Things to Do in Orkney: A 3-Day Orkney Itinerary 2024

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Embark on an unforgettable three-day trip to Orkney. This guide, born from our personal adventures, blends the island’s rugged beauty with its rich Norse-like culture.

Encounters and Discoveries: The mystic Standing Stones and the surprisingly serene bluebell wood in an almost treeless land were just a couple of our highlights on this 3-day Orkney itinerary. We also met an award-winning local artisan whose jewellery echoes the island’s landscape, a testament to Orkney’s inspiring nature.

Weather and Heritage: Prepare for Orkney’s quick-changing weather. Experience the unique blend of Scottish and Norse influences in the local dialect.

Dive into Orkney’s captivating history and its rugged scenery on this Orkney road trip. Come with us as we visit its well-known gems and discover some unusual things to do in Orkney.

Overview: 3-Day Mainland Orkney Itinerary

Day 1 Orkney Itinerary

  • Kirkwall Visitor Centre
  • St. Magnus Centre
  • St.Magnus Cathedral
  • Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces
  • Orkney Museum
  • Binscarth Woods
  • Standing Stones of Stenness
  • Ring of Brodgar

Day 2 Orkney Itinerary

  • Skara Brae
  • Brough of Birsay
  • Birsay Earl’s Palace
  • Marwick Head
  • Yesnaby Cliffs and Sea stacks

Day 3 Orkney Itinerary

  • Italian Chapel
  • Churchill Barriers
  • Dingieshowe Bay
  • Mull Head, The Gloup and Brough of Deerness
  • Kirk Gallery and Cafe
  • Scapa Beach
  • Scapa Flow Museum

READ MORE: Visiting Orkney: Your Go-to Guide for Mainland Orkney – for more details on what to do in Orkney.

Orkney Itinerary Map

How Long Does It Take to Drive Around Orkney?

Planning a road trip around Orkney? You can drive around Orkney in approximately 3 hours, covering about 100 kilometres (62 miles). While the basic route can be completed in that time, we recommend allowing more time for a richer experience.

Orkney’s beauty lies in its destinations and the journey itself. Our route doesn’t just circle the island; it crisscrosses through the heart of Orkney, taking you closer to its famous sites and hidden gems. This means more driving distance but also more opportunities to explore and discover.

Remember, these are estimates for the driving time. To truly experience Orkney – from its enigmatic ancient stones to its dramatic coastal landscapes – you’ll want to stop, explore, and soak in the views.

So, while you can drive around Orkney in about 3 hours, the real question is: how much time do you have to enjoy it?

Our 3 day trip to Orkney was enough time to see the main highlights, but we could have easily spent a week or more revisiting certain points in different lights for photography and hiking some of the wild, rugged coastal trails.

Map of Orkney showing distance around Orkney
Distance and time to drive around Orkney

Prepare for a journey that’s as much about the road travelled as the destinations themselves.

Mainland Orkney Itinerary & Things to Do

We suggest arriving early at certain popular tourist spots on Orkney because many cruise ships and tourist coaches visit the island, and these spots can become very congested.

The tour buses tend to arrive from around 10 am to mid-afternoon. So we suggest arriving as soon as they open or near closing time to avoid the crowds. You can also check the cruise ship schedules at the iCentre tourist information centre in Kirkwall.

The most popular tourist spots in Orkney that can often be seen swarming with visitors are:

  • Italian Chapel
  • Skara Brae
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Stones of Stenness
  • Maeshowe
Yesnaby Cliffs
Yesnaby Cliffs, Orkney ©Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to the U.K.?

Tailor Your Orkney Adventure: A Personalized Guide

Not sure where to start on your Orkney journey? Our flow diagram helps you pick destinations that align with your interests. Follow our suggested Orkney 3-day itinerary below, or plan your own.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, photography aficionado, or seeking adventure, this guide directs you to the places in Orkney that you’ll find most captivating.

