One of Scotland’s most legendary, sight-seeing road trips sits along its northernmost coast. Featuring some of the country’s most breath-taking landscapes, engulfing history and unbelievable feats of nature, the North Coast 500 road trip is famous across the globe as Scotland’s answer to Route 66. However, the most common question we get asked about this epic road trip isn’t about the sights or activities, it is “How much does the North Coast 500 cost?”

To help you plan your own NC500 adventure, we put together our NC500 road trip budget, including how much money we spent on each different part of the trip, as well as advice for what you should budget for other parts. This will give you a full breakdown of the NC500 cost and will give you an idea of what you should budget.


Get planning your ultimate Scotland Road Trip with our 7-day North Coast 500 itinerary



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North Coast 500 Budget – How Much Does It Cost?


Although we are both from Scotland and LOVE the great outdoors, neither of us has ever ventured further north than Aberdeen; nowhere near the NC500’s many beautiful sights! We decided enough is enough and set off on our two-week-long camping trip to take in some of Scotland’s most spectacular sights and attractions.

For this two week trip, we decided to budget as hard as possible. We still made the most of Scotland’s fantastic activities, food and (most importantly) drink, however, saved money on accommodation. In order to do this, we wild camped for the vast majority of this trip.

park up nearby loch maree

Our trip began by heading north from Glasgow for a two day stay in Aviemore, south of Inverness, before joining the NC500 route. We then finished at Lochcarron on the west coast, before spending three days in Skye and heading back to Glasgow. This budget is only for the 7 days we spent exploring the NC500 route, going counter-clockwise along the coast.

The costs discussed will obviously be for two people, however, we will also summarise what we would expect this trip to cost for one person as well.


Fuel Costs on the NC500

Now in order to do the NC500, a method of transport is absolutely crucial. Unless you are a very savvy hitchhiker with a lot of time on your hands, you will need a vehicle of some form to get around the north coast. This can range from the highly popular motorbike, to a campervan. All of these options can be rented from companies local to the route. This is a popular choice for many visitors, and the most popular rental companies can be found here.

Over our entire trip, the 500 mile route turned into more of a 700 mile adventure. This is mainly due to off route detours to explore the surrounding area, however a small amount was also due to our incredible navigation skills (sarcasm alert).  The total cost of our fuel bill for this trip was £180 (you can add the price of car rental). Car rental is usually around £50/day for a small, hatchback car.

Since the fuel cost would be this regardless of the number of adventurers, I will say that the cost is £180/person.


Destination North Coast Map

If you are planning an adventure to the North Coast of Scotland, make sure you have all the resources you need to make the most of your trip. Our Destination North Coast Map is the perfect addition to any traveller’s toolkit. With detailed information on all the best spots, along the NC500, this map is your ultimate guide to exploring the rugged beauty of Scotland’s north coast.

Read more about this map here.

 Accommodation Cost on the NC500

As I said before, for the majority of our NC500 trip we managed to completely avoid accommodation fees by wild camping and avoiding campsites. Over the 7 days that we were on the road, we paid to stay for one night on a campsite. This was only to freshen up, wash our clothes and recharge our tech. Thanks to this, our accommodation was the smallest part of our NC500 budget.

Wild camping can seem like a daunting task, especially if you enjoy your small comforts. Have a look at our Guide to Responsible Wild Camping on the NC500 for inspiration and advice for your next cheap adventure!

Our only accommodation cost was at the highly recommended Scourie Camping and Caravan Park, costing us £23 for a small tent with two people. This included electricity to allow us to charge up our travel tech. On top of this, we paid £2 to wash our clothes and £1 to dry them.

For a complete list of all of the best North Coast 500 campsites, read our complete guide over here.

Best Hotels and B&Bs on the NC500

If you are not into camping and fancy somewhere a little more comfortable then there is a range of accommodations available to you along the route. We would recommend browsing all of the different areas to check out the costs in our North Coast 500 7 day Itinerary guide as this will tell you the best options in each area.

The price of accommodation will vary depending on the style that you go for, however, you can find a comfortable hotel for as little as £80/night.

the gairloch hotel bed


Your trip to Scotland will be a lot more comfortable with a midge net and midge spray. These little biting bugs can be enough to ruin a trip if you don’t have the equipment to protect yourself from them. A repelling candle can also be helpful if you are sitting oustide.


