Planning the Perfect Scotland Campervan Road Trip

Campervan trip showing Scotland NC500 roads


Any passionate driver or keen adventurer wants a campervan road trip on the Scotland North Coast 500 (NC500) commonly called Scotlands route 66, and with good reason!

This road is famous for its stunning landscapes and pure natural freedom. It is absolutely the perfect place for a campervan road trip – so, with that in mind, here’s an NC500 guide you’ll want to follow before you hit the road in your new campervan.

We are sure you will enjoy your campervan holiday and fall in love with Scotland just like we have!

Where does the NC500 start and finish?

NC500 officially the route starts and finishes in Inverness, but there are many ways to customise the route to suit your own preferences. Whether you’re looking for dramatic mountain roads or quiet country lanes, NC500 has something to offer everyone.

The NC500 road trip route is well signposted with clear NC500 signs, our advice though is to learn the route before you go and get a handy NC500 fold-out map like the one here which is the one we used. (Link) Note: It is the one we used and is ideal for planning campervan routes.

Forth bridge photo from our Campervan Road Trip


Is it better to do NC500 clockwise or anticlockwise?

The looping route of the Scotland NC500 means you have an option for whether to go clockwise or anticlockwise. However, some official NC500 materials discuss only one direction as being correct whereas others mention both options and there does not seem to be any “correct” choice when it comes down to individual preference.

There is a saying that goes “The West is Best” and we agree, if you want our honest opinion I would say go anticlockwise laving the best until last.

Heading up the east coast towards john o’groats you will find the scenic drives just get better and more dramatic. I think if you plan to split your time equally with the east and west you will wish you spent more time taking in the glorious beaches , picturesque villages, incredible sea views, and ancient castles of the west coast.

Our Road Trip Route

  • Inverness
  • Dornoch
  • Wick
  • John o Groats
  • Thurso
  • Tongue
  • Durness
  • Scouri
  • Lochinver
  • Ullapool
  • Gairloch
  • Kenmore
  • Applecross
  • We then went down to the isle of Skye instead of back along Loch Ness to Inverness


For the Ultimate Campervan Road Trip, Take Your Time and Enjoy!

You don’t know when or if you’ll ever be able to get back to the NC500, so take your time! There is so much to sample in Scotland so depending on the time you have available heres a short guide.

You don’t know when or if you’ll ever be able to get back to the NC500, so take your time! There is so much to sample in Scotland so depending on the time you have available heres a short guide.

A few days away

It’s possible of course to do the trip in this timescale and if you are just wanting to say you’ve done it and get a bumper sticker then that’s ok, however, we have no doubt you will wish you spent longer.

A week to spare

Consider this an introduction to the many wonders that await you in Scotland’s highlands. You’ll experience a flavour of what it has to offer, but I’m sure there are still plenty more things left out for us all!

Amazing bridges are part of any good road trips


One to two weeks

Now we are talking! With this amount of time you can really delve into the great outdoors and experience the best of theScottish highlands. Skinny dip in the crystal clear waters of the mountain streams and pools, hike in breathtaking scenery or take in a night or two wild camping.

Take your time planning your road trip itinerary, and definitely bring your camera! It’s worth doing a few impromptu stops just to take in the scenery – or asking your passengers to take a few snaps of the rugged scenery as you go.

Exploring some of the amazing views in Scotland from a campervan

When are the best times to travel the NC500 in my campervan?

The majority of people do the NC500 in the peak season between May and October and as you can imagine it gets busy, going in the main summer months means you need to be prepared to book your campsites well in advance and some attractions you may not be able to see for coaches full of tourists.

If you are like me and prefer a more peaceful campervan trip then consider either going in March or when we did at the end of August and coming back in early September.

We didn’t need to book any campsites and just turned up and got space, less noise, no waiting and the weather was very kind with just the occasional wet and windy morning but these were few and far between.

Taking in the Incredible views with some smoked muscles


What are the roads like on the NC500 Scottish highlands?

As you will quickly see for yourself, the NC500 road can get pretty narrow, with swift curves and hairpin bends. The 500 also happens to be one of the most popular routes for road trips and therefore welcomes plenty of vehicles, nearly year-round.

As a camper van driver, you will already be taking up a good portion of the road, so you cannot risk going around it too fast. Similarly-sized vehicles, poorly positioned cars, or simply drivers that are going too fast will not necessarily have taken the measures to pass you or cross your path safely.

Therefore, it is up to you to do so. Ensure there is always enough space between you and the vehicles in front of you, especially in times of bad weather!

NC500 Trip Road Sign passing places for campervans and motorhomes


Planning to use official campervan sites campsites?

With so many beautiful campsites to choose from, there’s no shortage of this incredible area that will make your stay memorable!

