Orkney - travel, accommodation and attraction information

Orkney travel guide

Orkney - worth the journey

Learn everything about Orkney from its beautiful landscapes and historic World Heritage Sites to its blend of traditional and modern culture.

Memory of Orkney

“It is definitely worth the journey. The Orkneys are beautiful - full of ancient history, historic sites and old architecture.  It is a big surprise when you arrive on Orkney and are rewarded by rolling hills - it is truely unique and has an atmosphere all of its own."

Rachel, Sydney, Australia

Perfect for adventure or relaxation

Orkney, off the northern tip of mainland Scotland, is a group of over 70 islands, only 17 of which are inhabited. Most of Orkney’s locals live in the main towns of Kirkwall and Stromness, where you'll find great tourist attractions and activities to suit every interest. The quiet sandy beaches, stunning scenery, abundance of wildlife, fresh quality cuisine and warm welcoming hospitality make these islands an ideal place for a relaxing visit or an action-packed holiday.

Culture & heritage

Orkney’s history goes back more than 4,500 years ago to the earliest dwellings of Neolithic people, most stunning of these is at Skara Brae . Today the islands are invaded by thousands of birds and other wildlife that make their home on these magical isles. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a UNESCO World Heritage Site made up of Neolithic monuments, stone circles, tombs and a settlement. 

Attractions

For such a small place, there’s a lot to see and do in Orkney. Kirkwall, the islands’ capital is dominated by the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral , which tells the tale of Viking invasions. And no trip to Orkney is complete without discovering and exploring the smaller islands that surround the Mainland of Orkney. Each island has its own unique character and individuality, with fascinating history, wildlife and attractions.

Top daytime must-do's

 

Visit the stunning Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

 

Discover the history behind the Italian Chapel .

 

Visit the Highland Park Distillery and sample a dram of the famous whisky.

 

Visit the Orkney Museum , and learn about the fascinating history of Orkney.

 

Relax in the gardens of Tankerness House .

 

Food & drink

There are many local food specialities to try in Orkney and visitors can sample whisky from Highland Park, the most northerly of whisky distilleries. The Orkney Food Festival in September is the annual showcase of island produce including cheese and seafood. In restaurants, ask for dishes using local beef, lamb, cheese or seafood, and sup the local ale, wine or whisky with your meal.

Sport

Orkney is the perfect place to get active. You’re never far from the coast in Orkney, so it’s easy to enjoy surfing, sailing, windsurfing, kite surfing, diving and kayaking. And inland you can play a round of golf, or try a spot of fishing on one of Orkney’s lochs or even explore the islands on foot or by bike.

Buy before you fly

To make your trip to Orkney easier, why not buy your travel passes and attraction tickets before you even leave home? With the BritRail Scottish Freedom Pass, you can travel all over Scotland by train. For more great offers, go to VisitBritain Shop .


OrkneyFacts

Population
19,860
Region
Scotland
Closest airports
Edinburgh Airport, Glasgow...
Famous locals
Edwin Muir, John Rae
Local food
Orkney Herring, Orkney Cheese,...
Nearest town / city
John O' Groats

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