The best part of the epic North Coast 500 roadtrip is that Scotland’s most spectacular attractions are completely free. The stunning views that you can admire for a lifetime cost nothing, as you wind your way through the countryside. If you are into your great outdoors, then this is definitely the trip for you!

One of the few activities we paid for during our trip was the Smoo Cave tour. This will cost you £10 per person, and gives you an in depth and fascinating insight into Scotland’s volcanic and geographical past. It also paints an incredible picture of how the country looked when the first Vikings landed and began to colonise the north coast. I never thought of myself as being into this side of history before, but this tour has me addicted!

Our activities for this trip totalled at £31.20/person.

 Our most expensive activity was a trip across to Handa Island, an almost completely uninhabited, nature reserve. This sits just off the coast of Tarbet, and the boat trip across will cost you £20 per person. When you arrive on the island, you will be met by the islands only inhabitants, an RSPB member, who will give you a quick briefing. 

Once you are all clued up on where to go and what to expect, you can make your way out to explore this vast and beautiful island. Beaches, cliffs and hundreds of species of birds; this trip is well worth a morning of exploring if it is a nice day.

We also recommend the Golden Eagle zipline at Ceannabeine Beach and the castle tour at Dunrobin Castle. Check out our Best Activities on the North Coast 500 for our full list of recommendations. 

A Complete Guide to Visiting Ceannabeinne Beach on the NC500 - Highlands2hammocks

Food and Drink


During our trip around the north coast, we were tended to cook as many of our meals as possible. As we packed our portable fridge and camping stoves, we managed to save a lot of money by avoiding eating out every day. By doing so, we were able to enjoy the huge range of delicious camping recipes we keep under our belts, and also spend more money enjoying the beautiful sights around the NC500.

Don’t get me wrong, we did treat ourselves to dinner out on a couple of our nights, after all the cuisine is half the reason why we visit places. For this budget, I have included one bought breakfast and two bought dinners, with the rest of the meals cooked by ourselves. Our total food budget for the week was £130 for the both of us.

This budget equals £65 for one person.



Limiting your alcohol consumption is a huge money saver when it comes to small budget trips. However, as the local drink is one of the main reasons I enjoy travel, I didn’t cut it out completely, and I don’t recommend you do either.

Our budget for alcohol, coffees, and cakes and other miscellaneous drinks was £75 over the week. The equates to £37.50 per person.

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ness walk hotel

If you are looking for a good bag for your time exploring the NC500, we can highly recommend the Wandrd Bag PRVKE 41L, especially if you are carrying camera equipment around. If you are looking for a smaller backpack, The Nest by Tropicfeel is one of the most comfortable bags I have ever owned.

 Total Trip Cost

This unforgettable road trip on Scotland’s famous NC500 worked out a LOT cheaper than we were expecting, without us sacrificing any of the good bits. We realised how affordable so-called “Staycations” actually are, and when you have a country as beautiful as Scotland to explore, why wouldn’t you?!

The total cost of the trip for both of us ended up being £498. If you are considering this then you should also add on any rental costs you need, plus the equipment that you do not have.

As you can see, the two largest areas of spending are food and petrol, the rest is very low. This is again due to our choice of accommodation (wild camping), as well as how much fun Scotland can be without the need to spend any money. Another reason why we love it so much!

nc500 pods sunrise

FAQs on the NC500

Is Wild Camping Allowed in Scotland?

It is generally legal to wild camp around Scotland, with the exception of some specific areas due to bye-laws. For example, it is not legal to camp on the western shores of Loch Lomond due to overuse and lack of respect. When you are wild camping in Scotland, the most important thing to remember is Leave No Trace.

If you would like some guidance on how to wild camp responsibly, read our full guide to wild camping in Scotland here.


Where does the North Coast 500 start and finish?

The official starting point (and ending point) of the North Coast 500 Circuit is at the beautiful city of Inverness. It is, of course, is entirely up to yourself where you wish to join the circle, so long as you make sure you see as much of it as possible. We recommend starting on the East coast and saving the incredible West coast for last.