Flow diagram showing best places to visit on an Orkney itinerary in realtion to your interests
Flow Diagram: Choose Your Orkney Adventure

Choose your path and embark on an Orkney adventure perfectly suited to you!

Things to do in Orkney

Orkney Itinerary: Day One

1. Kirkwall Visitor Centre

The first stop on your Orkney Itinerary should be at the Kirkwall Visitor iCentre to pick up the latest free Islander Magazine and to get a rundown of any local events that may be happening while you are in Orkney.

You can also pick up an updated leaflet that gives you all of the opening times of the attractions on the island.

The staff at the visitor centre were extremely helpful, and there are also plenty of brochures covering all interests.

2. Kirkwall St Magnus Cathedral

St Magnus Cathedral, the Light of the North, is the most northerly cathedral in the UK. Viking Earl Rognval commissioned this impressive red and yellow sandstone building in memory of his martyred uncle, St. Magnus, in 1137 (now Orkney’s patron saint).

St. Magnus Cathedral took an incredible 100 years to build and is the only wholly medieval cathedral in Scotland. Unusually, it is not owned by a Parish but by the people of Orkney. King James III of Scotland gave the cathedral to the people of Kirkwall in 1486.

St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall ©Lifejourney4two

You can book a tour of the cathedral, or once inside the cathedral, you can download the St Magnus App, which contains audio descriptions, images and videos (remember to bring your earphones).

If you don’t want to do either of those, and you enjoy a good treasure hunt, grab the ” Graffiti, Carvings and Inscriptions in St Magnus Cathedral‘ leaflet, either in the cathedral itself or in the visitor centre. You’ll find a map in the leaflet detailing interesting marks and writings in various places inside the cathedral.

We had a lot of fun hunting down the different markings and learning what they might have meant.

Fork like marking on the wall in St Magnus Cathedral
One of the markings on the pillars of St Magnus Cathedral ©Lifejourney4two

The cathedral’s Visitor Centre is just a minute’s walk away, and there you can watch a 15-minute video about the Saga of St Magnus and the history of the cathedral.

It’s well worth a quick stop and might be good to do before you visit the cathedral, giving your visit more context as you wander around this impressive building.

Free Entry to St Magnus Cathedral.

Inside of St. Magnus Cathedral
Inside view of St Magnus Cathedral ©Lifejourney4two

3. The Bishop’s and Earl Palaces

In the heart of Kirkwall, opposite St. Magnus Cathedral, is the Bishop’s Palace, originally built in the 1100s.

However, in the early 1600s, it became part of a larger Renaissance Palace built for Earl Patrick Stewart, the 2nd Earl of Orkney.

Patrick Stewart and his father, Robert, the 1st Earl of Orkney, were ruthless and violent rulers who oppressed their people and used local slave labour for their building projects.

Patrick, or Black Patie, as he was known, was the illegitimate cousin of James VI. Luckily for the Orcadians at the time, Patrick was beheaded for treason in 1615. Interestingly, the beheading was delayed so that the earl could learn the Lord’s Prayer!

The palace, one of Scotland’s finest Renaissance buildings, was then transferred to the Bishop of Orkney.

Earl's-Palace-Kirkwall - a ruined building set on a green lawn surrounded by trees
The Earl’s Palace, Kirkwall, Orkney ©Lifejourney4two

4. Orkney Museum

The Orkney Museum tells Orkney’s story, from the Stone Age to the Picts and Vikings to the present day. The museum, once Tankerness House, is a listed building and was once the Baikie family home.

The house opened as a museum in 1968, and its gardens, Tankerness Gardens, are now a walled public space to enjoy, sheltered from the Orkney wind.

The museum holds many interesting and informational relics. The information is organised chronologically, taking you through thousands of years of Orkney history.

