• Old Man of Hoy, Orkney - image by Mark Ferguson

If things are busy...

Take a look at our alternative attraction suggestions when visiting Orkney.

Are you planning a trip to Orkney?

We know that some of our most popular attractions can be a bit busy at times during the summer months.

To help, we've picked out some alternatives - substitute sites that still give you that special Orkney experience, but with a little more space when you need it.

If the Ring of Brodgar is busy…try the Standing Stones of Stenness instead.

These two Orkney stone circles are within walking distance of each other so if you arrive at one during a busier time, you’ve always got the option to head to the other. The Standing Stones of Stenness is the smaller of the two sites, with only four upright stones remaining. But it's older than the Ring of Brodgar, and has some fascinating stories to uncover. You can even visit a nearby Neolithic village, with the short walk to the Barnhouse settlement highly recommended.

If Yesnaby is busy…try Marwick Head instead.

With more than 500 miles of coastline, finding a spectacular sea view to yourself isn’t a problem in Orkney. Yesnaby is probably our most popular location for a coastal walk, with crashing waves and even a sea stack to visit. If the car park appears too busy for your liking though, just head ten miles north to Marwick Head, another stunning site with huge cliffs, seabirds and beautiful views out over the Atlantic Ocean. There’s history here too, with the Kitchener and HMS Hampshire Memorials to visit. There are two routes to the top – from Marwick Bay, and from a small car park found by following the Cumlaquoy Road. Perfect for picking the quietest option.

If Waulkmill Bay is busy…try Scapa or Inganess instead.

If you’re visiting Kirkwall and want to escape the vibrant town centre then a short drive to Waulkmill Bay is always an option. It’s a stunning stretch of sand, but there are other choices if you arrive and the beach is busy. Scapa is just a 15-minute walk from Kirkwall’s shops. Inganess is another beach on the outskirts of Kirkwall that’s well worth a visit. It has lovely views, a shipwreck in the bay, and you might see one of our tiny eight-seater Islander aircrafts buzzing overhead as it comes in to land at Kirkwall Airport.

If the Brough of Birsay is busy…try exploring the parish instead.

The Brough of Birsay ticks all the Orkney boxes – cliffs, sea views, history and wildlife. But that can mean it’s a popular destination too. Instead, try a trek around the nearby coast and visit the Fishermen’s Huts and the iconic Whalebone (please note, the whalebone was damaged in storms earlier this year and is currently awaiting repair). You can also head into Palace village and wander around the remains of the medieval Earl’s Palace. All this walking could mean you miss the tide times for visiting the Brough, but the causeway across will be clear again tomorrow.

If Mull Head is busy…try Covenanters Memorial instead.

Orkney’s east mainland doesn’t usually attract as many visitors as the west, but there are plenty of gems to be found here. Mull Head and the Gloup are popular spots with a lovely walk along a coastal trail. If you arrive and there are a few cars here, retrace your steps and head to the Convenanters Memorial instead. Take in the sea views, scenery and poignant history of this special site. A longer walk links the two locations if you have time and are feeling fit.

I want even more space…!

We’re certain you’ll have no problem finding space on the mainland in Orkney. However, some of our other islands offer excellent options for touring too. Rousay is full of history and beautiful views. Head to Hoy for quiet hills and moorland, white-tailed eagles and the famous Old Man. Or plot a path further afield to Westray, Papa Westray, Sanday, Stronsay, Eday or North Ronaldsay for an authentic island experience.

If you're planning to visit our islands, remember to book your ferry travel in advance to make sure you get a space.

Visit our Inspiration page for more Orkney recommendations.

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