Things to do in
Orkney

Orkney
13 activities found
Sort by:

Our most recommended things to do in Orkney

Orkney: West Mainland Semi-Private Day Tour

Orkney: West Mainland Semi-Private Day Tour

Participate in a semi-private tour (maximum of 8 guests) that takes you to some of the most fabulous spots on the West Mainland of Orkney. Start your tour at the Kirkwall Travel Centre in the centre of Kirkwall and take a scenic drive looking at the magnificent Scapa Flow, which was the main British naval base during both World Wars. Your guide will tell you about some of the major events that happened in the waters of Scapa Flow. Then stop by the Unstan Tomb, a 5,300-year-old burial chamber situated on the edge of Stenness Loch. Next, grab the opportunity to take some photos at the wild Cliffs of Yesnaby, some of the most stunning coastal scenery on the Orkney Islands. Feel the fresh air on your cheeks and capture some memories. Take a guided tour of Skara Brae, discovered in 1850. Learn more about what is considered the best-preserved Neolithic Village in Northern Europe. Your guide will tell you all about this magnificent 5000-year-old village. After the guided tour, enjoy some free time and have a look at the 400-year-old Skaill House or take a look around the Skara Brae visitor centre before heading to the Ring of Brodgar. A spectacular henge monument dating back 4500 years, this stone circle has been an iconic part of the Orkney landscape for thousands of years. Finally, stop at the Standing Stones of Stenness, which is believed to be the oldest stone circle in the UK. Experience the history and mystery of this site. Finish your tour at the Kirkwall Travel Centre, or get dropped off at the cruise port if required.

From Inverness: 3-Day Orkney Explorer

From Inverness: 3-Day Orkney Explorer

Day 1: From here, you drive along the northeast Highland coastline, travelling into some of Scotland's most dramatic scenery. Onwards through Scotland's most northerly mainland village, John o' Groats, and then to Gills Bay, where you board the ferry, and cross the Pentland Firth into the Orkney Archipelago. It’s a short drive to the famous Italian Chapel where you stop for a visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, capital of Orkney. Here you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking Cathedral and enjoy its historic winding streets in the evening. Day 2: Today is your chance to explore the modern and ancient wonders of this fantastic island; a land of contrasts, where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands washed by waters of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. You visit the 5,000-year-old village of Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar and the Druidic standing stones of Stenness. Then you explore the cairn of Maeshowe, where in the 12th century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Then it’s back to Kirkwall for your second night after what is sure to be a memorable day. Day 3: You'll have your last chance to grab some gifts for friends and family, and visit the local cathedral in Kirkwall. And after a ferry back to the mainland, you travel through the history-soaked regions of Caithness and Sutherland. You’ll find out about the Highland clearances, a world-changing period in Scotland’s dark history, and get a glimpse of some of Scotland’s most remote fishing villages. We arrive back in Inverness early evening.

Historic Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

Historic Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

I will pick up to 4 passengers up from any location In Kirkwall, Kirkwall Airport or from the Ferry ports of Stromness or St Margarets Hope on the Orkney mainland, This short tour is ideal for those visiting the island on a day trip via the link ferries from the Scottish mainland or visiting via cruise liner. We will then pass by or stop at many sites around Orkney, the duration and number of sites is totally up to You! I run my base tour at 4 hours but I would be more than happy to extend this on the day at an additional cost. I operate all of my tours as a hybrid of a guided tour and with free time to explore sites at your own pace. I will provide local knowledge from a lifetime of experience and information on Orkney history for the duration of the tour. Below is an example itinerary of My standard 4 hour tour leaving Kirkwall at 0900 hrs (Assumed start time unless informed otherwise) 9 am - Leave pickup location and pass by The Iconic St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishops/Earl's Palaces - Drive past the HMS Royal Oak memorial and the iconic natural harbour of Scapa Flow - Drive over Scorradale road for a fantastic photo opportunity of Stromness and Hoy - Visit Unstan Tomb with time to explore the site (20 mins) - Visit the cliffs of Yesnaby for another photo opportunity (20 mins) 10:30 am - Visit Scara Brae prehistoric village and Skaill House with variable time to explore at your leisure (60 minutes). There is a cafe on site and toilets. (Update April 24) please ensure tickets are reserved online for here at the time of booking the tour as capacity can be reached. - Visit the ring of brodgar for a chance to explore one of the great monuments on foot (20 mins) - Pass by the Standing stones of Stenness and the iconic Maes Howe - Visit the Italian Chapel via the Churchill barriers for a chance to explore some more island history and get more photos (20 mins) 1 pm - Base tour end I do not enforce strict timings or set routes on my tours to allow visitors the time and freedom to explore sights at their own pace and enjoy their trip but I will always be around to assist in the event of an issue. Please ensure at the time of booking there is a pickup location and start time filled in or alternatively contact me to let me know what cruise ship/flight you are booked on and an estimated tour start time. (Update Feb 24) If any further information is required please contact Me on Whatsapp or via email on calum@historicorkney.com. I am having difficulty replying to customers who contact me through the getyourguide message platform.

