North Coast 500:

Budget Lodging Options

NC500 Road Trip Guide:

Budget lodging options along the NC500

The North Coast 500 (NC500) is arguably the most scenic drive Scotland has to offer. If you're wondering where to stay along the NC500, we go over plenty of options in this post. This scenic roadway offers a number of choices from Hostels, Hotels, Airbnbs, and Campsites. Since we tried to do this road trip on a shoestring we will concentrate on the best budget lodging options along the NC500.

If you want to get away without paying for any lodging, camping is probably your best option. Scotland allows camping virtually anywhere so if you rent a camper van then you'll be set to park and sleep whenever you feel like it.

If you didn't want to shell out the extra cash for a camper van, there plenty of budget lodging options along the NC500. We will cover everything from campsites, hostels, hotels, and Airbnbs in our guide of where to stay along the NC500.

Camping along the NC500

Scotland is probably one of the most camping friendly countries we have come across. The Land Reform Act 2003 states that you are allowed to camp on almost any public land [1]. However there are restrictions in some areas like around Loch Lomond, which is subject to different bylaws due to overuse.

Overnight parking is welcome nearly everywhere (as long as you're on public land) so this country is one of the best places to live your #vanlife. We saw tons of camper vans like the ones below and heaps of campgrounds along the NC500. While most places recommend booking ahead, if you go in the shoulder season (end of April) there are usually plenty of open spots.

Camping along the NC500
Camping along the NC500

Unlike the US and Canada, most campsites in Scotland charge by the person. For example, a site might include one vehicle, tent, and 2 people for £20 but each additional person is £10. We also saw some that charge £9/person instead of a flat rate for a vehicle and 2 people.

Either way, campgrounds or sleeping on the side of the road are definitely the cheapest lodging options along the NC500. Read more below to see some of the campgrounds we found near Gairloch, Ullapool, and Durness.

Isle of Skye Lodging

If you're wondering where to stay on the Isle of Skye on a budget, there are plenty of options. We highly recommend booking in advance if you plan on going during peak season (June - August). From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations.

Dorms: £17.00+ ($21.58+ USD)

Private: £20.00+ ($25.50+ USD)

Amenities: Free Wifi, 24 Hour Security, Self Catering Services, Tea/Coffee Making Facilities, Free Parking

Photo Courtsey: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: £21.50+ ($27.30+ USD)

Private: £23.00+ ($29.20+ USD)

Amenities: Laundry Facilities, Limited Reception Hours, Luggage Storage, Common Room w/ Board Games, Free Parking

Photo Courtsey: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtsey: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: £19.00+ ($24.20+ USD)

Private: £20.75+ ($26.40+ USD)

Amenities: Laundry Facilities, Self-Catering Facilities, Internet Access, No Breakfast Included

Photo Courtsey: Hostelworld.com

Private Cottage: £47.00+/night (~$59.00+ USD/night)

Pros: Amazing view, Full cottage to ourselves, Free Parking, Laundry Facilities, Kitchen, Private Entrance

Cons: No Wifi, No Cell Service, Remote location

Since most of the hostels on Skye were already full when we decided to book lodging, we gave Airbnb a look and actually ended up getting a better deal than with a hostel!

This particular Airbnb was located near the remote of Elgol, roughly an hour drive from Portree.

Since most of the hostels on Skye were already full when we decided to book lodging, we gave Airbnb a look and actually ended up getting a better deal than with a hostel! This particular Airbnb was located near the remote of Elgol, roughly an hour drive from Portree.

Lodging near Gairloch

Since we only planned 7 days for our NC500 road trip, we barely scratched the surface of this portion of the west coast. From the Isle of Skye, Applecross and Gairloch are a short detour as you make your way towards Ullapool. Nonetheless, if we gave ourselves more time then this would have been one of the stops along the way. Nonetheless, we still found a few affordable lodging options for this portion of the NC500.

