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Our most recommended Orkney Cruises & boat tours

Orkney: Historical and Wildlife Boat Coastal Speedboat Tour

1. Orkney: Historical and Wildlife Boat Coastal Speedboat Tour

From Kirkwall Harbour, experience Orkney in a new and thrilling way as you tour the surrounding islands on a guided coastal boat excursion. Be amazed by local scenery and gaze at a variety of wildlife and bird species which can include seals, dolphins and whales. Get an up-close view like no other! Meet your guide and board the boat at Kirkwall harbor and head for the mainland Our tour guides are very experienced with all the safety training needed and are commercially endorsed by RYA/MCA. Leaving Kiikwall harbour you will visit - Mainland - Hatston Pier Shapinsay - Balfour Castle Shapinsay - Balfour village Helliar Holm - Lighthouse Shapinsay - Galtness battery Sweyn Holm - Wildlife watch Gairsay - Seal colony Midsound Baa - Wildlife watch Finestown - Island history Return to Kirkwall harbour

Orkney: 2-Hour Shapinsay Island Speedboat Tour

2. Orkney: 2-Hour Shapinsay Island Speedboat Tour

Sail from Kirkwall harbor to the island of Shapinsay to take in the sights, including Balfour Castle and the village of Balfour. Check out a tall lighthouse on Helliar Holm, an uninhabited island. Take photos with highland cows, and visit an eco-friendly store, and a local beach. Leave Kirkwall harbor at Hatston Pier and take a ferry to Shapinsay, one of the Orkney Islands. When you arrive, get off your boat and explore the island. See Balfour village, at Elwick Bay. Visit Balfour Castle, a listed building built in the Scottish baronial style of architecture. Then, gaze at a lighthouse, which is 42 ft (13 meters) tall on the uninhabited island of Helliar Holm. Afterward, tour the beautiful coast of Shapinsay, and take some photos of the rugged scenery. Finally, return to Kirkwall harbor to finish your adventure.

From Inverness: 3-Day Orkney Explorer

3. From Inverness: 3-Day Orkney Explorer

Day 1: Explore Orkney’s ancient capital, Kirkwall After an early start leaving Inverness at 08:00, travel north through the Black Isle, past the imposing Dunrobin Castle, before crossing the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Isles. Stay in Kirkwall, the modern day capital of Orkney for 2 nights. Here, you can visit Kirkwall's magnificent Viking cathedral and its historic winding streets. Day 2: Follow in the footsteps of the Vikings as you travel through Orkney 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 Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness and Maeshowe, where in the 12th-century the Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions. Day 3: Travel through the history soaked regions of Caithness and Sutherland 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, travel through the history soaked regions of Caithness and Sutherland. 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. The tour will arrive back in Inverness early evening at approximitely 19:00.

Orkney: West Mainland Semi-Private Day Tour

4. 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.

Historic Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

5. Historic Orkney tour #1 By a Local Islander

I will pick up to 4 people up from either a central location In Kirkwall or at a place of your choosing within a 10km radius of Orkneys capital. 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 do not offer site guiding but 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 at 0900 hrs (Assumed start time unless informed otherwise) 0900 - Leave pickup location and pass by The Iconic St Magnus Cathedral and the Bishops Palace 0910 - Drive past the HMS Royal Oak memorial and Scapa Flow 0920 - Drive over Scorradale road for a fantastic photo opportunity 0930 - Arrive at Unstan Tomb with time to explore the site (20 mins) 1000 - Arrive at the cliffs of Yesnaby for another photo opportunity (20 mins) 1030 - Arrive at 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. 1140 - Arrive at the ring of brodgar for a chance to explore one of the great monuments on foot (20 mins) 1200 - Pass by the Standing stones of Stenness and the iconic Maes Howe 1230 - Arrive at the Italian Chapel via the Churchill barriers for a chance to explore and get more photos (20 mins) 1300 - 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 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. 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 (updated 17/02/24)

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

6. Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Drive to the top of Scotland on a scenic 5-day tour, and learn the history of the Highlands at sites such as the battlefield of the Macdonald clan massacre, and Stirling Castle. Spend the day on the Orkney Isles, and travel the northenmost coast of mainland Scotland. The tour is by luxury 16-seat Mercedes minibus for a more intimate experience, while bed and breakfast accommodation is provided in Inverness, the lovely town of Kirkwall, and the whitewashed fishing village of Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom. 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 past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo 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.

