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.
We will have a comfort break in the pretty Highland village of Helmsdale. You can also pick up a breakfast snack from our friends at the cafe here, who open especially for us at 7am.
We will stop at the most northerly village in mainland Britain so that you can take your photo next to the historic signpost, thought to be one of the most photographed signs in the UK! From here it is just a 5 minute drive to the ferry terminal.
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 on Orkney 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 £3.50 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 and this will be your opportunity to pick up lunch (own expense).
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.
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.
We will drive back to the ferry port for departure at 5pm and the return journey takes one hour. Meals/snacks/drinks on the ferry 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 en-route, 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 Ultimate 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. Other tours include our Speyside Whisky Tour, our new Big Four Tour (which visits the Highlands' most iconic sights), 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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