Despite several trips abroad, one of my most favourite trips of last year was spent exploring the north of Scotland. I enjoyed a week travelling around the northernmost tip of the country and was blown away by its beauty.

The weather during my time in this area was incredible, which I’m sure definitely contributed to my enjoyment, but I think it’s one of those places that would look stunning no matter what.

I highly recommend hiring a car if you’re planning to explore this area. It’s super easy to get to Thurso by train, but once you’re there a car is the best way to get around.

So, here are the best things to do near Thurso for your two day visit…

Visit John o’Groats

things to do near thurso
things to do near thurso
You can’t travel to the north of Scotland and not visit John o’Groats. It’s world-famous for being the most northerly inhabited point in mainland Scotland and for being the start or finish of the End to End challenge – from Land’s End to John o’Groats, usually completed by bike.

To tell the truth, there isn’t much in John o’Groats beyond some seriously pretty views, a few shops to browse in and a nice spot for coffee or some lunch. It’s absolutely worth a visit to enjoy the stunning scenery, peace and quiet and being in this wonderful location.

Visit Dunnet Head 

things to do near thurso, dunnet head
John O’Groats is famous for being the most northerly point in mainland Scotland, but I didn’t actually realise it’s the most northerly inhabited place. The most northern point in mainland Scotland is actually Dunnet Head. 

Dunnet Head is around 13 miles from Thurso and is easily reached by car. Here, you’ll be greeted by stunning views out over the North Sea. You’ll also get the chance to spot some wildlife too at the Dunnet Head Nature Reserve. You can try spotting puffins, razorbills, guillemots and more soaring over the sea cliffs. 

Drive part of the North Coast 500

things to do near thurso, north coast 500
travel blogger emma gray
things to do near thurso
things to do near thurso

If you do decide to hire a car during your time in this area (and I highly, highly recommend doing so!), you can drive part of the North Coast 500 route. The North Coast 500 route has become so popular in the last few years and it’s easy to see why.

I rented a car for one day whilst in Thurso and drove as much of the North Coast 500 route as I could. I’ve got to admit I didn’t get very far though. I kept stopping every few miles to take pictures of gorgeous views or walk along white sandy beaches that had suddenly come into view.

Every few miles or so along the route I found myself saying some version of ‘wow, look over there it’s beautiful‘ as every corner I turned seemed better than the last. I felt like pinching myself to check I was actually still in Scotland and not somewhere further afield with out of this world views.

Explore Thurso 

If you’re using Thurso as a base (and it’s a very good place to do so), you’ll want to save some time for exploring Thurso itself. It has some cute independent shops, a few decent pubs and some nice restaurants. It’s a good place to chill out in the evenings after a long day sightseeing and exploring the nearby area.

Visit Dunnet Bay Distillery

things to do near thurso, dunnet bay distillery
Dunnet Bay Distillery is home to Rock Rose Gin and Holy Grass Vodka and is well worth a visit when you’re in the area. You can take a tour of the distillery, learn all about how they make gin and vodka, the botanicals they use for the gin and the hand bottling process. Plus, you get some gin to taste (best make sure you’re not the designated driver for that part of the journey!). 

Walk along Dunnet Bay Beach 

things to do near thurso, travel blogger emma gray
things to do near thurso, dunnet bay beach

I’m pretty sure I found the best beach in Scotland during my time up north. I was driving along, heading to Dunnet Head when I turned a corner and my jaw dropped at the gorgeous white sand and blue sea I saw. I turned the car around, found the car park and parked up. There was no way I could drive past this beauty of a beach!

It’s the perfect place for a walk along the sand, or even a picnic if you’re that organised. Definitely do not miss visiting this gorgeous beach if you find yourself nearby.

Do you have other things to add to my list of things to do near Thurso and in the North of Scotland?