There are around 70 islands and skerries in the Orkney archipelago, which is situated about 6.2 miles (10 km) from the Scottish mainland.
The largest island, the Mainland, is the ideal starting point for a visit. Orkney's capital, the town of Kirkwall is home to a wonderful selection of craft shops, restaurants and cafés, and the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, built with local sandstone. The main street of the town of Stromness runs along the shore, with shops and houses along the way.
The dramatic contrasts of the southern islands are a highlight for many visitors, with Hoy’s rugged cliffs overlooking Flotta and Graemsay. In addition, the islands in the south, connected by the Churchill Barriers, are certainly well worth a visit, especially for birdwatchers. South Ronaldsay, Burray, Glimps Holm and Lamb Holm, home to the Italian Chapel, are easily reached by the Barriers, defensive bridges built following the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak in these waters in 1939.
The outer isles should not be missed as they boast the beautiful white beaches of Sanday and Stronsay, seaweed-eating sheep in North Ronaldsay and Balfour Castle on Shapinsay.
The islands of Eday, Shapinsay, Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre reward visitors with their own archaeological and natural wonders. Flights are available between certain islands, the best known being the Westray to Papa Westray route which, with a duration of just two minutes, is the shortest scheduled flight in the world.
With excellent ferry links and captivating discoveries around every corner, island hopping is an enjoyable and accessible way to discover all that Orkney's islands have to offer.