Orkney & Shetland - many islands to visit from the mainland, each with its own fascinating history

Skara Brae, Orkney

Visit Orkney and Shetland

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Leave the mainland and head north to Orkney and Shetland

When you leave the mainland to head for Orkney and Shetland, you enter a different zone entirely. You have to go to understand but it really is another world. So much to see and do, it would take weeks, possibly months to do everything properly. And the people! Incredibly friendly and welcoming to the point you feel like you must have been before!

The ferries will take you to the land of the Simmer Dim and Neolithic archaeology. Orkney is made up of 70 islands, 20 of which are still inhabited. Orcadians (we love that name!) have a distinct and vibrant cultural history. Tradition is kept alive through the many festivals, regattas and shows which incorporate wine, art & crafts, food, agriculture and ceilidhs!

With so much going on, you will need to make time to visit famous landmarks such as Old Man of Hoy, 5,000 year old Skara Brae, St Magnus Chapel and the unusual and impressive Italian Chapel.

The Isle of Hoy is just a short ferry ride from mainland Orkney and again, if you think you can do it in a day, you’re wrong! The Dwarfie Stane, cliffs, museums and wildlife all beg for your attention on a long list of fascinating attractions.

Getting this far north and not visiting the Global Geopark of the Shetland Islands would be a crime! Boasting over 100 islands, there is no shortage of wildlife, scenery and archaeological sites.

Famous of course for Fair Isle jumpers and Shetland Ponies (which sometimes go together!) it also has its own unique way of celebrating tradition. The Up Helly Aa is an annual event where participants, many dressed as Vikings, burn a Viking Boat. It certainly makes for a memorable evening!

A visit to Shetland certainly needs some planning, but it’s worth it in every way. A trip which has to be experienced at least once.

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Orkney - Stromness


Orkney - Kirkwall


Orkney - Hoy


S. Ronaldsay & Burray


Orkney - North Islands


Fair Isle


Shetland - Unst & Yell


Shetland - Mainland

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We’ve split the Highlands and Islands into 8 defined regions along with Best of The Rest for the rest of Scotland because even though not Highland, there are some amazing parts of the country and you must see them too!

Enjoy planning your next trip to the Highlands here!

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Wild and remote island location or mainland hot spot, beaches or mountains or both

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