North Coast of Scotland (NC500) (Interactive Guidebook)

North Coast of Scotland (NC500) (Interactive Guidebook)

-This online travel guidebook helps you create a bespoke road trip to help with planning your break before you travel as well as when you are on your break, with 12 months of access. -Therefore, we suggest you don’t wait until your travel date, purchase the guidebook in advance to help you with your planning. Choose an early date and get planning straight away! • Embark on the picturesque North of Scotland, based on the well-loved NC500 route, tracing Scotland's north coast from Inverness. • Marvel at dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and rugged coastlines. • Visit historic gems like Dunrobin Castle and Eilean Donan Castle. • Get the best out of your break with our user-friendly, online guide that will make planning a breeze. Simply cherry-pick from the options provided ensuring you won’t miss a thing! Scotland’s North Coast: • The online guidebook's suggested mapped route is fully flexible, helping you plan your trip with places to go and things to see and do, whether for 3 to 14 days. • The route is a fully flexible route that can begin at Inverness and traces the north coast of Scotland. As a circular route, this is around 500 miles, or conclude by taking a detour from the “official” route with a visit to the Isle of Skye. • This route is around 400 miles with a drive time of around 10 hours and 35 minutes. • Depending upon stops, however, you can adjust this to between 3 and 14 nights. • The North Coast boasts Scotland's breathtaking beauty, featuring striking mountains, wild coastlines, and charming villages. • The North Coast is steeped in history and culture, inviting exploration through its myriad castles, museums, and historical sites. • Engage in a multitude of activities on the North Coast 500, from invigorating hikes and fishing expeditions to captivating wildlife watching and enjoyable rounds of golf. • Look in awe at magnificent sea stacks and bustling sea bird colonies along the coastline, and venture to the Orkney Islands to discover its UNESCO World Heritage sites. Online & Interactive Destinations Guidebook: • Save hours using our inspiration and signposting to plan your perfect North Coast of Scotland (based on the NC500) driving route. • The destination guidebook covers 30 destination locations and guides on essential places to visit including iconic John O'Groats and the Orkney Islands with its UNESCO World Heritage sites • The destination guide includes over 100 attractions, experiences and activities to uncover your own North Scotland coast. • The Uncover More map includes: 60+ Viewpoints, 140+ Places of interest, 25+ Hidden gem, 10+ Wild swim spots • The Overnight Stay map includes: 50+ North Coast of Scotland Campsites, 15+ Motorhome stops, 55+ Hotels, 125+ B&Bs, guesthouses and lodges

