There’s no place quite like the Orkney Islands, a far-flung archipelago off mainland Scotland’s northern coast. Home to the Highland Park and Scapa Distilleries, Orkney (it’s often referred to in the singular) has a history that goes back several millennia, and its Neolithic, Viking, and Scottish heritages intermingle throughout the stark, maritime landscape. When you’re ready to make the trek northward, consult this guide for our top recommendations. And don’t forget to read all about what makes Orkney so peculiarly special—and well worth a visit.
What to Do on Orkney
Getting to Orkney
BY AIR Flights to Kirkwall depart from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, and Sumburgh (Shetland) airports daily and are typically under one hour. Flights are operated by Loganair and booking is available at flybe.com.
BY SEA There are four ferry routes to choose from, with frequency depending on the season. The sail from Aberdeen to Kirkwall takes a leisurely six hours, while the seasonal passenger ferry from John O’Groats to Burwick, operating May to September, takes just 40 minutes. Other services include Scrabster to Stromness and Gills Bay to St Margaret’s Hope. Details at orkneyferries.co.uk.