Explore Orkney

Seventy or so islands, 59 degrees north, nearly six hundred miles of coastline and a population of around 21,500 – Orkney is a place perfect for exploring.

Piers and slipways in Stromness

Piers and slipways in Stromness

A view over Scapa Flow in Orkney

A view over Scapa Flow in Orkney

Street signs in Kirkwall to help you explore the town

Street signs in Kirkwall to help you explore the town

The Churchill Barriers in Orkney

The Churchill Barriers in Orkney

A view from the shoreline in the West Mainland

A view from the shoreline in the West Mainland

The Italian Chapel in Lamb Holm in Orkney

The Italian Chapel in Lamb Holm in Orkney

Stromness in Orkney and its private slipways into the sea

Stromness in Orkney and its private slipways into the sea

Sunrise over the Bay of Firth in Orkney

Sunrise over the Bay of Firth in Orkney

An aerial view of Kirkwall harbour

An aerial view of Kirkwall harbour

With bustling towns, remote islands, quiet beaches, spectacular coastline, gentle hills and green fields, you are only ever around the corner from a new experience. Find out more about our towns, islands and parishes from the links below.

Inside Explore Orkney

Kirkwall

Kirkwall

Orkney's capital dates back to Norse times, in the 11th century, when it was called Kirkjuvagr (Church of the bay).

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Stromness

Stromness

Stromness poet and author George Mackay Brown once wrote that the town's 'streets uncoiled like a sailor's rope from North to South'. Quaint closes and narrow old streets huddled between stone buildings of historical interest is the delight that is Stromness. Orkney’s second largest town is an architectural gem that inspires artists and writers and is a favourite with visitors.

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East Mainland

East Mainland

The area east and south east of Kirkwall is cattle country, with low lying and fertile farmland. Although the East Mainland doesn't have a World Heritage Site, it does have its own nature reserve, sea caves, beaches, historical sites and attractive villages to explore.

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West Mainland

West Mainland

Orkney's West Mainland hosts a collection of some of the finest archaeological sites to be found anywhere in Europe. It's home to the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site, and welcomes thousands of visitors every year.

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Burray

Burray

Burray is a small island linked to the east mainland of Orkney and South Ronaldsay by the Churchill Barriers. Once only accessible by boat, the farming and fishing community is now linked forever by the causeways.

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South Ronaldsay

South Ronaldsay

After you cross the fourth and final Churchill Barrier, you'll arrive in the largest settlement outside Kirkwall in the east, the attractive harbour village of St Margaret’s Hope in South Ronaldsay.

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Eday

Eday

Eday is at the centre of Orkney’s North Isles and has a rich heritage and history to explore, as well as being at the forefront of research for the modern renewable energy industry.

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Flotta

Flotta

Flotta is an island that has changed much over the years. From its role at the very heart of Orkney's military history to the building of the Flotta Oil Terminal in the 1970s, it has always played an important part in our economy and heritage.

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Hoy and Graemsay

Hoy and Graemsay

Orkney’s second largest island Hoy dramatically rises from the sea with mountainous moorland and glacial valleys, appearing more like a highland landscape than a typical Orkney low-lying island.

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North Ronaldsay

North Ronaldsay

The island's unique seaweed eating sheep, an Old Beacon featured on prime time television and the flight path for thousands of migratory birds have all helped put North Ronaldsay on the map.

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Papa Westray

Papa Westray

Take the world’s shortest scheduled flight and see northern Europe’s oldest house on one of Orkney’s smallest inhabited islands with a big community heart.

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Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre

Rousay, Egilsay and Wyre host some of Orkney's most magical archaeological and historical sites - with ancient brochs, cairns and tales of Vikings.

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Sanday

Sanday

Sanday by name and sandy by nature, the largest island of Orkney’s North Isles has beautiful sandy bays and dunes, turquoise seas and a gentle, fertile landscape.

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Shapinsay

Shapinsay

Shapinsay is only a 25-minute ferry ride from Kirkwall but the atmosphere of this small Orkney island can be soaked up even before you step ashore.

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Stronsay

Stronsay

Stronsay is a beautiful island to visit and to live on with magical sandy beaches backed by dunes, a stunning coastline and a main settlement with grand houses dating back to the herring fishery days.

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Westray

Westray

Westray is known as the Queen o’ the Isles and is a vibrant place to live, work and visit.

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