Orkney Islands and Highlands: 3-Day Tour from Inverness

Orkney Islands and Highlands: 3-Day Tour from Inverness

Day 1 We begin our journey north, passing through the stunning scenery of the Black Isle on our way to Orkney. There will be a short stop in Golspie where you will have the opportunity to buy some lunch to have on the ferry. After this, we will have a short stop at the Helmsdale Clearance to take photos of the Emigrants Statue. We continue to Gills Bay to catch the ferry to Orkney before arriving at St Margaret's Hope shortly after. We head to our first landmark on the islands, the Italian Chapel, here you can choose to enter for a small fee, or simply enjoy it as a photo stop. From there, and before your arrival at Kirkwall, we could enjoy a couple of different activities depending on weather and time available. We could head onwards to Inganess Beach, marked by the wreck of the Juniata, a World War 2 blockship, or visit St Magnus Cathedral and have a short tour of Kirkwall. There could also be the opportunity for a visit to Scapa Distillery for a tour and tasting*. After this, we will arrive in Kirkwall where you will check in to your accommodation for the evening. Kirkwall is the capital of Orkney where you will stay for both nights of our tour. Orkney has a fascinating Viking history which you will learn about from your Driver-Guide throughout the tour! Day 2 After an island breakfast, we will depart Kirkwall and head to the Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn, a Neolithic tomb that gives us a glimpse into the lives of some of Scotland's earliest agricultural communities. From there, we continue on to Skara Brae, Europe's best-preserved Neolithic village. After this, we head to the seaside town of Stromness for a lunch stop, where you can enjoy views over the marina, before we begin our journey to the Stones of Stenness, four standing stones that are potentially some of the oldest in the country. They, along with Skara Brae, are part of the "Heart of Neolithic Orkney" and have World Heritage Site status. We get an insightful glimpse at Orkney's military history at our next stop, the HMS Tern, an airfield set up by the Royal Navy during WWII. After this, we journey towards the Broch of Gurness, an amazingly preserved "broch" village from the Iron Age. We then return to Kirkwall for your second night stay. Day 3 We get ready to leave Kirkwall and head back to St Margaret's Hope for the short crossing to Gills Bay. We head to John O'Groats for lunch, the most northerly point on mainland Britain. A range of wildlife can usually be seen here such as Atlantic puffins, seals, a variety of birds and possibly even an orca! Take photos of the iconic sign post and the colourful buildings before we continue to Castle Sinclair Girnigoe dramatically situated on a cliff's edge. Should the weather not be on our side, we will instead continue onwards to Wick. After this, we will start our homeward journey back to Inverness, with comfort stops at Dunbeath Harbour and Golspie on the way.

Historic Orkney Tour #2 By a Local Islander

Historic Orkney Tour #2 By a Local Islander

I will pick up to 4 passengers up from any location In Kirkwall or from the Ferry ports of Stromness or St Margarets Hope on the Orkney mainland, This short tour is ideal for those visiting the island on a day trip via the link ferries from the Scottish mainland or visiting via cruise liner. We will then pass by or stop at many sites around Orkney, the duration and number of sites is totally up to You! I run my base tour at 4 hours but I would be more than happy to extend this on the day at an additional cost. I operate all of my tours as a hybrid of a guided tour and with free time to explore sites at your own pace. I will provide local knowledge from a lifetime of experience and information on Orkney history for the duration of the tour. Below is an example itinerary of My standard 4 hour tour leaving Kirkwall at 0900 hrs (Assumed start time unless informed otherwise) 9 am - Leave pickup location - Pass by the Rendall Doocot after a scenic drive. - Visit the brough of Gurness (30 mins) - Pass by the Swannay Brewery - Visit Kirbuster Farm Museum (approx 20 mins) - Visit the Brough of Birsay (20 mins on base tour) - Pass by the Barony mill and the option to stop at Kitchener Memorial (an extra 60 minutes would be required) - Pass by the site of Skara Brae prehistoric village (There is a Cafe on site and toilets) - Visit the cliffs of Yesnaby - Visit Logins well and the cannon Via Stromness high street for a true Local experience! (5-10 mins) - Visit Ness Point for a photo opportunity. This is also the site of Ness Battery (20 mins) - Arrive back in Kirkwall with the choice of going up Wideford hill for a photo opportunity or visit a hidden gem local produce store for a true taste of Orkney. 1 pm - Tour End I do not enforce strict timings or set routes on my tours to allow visitors the time and freedom to explore sights at their own pace and enjoy their trip but I will always be around to assist in the event of an issue. Please ensure at the time of booking there is a pickup location and start time filled in or alternatively contact me to let me know what cruise ship/flight you are booked on and an estimated tour start time. (Update Feb 24) If any further information is required please contact Me on Whatsapp or via email on calum@historicorkney.com. I am having difficulty replying to customers who contact me through the getyourguide message platform.(Assumed start time unless informed otherwise)

Treasures of Orkney: Private Half-Day Tour from Kirkwall

Treasures of Orkney: Private Half-Day Tour from Kirkwall

Explore the ancient wonders of Orkney on a captivating half-day private tour from Kirkwall. The journey will take you to the dramatic coastal cliffs of Yesnaby, where you’ll witness breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and sea stacks. Continue to the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, one of Europe’s best-preserved Stone Age settlements, and delve into the mysteries of its history. Next, visit the Ring of Brodgar, an impressive stone circle set amidst the stunning Orkney landscape. Learn about its significance as a prehistoric ceremonial site before heading to the Standing Stones of Stenness, another enigmatic stone circle steeped in ancient lore. Throughout the tour, you’ll have the convenience of private transportation and the expertise of a local guide to uncover the rich history and natural beauty of Orkney. Note: You must book the Tickets for Skara Brae in advance on the official website.

