A white and yellow lighthouse on a grassy island

4 days in Orkney

Last week we went up for a trip to Orkney! My sister has been up there on placement for her Paramedics degree and we thought it would be nice to give her some company and that it was a good excuse to explore a new part of Scotland! Little did we know (well, some of us) that it would be where my sister and her boyfriend got engaged! So there was a lot of celebrating to do also.

Staycations are the vibe this year, of course, and Orkney is a great place to visit, especially because with the ferry journey it really feels like you’re going away somewhere even when you’re still in Scotland. As a group we had a look online for things that we wanted to see and shared any recommendations that we had from friends and family member that had been there before. Naturally I took up the role of planner and collated all of the suggestions into a bit of a plan so if you’d like to save yourself some of that work I’ve put our itinerary and map down below!

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I think visiting the Brough of Birsay was our favourite activity across the board – it’s an uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of the Orkney mainland. You have to check the tidal timings before trying to visit as there’s a limited time you’re able to walk across to the island and you don’t want to get trapped! Visiting the wee island has loads of benefits like beautiful views, a Viking settlement, a wee stone beaches but mainly people come here to spot the puffins. While we were there we saw loads of them and managed to spot what we think were some orcas swimming in the sea.

The roadtrip day was probably the most exciting and in addition to Birsay we saw loads of other cool things. Driving around is just beautiful because you’re basically always near the water and there’s so much green everywhere. There’s also tons of super historic places to visit that have been so well preserved on Orkney. Special shout out to the friendly cows near the Ring of Brodgar who came to say hello!

There were also a lot of lovely places to go in the wee towns and loads of cute wee shops to visit (take note not to try and do these things on a Sunday because all the shops will be shut). We had some lovely meals too, particularly at Helgi’s and Lucano and our favourite drinks spots were Oot The Back, 21 and Skippers. We stayed at the Kirkwall Hotel which was a great location right in the centre and close to two free long stay car parks which was ideal.

All in all we had a great time away – Orkney is such a chill place but there’s also quite a few nice things to see. Everything is within a 30 min drive away and there’s a bunch more islands to be explored. My top tips would be to book things ahead as the island is pretty busy with staycationers this year and signal can be quite limited so make sure to plan ahead and screenshot directions and booking confirmations. If you’re planning to go to Orkney someday I hope you enjoy and if not, I hope you enjoyed hearing about it and seeing my photos!

Itinerary & Map

DAY 1DAY 2DAY 3Day 4
Exploring KirkwallRoad trip!Distillery tour @ Highland ParkLunch @ The Kirk Gallery & Cafe
St Magnus CathedralStenness StonesExploring StromnessItalian Chapel
Lunch @ Archive CoffeeRing of BrodgarLunch @ Julia’sWild swimming
Gin tasting @ The Orkney DistilleryMaes HoweDinner @ Kirkwall HotelChurchill Barriers
Drinks @ Oot The BackYesnaby CliffsWatching the Euros final @ SkippersDinner @ The Lynnfield Hotel (allergens beware)
Dinner @ Helgi’sSkara Brae
Brough of Birsay*
Dinner @ Lucano
Drinks @ 21
*Make sure to check the tidal times!

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Here’s some bonus photos of the newly engaged couple – I am so excited to start planning their wedding!

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