Entrance is free

Display cabinets and wall information boards at the Orkney Museum
Orkney Museum in Kirkwall ©Lifejourney4two

5. Binscarth Woods

If you are visiting Orkney in spring, plan a trip to Binscarth Woods. Orkney is renowned for its lack of trees, but you will find a few pockets of woodland, and this was a gem of a find.

A beautiful array of bluebells carpeted the woodland floor, and even the sun played ball by casting dappled sunlight through the trees to highlight their brilliance.

Even if the bluebells aren’t flowering, the woodlands surround a pretty burn (Scottish for stream), and the trail makes for a lovely looped walk, or you can choose to take a longer stroll and walk further on to the nearby Loch of Wasdale.

You can read about this little piece of woodland wonder in our post, Bluebells at Binscarth Woods.

Binscarth Woods Header

6. Standing Stones of Stenness

The Standing Stones of Stenness are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, which was granted World Heritage Status by UNESCO in 1999 as a location of outstanding universal value.

The Heart of Neolithic Orkney includes:

  • Ring of Brodgar,
  • Skara Brae and
  • Maeshowe.

Only four of the original twelve stones are standing, with the tallest reaching six metres. These Neolithic stones are believed to have been erected in 3300 BC.

Standing Stones with a couple of sheep by the stones and sunset behind
Standing Stones of Stenness ©Lifejourney4two

7. Ring of Brodgar

The Ring of Brodgar is said to be one of the oldest stone circles in the world, dating to about 2500 – 2000 BC. So it is no wonder that this bewitching ring of stones, with a diameter of about 100 metres, is part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.  

Standing by these ancient pillars, there seems to be a thin veil between the present and the past. Perhaps I’ve been watching too many episodes of Outlander, but I’m sure on a moon-filled night … you might just stumble into another world, into another time.

Ring of Brodgar - standing stones in a circle with grass growing around
Ring of Brodgar ©Lifejourney4two

The Ring of Brodgar Stones is the largest stone circle in Scotland. Of the original 60 stones, only 27 remain, ranging from two metres to four and a half metres tall.

No one is sure about the purpose of the stones. However, many believe this was a place of worship or celebration aligned with the solstice and equinox.

It would be a magical place to stand at Summer Solstice.

This stunning landscape of ancient standing stones amidst lochs Harray and Stenness is home to RSPB Brodgar Nature Reserve. If you keep an eye out, you may spot curlews, drumming snipe, lapwings, dunlins, redshanks or oystercatchers.

Female lapwing with chick
Lapwing with chick at RSPB Brodgar ©Lifejourney4two

Orkney Itinerary: Day Two

8. Skara Brae

Skara Brae must be the most famous of Orkney’s landmarks. This neolithic treasure, on the banks of Skaill Bay, was only discovered in 1850 when high tides and storms ripped off the turf on a small hill and uncovered some of the ruins.

What does Neolithic mean?

The Neolithic period (also known as the New Stone Age) begins a transformation from a culture of hunting and gathering to farming and agriculture and to the widespread use of bronze (about 2300 BCE)

There are three Stone Age periods:

  1.  Paleolithic (or Old Stone Age),
  2. Mesolithic (or Middle Stone Age), and
  3. Neolithic (or New Stone Age),
View of Skara Brae grass mo9und with dug out rooms and ocean in the background
Skara Brae ©Lifejourney4two

The village of Skara Brae, hidden under the sand for thousands of years, revealed furniture, tools and jewellery of that time. Eight buildings exposed the secrets of how life was once lived in these ancient houses.

Skara Brae is said to be Europe’s most well-preserved Neolithic village. It is hard to believe that these 5000-year-old Stone Age remnants predate Stonehenge and even the Pyramids.  

Archaeologists believe the settlement was used for about 600 years, but it is still a mystery why the inhabitants suddenly left.

I found this Travel Through Time interview with archaeologist Neil Oliver about Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae very interesting.

