About Orkney

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Discover the individual character of Orkney, made up of around 70 islands, each with its own distinctive charm, amazing beaches, archaeological treasures, craft shops and restaurants. Go island hopping by car, boat or plane, explore the coastline on foot and experience the history, wildlife and beautiful scenery.

The Orkney Islands sit just north of the mainland of Scotland and have a population of just over 20,000 people which allows the 20 inhabited islands to benefit from a close community spirit, particularly for local events and festivals.

For almost 6,000 years the islands have been inhabited and there are plenty of examples of this rich history through archaeological sites such as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The history of Orkney and rugged landscape has been inspiring artists and craftspeople for centuries. Follow the Orkney Craft Trail or head off on your own adventure to see paintings, jewellery, tapestries, furniture, pottery and much more.

Orkney's renowned natural environment remains unspoilt and attractive and these pristine habitats provide a home to many plants and wildlife. Take a walk through the beautiful landscapes, looking out for wild flowers, seabirds, marine life and also geological marvels, such as the Old Man of Hoy.

The landscape of the Orkney Isles also provides a rich selection of local produce including Orkney meat, cheese, seafood, ice cream, whisky and prize-winning beer.

  • Looking across the cliffs to the Kitchener Memorial at the Marwick Head RSPB Reserve, Orkney
    Marwick Head RSPB Reserve
  • A couple take in the view towards the cliffs of Hoy from Yesnaby, Orkney.
    A couple take in the view towards the cliffs of Hoy from Yesnaby, Orkney
  • St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall
    St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall
  • View along Whitemill Bay, a beautiful sandy beach in Sanday
    Whitemill Bay, Sanday
  • Homes on the waterfront at Stromness
    Stromness
Looking onto Skara Brae at the beach of the Bay of Skaill

History

Orkney's history stretches back over 5,500 years. Learn about Neolithic, Norse and Scottish Orkney and visit attractions.

Sands of Mussetter, Eday

Nature and geography

Explore Orkney’s renowned natural environment which remains unspoilt and attractive.

A music event at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness

Arts and culture

The creative spirit of Orkney provides inspiration for many crafts, including jewellery, knitwear, furniture and pottery.

Close up shot of puffins on the Pentland Skerries

Wildlife

Catch sight of thousands of seabirds in their natural surroundings as you discover the amazing and abundant wildlife of Orkney.

A couple of drams of whisky from the Highland Park distillery in Orkney

Food and drink

Sample delicious food and drink in Orkney, and discover local flavours and the best places to eat and drink.

The ferry sailing past the island of Hoy

Island hopping

Island hopping is the ideal way to discover the unique characteristics of each of Orkney's islands.

South Bay and the beach at Nouster, North Ronaldsay

Area overview

Explore Orkney's islands and find out all about the towns and villages. Discover the history and culture of the unique islands.

A boy looking into a dwelling at Skara Brae

Itineraries

Find itineraries for Orkney - use the idea to plan a few days exploring history, arts and crafts or food and drink.

Looking out the window on a flight from North Ronaldsay to Kirkwall

Travel

Travelling to Orkney is surprisingly easy and once you're there, you can explore all the enchanting islands have to offer by indulging in island hopping using the inter-island service.