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Can I do the NC500 in a Motorhome?

So you’ve decided you want to drive the North Coast 500 or tour Scotland – but should you do this in a motorhome? Whilst there is no denying a motorhome is a great way to holiday – will you be able to access all areas in a motorhome?

Let us talk you through the differences between a campervan and a motorhome holiday, to help you decide which will make your Scottish road trip one to remember!

Highland Auto Campers. Campervan hire and sales in Inverness

What is the difference between a campervan and a motorhome?

Should I choose a Campervan?

Firstly there is no official description or standard that determines what is a campervan or motorhome. The unofficial criteria would be that a campervan is usually based on a smaller van conversion like the very popular VW Transporter or the Ford Transit Custom. These are generally only slightly larger than the average family car, with widths generally no more than 2.1m. They are easy to drive and park – in fact very similar to a large car!

A campervan usually comes fitted with a rock and roll bed and a small kitchen with hob, fridge and storage. When you’re ready to go to bed the rear seat easily opens up into a good-sized double bed. During the day the floorspace is quite generous, giving a roomy living space to relax, eat and socialise.

Campervan sales scotland

What about a Motorhome?

A Motorhome is generally bigger than a campervan – based on a much larger vehicle such as the Fiat Ducato or a similar sized van. They come in many different formats but are generally between 2.1m to 2.49m in width and come in lengths anywhere between 5.4m to 8m.

They will usually have at least 1 fixed bed – additional beds can take the form of bunk beds which fold against the walls or ceilings during the day, or are converted from the travel seats or dining area – think of the layout of a caravan with a cab and engine on the front! Again, they will have a kitchen, often with a little more storage space and extra facilities such as a small oven and a larger fridge freezer. It’s worth noting that floor space can be surprisingly small in many motorhome’s – so if you are looking for a social space for several people, bear this in mind when comparing layouts.

Also consider if you will be able to drive a large motorhome – anything over 3.5 tons will require a C1 driving licence, which not everybody has!

motorhome, landscape, journey

When we were choosing vehicles for our hire fleet, we looked at many options for vehicles to use. We have to say from the start we were very tempted by the larger motorhomes, but we were concerned that they would be easily damaged by drivers not used to being in such a large vehicle, so we came to the decision that a smaller car sized campervan was the best way forward. This is why we eventually chose the Auto-Campers Ford transit custom conversions and they have proved to be the perfect campervan for the Highlands!

While we agree that the large motorhomes are very comfy and very well equipped, they are less suitable for the narrow winding highland roads. Some routes on the NC 500 are also signposted as not being suitable for motorhomes, meaning many of the best sections, such as the famous Bealach na ba pass, would have to be missed.


If you are looking for a vehicle to go on the ultimate touring adventure to the more remote areas of Scotland, with the ultimate in flexibility, we would recommend hiring a campervan hands down. If you are looking to travel somewhere and spend several days in one location with all your creature comforts in one place, we would advise a motorhome.

If you would like more details about our all-inclusive campervan hire why not head over to our hire page for more details.

To find out more information about the different styles of campervan and motorhomes available to buy or hire, why not check out this article on the Out and about live website.

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