Video interview with Neil Oliver on Neolithic Orkney and Skara Brae

When you visit Skara Brae, the visitor centre is your first port of call. Combs, needles and mysterious spheres excavated from Skara Brae are on display. There is a video presentation about the ruins at the visitor centre and a gift shop and cafe.

Moving on from the visitor centre, you step outside to a replica of a Skara Brae house, where you gain insight into what living in one of these stone-age houses was like.  

Further along the bay, you come to the actual Skara Brae prehistoric village, and a winding path takes you between the houses, which still have their stone furniture of hearths and beds.

 Entry to Skara Brae is free with a Historic Scotland membership or an Explorer Pass

Skara Brae stone hearth and stone beds
Skara Brae house, showing the stone hearth and beds on the side of the room ©Lifejourney4two

9. Skaill House

The entrance price to Skara Brae also includes access to the adjacent 17th century Skaill House, once the home to William Watt, 7th Lord of Breckness, who discovered Skara Brae.  

The original building was a manor house built by Bishop Graham of Orkney in 1620, but evidence shows that there was a Norse burial ground under the foundations of the house.

The manor passed on the Bishop’s death to his son John, who became the 1st Lord of Skaill. The manor continued to be passed down through the family through twelve generations of Lairds. It was lived in until 1991, is now open to the public, and retains its 1950s decor and memorabilia.

Keep an eye out for any spooky visions or smells as there are tales of strange smells filling the rooms and ghosts inhabiting the manor … but only friendly ones.

Skaill-house,-Orkney with items dating from 1950s
Skaill House ©Lifejourney4two

10. Maeshowe Chambered Cairn

Unfortunately, the cairn was closed for conservation work in Orkney, but it opened again a few days after we left.

Maeshowe’s chambered tomb is one of the four monuments that make up the heart of Neolithic Orkney. It looks like a grassy mound from the outside, but huge stone slabs make up a chambered burial tomb inside.

It was built around 5000 years ago, but thousands of years after it was closed up, the Vikings broke into it, and today, Viking graffiti can be seen on some of the walls.

Visits to the cairn are by a one-hour guided tour that leaves by bus from the Stenness Visitor Centre.

The Maeshowe Cairn Tour times are 10 am, 11.30 am, 2 pm and 3.30 pm.

11. Brough of Birsay

The Brough of Birsay is a small tidal island that can only be reached at low tide by walking across a concrete causeway.

Puffins and a wealth of other sea birds gather on the cliffs here in late April. We spotted some on the western cliffs near the lighthouse. A local also told us that puffins are often seen on the far east cliffs of the island, too.

Remaining on the island are the Norse remains of a church that was a place of pilgrimage in Medieval times and remnants of past Pictish and Viking settlements.

Brough of Birsay Lighthouse on top of the island
Brough of Birsay Lighthouse ©Lifejourney4two
Lars stood on causeway to the Brough of Birsay
Crossing the causeway to the Brough of Birsay ©Lifejourney4two

Getting to the Brough of Birsay:

Check the low tide times and whether the island is accessible for two hours on either side during the low tide time.

Check tide times online here.

Or you can visit the tourist information centre in Kirkwall to get a printout of tide times.

Brough of Birsay Orkney Header

12. Earl’s Palace, Birsay

This palace was built around the 1570s for Earl Robert Stewart, the 1st Earl of Orkney. Robert, the illegitimate half-brother of Mary Queen of Scots, was a bully and tyrannical ruler.

The palace was a building with a combination of Renaissance architecture and fortifications of cannon holes in all the palace walls. A sign that the times back then weren’t exactly peaceful.

13. Marwick Cliffs

Marwick Cliffs are a haven for seabirds and is known locally as ‘Seabird City’. Not only are the cliffs full of birds, but you’ll notice a castle-like shape, the Kitchener Memorial, on the cliffs. It was erected in 1926 and stands 48 ft high.