Plan your entire road trip with our easy-to-use itinerary guide here.


What is the best NC500 guidebook?

After spending years of our lives travelling around the highlands of Scotland, we published our own guidebook to the North Coast 500 in 2021, named Destination NC500. This detailed guidebook has quickly become a huge success, with over 100 5-star reviews on our website and selling off the shelves of UK highstreet shops. 

This guide contains details on where to eat and stay, what are the best sights to visit, how to get around, where to top up water and empty toilet waste for campervans, and so much more. 

Read more about Destination NC500 over here

Before You Leave for the North Coast 500

Before you head off on your trip around the NC500, there are certain things you will need to get organised to ensure a smooth trip. These include how to get around the route, including being aware of single track roads, etc., what to pack for Scotland, where to stay along the route and what travel insurance to book.

How Do I Get Around?

Given the remote location of the NC500 and the majority of the sights along the route, the best way to get around this road trip is by driving. There are of course other methods that are still popular, such as cycling and hiking, however, if you have a short amount of time on the route, neither of these are very suitable.

As for public transport, the use around the NC500 is understandably difficult due to how remote each location is, however, with the increasing problem of congestion along the route, this is a good option to research if you have time. If it is something that interests you, you can read a public formed itinerary of how to get around the NC500 by public transport over here.

Of course you might fancy touring the North Coast 500 by motorhome. This is also a fantastic option. We can highly recommend hiring through Motorhome Republic. As this route is getting busier, make sure to respect the locals and the landscapes. Read our tips for driving the NC500 in a motorhome here.

Where to Stay on the NC500

There is a wide range of accommodations around the NC500 route, so you will not be short on options. Depending on how long you are spending in each area will depend on how long you spend in that location. It is worth bearing in mind that some accommodations will require you to stay a minimum number of nights so it is worth researching this when you are planning your North Coast 500 itinerary.

Our new book North Coast 500 Where to Eat and Stay shares the best places to eat and stay around the NC500 and includes whether places are dog friendly, accessible, have wifi and EVC ad whether they cater to dietry requirements.

The remoteness in the highlands of Scotland will leave you with little choice of accommodation in each location along the NC500, however, there are still enough options to choose from to ensure a comfortable trip. These are mostly in the shape of B&Bs, Airbnbs, converted cottages and other quirky accommodations.

Depending on how adventurous you are, there may be more accommodation choices than just the above, often with an even better view. Caravan and camping sites are abundant along the NC500, drawing camping enthusiasts from all over the world. For some of the most spectacular bedside scenery along the North Coast 500, we recommend packing a tent and getting in touch with nature for the week.

We travelled along the North Coast 500, camped in our trusty Vango tent, on a mixture of campsites and wild sites. Wild camping is a fantastic way to enjoy the beauty of the highlands, however, it must be done respectfully. Read our full guide to Wild Camping if you wish to give it a go so you know everything you need to for a comfortable and sustainable trip.

achmelvich beach

What Should I Pack?

When it comes to packing for a trip to Scotland there is one item of clothing that you are going to need all year round: a waterproof. It rains in Scotland on average 250 days a year, meaning that during your 5-day Heart 200 road trip you will probably experience at least a drizzle of rain. Due to this, the number one item on any Scotland packing list is a good waterproof jacket (men’s / women’s).

As for the rest of the year, the temperature in Scotland and the central heartlands is reasonably mild for most of the year. During the winter months, you will most likely experience snow, however, temperatures usually sit around freezing, so it is not too cold. For your reference, the average temperatures in Scotland are listed below during each season.

Spring (March, April, May) – 5-10 degrees C

Summer (June, July, August) – 15 degrees C

Autumn (September, October, November) – 5-10 degrees C

Winter (December, January, February) – 0-5 degrees C

As you can see, the weather never really gets above the teens, with anything over 25 degrees C considered a heatwave. The best way to pack for your trip to the highlands is with layers that can be added and removed as you need them. You will definitely need a hat and gloves during the colder months and will most likely need sunscreen to protect you on the long days in the open.

It is also important to stay hydrated, especially when you are out exploring in the marvellous landscape of Scotland. We use Water to Go water bottles to fill up with water from running streams when we are hiking.

