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Orkney Islands

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The Orkney Islands [4] are an archipelago of approximately 70 islands some 10 miles (16 km) off the northern coast of Scotland.


The Orkney Islands have been settled since the Neolithic Period. There is plenty to do on the islands. They are easy to navigate. The islands are great for culture holidays and sight-seeing


Map of the Orkney Islands
  • Egilsay
  • Mainland, Orkney's largest island where 2/3 of the Isles' population resides.
  • Rousay, the Egypt of the North with a large concentration of spectacular archaeological sites.
  • Hoy, the High Island. Hike through R.S.P.B. Nature Reserve to cliffs overlooking the Old Man of Hoy seastack.
  • Eday, the Isthmus Island with excellent walks.
  • Sanday, aptly named the Sand Island for its beautiful beaches.
  • Stronsay
  • Westray, Queen o' the Orkney Islands. Excellent place to spot puffins in late spring to find the best fish & chips in Orkney at the Pierowall Hotel.
  • Fara
  • Papa Westray, referred to locally as "Papay", the island is home to the oldest site in Orkney, Knap of Howar.
  • North Ronaldsay, well-worth the trip if only to climb to the top of the new lighthouse for fantastic views, and to see Old Beacon, the third oldest lighthouse in Scotland.
  • Shapinsay, a short ferry sailing from Kirkwall and home to Balfour Castle.
  • Flotta, location of oil terminal
  • Egilsay, where Earl Magnus was martyred.
  • Wyre
  • Copinsay
  • Flotta
  • Cava
  • Auskerry
  • Graemsay
  • Stronsay
  • Gairsay
  • Wyre
  • Eynhallow

South Isles connected by the Churchill Barriers:

  • Lambholm, home of the stunning Italian Chapel.
  • Glimsholm
  • Burray
  • South Ronaldsay

Towns and Villages[edit]


  • Kirkwall - the administrative capital of the Orkney Islands
  • Stromness - attractive port and the Orkney's second town


Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Loganair offers flights to Kirkwall, Orkney from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Sumburgh.

By boat[edit]

Ro/Ro Ferries:

  • Scrabster to Stromness, Orkney Mainland: 90-minute sailings offered 3 times a day, 7 days a week. Service provided by Northlink Ferries [5]. Approx. 30 minute drive to Kirkwall from Stromness.
  • Aberdeen to Kirkwall, Orkney Mainland: 6-hour sailing offered Tuesdays*, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Service provided by Northlink Ferries [6]. No Kirkwall call from 1 Jan - 31 Mar & 1 Nov - 31 Dec.
  • Gill's Bay to St Margaret's Hope, South Ronaldsay. 60-minute sailings offered 3 times a day, 7 days a week. Service provided by Pentland Ferries [7]. Approx. 35 minute drive to Kirkwall from St Margaret's Hope.

Passenger-only Ferries:

  • The Orkney Bus, +44 1955 611 353, [1]. Daily: 1 May to 30 Sept. 40-minute ferry from John O'Groats to Burwick £30 return. To go from John O'Groats with a connection to Kirkwall is £32 return. Day tour from [Inverness] is £65  edit

See[edit][add listing]

Neolithic structures[edit]

Awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1999, the ''Heart of Neolithic Orkney'' includes:

  • Skara Brae, 30km west of Kirkwall [8], the best-preserved prehistoric village in Western Europe, inhabited before the pyramids of Egypt were built. 2009 Admission: adult £6.70, child £3.35, concessions £5.30. Prices include admission to Skaill House April to September. Admission to Skara Brae reduced October to March.
  • Maeshowe, 14km west of Kirkwall [9], finest chambered tomb in north-west Europe, which contains the best collection of Viking runes outside Scandinavia. Advance booking required. 2009 Admission*: adult £5.20, child £2.60, concessions £4.20
  • Ring of Brodgar, 16km west of Kirkwall [10], amazing stone circle with henge ditch. Free admission.
  • Standing Stones of Stenness, [11] one of the oldest stone circles in Britain. Free admission.

Orkney's World Heritage site also includes a number of unexcavated burial, ceremonial and settlement sites.

Do[edit][add listing]

  • The Orkney Folk Festival [12] - May
  • St Magnus Festival [13] - June
  • Orkney International Science Festival [14] - September
  • Diving: Most of the German WWI Imperial Fleet was scuttled [15] in Scapa Flow [16] and offers excellent opportunities to dive. Some diving companies:
    • Orkney Divers [17]
    • Scapa Flow Diving [18]
    • Stromness Diving Centre [19]

Holidays & day tours with Orkney Archaeology Tours - all tours led by professional archaeologists & qualified Orkney tourist guides [20]

  • Explore the Isles: Take an eco tour or holiday with Wildabout Okney [21].

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • Highland Park, Kirkwall [22]. The world's most northerly Scotch whisky distillery. Tours, including a free sample of the product and a gift shop are available.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

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There are plenty of places to stay meeting all price criterias, from youth hostels to grand hotels, Orkney has it all!

  • Howe Evie Priced for backpackers and travelers, bunkhouse and camping pod available at Evie (north- west mainland). On bus route, shop and post office within walking distance. Prices: camping pod, £10 per night(sleep's 2) toilet, washhand basin and cooking space available. Bunk in bunkhouse, £15 per night. For more information call John and Victoria on tel. 01856751449 / mob. 07821125177 e-mail: [email protected]
  • West End Guest House [23] - Sea Facing - St. Margaret's Hope, Orkney
  • Rickla [24] - Harray
  • Merkister Hotel [25] - Loch Harray
  • Albert Hotel [26] - Kirkwall
  • Ayre Hotel [27] - Kirkwall
  • Foveran Hotel [28] - Kirkwall
  • The Lavrockha Guest House [29] - Kirkwall
  • Queen's Hotel [30] - Kirkwall
  • Scorralee [31] - Orphir
  • Westrow Lodge [32] - Orphir
  • Girnigoe[33] - Shapinsay
  • Miller's House [34] - Stromness
  • Stromness Hotel [35] - Stromness
  • Cleaton House [36] - Westray
  • Auld Smokehoose & Scapa Lodge +441224739123 - Kirkwall
  • 76 Junction Road +441856872281 - Kirkwall
  • Bis Geos Self Catering [37] - Westray
  • The Kilnmans Cottage [38] - Westray
  • Kirkwall Youth Hostel [39] - Kirkwall
  • Stromness Youth Hostel [40] - Stromness
  • The Creel Restaurant with Rooms [41] - St. Margaret's Hope
  • Lynnfield Hotel [42] - 4 star Kirkwall hotel
  • Horrie Farm Holiday Apartments, Tankerness, [2]. Two spacious apartments surrounded by farmland teeming with wildlife. Close to Kirkwall and Minehowe with many amenities nearby.  edit
  • Holland House, Harray, [3].  edit

Get out[edit]

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