Orkney is truly a place for all seasons; with different times of year bringing different attractions, activities and places to explore, all against a constantly changing landscape.
If you think these islands are a summer only destination, think again!
Take a look at some of our spring highlights across Orkney.
Orkney’s rich history can be enjoyed all year round at places like Skara Brae and Maeshowe, but time your visit right in the spring and you can also experience some other fantastic locations. The Bishops and Earls Palaces in Kirkwall open their doors for the season in April, as does the excellent Hackness Martello Tower and Battery in South Walls.
Spring is also the perfect time to take a free guided tour at the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness – join the local rangers to walk around these incredible stone circles and find out more about their fascinating past.
The spring months give you the chance to experience Orkney at your own pace, giving you plenty of time to soak up 5000 years of island history.
One of the best things to do during spring is to head out on Orkney’s Craft Trail – a 21-stop route that takes you into the workshops of talented local makers. See Orcadian jewellery being handmade in front of you or watch as our furniture makers put their modern takes on the traditional Orkney chair. You can speak to artists, weavers and potters about their inspirations, with plenty of opportunity to pick up a piece to take home too.
If the weather is kind then exploring Orkney’s heritage can very much be an outdoor activity. Celebrate St Magnus Day on April 16th with a walk along the St Magnus Way, a 55-mile route through some of our most beautiful countryside, or head to the top of St Magnus Cathedral for spectacular views of Kirkwall.
If all that fresh air leaves you hungry then you’re in the right place! Orkney’s larder features some fantastic producers, providing beef, shellfish, lamb, chutneys, bread, bannocks, beer, whisky, gin and much more. Shops, restaurants and hotels across Orkney will give you the chance to taste test the very best island produce.
The Orkney Folk Festival at the end of May brings generations of talent and tunes together. Hear music from visiting and local acts in the venues of host town Stromness, enjoy impromptu pub sessions and late-night ceilidhs, or follow festival performers across the islands.
Orkney’s natural attractions are available throughout the year, but spring brings some truly special experiences.
See the beautiful sky dance of hen harriers, as the birds of prey soar and plunge through the air to attract a mate. It’s a truly stunning sight – the RSPB hide at Cottascarth in Orkney’s west mainland is one of the best places to take in this wildlife highlight.
Our colourful collection of puffins begin arriving back on our cliffs in April. The best place to see ‘tammie norries’ is the Castle o’Burrian in Westray – the perfect excuse to hop on a ferry!
The cliffs and coastline on the west coast of Orkney’s mainland become a cacophony of noise and activity during the spring too, with fulmars, guillemots, shags, razorbills and gulls settling down onto their nesting spots for the season. See these seabird cities at places like Marwick Head and at Noup Head in Westray. Elsewhere you can enjoy the sound of curlews, lapwings and skylarks. You could spot great northern divers and long-tailed ducks or, further out to sea, perhaps orcas or passing porpoises.
As spring continues you can try and find the rare and tiny Scottish primrose, Primula scotica. Yesnaby and the RSPB reserve at North Hill in Papa Westray are the perfect places to catch a glimpse of this beautiful and delicate flower.
The Orkney Nature Festival in May brings it all together with its week-long programme. Take part in walks, talks, snorkelling safaris and more, experiencing everything wild Orkney has to offer.
Spring brings beautiful, bright days and longer evenings, providing the perfect excuse to get out and about and soak up our scenery.
If it’s beaches you’re after then trips to Sanday or Stronsay are a must, with miles of empty sand and clear, clean water rolling in. Islands like Rousay and Hoy bring more dramatic landscapes with moorlands, hills and valleys to explore.
Orkney’s mainland has plenty of places to uncover too, like the Brough of Deerness and Mull Head on the eastern coast, the cliff-top trails of South Ronaldsay and the dramatic coastline of Yesnaby and Marwick Head overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
The landscape also begins to change from the dull browns and yellows of winter to the gentle greens of spring. The rolling hills of Orkney can be mesmerising as you travel through, with most roads leading to a blue sea and views of islands beyond.
Come and get closer to Orkney during spring, with so much to do the only question is where to begin!
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