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  • View south from Rowe Head, Orkney

Autumn in Orkney

Find out what you can see and do in Orkney during the autumn and winter months.

Orkney is a special place to be during the autumn and winter months.

Expect wild weather and bursts of sunshine, wonderful wildlife highlights and incredible history, fabulous food and drink and a warm, welcoming, talented creative community.

So, how can you make the most of a visit to the islands over the coming months? We've put together some suggestions below. Take a look and let us know what you think.

Wild Orkney


Autumn is a time of change for Orkney's wildlife. Grey seals take to the shore for pupping season, migratory birds can be seen in the skies and hen harriers swoop over the Orkney moorland - there is so much to see during the autumn and winter months here. The coastline surrounding South Ronaldsay is perfect for spotting seal pups, and head to the RSPB reserves at Cottascarth and Durkadale to watch our resident hen harriers. Island hopping is an option too; the North Ronaldsay Bird Obvservatory is the place to be for migrating birds, or you could brave the hills of Hoy to spot a mountain hare or two.

Orkney's natural world


It can be easy to be tempted by an open fire and a cup of tea at this time of year, but we'd always recommend wrapping up warm and embracing the elements in Orkney this autumn and winter. You can explore our wild coastline and watch waves crash ashore, you can search out our stunning selection of sea stacks and you can scour our sands for a special find from across the Atlantic. Outdoors is definitely the place to be over the coming months.

The great outdoors


A good walk offers the perfect chance to blow away the cobwebs at this time of year. Tackling a trail at your own pace gives you the chance to soak up your surroundings, feel the salty air on your skin and reconnect with yourself and the planet. Orkney is full of walking routes, paths and beaches, all providing the opportunity to revive your senses and take in some stunning scenery at the same time.

Orkney's historical attractions


From Neolithic sites and Iron Age settlements, to our rich Norse heritage and wartime stories, Orkney is full of history. You can visit the ancient village of Skara Brae this autumn and winter, or walk around the stone circles at Brodgar and Stenness. Explore the WWI and WWII gun batteries at Hoxa, or cross over to the Brough of Birsay at low tide to see ancient Pictish dwellings. If you'd like your history with a sprinkling of fairy dust, the Orkney Storytelling Festival will be going online in 2020 - perfect for closing the curtains and transporting yourself to a land of trowies, tall tales and the oral tradition.

Food, drink and crafts


No trip to Orkney would be complete without sampling some of our finest produce. The island larder is full of delicious delights, including cheese, chutneys, bread, beer, beef, whisky, gin, rum and more. You can taste-test most of it in our local cafes and restaurants, and our shops are packed full of Orkney food and drink too. Meanwhile, Orkney's talented creative community continues to produce beautiful jewellery, knitwear, furniture and all kinds of special pieces. Some are welcoming visitors, and you can find examples of their work across the islands.

Hopefully we'll have given you plenty of ideas and inspiration if you're planning a visit to Orkney this autumn and winter. Remember, travel, attractions, shops and services are all subject to change during the Coronavirus pandemic, so do please make sure you double check your arrangements before travelling.

You can keep up to date with all the developments on our dedicated COVID-19 section.


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

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