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Day 1 Depart Edinburgh, heading west towards Stirling. Pass Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, and continue to Doune Castle, used for location shoots in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” Stop in the small town of Callander for refreshments. Then, marvel at the splendor of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle, and Glen Dochart on a scenic drive over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor. The views of the extinct volcano will take your breath away, and were also the scene of the infamous Clan Macdonald massacre of 1692. Continue north up the Great Glen to mysterious Loch Ness, with plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster. The evening will be spent in Inverness, with free time to explore the “Capital of the Highlands.” Day 2 Depart Inverness early to cross over the Black Isle, and continuing past Dunrobin Castle. From here, drive the northeast coastline, traveling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Enjoy the views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes, and the chance to spot wildlife such as golden eagle and red deer. Close to Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John O’ Groats, board the ferry to cross the Pentland Firth to the Orkney archipelago. It is a short drive on arrival to the famous Italian Chapel, where you will stop for a quick visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, your home for the next 2 nights. Look inside Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking cathedral, and wander the winding streets of the historic town center. Day 3 Explore the ancient island of Orkney, and discover a land of contrasts, where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands, and washed by the waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions in the 12th century. Day 4 It’s time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here, travel across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains, following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of the northern coastline. Go to the far northwest of the Highlands, and admire the grandeur of the wild Assynt mountains. Stop to view the 15th-century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Continue to Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you will spend your last night. Day 5 Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, and the ancient Clava Cairns, as well as exploring the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield. Return south through the magnificent Cairngorm National Park, driving past the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Highland Perthshire, before your drop off in Edinburgh.

Weekend Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

Weekend Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

I will pick up to 4 passengers up from any location In Kirkwall or from the Ferry ports of Stromness or St Margarets Hope on the Orkney mainland, This short tour is ideal for those visiting the island on a day trip via the link ferries from the Scottish mainland or visiting via cruise liner. We will then pass by or stop at many sites around Orkney, the duration and number of sites is totally up to You! I run my base tour at 4 hours but I would be more than happy to extend this on the day at an additional cost. I operate all of my tours as a hybrid of a guided tour and with free time to explore sites at your own pace. I will provide local knowledge from a lifetime of experience and information on Orkney history for the duration of the tour. Below is an example itinerary of My standard 4 hour tour leaving Kirkwall at 0900 hrs (Assumed start time unless informed otherwise) 9 am - Leave pickup location and pass by The Iconic St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishops/ Bishop's Palaces - Drive past the HMS Royal Oak memorial and the iconic natural harbour of Scapa Flow - Drive over Scorradale road for a fantastic photo opportunity of Stromness and Hoy - Visit Unstan Tomb with time to explore the site (20 mins) - Visit the cliffs of Yesnaby for another photo opportunity (20 mins) 10:30 am - Visit Scara Brae prehistoric village and Skaill House with variable time to explore at your leisure (60 minutes). There is a cafe on site and toilets. (Update April 24) please ensure tickets are reserved online for here at the time of booking the tour as capacity can be reached. - Visit the ring of brodgar for a chance to explore one of the great monuments on foot (20 mins) - Pass by the Standing stones of Stenness and the iconic Maes Howe - Visit the Italian Chapel via the Churchill barriers for a chance to explore some more history and get more photos (20 mins) 1 pm - Base tour end I do not enforce strict timings or set routes on my tours to allow visitors the time and freedom to explore sights at their own pace and enjoy their trip but I will always be around to assist in the event of an issue. Please ensure at the time of booking there is a pickup location and start time filled in or alternatively contact me to let me know what cruise ship/flight you are booked on and an estimated tour start time. (Update Feb 24) If any further information is required please contact Me on Whatsapp or via email on calum@historicorkney.com. I am having difficulty replying to customers who contact me through the getyourguide message platform.