We would also recommend taking our NC500 guidebooks with you on your journey. This will help you plan your itinerary and ensure that you don’t miss out on any of the best places to go on the NC500. Our Destination NC500 guidebook is well paired with NC500 Where to Eat and Stay and you can buy the combo here.

For our full list of items that we pack no matter where we go in the world, check out our full packing guides over here.

Given the beautiful sights and scenery that you are no doubt going to see around Scotland, we highly recommend packing a good camera for your trip. If you want to read more about the cameras we use and why we love them, check out the link below.

You can read what else we keep in our camera bag over here.

What is the Best Travel Insurance for the North Coast 500

I know travel insurance is the least enjoyable thing to purchase and look at when you’re planning a trip, however, you wouldn’t want to be without it in the event that something happened. Accidents can happen anywhere and the extortionate medical bills will ruin your trip if you are not covered.

To ensure you have a stress-free trip with no worries about potential medical bills, make sure you cover yourself when you travel. We can recommend using SafetyWing, a backpacker-friendly and cheap insurance company that provides good coverage and support. It is also nomad-friendly, unlike most other insurance companies, meaning you do not need to worry about being out of your home country for too long.

Get a quote for your travel insurance right here and get covered!

So there you have it, all of the best sights along the North Coast 500, including castles, cliff views, and stunning harbour towns. If you have visited the NC500 recently, let us know what you thought of the sights listed above, or if you have any suggestions let us know in the comments below.

As always, sharing is caring so make sure to share this guide with your family and friends and inspire them to head off on their own North Coast 500 adventure. If you are planning the trip for yourself, make sure you have a look at the rest of our Scotland content for more inspiration to our beautiful home country.

When you set off on your own adventure, be sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram and we will share them with the rest of our community. In the meantime, why not follow us over there to see what we are currently up to and keep up with us on our Instagram Stories.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. emily garcia

    Hey, thank you so much for this amazing post. we are from Brighton, and fair weather campers, but we have set ourselves the challenge of wild camping the North Coast 500. Can I ask, can you just pitch up anywhere in Scotland? Also, is it pretty safe to do so? We are planning a two week trip in October.

    1. highlands2hammocks

      Hey there! Thanks for commenting. We are jealous of your road trip plans, we would love to head back here again! Wild camping is widely accepted in Scotland, so long as it is done respectfully. This means making sure you stay out of sight and out of mind, leave no trace of you being there, and if you are in doubt, simply ask the landowner if they mind you staying for the night. This is 99% of the time met my warmth and gratitude, and helps develop a much more positive experience for all parties involved. There are certain bye-laws in the Trossachs National Park with regards to camping, where you need to pay for a permit to camp, however, on any unenclosed land in the remote parts of Scotland, it is legal to wild camp. Have a look through our other camping posts for more info on wild camping and camping near Loch Lomond for more info, and have an amazing trip!

  2. David Mcnae

    Hi! Im thinking of surprising my wife with this mini adventure for her 40th Birthday! Im wondering though, would a small campervan be ok doing what you did? Or do you need a car? We have both options but thinking would be great to do it in a camper!
    Sorry if you mention it in your blog, im slwoy getting through it, so much info i got too excited lol

    1. highlands2hammocks

      Hey there David! A small campervan would definitely be a good choice for driving round the NC500, we did it in a car as we didnt have one haha. I would not recommend a large one though as the roads are very tight. I’m glad you are finding these guides useful and if you have any other questions please just ask on here or shoot us a DM on instagram!

  3. Naomi

    Hey, I really want to do this for my birthday in September next year. It would need to be on a budget so I wondered about kitting out my fairly long estate car and using the folded boot and seats as our sleeping spot. Are you allowed to park the car anywhere and sleep? We’d fit a roof rack and pack things in tight… but pack fairly light on clothes… take our own cooking equipment etc. Would that work, do you think?

    1. highlands2hammocks

      That is so exciting! You are going to have a great time. Yeah that is definitely possible and is a quite popular way of exploring. Regarding the parking, there are obviously some ground rules as to where you can park, but if you black out your windows in the car then you will have the advantage of being able to stealth camp as well. You obviously need to park safely and not just at the side of the road, but if you use the Park4Night app you will see the popular parking spots around the route.

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