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

If things are busy...

Take a look at our alternative attraction suggestions so you can stay distant in Orkney.

Are you planning a trip to Orkney this summer?

We know that you’ll be keen to keep physical distancing in mind when you're here.

To help, we've picked out some alternatives to a few of our most popular places. 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 car park is a bit 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 our bustling town centre then a short drive to Waulkmill Bay is always an option. It’s a stunning stretch of sand, but there are other options if you arrive and the car park seems busy. Scapa beach is a brilliant option and 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. 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 the Brough of Deerness 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. The Brough of Deerness is a popular spot and 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.

I want even more space…!

We’re certain you’ll have no problem keeping physical distancing in mind when you’re on the mainland in Orkney. However, some of our other islands offer excellent options for touring during this ‘new normal’ 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, Sanday, Stronsay, Eday or North Ronaldsay for an authentic island experience. If you're planning to visit our islands, remember ferry travel must be booked in advance, and it's always recommended to check what is open for business in each island before you visit.

Help us help you to enjoy the best of Orkney. View our COVID-19 section for more information on staying safe during your visit, as well as advice on travel, health and things to see and do.

The Promoting Orkney project has been part financed by the Scottish Government and the European Community Orkney LEADER 2014-2020

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