so important to the east coast of the Highlands.

The tour stops at John o’ Groats (get a picture of the sign), Dunrobin Castle and Gardens, Golspie, Caithness and Sutherland.

Accommodation includes two nights stay in 3-star bed and breakfast which is very typical for the Scottish Highlands. The breakfast is always a good start to the day. Alternatively, it may be a 3-star hotel. All rooms have ensuites for your comfort.

Dunrobin Castle with fountain gardens North Coast 500 Scotland_

Tour Exclusions

The tour does not cover transport to Inverness, food, drink, admission to Dunrobin Castle and Gardens, or gratitude.

Who are Rabbie’s Small Group Tours?

Rabbie’s are a very respected small tours company in Scotland.

Established since 1993, Rabbie’s offer award-winning trips in the UK.

Their tour bus even made it into a Buzzfeed thread about things to see in Scotland!

There are many ways to book NC500 this tour.

You can book directly through the Rabbie’s site or Viator or GetYourGuide.

Langostine, Applecross Inn Scotland

Scotland: North Coast 500 4-Day Tour

  • Leaving from: To be agreed
  • Number of days: 4
  • Accommodation: 3 nights
  • Language: English, Spanish, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian
  • Max number of participants: 2
  • Cost: From £4500 per group (max 2)

This four-day North Coast 500 tour is a tad more flexible than the 3-day small group tour as it is tailored to your needs.

  • Want to hit the beach? Done!
  • Prefer to roam castle grounds? No problem.
  • All about the food? Check!
  • Need to do all three, also possible!

Your guide/driver will respect your itinerary.

The 4-day NC500 tour leaves from your agreed-upon location.

This ‘crash course in Scottish history and culture’ hits all the highlights, including gorges (Corrieshalloch), waterfalls (Rogie Falls), Glens (Glencoe), Lochs (Ness), castles (Balmoral Castle), ruins (Urquhart Castle), and much more!

Tour Exclusions

Accommodation, food, drink and admission to activities are not included in this tour.

However, your guide will make recommendations before and during the trip.

Check availability here.

Achmelvich beach, blue sea, white sand, rocks, people North Coast 500 Scotland

1-Day Wester Ross Coastal Tour

  • Leaving from: Inverness, Bank Street
  • Number of days: 1
  • Accommodation: N/A
  • Language: English
  • Max number of participants: 3
  • Cost: From TBD

For a very personal tour of the NC500, hitch a ride with Wendy, the local who loves her region.

Reserve your spot here picks you up at 8 am on Bank Street, Inverness.

From here you head straight to the mountains on the east coast of the North Coast 500.

Although there are no designated stops on this relaxed private NC500 tour, the itinerary tends to include The Black Isle.

This region of the NC500 is a special place famous for its farmland and villages. I used to party with many Black Islers back the day, very interesting and sweet people. Man, they can party!

Corrie Shallock Gorge, Gairloch and a few wild Scottish animals are firm attractions on this tour too!

Lunch and a half hour hike take place at Loch Maree and if the weather is good, lunch will be a wee picnic.

Lucky visitors get to experience the infamous Bealach na Bà to Applecross. Hold on to your hats! You’ll be glad Wendy is driving and not you.

To calm your nerves the next stops include soothing beaches and possibly friendly Highland cows.

Bealach na Bar Road North Coast 500 Scotland

Tour Exclusions

This is a 1-day tour therefore, accommodation is not part of the package.

Note: you cannot drive the whole North Coast 500 route in one day. The minimum is two days and that’s a lot of driving.

Check availability here.

North Coast 500 Map NC500 route Scotland

Important Information About NC500 Tours

Although tour companies do their best to break up trips with lots of stops, parts of the journey may sometimes be experienced from the window.

Maybe, with the typical Scottish weather, you will be happy with this situation!

This might be a struggle for budding photographers, but rest assured, your guide will ensure you don’t miss the most Instagrammed spots in Scotland.

If a pretty Highland cow is licking its chops on the side of the road, I’m sure your guide will make an emergency stop so you can capture it!

Bealach Na Ba NC500 Route

Final Words

If you want to experience the jam-packed North Coast 500 road trip but don’t want the stress of driving in Scotland do consider one of these local NC500 tours.

See the highlights of the Scottish Highlands from the comfort of the car or bus and learn from guides and locals about life on Scotland’s most popular drive.

Pin to your Scotland board for future planning

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Any questions? Ask below.

10 thoughts on “3 North Coast 500 Tours: Let Someone Else Do The Driving

  1. Kathryn Elizabeth Brocklehurst says:

    if you drive up to Inverness in order to take one of these 3/4 day tours is there anywhere to park your car safely whilst you are on the tour?

    • Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hi Kathryn, it’s a public place pick up so you’ll need to organise car parking privately. Hope you work something out!

  2. Miss Madeleine Shea says:

    I would like to go on a 7 day coach tour with a guide of the highlands 500. Does such a thing exist? 5 or 6 days would be fine. Does such a thing exist?

  3. Susan Tait says:

    We are a group of friends who would like to tour the 500 in camper vans. We are all novices! Do you think it would be wise, given your advice above? Already a bit apprehensive about it!

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hey Susan, hardest part is the Bealach Na Ba which you can see in the feature image of this post. Have you read our NC500 itinerary guide? That will give you a full description of what the locations are like. If it was me, I wouldn’t drive it in a campervan but my husband is comfortable doing so. Really depends on the confidence levels of the driver.

  4. Ricardo Gaspar says:

    Hi friends, im from brazil and need a plan, for 7 days. 10 cyclist to do the compete NCC 500… coul you help me ?

    • Gemma I Two Scots Abroad says:

      Hey Ricardo! We don’t actually hardcore cycle ourselves but the route stays the same. My friend did it by bike. He said the east coast was brutal because of the rain and lack of shelter. Your luck depends on the weather of course! Here’s our NC500 itinerary for stops. Let me know how you get on?

  5. Praful Chaudhary says:

    We are planning iternary for scotland in May 2020

    I got a recomendations for northcoast 500. How many days shall we dedicate to northcoast 500….. What all locations are must see along northcoast.

    Is their any other place in Scotland that is must visit other than northcoast 500

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