North Coast of Scotland (NC500) (Interactive Guidebook)

7. 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 and when you are on your break. 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! Access this North Coast of Scotland road trip online on 2 devices (mobile, tablet or desktop) for 12 months to help with planning your break before you travel, as well as on your holiday. Scotland’s North Coast: • The suggested mapped route on the online guidebook is fully flexible meaning it will help you plan your trip with places to go and things to see and do, whether from 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. Of course, you can tweak this route as much as you like to make your own perfect route. • 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 18 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 & almost wild spots • 55+ Hotels • 125+ B&Bs, guesthouses and lodges

From Edinburgh: Orkney and The Far North 5-Day Tour

8. From Edinburgh: Orkney and The Far North 5-Day Tour

The 5-day tour from Edinburgh takes you on a discovery of the Scottish Highlands and the Orkney Islands. Heading north from Scotland’s capital city, you can admire the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Highlands and explore the history of the Orkney Islands. On day 1, travel north to Loch Ness. The spectacular tour starts by heading west through the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park. The route then takes you through the haunting landscape of Glen Coe, the scene of the terrible massacre of the MacDonald Clan, and on through Fort William and the Great Glen to arrive at the fabled shores of Loch Ness. Stay overnight in Inverness. On day 2, head north via Inverness and the spectacular coastal scenery of the Moray and Cromarty Firths. Then, board the ferry for a memorable trip to the mysterious and magical Orkney Islands. Once you arrive, take in the stunning scenery and start exploring. Visit the beautiful Italian Chapel, which was built by Italian prisoners of war, as well as the famous Churchill Barriers – causeways that were constructed to protect the British naval fleet from submarines. Stay overnight at Kirkwall. On day 3, explore the ancient history of the islands. From your base in Kirkwall, which boasts many craft and gift shops to explore, spend the whole day exploring the islands. This is a land full of ancient history and you will be able to take in prehistoric marvels such as the Maeshowe chambered cairn, the world-famous Neolithic village of Skara Brae, and the brooding stone circles of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. The day will finish with a visit to the beautiful St Magnus Cathedral. Stay overnight at Kirkwall. On day 4, start with a ferry ride back to the mainland. Then you will get the chance to take in Inverness, the capital of the Highlands. Stay overnight in Inverness. On day 5, head back to Edinburgh. On the way, visit the battlefield of Culloden, the site of the defeat of the Jacobite forces. You will also pass the stunning Cairngorm Mountains and explore the picturesque town of Pitlochry.

