A road trip around the North Coast 500 route - Scotland's answer to Route 66 - showed us just why the Scottish Highlands is witnessing a resurgence in popularity amongst tourists and travellers.
Here are twelve excellent reasons why an adventure in this beautiful part of the world - by car or by bike - should be high up on your bucket-list!
#1 there are landscapes like this around every corner...
You will have to restrain yourself from stopping every five minutes to marvel at another incredible Scottish landscape with the classic mountains, glens and lochs in abundance along the North Coast 500 route.*
*Do note there won't always be a Scotsman in a kilt blocking your view.
#2 ...and gorgeous little houses in spectacular settings
Ok, who wouldn't dream of spending their summers in this little gem by the loch? Form an orderly queue please.
#3 the local seafood is DE-LIC-IOUS!
Several varieties of fish as well as crab, scallops and langoustines are all caught locally and, with a number of excellent restaurants in the region, you can sample them all in style.
#4 history is everywhere
Move over Game of Thrones, this is real life! The Highlands is home to centuries old ruins, thousand-year old settlements, haunted castles, tales and scars of clan warfare, forced resettlements and many a battle won and lost. You can discover it here all on your own with several museums and archaeological sites along the NC500 route.
#5 there is plenty for the outdoor adventurer...
From sea-kayaking around the Summer Isles to some serious cycling routes, beautiful nature walks and hikes or some major Munro bagging; those who yearn to be outdoors and active on a holiday will never be bored. Find some of our favourite NC500 activities here.
#6 ...and the roads are pretty unforgettable
Can you believe people actually cycle up this for fun!? Driving around the narrow, windy, single-track country roads which make up a big part of the North Coast 500 is a challenge for everyone - but one hell of an experience! Watch out for the many, many sheep!
#7 you can finally make friends with a 'heilan coo!
There are lots of these adorable hairy creatures all over the Highlands just waiting for you!
#8 you can visit castles straight out of fairytale
Who needs a Disney movie when you can feel like a princess in one of the many well-preserved castles in the Highlands. You can even stay in some!
#9 it's home to one of the world's best road trips
You can drive the 500+ mile route in only a few days or take your time and savour it all over the course of a couple of weeks. We loved every single mile!
#10 there's excellent wildlife and nature spotting
From puffins and seals to dolphins, orcas and minke whales (depending on the season), the Highlands has a whole host of wildlife for you to seek out - as well as some great bird-watching opportunities.
#11 oh, and did we mention the landscapes?
Yep, they're pretty spectacular.
#12 ...and the beaches are pretty amazing too!
Yes, this really is in Scotland and yes, the water really was that colour! We were shocked at just how beautiful the beaches are in the Scottish Highlands. And there aren't just one or two - there are at least a dozen beautiful spots along the coast just waiting for you to discover them.
Inspired? Then check out 'Our Definitive Guide to the North Coast 500'.
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So, what are you waiting for? To find out more about driving the Scottish Highlands via the North Coast 500 route, read our essential guide on the things you need to know before you go.