Orkney is perhaps best known for its archaeological heritage, and is home to one of Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites, known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. Jewel in the crown is the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, dating to around 3,100BC, closely followed by the magnificent circle of stones – the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Neolithic burial tomb of Maeshowe, which has the distinction of hosting the largest collection of Viking runic writing to be found outside the Nordic regions. With an average of three archaeological monuments per square mile, Orkney has much to offer.
There is so much more to entice the visitor than archaeological sites, however. Empty beaches, panoramic vistas, quiet roads, international music and arts festivals and 5,000 years of culture and heritage all add up to a distinctive, innovative, vibrant and stimulating group of islands.
Orkney is almost totally absent of trees but, with a shore line of approximately 500 miles, its beautiful sandy beaches and rugged sea cliffs more than make up for this.
Eight percent of the land area in Orkney is made up of 11 RSPB reserves. Immense sea cliffs, wetlands and loch shores and the heather covered hills help support the rich variety of Orkney’s bird life.
Orkney’s location between the North Atlantic and the North Sea enjoys a temperate climate and as such a wealth of sea life. Arguably the most impressive of which are the sea mammals, from seals in their abundance to shy otters and impressive whales and basking sharks.
It is renowned for its locally produced food and drink – superb quality seafood and organic beef, local cheeses – and of course, the beer from the Orkney Brewery and the single malts from the Highland Park and Scapa distilleries.
Orkney is easy to get to, by sea and by air. There are regular ferries across the Pentland Firth – and you can fly to Kirkwall from Glasgow, Inverness, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
An internal ferry and air service makes travel to and from the outer isles simple.