Orkney Islands

Travel tips you can trust


Why the
Orkney Islands
are special

Orcadians retain much of their traditional culture and the landscape bears significant archaeological sites and bucolic vistas.

Orkney Islands
tips and insights

Geography in brief

There are 70 islands (20 are populated). The archipelago lies 10 kilometers (6 miles) off Scotland's northeastern coast.

The Island of Mainland is the largest and is home to the two largest towns, Kirkwall and Stromness. The first is the capital, but the second is more pictureque.

Top attractions


Archeological ruins

The major ones include Standing Stones of Stenness, Skara Brae neolithic settlement, Ring of Brogfar, Maeshowe tomb, and many ancient circular stone towers called brochs.

Old Man of Hay

This slim natural sea stack (pillar) soars almost as high as a modern 40-story building.

Towering sea cliffs

View them on the Island of Hay.

Rural landscape

Most islands are low-lying and feature scenic rolling green and heather-hued hills dotted with cattle and sheep.

History in brief

The Orkney Islands have been inhabited since at least 6,500 BC.  The Scandinavian Norsemen took control in 875 and Scotland followed in 1472.


The Orkney Islands are windy throughout the year. Gales are most likely to occur in the period from September to March.

Though far north, the climate is temperate thanks to the Gulfstream. Summers are a bit nippy. Winter days are cold, but seldom bitterly so.

Location in Scotland

Learn about these
Wonders of Scotland

Scotland Wonders - Top 5 rankings
Edinburgh Castle
Eilean Donan Castle
Holyroodhouse Palace
Isle of Skye
National Gallery of Scotland
Orkney Islands
Outer Hebrides
Shetland Islands
St Andrews Golf Old Course


Orkney photo by Wolfgang Schlick - GNU 1.2



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