However, if you’re looking at booking an upcoming trip – here are some worth considering:

Our list of the 8 best campervan road trip campsites not to be missed

  1. Ardtower Caravan Park
  2. John O’Groats Caravan & Camping Site
  3. Dornoch Camping and Caravan Park
  4. Sango Sands Oasis
  5. Windhaven Cafe, Camping and B&B
  6. Inver Caravan Park
  7. Bunchrew Caravan Park
  8. Clatchtoll Beach Campsite, Lochinver


Incredible views from the Ullapool campsite

Overnight Parking – Why Not Wild Camp the NC500

Wild camping can refer to the tent under your arm and heading off to the rolling hills and natural beauty type experience.

It can also be referred to as wild camping when you are using your campervan but not using official campsites.

Finding incredible places to stay that are not going to upset the local farmers and villagers, its a great idea if you have a sense of adventure and looking for a unique experience to remember for many years.

Please make sure if doing either version you respect the countryside, nature and the people who live there.

Leave no trace of your visit and take any rubbish away with you and dispose of it properly!

Camping Scottish Highlands

Campervan Parking in general

The NC500 does have some good parking areas and some even go out of their way to make campervans welcome, but they are not as frequent as one might assume – despite the road’s impressive length!

Whether it is to stop for the night, to stop for photos, or simply rest to stretch your legs, it is always wise to locate ideal parking places along the route before you go!

Make a short note in your phone or on any routes you might have mapped out in apps before you travel. It’s best to have a clear itinerary before you head off.

Campervan Motorhome Only Campsite Scotland

Our choice of the top 10 NC500 Beaches

When I went on my first trip around Scotland’s North Coast 500, one thing that surprised me was the beautiful beaches.

There are so many things you can learn about before going but did anyone know there were incredible white-sanded destinations like this? Although my pictures didn’t do them justice!

  1. Rosemarkie Beach
  2. Portmahomack Beach
  3. Dornoch Beach
  4. Golspie Beach
  5. Sinclairs Bay
  6. Bay of Sannick
  7. Dunnet Bay
  8. Sandside Bay Beach
  9. Sango Sands (smoo cave is a must while there)
  10. Strathy Bay

Sango Sands bay scotland campervan park view


Here are some helpful apps and sites for finding campsites and wild camping spots

Campervan road trip apps to help plan your campervan routes

North Coast 500



Scotland starts Here

Planning beautiful places to visit and avoid the busy roads


Nature lovers, you won’t be disappointed in this beautiful county

Your Scotland 500 campervan road trip will traverse through an entirely wild and natural area off the beaten track. The wildlife we saw on our trip were one of the highlights for us, a playful grey seal, red Deer’s and of course the Heilan coos.

While the trip provides us with stunning views, it also means that you will most likely come across a few feathery friends and even some furry ones.

  1. Highland Cows (aka the Heilan coos)
  2. Red Deer (Especially around the Torridon area)
  3. Scottish Wildcat
  4. Golden Eagle
  5. Capercaillie
  6. Elusive Pine Marten
  7. Red Squirrels
  8. Puffins
  9. Playful Dolphin
  10. Playful Grey Seals

Plus, much more to mention!

One of my favourite memories of my last trip was early evening in a small coastal village, sat watching a beautiful grey seal, only feet away from me rolling around and hoovering up the small fish in the bay.

Everyone looks for a highland cow on their campervan trips

Protect the wildlife

Always keep your eye on the road, but make sure that you are taking in what’s around you, too. Animals may be crossing the road at any time of day or night, which is another good reason to take it slow!


Planning adventure activities along the route?

The NC500 is far more than just a road! There are plenty of activities that you can enjoy along the way, including canoeing, hiking, beer-tasting, and more!

  1. Gorge Scrambling
  2. Surfing and water sports
  3. White Water Rafting
  4. Hillwalking
  5. Boat trips
  6. Fishing
  7. Paddle Boarding
  8. Cycling
  9. Zip wire
  10. Bungie Jumping

Before you set off, take the time to look at all of the possible activities in the area that you (and maybe those traveling with you) might want to try. It’s worth checking out resources such as TripAdvisor, for example, if you’re short on inspiration.

Pack for the journey ahead!

This is going to be a pretty long trip – it could take you a few days to a few weeks complete your Scotland 500 road trip, and you need to ensure that you have everything you need!

You are not likely to find a supermarket along the way, so pack plenty of water, food, and other essentials that you (and potentially those travelling with you) might need including medicine.

Make sure your campervan has enough storage for everything you need to take with you. The team here at Sherwood Campervan conversions are always happy to advise on storage requirements for your VW camper conversion.

Here is on of our recent completed conversions, fully equipped with storage, bed, heating and cooking facilities:


Sherwood campervan interior showing storage solutions


North Coast 500 Campervan Trip Pre Travel Checks

The NC500 is not a place you want to break down on, what a shame that would be.

Before setting of here is a quick check list but firstly join a breakdown and recovery service like the AA, if the worst should happen you will be covered.

