Isle Develop CIC

Orkney Islands

A scattered archipelago of over 70 islands abundant in ancient wonders and natural beauty.

Looking Across The Harbour To The Pier and The Main Town Of Stromness On An Inlet Of Hoy Sound, Mainland, Orkney (© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins)
© VisitScotland / Paul Tomkins

Exploring the Orkney islands is like stepping into a time capsule, with neolithic and Viking traces at every turn.

Owl Wooden Statue - Chris

The village of Skara Brae is a real showstopper and the best preserved neolithic settlement in western Europe.

Around 5,500 years ago, the prehistoric people of Orkney built domestic and ritualistic stone monuments that were revealed beneath the sand dunes just 150 years ago when an insatiable storm hit the island.

Now a UNESCO world heritage site known as ‘The heart of Neolithic Orkney’ the dwellings are true testament to the islanders incredible skills, and provide a real insight into their lives. The village of Skara Brae is a real showstopper and the best preserved neolithic settlement in western Europe. 

The sites also include the Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar and Maeshow; a 4,800-year-old chambered cairn with Viking rune graffiti.

Within the archipelago of 70 islands, 17 are inhabited. Gaelic was never spoken in Orkney. The locals known as Orcadians speak a distinctive dialect of the Scots language.

Another of the island’s unique spots is Hoy. Its scattered woodland, steep valleys, high cliffs and famous withered sea stack known as the ‘Old Man’ provide colourful traces of time gone by. The colour doesn't stop on land. Orkney is renowned for stunning displays of the Northern Lights, or 'Merry Dancers' as they’re known locally.

Foodies are in for an appetising treat. There’s nowhere better for fresh Orkney crab, and make  sure to follow the ‘Taste of Orkney’ food and drink trail. Delicious!

The Orkney isles are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Boat trips are a great way to spot seals, puffins and whales. The RSPB nature reserves on Hoy and Birsay are home to a myriad of bird  species in their natural island habitats.

We recommend a visit to:

Other options in Orkney include:

  • Wildlife Tours in Orkney: Orkney is a prime destination for wildlife enthusiasts. Be sure to book a wildlife tour during your holiday for the chance to spot a diverse range of creatures, including whales, otters, Ospreys, and numerous bird species.
  • Diving Tours: Orkney boasts some of the world's finest wreck diving sites. Consider embarking on a diving expedition and explore a submerged world steeped in history, where sunken ships tell stories spanning years.
  • Highland Park Distillery: Make a stop at one of Scotland's oldest operational whiskey distilleries, Highland Park Distillery. With a whiskey-making tradition dating back to 1798, their tours offer a deep dive into the history and craftsmanship behind their renowned spirits.
Stromness - Mary Duncan

For more information about what these islands have to offer, visit the official Orkney website to plan your trip.

Nearby properties

Recent from the blog, communities and projects

Do you own an Island Property?

Find out more about the benefits of listing with isleHoliday

Learn more

Start planning your trip of a lifetime to Scotland's islands

We've got beautiful properties just waiting for you!

Learn more

We're not your average booking site

Find out more about our mission to make tourism work better for everyone

Learn more