Quiet sandy beaches, stunning scenery, wildlife, fresh cuisine and warm welcoming hospitality make Orkney a must.
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Despite its remote location and small area Orkney has lots on offer; from scuba diving to bird watching, from hill walking to enjoying the local pubs and club! On top of these activities Orkney’s impressive archaeological history and friendly people make a visit up North well worth the journey.
Between the mainland and the many surrounding isles there are a wide range of accommodation options throughout the islands. Some of the most highly recommended hotels are The Foveran or The Albert Hotel in Kirkwall, The Stromness Hotel, or The Creel in St. Margaret’s Hope.
With tourism being one of Orkney’s key industries there are also several guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and campsites around the island and on many of the isles. If you go in summer it’s definitely advisable to book in advance as accommodation does get booked up quickly.
Orkney is famous for its high quality local produce such as fresh seafood, beef, smoked cheese and if you’re looking for something a bit sweeter try Orkney fudge or Orkney Ice Cream. The Foveran or The Creel are the places to go for an award winning meal. If you’re looking for something more affordable but still high quality try The Merkister Hotel, The Orkney Hotel or Woodwick House.
For a bite at lunchtime try Julia’s Cafe in Stromness or The Fossil Centre near the Churchill Barriers. If you’re venturing further a field to explore the isles some highlights are Cleaton House Hotel in Westray or Pierowall Hotel’s famous fish and chips.
As well as the wide range of local food on offer Orkney also has several breweries, distilleries and a winery with a difference. Highland Park whisky, Orkney beer and the unique range of Orkney wines can all be sampled in one of the many local pubs. A tour of Highland Park Distillery is also a good way to spend an afternoon if the weather turns.
Stromness Shopping Week, a week-long celebration with a wide variety of events for all ages, is one of the highlights during the summer months. If you’re looking for a unique experience try midnight foursomes’ golf in June.
For the more adventurous a day of diving in Scapa Flow is unmissable. For art lovers the Pier Arts Centre in Stromness should be top of the list and for nature lovers there is a huge variety of bird watching opportunities. If it’s scenery you’re after a trip to the island of Hoy is a must, where you can visit the famous Old Man of Hoy as well as climbing Ward Hill to see panoramic views of Orkney.
For those looking to discover some of Orkney’s rich archaeological history a trip to Scara Brae is highly recommended. Other must see attractions are St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, the Italian Chapel on Lamb Holm and the standing stones at The Ring of Brodgar in Stenness.
Finally, if you’re visiting over the Festive period don’t miss The Ba. This unusual ball game unique to Orkney, takes place through the streets of Kirkwall and must be seen to be believed.
The winter weather, whilst being spectacular can ruin a relaxing holiday. When the weather is bad the boats and planes are often cancelled so plan your trip carefully depending on the time of year.
Before you go check out an Orcadian dictionary to pick up some of the local lingo, for those who have never been before the local accent can take a bit of getting used to. Also make sure you pack plenty of warm clothes, even in summer the weather can be highly changeable!
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