• Aerial view over the Point of Ness campsite, Orkney

Motorhomes, caravans & camping

Orkney is the perfect place to explore if you’re travelling with a motorhome or caravan, or planning a camping holiday.

The compact nature of our archipelago means most of our main attractions, from Neolithic sites to beautiful beaches, are easily reached, and our island communities are only a short hop on a ferry away.

We have a fabulous range of campsites and caravan parks, and plenty of places to park up or pitch a tent for the night that are safe and accessible, without impacting on day-to-day life locally.

Take a look at our guide below on how you can plan and enjoy a motorhome, caravan, or camping break here in Orkney.

Plan your trip

As with all holidays in Orkney, we’d recommend making your bookings as soon as possible. Not all local campsites are open all-year-round, and during peak season you can expect many pitches to be reserved well in advance.

Most campsites and caravan parks offer online booking, but if you’re heading here without a place to stop for the night then make sure you’ve done your research and have alternative options in mind if our campsites are full.

Remember too that although Orkney’s 4G signal is mostly excellent, there will be areas of the islands where connectivity issues could cause problems when browsing alternative accommodation options on your devices.

Browse our campsites and caravan parks below.

Other locations

You can also hire a motorhome in Orkney if you want to explore more of the islands. Northern Lights Motorhome Hire, Orkney Motorhome Hire, and Staycation Scotland Orkney all have motorhomes available.

Getting here

Both ferry companies serving Orkney – NorthLink Ferries and Pentland Ferries – welcome motorhomes and caravans onboard their vessels. You can make the booking process as simple as possible by:

  • knowing the dimensions of your vehicle and anything you’re towing – particularly the height and overall length (for caravans, this will include the towing car and caravan length combined) - to ensure deck space can be reserved for you.
  • booking your tickets as early as you can, especially if you’re visiting during the summer months, and check with your provider if you have any specific questions relating to your motorhome or caravan.

Take a look at our Getting Here section for more information on visiting Orkney.

Off the beaten track

If you do decide to steer clear of official campsites, please try and find somewhere suitable to park for the duration of your visit. Follow our tips below to make the most of your time here.
Camping in Hoy, Orkney
  1. Don’t park in passing places – these small laybys are vital for keeping traffic moving on smaller, narrow roads.
  2. Stay within designated parking areas, and avoid parking on verges, fields, or beaches. Places like the Bay of Skaill and the Brough of Birsay have excellent car parks but are very popular spots with both locals and visitors, so consider other users before deciding whether to stay for the night.
  3. If you arrive at a designated parking area and it’s already busy, consider finding another location to avoid overcrowding.
  4. Don’t block access to gates and tracks which might be used by farmers or walkers.
  5. Avoid parking in business car parks, and try not to block views from businesses or houses.
  6. Remember to always leave access for emergency services and their vehicles.

Always bear in mind that what appears to be a quiet spot in the evening might be somewhat busier in the morning, so take your surroundings into account before pulling the handbrake on.

Getting around

Your sat-nav might help you arrive in Orkney, but it’s not always perfect once you’re here!

Many sat-navs direct drivers arriving with NorthLink Ferries in Stromness to turn left through the narrow streets of the town to reach the Point of Ness campsite. This can be challenging enough in a car, let alone in a motorhome or with a caravan in tow, so follow the signs once you drive off the boat and turn right to take the long way round over the Back Road.

Here are some other top tips for touring Orkney with caravans or motorhomes:

  • Plan your trip before you arrive and check out access options at any locations you’re keen to visit. Make sure there’s plenty of room for your vehicle, and arrange a different route or parking location if you have to.
  • Remember, some of Orkney’s roads, particularly in our rural and island communities, can be quite small and have the odd tight corner, so do take care when travelling around the county and check in advance that the roads are suitable for your vehicle.
  • If you’re planning on visiting some of our islands it’s important to book your tickets as soon as possible, especially during the summer months. Capacity on our internal ferry services is very limited, so plan ahead as much as possible.
  • It’s important to remember that petrol stations aren’t as abundant in Orkney as they might be on the Scottish mainland. Make sure you have plenty of fuel before setting off, and check in advance where you can stop to top up if needed.

