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From east to west

From Neolithic Orkney in the West Mainland to the Churchill Barriers in the East Mainland there’s loads to explore.

These are some of Orkney’s most popular beauty spots in the Outer Isles

Scattered in windswept waters, 16km from the northernmost reaches of the Scottish mainland, lie the seventy or so islands which make up Orkney. Only 20 are inhabited.

The islands offer the kind of experiences and epic natural beauty that captures hearts and minds. Whatever your weakness – culture vulture, avid adventurer, intrepid explorer, foodie, wildlife enthusiast, or historian – Orkney will quench your cravings for the unusual, the undiscovered, the once-in-a-lifetime…

Neolithic Orkney (West Mainland) - The homes of our ancestors

With its dramatic cliffs and stunning coastal scenery, thriving seabird colonies and spectacular walks, the West Mainland has plenty to enjoy, but the Neolithic remains are perhaps the biggest draw to this corner of Orkney.

You can get up close to see for yourself how our ancestors lived 5,000 years ago with Skara Brae – the best-preserved Neolithic village in Northern Europe, the Ring of Brodgar, the Standing Stones of Stenness and Maeshowe are all easily accessible.

Skara Brae

25 minutes' drive time

Long before Stonehenge or even before the Egyptian pyramids were built, Skara Brae was a thriving village. First uncovered by a storm in 1850, Skara Brae remains a place of discovery today.

Brough of Birsay

30 minutes' drive

Reach this special tidal island by causeway to explore Pictish, Norse and medieval remains. Broaches, rings and dress pins found on the Brough of Birsay suggest that it was a Pictish power centre. It's still possible to make out the remnants of Norse houses, barns and even a sauna. Later, a small church and a monastery were built on Birsay.

Broch of Gurness

24 minutes' drive

Explore an icon of Orkney's rich archaeological heritage. This impressive Iron Age complex is one of the most outstanding examples of a later prehistoric settlement to survive in Scotland. You can even view the Iron Age artefacts in their visitor centre.


15 minutes’ drive

Stand in awe of one of Europe's finest chambered tombs, built some 5,000 years ago. Incredibly, the entrance passage to Maeshowe is aligned with the setting of the midwinter sun so that the light illuminates the tomb's interior.

Norse crusaders broke into the Maeshowe in the mid 1100's, long after it had fallen from use. They too left their mark on the site, this time as graffiti carved all over the main chamber's walls.

The Stones of Stenness

15 minutes’ drive

Walk among the enigmatic stones of one of the most spectacular prehistoric monuments in the British Isles. The Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle and Henge is an enormous ceremonial site dating back to the 3rd millennium BC.

  • The stones originally consisted of 60 stones, only 36 remain today.
  • There are at least 13 prehistoric burial mounds.
  • There is a large rock-cut ditch surrounding the stone circle.
  • The Stones of Sternness today consist of four upright stones up to 6m in height in a circle that originally held 12 stones. The focus of the interior was a large hearth.
  • The stones were encircled by a large ditch and bank, the form of which has been lost over time by ploughing.

East Mainland - Beyond the barriers

Churchill Barriers 

15 minutes’ drive

On 14 October 1939, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at her moorings within the natural harbour of Scapa Flow by the German U-boat U-47. In response, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill ordered the construction of several permanent barriers to prevent any further attacks. 

The prisoners were accommodated in three camps, 600 at Camp 60 on Lamb Holm and the remaining 700 at two camps on Burray.Those at Camp 60 built the ornate Italian Chapel which survives and has become a tourist attraction.


20 minutes’ drive

Stromness is the second-most populous town in Orkney, Scotland. It is in the southwestern part of Mainland Orkney. It is also a parish, with the town of Stromness as its capital. Stromness Museum - Get a glimpse of Orkney’s natural history and maritime past in a museum which sports a unique collection of artefacts displayed in a traditional way.




Explore our ‘hood. We’re at the heart of Orkney’s proud capital – Kirkwall. With medieval streets, working harbour and the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, the town has a lively atmosphere. 

Outer Isles

Outer Isles

Orkney oozes natural beauty in abundance. Here are a number of places you might like to visit during your stay. You’ll be guaranteed to learn a thing or two about what makes Orkney so special...

Whisky Tours

Whisky Tours

Orkney lies outside the five major whisky making regions of Scotland and has only two distilleries, one of which – The Highland Park Distillery – is just a mile or so from the hotel. Sip, sip hooray!

Pockets of History

Pockets of History

Look closely and you'll discover some of Orkney's most treasured pockets of history. From St Magnus Cathedral to Orkney Museum - you'll be sure to unleash your inner historian.

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The Kirkwall Hotel

Harbour Street, Kirkwall, Orkney KW15 1LE
01856 872232

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