Dorms: £23.50+ ($29.50+ USD)

Private: £25.50+ ($32.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Self Catering Services, Meals Available, Laundry Facilities

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

High Season*: £10 ($12.60 USD)/adult | £4 ($5.00 USD)/child (<16 yrs)

Low Season**: £9 ($11.30 USD)/adult | £3 ($3.77 USD)/child (<16 yrs)

Extras: Electricity £4 ($5.00 USD)/day, 10% discount on stays over 4 days

Photo Courtesy: Gairlochcaravanpark.com

*July 1-Aug 31 | **April 1-June 30, Sept 1-Oct 31

Private Rooms: £75.00+ ($94.30+)/night

Amenities: Free Wifi, Free Parking, Ensuite in each room, attached Restaurant/Bar, Continental and Scottish breakfasts available

Photo Courtesy: Millcroft-hotel.co.uk
Photo Courtesy: Millcroft-hotel.co.uk

Lodging in Ullapool

If you’re looking for campgrounds along the NC500, Ullapool has some beautiful camping spots along Loch Broom. When we visited in late April there were tons of spots available. To be honest, it brought back some nostalgia of when we did our long North American road trip in a RV. We were a bit envious of the campers from our Airbnb.

Dorms: £23.00+ ($29.00+ USD)

Private: £25.50+ ($32.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Self Catering Services, Free Wifi, Laundry Facilities, Meals Available

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Campsite: £17-21 ($21.40-26.40 USD)/night; includes 2 people + car/tent or a motorhome/caravan + 2 people

Extras: £5.00 ($6.30 USD)/night electricity, see extra fees for more than 2 adults per site here.

Photo Courtesy: @worldly_wander

Private Room: £47.00+ ($59.06 USD)/night

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Free Parking, Shared Bathroom, Linens/Essentials included

Photo Courtesy: @worldly_wander
Photo Courtesy: @worldly_wander

Durness Lodging

We made it to Durness with about an hour to spare before sunset. After checking into our hostel, the receptionist recommended his favorite beach, which is only about a mile down the road from the Lazy Crofter Bunkhouse hostel. If you're looking to camp along the beach, Sango Sands Campground offers plenty of waterfront spots.

Dorms: £23.00+ ($29.00+ USD)

Private: £25.50+ ($32.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Free Wifi, Breakfast Available, Small Bar

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: £22.00+ ($28.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Self Catering Services, Free Wifi, Laundry Facilities, Linens/Essentials included

Photo Courtesy: Airbnb.com
Photo Courtesy: Airbnb.com

Campsite: £9.00 ($11.30 USD) per adult (16+)

Extras: £4.00 ($5.00 USD)/night electricity, see here for booking details.

Photo Courtesy: Sangosands.com
Photo Courtesy: Sangosands.com

John O'Groats and Wick Lodging

John O'Groats sparsely populated town of a few hundred people lies on the northeastern tip of the United Kingdom. Thus, most of the lodging found here is either just outside the village or in Wick, the next town over. These two towns are only a short drive apart so basing yourself out of either will give you a good starting point for some great sight seeing.

Private Room: £70.00+ ($88.59 USD+)/night

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Free Parking, Shared Bathroom, Linens/Essentials included, Amazing Hosts!

Photo Courtesy: Airbnb.com

Private Rooms: £89.00+ ($112.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Free Wifi, Free Breakfast, Tea/Coffee Maker, Waterview Rooms

Photo Courtesy: Booking.com

Private Rooms: £65.00+ ($81.75+ USD)

Amenities: Free Parking, Free Wifi, Breakfast Available, Great Location

Photo Courtesy: Booking.com
Photo Courtesy: Booking.com

Inverness Lodging Options

Inverness will either be the first or last stop on most people's NC500 road trip. Since it's a larger city than most others in the Scottish highlands, there are plenty of lodging options in Inverness. We found several hostels on Hostelworld and have posted two of the top rated options below.

Dorms: £23.00+ ($29.00+ USD)

Private: £25.50+ ($32.00+ USD)

Amenities: Parking Available, Free Wifi, Self-Catering Facilities, Bar/Restaurant

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Dorms: £23.00+ ($29.00+ USD)

Private: £25.50+ ($32.00+ USD)

Amenities: Free Wifi, Laundry Facilities, Free Coffee/Tea, Security Lockers

Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com
Photo Courtesy: Hostelworld.com

Private Room: £46.00 ($57.80+ USD)/night

Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Free Parking, Ensuite Bathroom, Linens/Essentials included, Electric Kettle

Photo Courtesy: Booking.com
Photo Courtesy: Booking.com

If this blogpost helped you find some budget lodging along the NC500, be sure to read our full road trip guide here. It includes suggested sites to see, itineraries, and breaks down the cost rental car.

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By |2019-11-06T09:15:22-05:00April 30th, 2019|Budget Travel, Europe, Scotland, Travel Guides|0 Comments

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