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.
Orkney and Shetland have been populated for over 6000 years, and through the course of these Islands' history the languages spoken there have changed many times. However it is Old Norse that has had the greatest influence on modern place names. Read our guide to find out what the island, area and house names of Orkney mean!
There are plenty of events in Orkney during December 2018, including pantomimes, guided walks, Cool Creatures, Winter Solstice and some brilliant music and art exhibitions. Read our events guide so that you don't miss a thing!
For visitors to Orkney, a culinary experience we’d recommend is trying a Pattie supper in a local chip shop. This is mince, tattie and onion mixed together, battered and deep-fried. NorthLink Ferries Sous Chef George o’Neill kindly lends us his foolproof recipe and top tips to make approximately 12 perfect Orkney Patties in your own kitchen! Enjoy a pattie supper tonight!
To celebrate the Year of Young People 2018 NorthLink Ferries ran a writing competition for P6 and P7 pupils in Orkney. We asked them to tell us five reasons why they think the Orkney Islands are a great place to visit. The winning article, written by Amelia Tomalin from Evie Primary School, features rich descriptions of the folklore and landscape of Orkney which we think you'll love!
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.
Orkney has a packed calendar of diverse events. We’ve collected a list of annual events and festivals, from summer agricultural shows to the mass yuletide game ‘The Ba’. With classical, jazz, rock and traditional folk music mixed in between, Orkney has every possible taste covered.
Visitors to Orkney in autumn and winter will hope to see the Northern Lights, known locally as the Merry Dancers. Those who get to see them will be enchanted by the curtains of green, yellow, blue and red light swaying and shifting in the night sky. If you’d like to take good photos of the Northern Lights, you may find that it is easier than you might think!
When the weather is nice, we would highly recommend a visit to the island of Hoy. It's the second biggest Orkney Island, and it's quite distinctive; characterised by heathery hills and vast red sandstone cliffs. Hoy is a favourite destination for those looking to visit an enchanting island to get away from it all! We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite places to visit during a trip to Hoy.
During the summer months in Orkney, an amazing archaeological dig takes place at The Ness of Brodgar. This archaeological site offers a glimpse into the Neolithic world and it's location, size and contents indicate that it was very important to the people who used the buildings for ceremonies and feasts 5000 years ago. As archaeologists continue to uncover more clues, we thought we'd write a beginner's guide to the Ness of Brodgar, with ten essential facts to help you understand the site!
The Orkney Museum, situated opposite St Magnus Cathedral, in Tankerness House in Kirkwall, is a very rewarding place to visit. Within its walls are some of Orkney's most prized artefacts, and we’d highly recommend spending some time here if you have been captivated by Orkney's history. We've compiled a list of 15 of our favourite things found in the Orkney Museum at Tankerness House.
Learn how to make traditional Orkney Bere Bannocks with this easy recipe from the Barony Mill in Birsay. Bere is an ancient form of barley ideally suited to grow in Orkney's climate - it has grown in the islands since the Stone Age. A Bere Bannock is a unique flat bread which makes an excellent starter or snack, best served warm with butter!