The archipelago known as the Orkney Islands is a group of more than seventy islands located off the Scottish coast. This beautiful destination is an incredible place to visit for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy scenic views, historical landmarks and exciting outdoor recreation. Although there is not a lively nightlife scene on the islands, there is an impressive selection of cuisine that features some of the freshest seafood you can imagine. Whether you are visiting the Orkney Islands for a romantic weekend getaway or for a thrilling family vacation, here are some of the top attractions on the island, along with a few recommendations for dining and accommodations.
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by Paul Wordingham
This is the best attraction for those wanting to explore a prehistoric village. Amazingly, the architecture of the village is in great condition despite the fact that Skara Brae is thousands of years in age. The village is located just a short walk from the Bay of Skaill and was hidden from view until the middle of the nineteenth century. It is part of the Orkney UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. Admission is £6.90 for adults but there are reductions in price for children as well as for students. Skara Brae is located on the Mainland and is just a thirty minute drive from the town of Kirkwall. Accommodations include hotels, guesthouses and some of the most affordable apartments in Scotland which are ideal for long term visitors or those looking for additional privacy and the comforts of home.
Few people associate the Orkney Islands with incredible diving, but there are a number of exciting things to explore underwater in Scapa Flow, the body of water off the coast of the islands. During World War II, many of the German military boats and submarines were sunk in this area. Today many of them are easily located and at depths that can be reached by a beginner scuba diver. For holiday ideas that are truly adventurous, contact one of the many scuba diving companies on the islands to book a tour. It is suggested that you dive with a local resident to ensure that you find the best sunken ships during your submersion.
Photo licensed under the Creative Commons, created by yellow book
If you only get a chance to visit one museum during your stay in the Orkney Islands, make it this museum. The Stromness Museum is located on the mainland and boasts a large amount of information regarding the history of the islands, some of the oldest historical landmarks like Skara Brae and a recap of the maritime history in the region. There are even exhibits about the natural wildlife in Orkney. In short, this is the perfect rainy day activity to enjoy alone or as a family. Admission is £1.90 per person. The museum is located in the Mainland town of Stromness which boasts some attractive architecture as well as a hostel, a budget hotel and several private apartments available for rental.
Tips from Locals
If you plan to visit the Orkney Islands, be sure to book your accommodations in advance. In busy summer days it is not unusual for some visitors to be without a place to stay and even without public transport on some of the more remote islands. For some of the best views in the region, walk along the coast of the Mainland Islands until you get to Ness Point, the location where some of the most incredible photos on the entire island are taken.
By using these helpful tips and visiting the top attractions, you will undoubtedly have an amazing holiday in the Scottish Orkney Islands.
View A Visitor’s Guide to Orkney Islands, Scotland United Kingdom in a larger map