Orkney has an astonishing concentration of Neolithic monuments, fascinating plethora of World War I and II sites, unique coastal landscapes and distinct culture. This tour enables you to experience the best of this enchanted archipelago in one day.
North Coast 500
On this tour we will drive the first 120 miles of the NC500, on our journey from Inverness to the ferry terminal in Gill’s Bay. This is an area of scattered fishing communities, award-winning golf courses, quaint harbours and archaeological wonders, so there is plenty to look out for along the way.
The crossing to Orkney
On this one hour crossing there is lots to see so we would recommend going out on deck. Here you can enjoy the fresh air whilst keeping an eye out for wildlife, the famous feral cattle of Swona and, as we near Orkney, the abandoned WWI and WWII gun towers and lookout posts of Hoxa Head.
The Churchill Barriers are a series of four causeways which link the islands of South Ronaldsay, Burray, Glims Holm and Lamb Holm. If we have time we will have a quick beach stop to look at these.
Our first stop is at the Italian Chapel. This is a beautiful chapel which was built by ingenious Italian prisoners of war during WW11, and is now a major tourist destination.
We will spend 20 minutes here. Entrance is payable separately and costs £3 for adults (children under 12 are free).
Our next stop is in Orkney’s vibrant capital; Kirkwall. With independent shops, cute cafes and no shortage of historic sights, it is no wonder that this town is immensely popular with visitors keen to experience the islands’ unique culture and heritage.
We will spend around one hour here.
Stones of Stenness
At over 5000 years old, these ancient monoliths may be the earliest henge monument in the British Isles. The four enormous stones are all that remains of a great stone circle on an ancient ceremonial site.
We will have around 10 minutes here.
Ring of Brodgar
If there is one iconic symbol which represents Orkney’s ancient heritage, The Ring of Brodgar is surely it. As the third largest standing circle in the UK, it is also one of four monuments in the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage site, and is referred to by this organisation as, “unquestionably among the most important Neolithic sites in Western Europe”.
We will have around 45 minutes here
Skara Brae & Skaill House
At over 5000 years old, the level of preservation at Skara Brae is unparalleled for a prehistoric settlement in Northern Europe, due to the fact that it was covered by sand for over 4000 years. It was only during a ferocious storm in 1850 that the site became partially uncovered, although the village as we see it today wasn’t fully excavated until the 1920s.
When you are here you will also have the opportunity to visit Skaill House, a 17th Century manor which was lived in by the laird who unearthed Skara Brae
We will spend around 1 1/4 hours at Skara Brae and Skaill House. Entrance is payable separately, costs £7.20 for adults and is free for Historic Scotland members
Stromness is a picturesque town with a colourful maritime history, and it is here that our day in Orkney draws to a close. The lanes, nooks, crannies and closes of this unique and unusual townscape are fascinating to wander around, and the scattering of independent galleries, cafes and boutiques add to the natural charm of this appealing seaport.
We will have around 45 minutes here.
Return ferry and Old Man of Hoy
Our homeward ferry journey completes our round trip from the mainland, and enables us to see another of the area’s top sights; the Old Man of Hoy. As we sail past the island of Hoy look out for this iconic 137m sea stack, as well as the tallest vertical sea cliffs in the UK, which rise steeply behind it.
We will board the Northlink ferry for departure at 4.45pm and the journey takes 1 ½ hours. Meals/snacks/drinks are at your own expense.
Journey back to Inverness
On the last leg of our Orkney adventure you can sit back and relax, as your guide keeps you entertained with stories and anecdotes throughout the evening. We will stop for a comfort break once enroute, before arriving back into Inverness at around 9.30pm.
There’s no place in the British Isles quite like Orkney. Now that it’s time to return, you can look back at the smorgasbord of sights you have immersed yourself in today, and reflect on the magic of these truly unique islands.
See Scotland with the people who know it best on our award-winning tours from Inverness. Our popular Isle of Skye tours visit top sights including The Fairy Pools, The Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock, The Quiraing, the Cuillin Mountains and Portree. We also offer a Speyside Whisky Tour, a Whisky & Castle Tour, an Orkney Day Tour and shore tours from the Port of Invergordon. We don’t just offer tours, we offer an opportunity to fall in love with the place we call home. Join one of our tours to find out why we love the Highlands so much!
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