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Orkney Islands
Orkney Islands

Orkney Islands

star-5
350 Reviews

The Basics

The Orkney Isles showcase a side of Scotland few visitors ever get to see. Travelers can visit on guided day trips from John O’Groats, which typically include boat travel to Burwick and transport via the Churchill Barriers, a network of causeways that link the Orkney Mainland (the biggest island in the archipelago) to four other smaller islands to the south. Travelers can also see the islands as part of multi-day tours from Edinburgh that cover highlights of the Scottish Highlands too. Most guided Orkney tours will include a stop at the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Skara Brae, a prehistoric stone settlement that’s older than the Egyptian pyramids, and the Lamb Holm Italian Chapel, which was constructed by Italian prisoners of war during World War II.

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Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
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Traveler Favorite

Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
star-4.5
$111.88 per adult
An introduction to Orkney
Stuart the Guide was so informative in an amusing and engaging way. His love of the Orkneys was obvious and I am amazed he can be so enthusiastic day after day. Skara Brae was awesome but basically I enjoyed the feeling of isolation and the peace of the islands.
Anne_P, Jul 2021

Recent reviews from experiences in Scrabster

star-5
An introduction to Orkney
Anne_P, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Stuart the Guide was so informative in an amusing and engaging way. His love of the Orkneys was obvious and I am amazed he can be so enthusiastic day after day. Skara Brae was awesome but basically I enjoyed the feeling of isolation and the peace of the islands.
star-5
Great day out
Stephanie_L, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Great day out with lots of interesting places visited. Our guide Darren was brilliant and very knowledgeable and helpful
star-5
Orkney -Something for Everyone
The_Clarkies, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Darren was a fabulous tour guide! Thanks for sharing your knowledge and clear love of your island !!!!
star-5
Great day out in orkney
Nicholas_F, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Very enjoyable tour learned so much about orkney I never knew about - bus driver stewart was very knowledgeable about the island and very friendly some lovely sights and places to visit
star-5
Highly recomended.
kav19r, Oct 2019
5-Day Orkney & Scotland's Northern Coast Small-Group Tour from Edinburgh
This tour was run by Rabbie's Tours and the attention to details was fantastic. Our driver and guide, Iain Murray, made it an exceptional trip - Iain was a font of information and brought the countryside and places alive with his stories, historical information, humour and consideration. There was never a dull moment and his obvious love of the area made it a special trip. The accommodation was clean and the hosts were welcoming. The small number of the group also helped make it easy and fun. This is a trip absolutely worth doing.
star-4
Well organised day trip
Colin_M, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
An excellent day trip, well organised to appeal to the general visitor. The passenger ferry runs like clockwork and the crossing takes about 40 minutes. The coach driver/guide was friendly, entertaining and knowledgeable, and the stops sensibly chosen to allow time for meals, shopping and comfort stops. Good value and an ideal family day trip.
star-5
Excellent well worth the cost
Elaine_J, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
The guide was superb - answered all the questions fully. Had excellent knowledge of the island. Kept us entertained all through the trip. Nothing was too much trouble.
star-5
Good day all round
John, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Everything went perfectly from booking to end of trip. Everyone in boat trip and coach trip very kind and courteous. Tour guide very knowledgable.
star-5
Worth it
Eva_M, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Tour guide Stewart was great, loads of great information and a great day trip. Highly recommend and worth it
star-5
Excellent day. Excellent tour guide beautiful island.
David_M, Jun 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Our tour guide was excellent, very well informed, he made the day very interesting and funny at times.
star-5
Great day out.
Angela_S, Jul 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
This is a great way to see and learn loads about Orkney. The trip on the boat over from John O Groats is uneventful. We sat inside and there was loads of room for social distancing. The magic started when we got on the coach on arrival in Orkney. Stewart our coach driver and guide was excellent. He never stopped telling facts and history of the places we were visiting. There is a good mix of stops with time to wander on your own. Stewart gave suggestions of things to see and do at each stop. He even gave suggestions for the visits which required entry fees but it is well worth paying to get into these sites. Great day out and perfect way to see and learn about Orkney.
star-5
Awesome trip
monika_H, Jun 2021
Orkney Islands Day Trip from John O'Groats
Skara Brea was the highlight of the trip. First of all big thank you to our driver/guide Stuart, he was the best. He was talking with passion about the Orkney, people living there and always had a joke or two... Skara Brae was the highlight of the trip, but the timeframe was one big no.. It was only hour to see the ruins, which is not enough to do it... Way too much free time was given at the beginning of the trip at Kirkwall... Almost 1.5 hour to see cathedral and few streets.. Hour would be just enough... After all it was really good day...

Things to Know Before You Go

  • Guided day tours from John O’Groats generally last upwards of 10 hours.

  • Bring layers that provide protection from the archipelago’s near-constant wind.

  • Comfortable walking shoes are recommended.

  • Keep an eye out for the island’s incredible fauna and flora, including the delicate and rare Scottish primrose.

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How to Get There

Direct flights to Kirkwall run from the Scottish mainland cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Inverness. NorthLink Ferries operate services from Scrabster to Stromness on Mainland Orkney (90 minutes), and from Aberdeen to Kirkwall on Mainland Orkney (six hours). Pentland Ferries run a route from Gills Bay to St. Margaret's Hope on South Ronaldsay (one hour). From May to September, John O’Groats Ferries carry passengers between John O’Groats and Burwick on South Ronaldsay (40 minutes).

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When to Get There

No matter what time of the year, solitude and serenity can be found on the Orkneys. Because of the warming influence of the Gulf Stream, the islands are rarely subject to extreme weather, though the biting wind can make it feel colder than it is. Summer is the best time to go, as longer daylight hours facilitate exploration.

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Sightseeing on the Orkney Islands

The Orkney Islands are jam-packed with attractions. In addition to the Stone Age temple complex known as the Ness of Brodgar and the Viking-era graffiti in the Neolithic Maeshowe tomb, visitors can survey sunken warships while scuba diving around the Scapa Flow, admire the 1,136-foot-tall (346-meter) cliffs on the island of Hoy, and stroll the boulder-strewn Rackwick Beach.

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