Tyre pressures and tread

Oil and coolant levels

Windscreen wipers and screenwash

Brakes and brake fluid levels


Emergency supplies

(Reflective Triangle, Torch, Fire Extinguisher, First Aid kit, Emergency Food, and Water

NC500 Scotland Roadtrip Sign - Make sure you have a triangle in your camper for emergencies


Emergency numbers

That’s if you have signal of course, if not its a case of parking as safely as you can, alerting other road users and waiting for some helpful soul to come to your aid.

Remember that although you fancy some adventure on your road trip being stuck on a dark road with no phone signal with no extra blankets, food, water or PHONE SIGNAL could easily spoil what could be an amazing campervan road trip.

One more quick tip is that most local garages will do a full check of your vehicle before any of your planned campervan trips, this can spot any potential issues before they happen and of course can save you money and heartache.

Spectacular Red Deer on our Campervan Road Trip


Campervan Travel tips. Be safe, not sorry on this wonderful road trip

Never drive tired

Another fatal mistake that some attempt is to drive on the NC500 road trip when they are tired.

While this road is stunning, it is also unforgiving. It is not worth risking your own life, or those of the people and wildlife around you, just to go faster on a journey.

If you feel tired, stop at the nearest car park or resting spot (not a passing place), and let yourself rest for a bit. The road will still be there in a few hours, and you will be better positioned to appreciate and safely drive on it.

Road trip with friends drinking social

Don’t drink and drive -Never spoil your road trip or someone else’s this way!! 

This goes without saying, but be sensible. While some drivers allow themselves one small drink even a few hours before driving, the laws in Scotland are much more strict when it comes to drinking and driving.

With regard to the law, your own safety, and that of those around you, it is best to leave the drinking to the passengers and towards the end of your trip when you’ve stopped driving!


Extending your NC500 Roadtrip – Isle of Skye, Oban, and Mull

A great addition to the NC500 road trip itinerary is to extend the trip, instead of coming back along Loch Ness you can carry down to the incredible landscape of the Isle of Skye, Oban, and take in a quick day trip to the Isle of Mull.

Sunset Over Oban


Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

The stunning landscape of the Isle of Skye is a captivating destination for any traveler. With its rugged coastlines and picturesque fishing villages, cosy pubs, this ancient land has much to offer even in bad weather when you’re only limited by your imagination!

From castles that date back centuries ago like Port Castle or Minginish lighthouse which are still standing strong today.

Scotland Roadtrip Bridge Isle Of Skye suitable for any size vehicle from camers to HGV



If you’re looking to enjoy some of the best seafood restaurants in all of Scotland, look no further than Oban. We found this stunning town a perfect stopover and it’s here that we caught our ferry over to the small island of Mull where tons more delicious fresh oysters awaited us!

It’s also possible to see the northern lights at some times of year and conditions and we are sure capturing this would be one of the highlights of your road trip.

Scotland Highlands Moutain Stream Waterfall - Leaving the camper behind and walking


Isle of Mull

The island of Mull has an incredible array of wildlife and nature that is worth seeing. From basking sharks, and dolphins to otters you will be sure, not disappointed by what this small Scottish destination offers! There’s also a chance for rare bird species such as whitetail sea eagles or golden eagle among many more exciting animal encounters waiting here in their natural habitat

The best way I can describe it? Imagine stepping back into time when humans weren’t yet sailing across oceans but were instead rowing boats along rivers, that’s the vibe of Mull!

Colourful Village Scotland


A Campervan Road Trip with Style – Sherwood Campervan Conversions

 Have you found this guide but didn’t already know about Sherwood Campers? We are luxury VW Campervan Converters based in Nottinghamshire. Our range of unique designs have all been designed and developed by us so are unique to the conversion industry.

Do you already own a VW T6 Camper or VW Crafter campervan and looking to upgrade? Or maybe you have been dreaming of getting a campervan converted and looking for something special?

We don’t install windows or carpeting for you as a stand-alone project but if you are looking for a full overhaul or new conversion including windows, carpeting, furniture, flooring, and bed options then please do get in touch.

You can see some of our work here or check out or read more about what we can offer you on our homepage here

VW T6 camper van interior

We are a no-pressure outfit, and our friendly staff are more than willing to answer questions and help you to be the proud owner of your own VW campervan and be the envy of the roads.

For more details on our popular camper van conversions for your next adventure, contact Sherwood Campers on 01623 862951, or email us at


Gez Meehan's career, from The Parachute Regiment to leading Sherwood Campers Ltd, showcases a remarkable blend of discipline and craftsmanship.
His background as a plumbing and gas engineer laid the foundation for his transition into the camper van industry, sparked by his own experiences with camper conversions.
Since becoming the Managing Director in October 2013, Gez has been pivotal in designing and building each of Sherwood Campers' bespoke conversions. His hands-on involvement ensures that each vehicle meets the highest quality standards, tailored to the unique needs of his customers.