Shapinsay is a small, low-lying island just a few miles north east of Kirkwall in Orkney.

    The green and fertile island of Shapinsay is just 30 minutes by ferry from Kirkwall. Tradition has it that this little isle was home to banished thieves and witches but now it is the haunt of cormorants, kittiwakes and seals. The main settlement is Balfour village, built in the late 18th century as a home for smiths, carpenters and masons employed on the Balfour estate. Balfour Castle is open to visitors in the summer.

    Shapinsays highest point is Ward Hill at just 210 ft, from where you can see almost all the other Orkney isles. The island is 6 miles (10 km) long. Interesting features of the island are its storm beaches, or as they are known locally, 'ayres' - a name rooted in the Old Norse meaning a strip of sea water completely shut off from the ocean by narrow necks of land. Look for these at Vasa Loch and Lairo Water. The best beach is sandy Sandgarth Bay in the south-east.

    Transport within Scotland

    For public transport information to visit here from within Scotland, enter your postcode and visit date below.

    Journey Planner

    Explore More

    Quick Finder

    Search for Places

    Search Accommodation

    Room / Property
    If booking self-catering accommodation please select 1 room/property for the total number of adults & children.
    Advanced Search

    Search What's On

    Start Date
    End Date

    Search things to do


    Search Food & Drink


    Recently Viewed