Orkney Islands (Kirkwall), Scotland

Just north of Scotland lay the Orkney Islands. Washed by the furthest reach of the Gulf Stream, this chain of over 70 islands offers dramatic landscapes that range from sea cliffs rearing 1,000 feet above the waves to sweeping white sand beaches. Bird watchers flock to the Orkney Islands, drawn by the multitudes of sea birds. Divers explore the wrecks lying in the clear waters of Scapa Flow, the Royal Navy's fleet anchorage in two world wars. And most fascinating of all, the Orkney Islands boast the greatest concentration of prehistoric sites in all Europe, including the mysterious Ring of Brodgar and 5,000-year-old Skara Brae.

Vikings - Norsemen - ruled the Orkney Islands from the 9th to 13th centuries, leaving in their wake such monuments as St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. This hint of Scandinavian influence can be heard in the lilting accent with which Orcadians speak.

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Points of Interest

  • Skara Brae
  • Italian Chapel
  • Scapa Flow
  • St. Magnus Cathedral
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Maeshowe
  • Distillery
  • Balfour Castle

More about Orkney Islands (Kirkwall), Scotland Points of Interest

  • Skara Brae

    This Neolithic village dates back 5,000 years and has such well-preserved features, including beds and dressers in the houses. This monument is part of Orkney's World Heritage site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

  • Italian Chapel

    A lovely chapel simply constructed with two nissen huts during World War II, is a symbol of peace and reconciliation. Built by Italian prisoners of war, among them, an artist and sculptor named Domenico Chiocchetti who stayed to finish it once the war ended.

  • Scapa Flow

    This stretch of water links the North Sea to the Atlantic and is famous for its role in both World Wars as a natural harbor offering shelter for the British naval fleet.

  • St. Magnus Cathedral

    Known as the "Light in the North," this cathedral was founded in 1137 by Viking Earl Rognvald in honor of his uncle St. Magnus.

  • Ring of Brodgar

    Perhaps, once used to study the stars, this perfect circle of immense standing stones is an impressive vision and one of Orkney's most a popular attractions. This monument is part of Orkney's World Heritage site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

  • Maeshowe

    Dating back to prehistoric times, this chambered tomb hidden beneath a grassy mound is a marvel of ancient architecture. It also contains the largest concentration or runic writing (Viking "graffiti") outside of Scandinavia. This monument is part of Orkney's World Heritage site, the Heart of Neolithic Orkney.

  • Distillery

    Highland Park is the most northerly Scotch whisky distillery in Scotland and produces arguably the most respected single malt in the world.

  • Balfour Castle

    Britain's most northerly inhabited castle and its two-acre Victorian gardens form part of the private Balfour Estate on the Island of Shapinsay. Magnificent Balfour Castle has stood overlooking Kirkwall Bay for more than 160 years.

10 EXCURSIONS

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Ancient Standing Stones (Guided in French)

2.25 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 0 6
  • Ring of Brodgar

This compact adventure deep into the heart of Neolithic Orkney is studded with natural wonders and World Heritage Sites. A panoramic overview of the area includes a guided tour of the Ring of Brodgar, an opportunity to photograph the Cliffs of Yesnaby and a glimpse of the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness.

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Moderate Activity

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$69.95

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West Mainland Sightseeing

3.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 1 0
  • Scapa Flow
  • Ring of Brodgar

Discover the historic landmarks of Orkney with little walking required when you venture into the vast panoramas of the West Mainland. Gaze upon rugged coastlines, big skies and highlights such as Scapa Flow and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Bring your camera; you'll stop to photograph the Ring of Brodgar, Birsay Bay and Stromness Town.

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Moderate Activity

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$69.95

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Ancient Standing Stones

2.25 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 0 5
  • Ring of Brodgar

This compact adventure deep into the heart of Neolithic Orkney is studded with natural wonders and World Heritage Sites. A panoramic overview of the area includes a guided tour of the Ring of Brodgar, an opportunity to photograph the Cliffs of Yesnaby and a glimpse of the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness.

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Moderate Activity

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$69.95

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St. Magnus Cathedral & Earl's Palace Walk

3 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 3 8 0
  • St. Magnus Cathedral

Explore Kirkwall on a guided walking tour through the town. Visit St. Magnus Cathedral and view the ruins of the Earl's Palace and the Bishop's Palace on this approximately 3-hour tour.

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Nature Reserve Walk

3.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 4 0 0

Bird watchers and nature lovers will thrill to a day spent in the vast beauty of the peaceful Orkney countryside. Visit two superlative nature reserves and enjoy a guided walks in search of wildlife. Additionally, you will see the Ring of Brodgar, an ancient stone World Heritage monument. Don't forget your camera!

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Moderate Activity

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Orkney Island Drive

2.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 9 0
  • Scapa Flow
  • Italian Chapel

This tour is designed for passengers who prefer to see some sights from the motorcoach with little or no walking involved. Take in the sights on a leisurely drive. Drive by the Standing Stones of Stenness, a Neolithic circular stone henge that's part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Travel along Scapa Flow and visit the Italian Chapel, built by Italian prisoners during World War II.

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Wheelchair Accessible, Easy Activity

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$79.95

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Orkney's Local Delicacies

2.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 3 0 0

Savor the flavors of Orkney during a culinary and cultural journey across the Isles. Enjoy the sounds of Orcadian music while you sample authentic recipes such as herring and oatcakes, partan toes and farmhouse cheese all served with ale and single malt whiskies

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Easy Activity, Includes meal

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Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae & Skaill House

4 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 0 0
  • Scapa Flow
  • Skara Brae
  • Ring of Brodgar

The archaeological wonders of the past are on full display when you journey into the Heart of Neolithic Orkney, the islands' UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your thrilling adventure includes the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, the stone-age settlement of Skara Brae and Skaill House

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Shopping Opportunities, Moderate Activity

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$119.95

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Ring of Brodgar & Maeshowe

2.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 2 1 5
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Maeshowe

Encounter Orkney's mysterious past at two of the finest Neolithic sites in Northern Europe in a small-group outing (maximum 25 privileged guests). Built circa 2800 B.C., Maeshowe Tomb is a chambered, stone burial cairn some 115 feet in diameter and the nearby Ring of Brodgar is a circular henge of standing stones.

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A Discovery Exclusive - Ultimate Orkney

7.5 hours | Orkney Islands (Kirkwall) | K O I - 1 0 0
  • Scapa Flow
  • Skara Brae
  • Italian Chapel
  • Ring of Brodgar
  • Distillery

A fully immersive experience into the history, culture and natural splendor of Orkney awaits on this Discovery Exclusive adventure. Visit the Italian Chapel, tour a famed Scottish distillery with an expert tasting, then journey into the heart of Neolithic Orkney and view its important ritualistic landmarks set within remote natural landscapes.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$229.95

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