CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC 2020 IMPORTANT
Many Orkney visitor attractions are open and many services are operating as close to normal as possible. However, some have chosen to remain closed or non-operational for the remainder of 2020 and there may be restrictions/number limits etc. in place for those that are currently available and open. To avoid disappointments, we would recommend checking with individual sites and service providers to find out their status and whether pre-booking is required. You will find some useful information and listings at visitorkney.com
Northlink Ferries (Scrabster to Stromness car ferry) also sails to Aberdeen and Shetland http://www.northlinkferries.co.uk
Pentland Ferries (Gill’s Bay to St Margaret’s Hope car ferry) http://www.pentlandferries.co.uk
Orkney Islands Ferries (inter isles services) http://www.orkneyferries.co.uk
JOG – Summer foot ferry from John O’Groats to South Ronaldsay with bus link to Kirkwall and Inverness http://www.jogferry.co.uk
Loganair links Kirkwall to major Scottish cities and Shetland
Please note that from late 2017, Loganair will operate separately from Flybe who still offer a limited service to and from Kirkwall.
Loganair ( and inter isles air services) http://www.loganair.co.uk Inter isles flights link Kirkwall with the smaller, outer isles and include the famous Westray-Papay Westray route, claimed by many to be the shortest scheduled flight in the world.
Kirkwall Airport http://www.hial.co.uk
StageCoach local bus services http://www.stagecoachbus.com
Craigies Taxis http://www.craigiestaxis.co.uk
Cycle Orkney (cycle hire) http://www.cycleorkney.com
Private Tours and Bus Services on outer islands
There are many tour providers. We recommend that you consult the listings at
http://www.visitorkney.com and http://www.orkney.com
CAR HIRE – IMPORTANT
The car hire companies in Orkney are all liable to be very busy in the summer months or during festivals so early booking is advised. Be prepared to phone around and take what you can get, even if it is just an odd day.
Some companies do airport pick-ups/drop offs and some will bring the car to the house for you. You will need to phone as it often depends on their staffing.
Most of the companies will not let you take the cars out of Orkney, although Drive Orkney will.
If you contact the big international online companies, they just franchise out to the small local companies. You won’t find an actual Hertz, Avis etc. here in Orkney.
John G Shearer (Ticketyboo) 01856 872950
J D Peace (Orkney Car Hire) 01856 875300
Tullocks (Ford Dealer) 01856 875500
Drive Orkney (also does vans) 01856 877551
A1 Car Hire 01856 870900
Norman Brass 01856 850850
Useful stuff not always in the other guides: Stories, folklore, tips, and where to find a bathroom when you are out and about in Orkney… Click here: Orkneyology.com
WALKING AND TOURS
For useful walking information in Scotland:
People are often surprised at how busy Orkney can get in the Summer – it is after all a World heritage Site. Fortunately, you won’t get too crowded even at the busiest times and it is easy to get away from people completely. However, there are a couple of bottlenecks to be aware of which may require forward planning.
Maeshowe Chambered Cairn
One of the most important monuments in Orkney and a must for those of you coming to look at the islands’ archaeology.
To visit Maeshowe in the busier Summer months, BOOKING AHEAD is almost essential. This is because the tours only run once an hour with a strict limit on numbers. The good side is that it means it is never too crowded, but it can be frustrating if you just turn up hoping to get in – you probably won’t. Our advice is to book days or preferably weeks ahead if you only have limited time here.
Booking is easy if you use the link to Historic Scotland here:
Skara Brae Neolithic Village
Possibly the most famous site in Orkney. nearly everybody wants to see it and it can get busy. Although booking ahead is not essential like at Maeshowe, you could book just to be on the safe side. If you happen to pick a fine day and there area lot of coach parties, they may restrict entry, but this is usually a temporary measure. Also, if you call them, they will know when large visits are booked in and can help you to avoid the busiest times. They also do special evening events in the Summer. Not only will the site be quieter, but you may also get greater access.
Highland Park Distillery
The tours are fascinating and it is right on our doorstep. BUT it is popular and it is best to book ahead if you can.
The Visitor centre telephone number is (0)1856 874619
Alternatively, their website should tell you everything you need to know: http://www.highlandparkwhisky.com
PLACES TO EAT – A few Suggestions…
There are many eating places in Kirkwall and beyond. In the Summer months and at weekends we recommend making reservations in advance as they can get very busy. Also – remember that most places in Orkney stop serving food around 8.30- 9pm. Here are a few suggestions…
The Lynnfield Hotel. Very close – 2 mins walk. Traditional restaurant: 01856 872505
The Foveran Excellent, contemporary with dramatic views. Short drive on A964 01856 872389
Helgi’s Excellent bar food Harbour Street 01856 879293
The West End Hotel Traditional restaurant. Main St. Kirkwall 01856 872368
The Kirkwall Hotel Traditional restaurant. Harbour St. Kirkwall 01856 872232
Judith Glue’s Real Food Café (evenings June – Sept) Opposite the cathedral 01856 874225
Indian Garden – good Indian restaurant – Open until 11pm. Junction Rd. Kirkwall 01856 875575
There are many others – these are just our current recommendations. We are always interested in your feedback about restaurants so that we can share it with other guests and update this list.
Skara Brae: 5000 years of history