Kirkwall is the largest town and capital of the Orkney Islands, an archipelago of islands some 10 miles off the north coast of Scotland. Kirkwall has two faces, depending on where you have just come from. If arriving from a large city such as Edinburgh or Glasgow, it is a small, quiet town, with a gentle pace of life. On the other hand, if you arrive from a more remote area, such as the outer islands of Orkney, Kirkwall seems like a buzzing metropolitan centre with shops, cafes, bars, traffic and areas of housing and industry sprawling south, east and west from it's busy harbour.
Local routes also connect the other Orkney Islands to Kirkwall.
Northlink Ferries travel several times a week during the night between Kirkwall and Lerwick and Aberdeen. The Northlink terminal is about 20 minutes walk from the town centre, although there is a connecting bus for the sailings.
Orkney Ferries link Kirkwall at least daily with Eday, Sanday, Stonsay, North Ronaldsay and Westray. Several ferries a day go to and from Shapinsay, but only a couple a week to Papa Westray. The ferry port is right in the town centre.
Stagecoach in Orkney is the main operator of buses in and around Kirkwall. All bus routes focus on the Travel Centre, which is located on West Castle Street, just off Broad Street. This is where the tourist information centre is also located. Buses operate to most areas of the mainland, with buses goin to the main historic sites in the Summer months. Buses also operate to the linked South Isles and to ferry terminals which are not located in Kirkwall. A daily bus service has also recently started, which allows travel from Kirkwall to Inverness on the same bus, as the bus comes on the ferry too. Timetables and routes or all public transport services are available at 
Kirkwall has numerous car parks located in the town centre and harbour area. Parking around the harbour is free and mainly unlimited time, so it is the best place to park if you are exploring the town for a whole day. However, there can be a lack of parking in the town, even in the pay car parks.
Kirkwall has a good range of craft shops, One of Orkney's specialities. Also look out for the local Orkney Fudge.