The monument looks over the cliffs where the HMS Hampshire hit a mine and sank in 1916 during WWI. Field Marshall Kitchener died along with 737 men.

Kitchener Memorial shaped like a castle turret
Kitchener Memorial on Marwick Cliffs ©Lifejourney4two
Gills at Marwick head, Orkney
RSPB Marwick Head Nature Reserve ©Lifejourney4two

14. Yesnaby Coastal Walk

Yesnaby Cliff Walk is one of Orkney’s wildest, most rugged and invigorating walks. Majestic sea stacks withstand the battering waves. The most famous is Yesnaby Castle, one of Orkney’s most photographed sea stacks.

Parking is at the site where WWII anti-aircraft buildings were in operation. The buildings are crumbling now, worn down by the persistent winds and harsh, eroding sea salt. A few information boards tell you about the area.

But the real experience is walking along the wind-whipped clifftops as the sea churns and shapes the landscape below.

Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack, a single rock tht almost seems to have two short legs
Yesnaby Castle Sea Stack ©Lifejourney4two

Orkney Itinerary: Day Three

15. Italian Chapel

This unusual and exquisite chapel, created by Italian prisoners during the Second World War, is on Lamb Holm Island. To reach it, you cross one of the Churchill Barriers, built by the prisoners during the war.

The Italian prisoners, led by Domenico Chiocchetti, converted two wartime Nissen Huts into a beautiful chapel. They used old tin cans to create intricate lanterns and painted the walls in 3D, replicating beautiful brickwork and plasterwork. The craftsmanship is incredible.

Orkney Itinerary Tip: Remember to visit the Chapel first thing in the morning or near closing as it becomes very busy with tour buses arriving.

Italian church made of two nissen huts with red and white church like facade
Italian Chapel ©Lifejourney4two
Intricate lanterns made from tin cans
Lanterns in the Italian Chapel made from ration cans ©Lifejourney4two

16 Churchill Barriers

The Churchill Barriers were built during World War II to protect the Scapa Flow naval base in Orkney. Before the barriers, block ships were put in place but proved ineffective when a U-boat entered the Scapa Flow and sank the Royal Oak. (See Scapa Bay for the memorial honouring the 835 lives lost.)

You can still see some rusting blockships alongside some of the Churchill barriers.

Piled stones across the ocean forming a churchill barrier linking the island
The pile of blocks with a road across is one of the Churchill Barriers in Orkney ©Lifejourney4two

17. Dingieshowe Bay

At Dingieshowe Bay, you’ll find a mound above the sand dunes where Vikings used to meet to make decisions. Orkney folklore tells of dreaded trolls (trows) living here and that locals once feared the place.

Across the road from Dingieshowe Bay, on the opposite side of the promontory, is a more sheltered bay where you can see the remains of a row of ‘dragons teeth’, a WWII defence barrier to prevent tanks from landing onshore.

Dingiehowes Bay sign
Orkneyinga Saga information board at Dingieshowe Bay ©Lifejourney4two
Dingieshowe Bay ©Lifejourney4two

18. The Gloup, Halls Head and Brough of Deerness

The wind was blowing a hooley, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the walk at Halls Head. Swallows darted in and out of The Gloup, and further along the coast, we spotted the ever-colourful, orange-beaked oystercatchers, black guillemots (the ones with red feet as compared to plain guillemots with black feet),) and eider ducks nibbling on the seaweed.

The Gloup name comes from the old Norse word, Gluppa, meaning chasm. The Gloup is a collapsed sea cave with a drop of 80 feet to where the ocean crashes through the blowhole at the bottom.

The-Gloup,-Orkney high drop in cliff with a hole in the bottom
The Gloup, Halls Head, Orkney ©Lifejourney4two

This is a stunning part of Orkney’s coastline and is part of the 200-acre Mull Head Nature Reserve. There are walks along the coast here, and it is also home to the Brough of Deerness.