Take a look at our Getting Around section for more information on travelling throughout Orkney.

Rules of the road

We might not have rush hours like large cities across the UK, but Orkney is still home to more than 22,000 folk all going about their daily business. Here's how you can be a courteous road user during your visit to our islands.
View along Hobbister, Orkney
  1. Check your mirrors regularly and pull in to let traffic pass you if there is a large queue. The main roads on the Orkney mainland, particularly between Kirkwall and Stromness and Kirkwall and St Margaret’s Hope, are busy with commuters and families heading to and from school, so do bear this in mind.
  2. Avoid stopping on roads, in passing places, and at gates to fields. Don’t stop in the middle of the Churchill Barriers either – there are car parks or places to stop at both ends of most of the causeways.
  3. If the closest passing place on a single-track road is on your left, pull in and let oncoming cars pass. If it’s on the right, stop alongside it and allow the approaching car to use it to drive around you. Don’t cross the road to reach a passing place – always stay on your own side. Be prepared to reverse to a nearby passing place too.
  4. Orkney is a popular destination for cyclists and walkers, so take care when passing them, especially in places with single track roads.
  5. Keep your eyes open for livestock on the roads, particularly during the summer months, and remember that Orkney is an agricultural community, so expect to see plenty of tractors, combine harvesters and other farm-related vehicles on the roads.

Waste and recycling

We all want to enjoy Orkney’s great outdoors and keep our beaches and beauty spots as clean and tidy as possible. You can help during your holiday by:

  • Only disposing of your portable toilet contents at specified chemical disposal points. These are available at official campsites and caravan parks across Orkney, even if you’re not staying at them. Do check accessibility and potential fees in advance.
  • 'Leave no trace’ and dispose of any litter in public bins you’ll find all over the islands. If bins are full, please take your rubbish with you and find another one. Similarly, if a bin is overflowing, please don’t leave your waste next to it – bring it with you until you find another one, and avoid using business or residential bins.
  • There are household recycling points available throughout Orkney, so consider stopping off at one of these to dispose of your rubbish.
  • Refrain from lighting fires if possible, especially in wooded or protected areas. If you must use an open fire for cooking, keep it small and under control, and remove all traces of it afterwards.
  • If you’re visiting with your dogs, remember to clean up after them – dog waste can be placed in public rubbish bins – and keep them on leads around livestock and other wildlife. Check out our Dog-Friendly Orkney guide for more information.

Watch the weather

Orkney is definitely a place where you can expect four seasons in a single day.

A sunny morning can quickly turn into a wet and windy afternoon, so be prepared for driving conditions to change quickly.

Orkney is relatively flat, so strong winds can make driving higher-sided vehicles a challenge. Keep your eye on weather forecasts before and during your visit to make sure you’re prepared for everything.

Shop local

It might be tempting to stock up on food and drink from chain supermarkets before or just after arriving in Orkney, but there is also a fantastic array of local shops and places to eat out offering everything, from beef and sourdough bread, to home-cooked meals, milk, fresh vegetables and much more.

You’ll find shops in most of our communities, and there are honesty boxes all over the islands where you can pick up fresh eggs and home bakes. Help support our islands during your visit and shop local when and where you can – your taste buds won’t regret it!

Take a look at our guide to food shopping during a self-catering holiday for more information. You can also download our Taste of Orkney guide for more information on shopping locally.

We hope this guide has helped you plan your visit to Orkney and you'll be able to make the most of your time here.

Thanks to NorthLink Ferries and Amy Leith for their help in creating this page. Visit the NorthLink Ferries website for more information on visiting Orkney with a motorhome or caravan.