10 Amazing Things to Do in Orkney

Whether you're spending two days or two weeks on these islands you'll be spoilt for choice. The Orkney archipelago has striking landscapes, fascinating history, inspiring culture, adrenaline-pumping adventure activities and more, making it a must-visit destination for everyone. Consider taking an Orkney tour and let your guide unearth some of the best-preserved prehistoric sites in Europe for you amongst other amazing activities.

  1. Heart of Neolithic Orkney Mainland, Orkney

    El Anillo de Brodgar, Stromness

    If you didn't know already, Orkney is full of ancient monuments and buildings that you can visit on your trip. The most famous spots are known as The Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site and are extremely well preserved. This includes the Neolithic stone village of Skara Brae, which was hidden from history until a storm exposed it once again to the world in 1850. Elsewhere in the Orkney islands you could catch a boat to the Isle of Rousay to visit Taversoe Tuick, a two-storey burial cairn, or Midhowe Broch, an Iron Age tower house.

    Top tip: Visit the more popular sites such as Maeshowe, The Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae and The Ring of Brodgar during twilight hours to avoid large crowds, especially in summer.

  2. Orkney's outer islands Various

    El Old Man of Hoy, islas Orcadas

    Orkney has 70 islands of which only 20 are inhabited, making it the perfect place to take an island-hopping holiday. Get ready for dramatic coastal scenery, beautiful wildlife and archaeological intrigue as you journey around Orkney, not to mention food and drink that will leave you wanting more. The largest of Orkney's islands is called Mainland, and here you'll find famous sites including St Magnus Cathedral. Some islands are connected by the historic Churchill Barriers, so you can island hop by car to Lamb Holm, Glimps Holm, Burray and South Ronaldsay.  But the outer islands such as Hoy and Westray have lots to offer for intrepid explorers. There's also the option of taking the shortest scheduled flight in the world from Westray to Papa Westray!

    Top tip: Planning an island-hopping holiday? You could also explore the Shetland islands to the north of Orkney if you want to extend your break.

  3. Italian Chapel Islas Orcadas (Orkney)

    The Italian Chapel

    The Orkney islands were a site of strategic importance in the First and Second World Wars and you can see a number of attractions related to these points in history. There are lots of old military emplacements around Scapa Flow that you can explore, and the Churchill Barriers were built to keep naval shipping secure from submarines. Perhaps the most arresting of these locations is the Italian Chapel, a beautiful Roman Catholic chapel constructed by Italian POWs during the Second World War. This ingenious building is housed in a former military Nissen hut and the expert decorations and designs painted inside are one of a kind.

    Top tip: For an overview of Orkney's military history, be sure to visit the island of Hoy where you'll find a major collection of wartime artefacts in the Scapa Flow Museum.

    Instalaciones destacadas
    • Aparcamiento
    • Ruta de transporte público
    • Aparcamiento accesible o área de descenso
    • Nivel de acceso
    • WiFi
  4. Creative Orkney Trail Various

    Harray Potter Ltd

    A great way to connect with the local culture and find a treasured keepsake when you visit Orkney is to follow the region's Creative Trail. Bringing together professional makers from the islands such as The Harray Potter, the trail follows local workshops where you can meet the makers, many of whom has spent year honing their craft. Local art and jewellery, ceramics and furniture are all on show along the trail.

    Top tip: Following the trail is a great opportunity to discuss commissioning bespoke work.

  5. Kirkwall Mainland, Orkney

    La Catedral de San Magnus, Kirkwall

    © Orkney.com

    If you only plan on visiting Orkney for a short time then Kirkwall is a great place to base yourself. From here you can see Neolithic sites and beautiful stretches of coastline or simply explore the town itself. It's hard to miss the towering 12th Century St Magnus Cathedral in the centre of Kirkwall, and a look inside will reveal one of the UK's best cathedrals. Elsewhere you'll find Highland Park Distillery where you can take a tour and sample a wee dram.

    Top tip: Stop in for some Orkney ice cream in one of Kirkwall's shops - it's delicious!

  6. Wildlife tours Various

    La playa de North Ronaldsay

    Orkney is a haven for wildlife and a great place to photograph all kinds of animals in the wild. Booking a dedicated wildlife tour will give you the chance to see seals, otters and even whales off the coast. Ospreys and other birds are also often spotted around these parts too. If you find yourself on an island-hopping adventure be sure to stop in to North Ronaldsay and meet the famous seaweed-eating sheep! 

    Top tip: At certain times of year, Orkney is a good place to spot the Northern lights - a spectacular celestial show.

  7. Diving Various

    Las barreras de Churchill, Orcadas

    Here's one for the adventure seekers. Did you know that Orkney is home to one of the best wreck diving sites in the world? Scapa Flow, together with the surrounding islands of Mainland, Burray and Hoy make up one of the largest sheltered anchorages in the world and a graveyard of sunken ships. The wrecks here are incredible: from vast battleships resting in the heart of Scapa Flow, to smaller blockships dotted along the rugged coastline and German warships. Diving here is also a chance to spot amazing wildlife.
    Top tip: Lonely Planet called Scapa Flow one of the top treasure hunting trips in the world.

  8. Highland Park Distillery Kirkwall

    Highland Park Distillery gates

    A trip to Orkney offers the chance to visit one of the oldest working whisky distilleries in Scotland. Highland Park has been producing whisky since way back in 1798 and the tradition of whisky-making on Orkney is upheld to this day with pride and passion. Book a tour and see for yourself how the spirit is made. You could also visit Scapa Distillery, which is also near Kirkwall.

    Top tip: Orkney's natural larder is bursting with fine produce from sublime seafood to whisky, gin, beer and ice cream.

    Instalaciones destacadas
    • Aparcamiento
    • Ayuda para personas con discapacidad auditiva
    • Aparcamiento accesible o área de descenso
    • Nivel de acceso
    • Baños accesibles
    • WiFi
  9. St Magnus Way Birsay

    El Brough of Birsay, Orcadas

    © Orkney.com

    Don't forget your walking boots when you travel north to Orkney. One of the best routes is The St Magnus Way, a 58 mile-long walk on Orkney Mainland and the island of Egilsay. The walk is based on what is known of the story of St Magnus, the patron saint of Orkney. Before you set out, download the app for clear instructions on the way-marked route. Much of The St Magnus Way is over open country and some sections need sturdy footwear.

    Top Tip: The St Magnus Way website and app are full of photos and information on the story of St Magnus and the places along the way.

  10. Stromness Mainland, Orkney

    Stromness, Islas Orcadas

    Depending on what mode of transport you take to Orkney, you may arrive in the pretty town of Stromness. Don't miss the opportunity to browse the charming shops here and pick up a souvenir. Whether it's arts and crafts you're looking for or books, you might just find the perfect gift for a loved one.

    Top Tip: Take a peek inside Stromness Museum while you're here for some inspiration.

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