Come to Orkney for the wildlife, the beaches and the history, and we reckon that you'll fall for the culture and the creativity too. This archipelago of around 70 islands lies north of mainland Scotland and was voted one of the UK's top 10 islands in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards, which is no mean feat!
With a unique culture and history, Orkney has a strong identity of its own. The largest island, and also the most populated, is known as the Mainland. On the East Mainland coast lies Kirkwall, the ancient capital of Orkney, with its Viking cathedral, fishing port and distillery. The archipelago's other main port and town, Stromness, is located in the south of West Mainland. It's a highly creative place with many crafty gift shops and art galleries amongst its old, winding streets.
Walk like an Egyptian
Did you know that the island of Rousay is known as the 'Egypt of The North' because it's home to over 150 archaeological sites, including a 5,000 year old chambered tomb?
In fact, the ancient settlement of Skara Brae on the Mainland is older than the Pyramids, and, together with the dramatic Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe Chambered Cairn, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.
And that's just one aspect of Orkney's fascinating history.
Back to nature
Award-winning beaches, fantastic wildlife, dramatic sea stacks and rugged cliffs - what more could you want? Let's take a closer look:
- Nice and beachy - when you see the white sands and turquoise waters of Orkney's beaches, you might mistakenly think you're in the Caribbean.
- Puffins, fulmars and rare birds - Orkney happens to be on one of the busiest flight paths for migrating birds, with tens of thousands of birds and hundreds of species spotted each year.
- All going swimmingly - porpoises, dolphins, whales and other sealife can be spotted on and around Orkney's shores, and underwater creatures can be found in rock pools and on dives too.
- Rocking through the ages - there are rugged cliffs, deep caves, rocky skerries and dramatic sea stacks to be seen, and sometimes climbed, dotted along hundreds of miles of coast.
- Northern lights - Orkney is considered to be one of the best places in the UK to see the magical Aurora Borealis , also known as the Northern Lights.