The Brough of Deerness is an outcrop of rock where you’ll find the ruins of a Norse church and settlement, accessed by rock-cut steps.

Unfortunately, the Brough of Deerness was closed for renovations when we were there.

If you would like a long walk around the coast, an easy to moderate 10 km/6-mile trail takes you on a circular route from The Gloup carpark, along the coast and Mull Head and back. (See map) The approximate time for the full walk is 3 hours.

Signpost, near The Gloup, for Brough of Deerness ©Lifejourney4two
Halls-Head-Coastal-Walk with shelley looking out to sea and coastline
Halls Head Coastal Walk ©Lifejourney4two

19. Kirk Gallery and Cafe

Stepping into the Kirk Gallery and Café in Tankerness, just outside Kirkwall, it is crystal clear where the inspiration for Sheila Fleet’s jewellery has come from.

Almost every piece of this beautiful collection, displayed in an old, beautifully renovated church, reflects the Orkney landscape and culture.

I’m quite a simple gal when it comes to jewellery, and rarely do I find myself falling in love with almost every item on display.

However, the reflection of nature in these beautifully enamelled mini pieces of art captured my interest immediately. The display reflects Orkney in all its facets, and you can only be drawn to discover its stories.

We were lucky enough to meet Sheila Fleet (we started chatting at the Stenness Standing Stones), and she invited us to have a tour of the Kirk Gallery. If you are interested, you can see the whole process involved in her jewellery-making here.

You certainly can’t take any of Orkney’s Neolithic treasures home with you, but you can take a little reminder of Orkney in the form of a handmade piece of jewellery.

If you plan to eat at the Kirk Gallery Cafe or even stop for a coffee, make a booking beforehand, as the cafe is extremely popular.

The Sheila Fleet Kirk Gallery building
Sheila Fleet Kirk Gallery and Cafe ©Lifejourney4two
Sheila Fleet cafe
Kirk Gallery or Sheila Fleet Cafe
Sheila Fleet and us at the end of the Jewellery Gallery by a stained glass window
Sheila Fleet OBE showed us around her workshop and the detailed jewellery-making process ©Lifejourney4two
The design process of the jewellery showing a butterfly design drawing and butterfly
Each design starts off as a drawing
Adding enamel grain by grain to the jewellery
Each piece of jewellery is enamelled by hand

20. Scapa Bay

In the past two World Wars, Orkney was home to thousands of service personnel, and Scapa Flow was a strategic Naval base.

Many naval disasters have occurred in the area, but at Scapa, you will find the HMS Royal Oak memorial. It was after the sinking of the Royal Oak by a German submarine in 1939, with the devastating loss of 835 lives, that Winston Churchill ordered the construction of the Churchill Barriers.

If you are interested in learning more, take a visit to the new Scapa Flow Museum.

The Royal Oak Memorial at Scapa Bay ©Lifejourney4two

21. Other Orkney Historical Places of Interest

If you are interested in more historical places to visit on mainland Orkney, you may be interested in:

  • Broch of Gurness — Ramparts of an Iron Age settlement
  • Click Mill — The only remaining horizontal water mill was built in the early 1800s and in use until the 1880s
  • Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn — A hillside neolithic tomb
  • Earl’s Bu and Church, Orphir — foundations of an early medieval building
  • Grain Earth House — an underground chamber of an Iron Age earthhouse
  • Rennibister Earth house — another example of an Iron Age house
  • Unstan Chambered Cairn — A mound covering a Neolithic stone chamber
  • Fossil and Heritage Centre — A collection of fossils from Orkney

You can find more details about these sites at Historic Scotland.

Dingieshowe sandy beach with lon grasses in foreground
Dingieshowe Beach, Orkney ©Lifejourney4two

Driving in Orkney

Many of Orkney’s roads are single lanes, but there are usually loads of passing places for you to pull in to let others pass.

If you are unfamiliar with single-track roads, you will need to know how to use them properly.