Shore Excursion Kirkwall: Small Group Highlights of Orkney

Shore Excursion Kirkwall: Small Group Highlights of Orkney

Discover the charm of Orkney in an intimate setting with our small group tour, limited to just 6 individuals. Experience the allure of The Italian Chapel, a poignant symbol of history crafted by Italian prisoners of war during World War II. Nestled on a once-desolate island, these prisoners left behind a remarkable legacy while constructing the Churchill Barriers near Scapa Flow. Join us for an exclusive journey through time and heritage. Next we embark on a journey of engineering marvels with the Churchill Barriers – a series of four causeways spanning the picturesque Orkney Islands. Stretching over 2.3 kilometers in total, these barriers seamlessly connect the Orkney Mainland in the north to the serene South Ronaldsay, weaving through the islands of Burray, Lamb Holm, and Glimps Holm. Experience the ingenuity of human craftsmanship as you traverse these historic links, immersing yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of Orkney. Indulge your senses in the captivating beauty of the Scapa Flow area on our tour. Marvel at the dramatic coastlines, adorned with rugged cliffs and the tranquil expanse of scattered islands. Behold the picturesque slopes of lush farmland, adorned with vibrant green grasslands. A remarkable highlight of your journey: The Ring of Brodgar. Nestled approximately 6 miles northeast of Stromness on Mainland, the largest island in Orkney, this Neolithic henge and stone circle awaits your discovery. Immerse yourself in the ancient allure of this iconic site as you explore its intriguing history and marvel at its enduring presence amidst Orkney's timeless landscape. Prepare to be transported back in time to the Neolithic era as you encounter the Standing Stones of Stenness, a historic monument located five miles northeast of Stromness on the mainland of Orkney, Scotland. Widely believed to be one of the oldest henge sites in the British Isles, this sacred site offers a profound glimpse into ancient civilization and the mysteries of prehistoric culture. Join us on a journey to uncover the secrets of this remarkable archaeological wonder. Discover the awe-inspiring Skara Brae, hailed as the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe. Situated within the UNESCO-designated Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, Skara Brae offers a captivating window into ancient history. Immerse yourself in the mysteries of this remarkable archaeological site as you explore its well-preserved dwellings and unravel the secrets of Neolithic life. Step into the grandeur of Skaill House, Orkney's premier mansion commanding a stunning vista over the picturesque Bay of Skaill. With a rich heritage spanning 400 years, this historic landmark invites you to embark on a journey through time. Experience the essence of Orkney's aristocratic legacy in the splendor of Skaill House. Welcome to a timeless treasure awaiting your discovery.

Frequently asked questions about Orkney

Top Attractions in Orkney

Things to Do in Orkney

Cities in Orkney

Other Sightseeing Options in Orkney

Want to discover all there is to do in Orkney? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Orkney

Overall rating

4.7
(315 reviews)

This was our first Rabbie's Tour, and it was a fabulous experience from start to finish. The amazing sites in the North and on Orkney speak for themselves, so the experience depended on the people. We were quite pleased with alternate options based on weather conditions- all selected by our superb guide, Amy. She is well versed in a wide spectrum of topics, willing and able to connect information from the Neolithic period to WWII. Amy's knowledge of the area (geography, history, politics, language, music, wildlife - and more!) between Inverness and points north was impressive. Amy's playlist was a wonderful backdrop for each area we visited; her selections were complementary to our intinerary. Amy's concern for our general well-being, and her willingness to help us gain the most from our experience was personalized and key to creating a lasting impression. If you have the opportunity to tour with Rabbie's Tours and the remarkable Amy, do not hesitate; the experience is awesome!

It was great. John picked us up from the ship as agreed and fulfilled our wishes in wonderful sunshine. And yes, he looked for the puffin and found it. We were out for longer than we had booked at no extra cost. Highly recommended. Thank you very much, John.

Tour of The Orkneys. Our driver, Callum was a delight. Nothing was too much trouble, we never felt rushed and more importantly he was very knowledgeable. Would highly recommend him to anyone thinking of hiring a driver.

Tour guide was a wealth of knowledge and knew exactly where to go to see sights that most other guides would not have known about.nothing was a problem for him.

Not withstanding inclement weather Amy (our guide) made the tour exceptional .