Visitor Attractions

Visitor Information - Orkney Islands

History and Heritage



Out and About:

Orkney Islands:  Accommodation

The Orkney Islands lie across the wild Pentland Firth of Scotlnd's north coast. There are about 70 islands of which 17 are inhabited. Indeed, the islands have been inhabited for thousands of years and the maze of dwellings at Skara Brae is testament to that, being around 5000 years old. The magnificent Ring of Brodgar is Orkney's answer to Stonehenge and there are numerous other historical treasures.

More recent history can be seen in Scapa Flow and the sunken wrecks there are a diver's paradise.

The largest island is called - surprisingly - Mainland and the largest town is Kirkwall where there's a good selection of shops and amenities.

Rackwick Bay, Hoy

Historic Buildings and Castles:

St Magnus Cathedral

Kirkwall. Founded in 1137. The St Magnus centre is associated with the cathedral and admission to both is free.

St Magnus Church

Birsay. Built in 1064 and rebuilt twice since then; the last time being in 1760.

Martello Towers

Hoy. Built on either side of Longhope Bay to protect Baltic convoys.

Northland Castle

Westray. Though never completed, the castle was designed to provide all-round visibility against attack.

Barony Mills

Birsay. The last working meal mill in the islands, producing bere meal.

Bishop's and Earl's Palaces

Kirkwall. The original Bishops' Palace dates to the twelfth century, while the adjacent Earl's Palace was built in the 17th century.

Knap of Howar

Papa Westray. These two neolithic houses date from about 3500 BC making them one of the earliest known settlements in NW Europe.


Museums and Galleries:

Stromness Museum


Maritime and natural history of the town and area.

The Pier Arts Centre

Stromness. Modern art gallery in restored 18th century buildings.

Skaill House

Sandwick. A 17th century mansion. Items from Captain Cook's ship Discovery are on display.

Orkney Wireless Museum

Near Kirkwall harbour. Features wartime communications and early domestic radio.

Corrigall Farm Museum

Harray. Nineteenth century Orkney farmstead.

Hoxa Tapestry Gallery

Leila Thomson produces hand-crafted tapestries in the workshop here.

Kirbuster Museum

Near Birsay. Unusual, in that this is the last surviving house with a central peat hearth in Orkney. There is also a Victorian garden.

Orkney Museum

Kirkwall. The museum tells the story of Orkney from Medieval times. Stone Age, Viking and Pictish artefacts are on display.

Sui Generis Gallery

Over the years Sui Generis has been resident on Eday, Galleries which house various stles of unique furniture and art in wood. Created mostly from home grown & sometimes scorned or reclaimed timbers or driftwood, together with gardens. Other areas on the tour include the workshop - a Sequoia Living Room - a Gothic Style Hallway & individual craftsmen designed Guest Rooms etc.





Parks and Gardens:

Balfour Castle

Balfour Castle and Gardens, Shapinsay. Victorian castle, walled garden.

The Gloup & Mull Head

Spectacular natural arch, maritime grassland and heath. Seabird colonies.


Visitor Attractions:

Italian Chapel

Near St Mary's. Built by Italian prisoners of war during World War 2. A place of quiet contemplation in a beautiful setting.

Skara Brae

Skara Brae

Sandwick, Mainland. Quite simply, the finest Neolithic village in Europe. Dates back to 3000 BC


Stenness. The finest chambered cairn in western Europe, dating back to 2700 BC. What happened here?

Ring of Brodgar

Ring of Brodgar

Stenness. Stone circle and an unmissable site.

Ortak Visitor Centre

Ortak Visitor Centre

The Visitor Centre houses a permanent exhibition with a video presentation which describes how modern jewellery is made and gives details of the history of Ortak.


Sport & Leisure:


Orkney Trout Fishing Association. Non-profit voluntary body dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of game fishing Throughout the Orkney Islands.


The Merkister Hotel, Harray, hires boats and equipment. Tuition available.

Pickaquoy Centre

Kirkwall. Fitness and health suites, conditioning gym, cinema, adventure play area, cafe, bar.



The Diving Cellar

Stromness. Fully equpped diving centre. Equipment hire, boat charters.

European Technical Dive Centre

Orkney's only PADI dive centre. Boat hire, equipment hire, dive shop, courses.

Scapa Scuba

Stromness. PADI resort, boat charters, guided dives, equipment hire. Courses for beginners.

Scapa Flow Charters

Stromness. Day-boat and live-aboard charters.



Orkney Tours

Stromness. Multi-lingual Orkney Guides. Cruising and coach tours.

See Hoy with Louise

Guided tours and short walks with island-based, accredited guide.

Cruise Orkney

Fully equipped 65ft charter vessel for cruising the islnds.

Roving Eye Enterprises

Orphir. Explore the wrecks of the German Fleet with a cruise. Unique underwater camera.


Car Hire:

Orkney Car Hire

Kirkwall. Airport transfers, collection and delivery.

Orkney Campers

Orkney Campers

Embrace the slower pace of life and enjoy Orkney in one of our self drive campervans. Hiring a VW camper van lets you do all of this and more, with the freedom to choose where you go and how long you stay there. It's not just your wheels and your bed, it's a way of life. It is much cheaper than a hire car and a hotel, plus you get to live the dream and you can vary whether you sleep in the van, stay with friends or at a B&B or hotel, the choice is yours.

WR Tullock

Kirkwall and Kirkwall Airport.

Orkney Motorhome Hire

Kirkwall. Fully equipped motorhome hire.
tel: 01856 874391


Selected Accommodation in Orkney


Guest Houses

Bed & Breakfast

Kettletoft Hotel, Sanday
Bellevue Inn, St Margarets Hope
Kirkwall Hotel, Kirkwall
St Ola Hotel, Kirkwall
Ayre Hotel, Kirkwall

The Sands Hotel, Burray
Beltane Guest House, Papa Westray
Houton Bay Lodge, Orphir, Orkney
Karrawa Guest House, Kirkwall

Bellavista, Kirkwall
Foinaven, Orphir
The Inn B&B, St Mary's, Holm
St Margaret's Cottage, South Ronaldsay
Lilburn, Orphir
No 1 Broughton, Westray
Roadside, Eday, Orkney
Backaskaill, Sanday, Orkney
Braeswick, Sanday
Newquoy, Sanday, Orkney
Straigona B&B, Tankerness, Orkney

Self Catering



Eastmount Apartment, Kirkwall
Sands Hotel Apartments, Burray
Banks Cottages, South Ronaldsay
Craigiefield Apartments, St Ola, Kirkwall
Kingston Self Catering, Kirkwall
Nurses Cottage, Dounby, Orkney
Pirate Gows Chalets, Eday
Cantick Lighthouse Cottages, Hoy
Anchor Cottage, Sanday
Braemill Cottage, Deerness
Broad Street Apartments, Kirkwall
Onedin Cottage, Hoy
Loretto, Stromness
Cressex Lodge, South Ronaldsay

Rufford Selfcatering Residential Caravan, Burray

Ayres Rock Hostel, Sanday


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