These tips will help you to road trip around Orkney more safely.

  • Drive on the left in Orkney.
  • If you are driving slower than the traffic behind you, pull into a passing place to allow traffic to overtake you.
  • Pull into the passing place on your left to let oncoming traffic pass.
  • DO NOT pull into a passing place on your right. Stay on your left and wait opposite a passing place to allow traffic to pass.
  • Don’t Park in a passing place.
  • Look out for cyclists. In the UK, you need to give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of passing distance.
  • Keep a lookout for sheep and wild animals, such as deer.
  • It is illegal to use your mobile phone when driving.

Getting To Orkney

Car Ferry to Orkney

There are three car ferry routes to Orkney.

  1. We took the Northlink car ferry from Scrabster (near Thurso) on Scotland’s north coast to Stromness on Orkney’s west coast. (See Map)
  2. Northlink also runs a ferry from Aberdeen to Kirkwall. Check the times and prices at Northlink here.
  3. The third option is to take the Pentland ferry from Gill’s Bay, just west of John’O Groats, to St Margaret’s Hope, Orkney.
Old Man of Hoy as seen from the ferry trip from Scrabster to Stromness ©Lifejourney4two

Flying to Orkney

If you are planning your road trip by hiring a car in Orkney, then you may very well consider flying to Orkney.

Logan Air runs flights to Kirkwall, Orkney, from Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness. 

🚘 If you want to hire a car, we recommend DiscoverCars.

  • They have a Price Match Guarantee.
  • 4.5 Rating on Trustpilot
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • Free Cancellation

✍️ Grab a great quote from them here

Accommodation In Orkney

While road-tripping around Orkney, we based ourselves in Kirkwall. This made it easy to travel to Orkney’s west and east mainland.

The place we stayed was also within walking distance of the town centre, and we would thoroughly recommend this Airbnb accommodation run by super hosts Ian and Fiona. We had everything we needed, as well as the use of a well-stocked breakfast bar.

🛏 There is plenty of locally run accommodation available to book in Orkney

Orkney Road Trip Itinerary FAQS

What are the must-visit historical sites in Orkney?

Orkney is rich in history and offers numerous captivating sites. Don’t miss the UNESCO World Heritage Sites like Skara Brae, the Ring of Brodgar, and Maeshowe. These Neolithic marvels offer a glimpse into ancient civilizations and are a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Orkney?

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Orkney. Explore the dramatic Yesnaby coastal cliffs, take scenic hikes, and go birdwatching at the RSPB reserves. Additionally, you can take a boat tour to spot seals, dolphins, and other marine wildlife.

When is the best time to visit Orkney?

Orkney’s beauty changes with the seasons. The summer months (June to August) offer longer days, milder weather, and many tourists. However, shoulder seasons like spring (April to May) and autumn (September to October) offer fewer crowds and pleasant weather. The choice depends on your preference for weather and tourist activity.

What are some hidden gems and lesser-known attractions in Orkney?

While the popular sites are a must-see, Orkney also boasts hidden gems worth exploring. Explore the Brough of Birsay, a tidal island with historic ruins, and Binscarth Woods – especially in spring when it’s carpeted in bluebells.

Orkney Road Trip Itinerary … That’s a Wrap

This Orkney Itinerary was carried out over three days but could easily be stretched out to at least a week or more.

As photographers, we would have loved to revisit some of the locations at different times of the day. We also love walking and could easily have used up a few days walking along the clifftops if we had more time.

Nevertheless, three days were enough to pack all of this in … without any visits to the surrounding islands.

Our Orkney road trip included a mixture of all aspects of a visit to the island.

We’d love for you to share your favourite Orkney memory in the comments below or drop us a line if you have any questions.

Enjoy your trip, happy planning and don’t forget to download our free Road Trip planner ⬇️

Road trip planner with car at front
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These are the travel resources we recommend and use when planning our trips.

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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