From Edinburgh: Orkney, Skye and the Far North 8 Day Tour

9. From Edinburgh: Orkney, Skye and the Far North 8 Day Tour

On day 1, travel through the Trossachs to Oban. This wide-ranging Highland and Islands tour starts by heading west through the beautiful scenery of Loch, Lomond and the Trossachs National Park to Kilmartin Glen. Explore Scotland’s ancient past; with over 5,000 years of history laid out before you, you’ll be able to walk in the footsteps of the first Scots at Dunadd Hill Fort and the Temple Wood Stone Circle. Then stay overnight in Oban. On day 2, enjoy a day of high hills and history. Discover the haunting landscape of Glen Coe, past Ben Nevis - Britain’s tallest peak, and make a stop at Fort William. You will board the Jacobite Train from Fort William to Mallaig, to enjoy a spectacular railway journey. Crossing over the sea to the Isle of Skye by ferry for your second night, staying overnight in Skye. On day 3, enjoy a whole day to explore Skye’s beautiful landscape. Here the mountains and beaches beckon, so lose yourself amongst the spectacular scenery of the Cuillin Mountains, the slanting hills of Quiraing, and the incredible Trotternish peninsula. Stay overnight in Skye. On day 4, discover castles and mountains and then head to Loch Ness. Once you leave Skye the first stop is a visit to the idyllic Eilean Donan Castle. You will then continue onwards to the fabled shores of Loch Ness, where you have the option (extra cost) to visit Urquhart Castle and take a cruise on the loch. Enjoy an overnight stay in Inverness. On day 5, head over the sea to the Orkney Isles. Travel north via Inverness and the spectacular coastal scenery of the Moray and Cromarty Firths. Then board the ferry for the memorable trip to the mysterious and magical Orkney Isles. Once you arrive, you can take in the stunning scenery and start exploring. Visit the beautiful Italian Chapel, which was built by Italian prisoners of war. You’ll also see the famous Churchill Barriers – causeways that were constructed to protect the British naval fleet from submarines. Stay overnight in Kirkwall. On day 6, explore the ancient history of the Isles. From your base in Kirkwall, which boasts many craft and gift shops to enjoy, you’ll spend the whole of day six exploring the islands. This is a land full of ancient history and you’ll be able to take in prehistoric marvels such as the Maeshowe chambered cairn, the world-famous Neolithic village of Skara Brae and the brooding stone circles of Stenness and the Ring o’Brodgar. The day will finish with a visit to the beautiful St Magnus Cathedral. Stay overnight in Kirkwall. On day 7, head back to the mainland again and start your journey south. You will be treated to some fantastic scenery, and may have the chance to visit Dunrobin Castle as you make your way back to Inverness. Stay overnight in Inverness. On day 8, as you head home, you’ll be able to visit the battlefield of Culloden, the site of the defeat of the Jacobite forces. You’ll also pass the stunning Cairngorm mountains and explore the picturesque town of Pitlochry.

Orkney Personalized Trike Tour

10. Orkney Personalized Trike Tour

Orkney is filled with breath taking views, a rich and long history as well as a friendly, vibrant community. Our standard tours give you a brilliant in-depth look at different aspects of Orkney past and present, but if you can't choose which one is perfect for you, maybe spend more time at fewer sites or want to do a bit of everything then this personalised tour is just the right tour for you. This is our most popular tour, as we combine the various ages of history together into one personilised tour based on your specific requests, as Orkney cannot be grouped into just one time period or area as its historical tapestry weaves its way into all areas of Orkney. Orkney is also blessed with breath taking views and wildlife and has a friendly, vibrant community where you can take time to savour the good things in life. Our standard tours give a brilliant in-depth look at these different aspects of Orkney past and present, but if you can't choose which one is perfect for you. With maybe spend more time at fewer sites or if you want to do a bit of everything then we can organise a personalised tour just for you So by booking this tour you get both the pleasure of visiting some of the interesting places on Orkney, and at the same time you experiencing the thrill of riding on a motorbike, but in complete safety driven by an experienced Advanced driver. so its really two tours for the price of One. We also "Pick up and drop off" at your ship, ferry, Hotel or a prearranged place. Warm weatherproof clothing is recommended as Orkney is much colder and windier than many expect on their first visit. after all we are a group of Islands off the north coast of Scotland and not known for its high temperatures. Please remember there is no such thing as bad weather just the wrong clothes

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What people are saying about Orkney

Absolutely fantastic experience was a surprise present for my daughters 10th birthday she so enjoyed it even got to sit with the driver which she so enjoyed even my 7 yr old son who has additional needs had a great time got to see some wildlife up close will definitely be booking again next time we are in Orkney

A brilliant way to see some of the island’s & coastline! We saw lots of wildlife too. Great fun!

It was very informative and sporty! Good equipment and the price-performance ratio was right!

Good fun, my children loved it. The guide was really informative.

Friendly, exciting and all on time, highly recommended