The mysteries of the Orkney Islands never fail to attract young and old from far and near. The long-gone voices from the ancient sites dotted around these islands could tell us many tales of ancient civilisations, religious customs, and much more at which we can only guess. The voices may be quiet now, but they have left extraordinary remains of villages, howes, stone circles, and tombs which fire the imagination of all who visit them.
Of Orkney’s incredible allure and huge range of attractions, though, there is perhaps less mystery. Green, rolling fields bordered by huge seascapes, the festivals and shows, stacks and crashing seas, the sunken fleet at Scapa Flow, wonderful food and drink, island-hopping, golf at midnight in mid-summer, Orcadian music and crafts and of course spectacular wildlife.
In Orkney you can even feel the air and the pace of life doing you good.
Photographer Charles Tait is, to us, a figure central to the Orkney Tourism industry. As well as being the author of several acclaimed local guide books, his photographs have illustrated visitor brochures, calendars and postcards for many years. We asked Charles to share his story along with some tips for budding photographers keen to capture the drama of the Northern Isles!
There's plenty on in Orkney during January - including the New Year Day Ba', fabulous exhibitions displaying the best of Orkney's artists, great music and nature walks! Read our guide so that you don't miss a thing!
Nestled on the wild west coast of Orkney, just 2 miles from the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, is the Orkney Brewery Visitor Centre. It’s an easy destination to recommend to visitors exploring Orkney. Located in a former Victorian schoolhouse; the Orkney Brewery offers informative tours, mouth-watering local food, a warm welcome and spectacular beer.
Skaill House Falconry is one of Orkney’s newest attractions. It’s easily found, situated in the grounds of Skaill House next to Skara Brae in the West Mainland. The business is a family affair, run by Keith Austen, along with his wife Andrea and son Lewis. Together they offer a brilliant and personal falconry experience for visitors and Orcadians alike. NorthLink Ferries were delighted when Keith agreed to answer some questions about his birds and the experience folk can expect to have at Skaill House Falconry!
Visiting Orkney? Why not take a look at our island by island and place by place guide. You'll find lots of interesting facts and helpful hints and tips so that you can make the most of your trip to Orkney.
The Orkney Islands are fantastic to explore by bicycle - cycling is a great pace at which to appreciate the beauty of the landscape and enjoy the fresh air. Bicycles can also be taken free of charge on our ferries! We asked Sean Chalmers, NorthLink's resident cycling expert about his favourite places to go and he came up trumps with six brilliant Orkney routes for keen cyclists!
The North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory is located on the most northerly of the Orkney Islands – one famed for rare and interesting migrating birds. We were delighted when Alison Duncan, the North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory warden agreed to answer our questions about the Observatory and the fascinating work they do there.
We'd always recommend visiting Orkney for a few days to get a full flavour of the isles. However, if one or two days in Orkney is all you have, here are the essential sites we'd recommend you visit during that time!
We've been told that our previous guides to the less well known, but just as lovely, highlights of Orkney have been helpful for frequent visitors looking for something different to do! So we've written another guide, with ten more brilliant places to go in Orkney that are less well known than Skara Brae and the Italian Chapel.
In Orkney there's a natural and safe landscape, with fascinating history and wildlife and delicious food and drink. Orkney is a great place to take children and here are a few reasons why!
At NorthLink Ferries, we've long been admirers of the artwork of Jon Thompson and Lesley Murdoch, who reside in the north west corner of Orkney, near the Brough of Birsay, and who run the fantastic Yellowbird Gallery. We asked if they would be happy to answer some questions about themselves, the Gallery and their work.