Exploring Scotland’s NC500: Top 10 Must-See Places in 2024

Planning Your NC500 Road Trip? Check Out My Top 10 Must-See Stops Along the Way!

Whether you’re planning your first trip or looking to rediscover its hidden treasures, Scotland’s NC500 promises a journey like no other. After completing the route myself last year, I’ve created a list of my top 10 must-see places, that you simply can’t miss! From cascading waterfalls to historic castles and breathtaking scenery, there’s something here for every traveller seeking to explore the NC500.

If you’re starting to plan your NC500 adventure, I’d highly recommend getting your hands on the NC500 guidebook. It’s packed with invaluable tips, detailed maps, and insider insights that will make your journey hassle-free. Whether you’re seeking the best spots for photography, hidden gems off the beaten track, or recommendations for charming accommodations and local eateries, the guidebook is your go-to. It ensures you make the most of your time along this breathtaking route, turning every stop into a memorable experience.

Now, let’s get to the important part, here’s my top 10 destinations…

NC500 Route Map

The NC500 Top 10 Must-See Places…

10. The Black Isle

Often overshadowed by its more famous neighbours, the Black Isle is a hidden treasure of scenic beauty and rich history. In the heart of the Black Isle, you’ll find Fairy Glen Falls—a spot I found to be massively underrated! This charming and easy woodland walk leads to two breathtaking waterfalls. The round trip takes about 45 minutes and covers 1.5 miles. It’s perfect for kids, great for dogs, and even a romantic stroll!

Chanonry Point is also a must-see when visiting here! Chanonry lighthouse is perfect for a photo op, but the real highlight is spotting dolphins in the nearby Moray Firth. The best time to catch a glimpse of these is about an hour after low tide. Head to the shingle beach behind the lighthouse for the best view. Don’t forget your camera!

Fairy Glen Falls

9. The Black Burn Trail

This really is a hidden gem that we completely missed on our first NC500 trip!  The Big Burn is a spectacular short walk up a scenic gorge where you’ll criss-cross over footbridges to reach a final crescendo of waterfalls. The walk is super easy and takes around 1 hour as a round trip from the car park (approx 3km for the whole walk). Get your camera ready and keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels! We visited in early November and the autumn leaves were immensely beautiful.

8. Whaligoe Steps

Next up, and one of the highlights of my NC500 adventure was exploring the picturesque Whaligoe Haven. This naturally formed harbour is accessed via famous zig-zagging stone steps, surrounded on three sides by dramatic 250-foot cliffs. These 365 man-made steps date back to the 1800s when fishermen used them to haul up baskets of fish. Today, they offer a unique and scenic walk for travellers like us. The climb back up might require a bit of effort, but trust me, it’s well worth it!

NC500 Top 10 Must-See Places
Whaligoe Steps

7. Castle Sinclair

Just 3 miles north of Wick, you’ll find the must-see Castle Sinclair. This spectacular castle perched on the edge of a cliff offers stunning sea views. The original castle dates back to the 14th century, making it a fascinating spot for exploring and capturing some cool photos. Don’t miss the rocky cove to the right of the castle—it’s a great place to spot wildlife, including seals, dolphins, and, if you’re lucky, even orcas!

6. Kylesku Bridge

One of the most iconic sights on the NC500! The Kylesku Bridge, opened in 1984 by the Queen is a 276m long bridge that crosses the Caolas Cumhann channel. What really makes this place special is the surrounding Sutherland scenery. Huge mountains, vast lochs and rugged vistas dwarf the Kylesku Bridge. You definitely can’t skip this!

Kylesku Bridge

5. Achmelvich Bay

A hidden gem on the NC500, Achmelvich Bay is a pristine and secluded paradise, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and abundant marine life. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for porpoises, dolphins and minke whale off the coast! For adventure-seekers, it’s also a great spot for water sport activities and rock pooling.

4. Strathy Bay

As far as Scottish beaches go, they don’t come much better than Strathy! Once you walk over the brow of the hill this magnificent beach is revealed. The short walk down the hill through the dunes to reach the beach is wonderful.  You’ll be pushed to find whiter sand or bluer seas anywhere in the world. It can be equally wild as it is beautiful, but that’s really what defines this spot on the NC500 route.

Strathy Beach
Strathy Beach

3. Sango Sands Beach

It’s hard to argue against this being one of the most beautiful spots on the NC500! I’d recommend heading straight to the viewing point, to take in the remarkable views across the bay. You might even find yourself thinking this place has been transported straight from the Caribbean, with its clear blue waters and golden sands.

For those looking to stay overnight, there’s also nearby campsite with a restaurant and pub that’s open during the busier months. It’s the perfect place to unwind and soak in the stunning surroundings.

Sango Sands Bay
Sango Sands Bay

2. Bealach Na Ba

One of Scotland’s most stunning routes, the famous Bealach Na Ba is an iconic mountain pass that connects Applecross to the A896. This winding single-track road snakes through some epic mountains and descends with breathtaking views of Loch Kishorn. It’s no wonder that many drivers feel a bit nervous about tackling the Bealach Na Ba with its steep gradients and sharp hairpin turns.

But here’s the good news: as long as you’re cautious, sensible, and patient, you should have no problems whatsoever. Most cars and motorhomes handle the pass just fine, but extremely large vehicles should steer clear.

Bealach Na Ba
Bealach Na Ba

1. Wailing Widow Falls

I’d say this is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the whole of the UK! With its dramatic 50-foot drop cascading into a dark, mysterious pool below, it’s a spectacle to behold. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker, an avid photographer, or simply a lover of nature, Wailing Widow Falls promises an unforgettable experience. If you’re able to visit this place, you absolutely must!

To access from below, use the small parking area marked on Google Maps. You won’t be able to see the waterfall from the parking area but follow the left hand side of the ridge for around 10 minutes and after some scrambling here and there you’ll reach the falls.

Wailing Widow Falls
Wailing Widow Falls

Honestly, the NC500 is packed with so much to explore and experience—it’s tough to pick just 10 places! For a deep dive into all things NC500, head over to my Robbie Roams YouTube channel and catch my quick 5-minute guide for more info below! 

DISCOVER MY ROAD TRIP NORTH COAST 500 GUIDE

Featuring incredible locations, practical tips and stress saving hacks to ensure your road trip is simply unforgettable...
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POSTED BY...
Robbie-Roams

Robbie Roams

Collie dog lover, keen traveler and travel guide writer. In 2022, I launched No Fuss Travel Guides with 'North Coast 500 - The Road Trip of a Lifetime' which became an Amazon best seller. I've since worked with tourism boards including Visit Wales and have been featured in The Guardian 'Best of Travel'.

Hopefully you find some value in my videos & blogs, if there's something you want to ask me, fire away.

Don't forget to follow me on Youtube, Instagram & Facebook for the latest updates.

Rob, Staffordshire, UK

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