Map of Scotland's Orkney Islands including United Kingdom

Whisky and Neolithic history in UK’s northern reaches

The Orkneys, off the northern tip of Scotland, are well and truly alive with histories and mysteries to discover by land and sea. Spend five days experiencing the best of the Orkney Islands, departing from the highland hub of Inverness, and using Kirkwall as your base. Admire the Neolithic town of Skara Brae that predates Stonehenge, get well off the tourist trail on a leisurely coastal hike on Shapinsay Island, and bookend your days with some live music and whisky tastings at local pubs along the way. With a local leader full of knowledge and a group as eager to learn as you, this slice of European history has never been so enticing.


Start
Inverness, United Kingdom
Finish
Inverness, United Kingdom
Destination
United Kingdom
Style
Original
Theme
Explorer
Code
BWSO
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why you'll love this trip

  • The Orkney Islands are teeming with historic sites to explore. The Neolithic township of Skara Brae, the renowned Ring of Brodgar and 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral – it’s like you’ve been transported back in time!

  • Join your group leader on a walking tour of Kirkwall – Orkney’s main centre. They’ll be able to share with you the history and traditions behind the game of ‘Ba’ in town.

  • Spend the morning discovering the island of Shapinsay on a coastal walking tour, full of rich heritage and small-town quirks. You might even spot some resident seals!

  • What’s Scotland without a tipple? Be sure to join your local leader and group of travellers throughout the trip at a corner pub, tasting some of the finest whiskies on offer.

  • With plenty of time dedicated to exploring at your own pace, you can dial up the history, or instead, balance it all out with some distillery visits. You’ve got the power to choose.

Is this trip right for you?

  • Please ensure you consult your local government’s advice regarding domestic travel prior to booking this trip.

  • This trip is new to our range this year. And while we have thoroughly researched every detail of the logistics, new destinations and working with new partners can sometimes throw us some unexpected surprises. More often than not, it’ll be a great surprise. But every now and again there might be a hiccup. We like to think that’s what puts the ‘adventure’ in ‘adventure travel’.

  • Scotland can be cold at night throughout the year, especially at the start and end of the season. Please bring appropriate clothing for adverse weather conditions, including base layers, hat, gloves, scarf, waterproof clothes/umbrella and anything else that you think may be applicable.

  • As accommodation on this trip is twin share, single travellers will share a room with another traveller of the same gender. This trip is a great opportunity to get to know other like-minded people, so embrace it while you can. However, if you’d prefer not to share, a single room supplement is available at an additional charge (some exceptions may apply). Please ask your travel consultant for more details. Also, hotels in Europe can seem small by Australian or American standards, and often don't have double beds, but rather two single beds that can be pushed together/apart.

Itinerary

Welcome to Scotland! Meet your local leader and fellow travellers at Inverness Railway Station. Exact times and further details can be found in the ‘Joining Point Instructions’ of your Essential Trip Information. From here take a train to Thurso, and on arrival, transfer to the nearby port of Scrabster to board a ferry over to Orkney. The ferry journey is a scenic adventure in itself, so keep your eyes peeled for the Old Man of Hoy – the tallest sea stack in the UK. Disembark in Stromness and catch a local bus with your group to Kirkwall – the largest centre in Orkney. After a long day of travelling, it’s time to settle into your accommodation and perhaps cosy up in a pub. Your leader will recommend some options to have drinks, plus hopefully with some live music on offer too!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This afternoon's meeting will take place at 1pm in the ticket hall of Inverness Railway Station. Please look out for your leader who will be waiting in the fixed seating area, holding a sign with the Intrepid logo. Make sure you are on time for this important meeting, as the group will leave Inverness straight after. If you can't find a flight that arrives on time we recommend you book an additional night in Inverness prior to the start of the trip. Please note that today's journey is quite long, involving a train, taxi, ferry and local bus, and our arrival into Kirkwall will be at around 9:30pm.
Stretch your legs this morning on a walking tour of Kirkwall – the beating heart of Orkney. Your local leader will fill you in on the town’s history and Viking culture plus some of the hotspots, including 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral, the ‘Peedie Sea’ birdwatching area and the narrow maze of streets in the centre of town. These streets are home to the traditional ‘Ba’ game each year – a unique sporting spectacle that your leader will tell you about. This afternoon, you’re free to explore the city at your own pace. Perhaps retrace your steps, stopping by the craft shop, museum or other historic sites that piqued your interest. Your leader might also suggest a short hike up to Wideford Hill, offering great views across Kirkwall and the islands. Otherwise, there’s a whole range of craft and jewellery shops, pubs and even the acclaimed Highland Park whisky distillery to visit. It’s totally up to you!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Kirkwall - Leader-led Walking Tour
Optional Activities
  • Kirkwall - Wideford Hill Hike - Free
  • Highland Park Whisky Distillery Visit & Tour - from - GBP30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
It’s time to explore Orkney in more detail today. Head off with your travel crew in a private vehicle towards some of the islands’ most historic sites. Begin heading south to the Italian Chapel – comprised of two Nissen huts converted into a stunning chapel by Italian prisoners of war. Cross the remarkable Churchill Barriers – built in WWII to keep enemy U-boats out of the waterways of Scapa Flow. These barriers now connect smaller islands in Orkney with the mainland, and dotted in the sea are a number of shipwrecks nearby. Continue west to perhaps Orkey’s most famous site – the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. It’s northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village, and predates Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids. Pop into an old schoolhouse building for a picnic lunch of local Orkney produce (and perhaps meet the producers), then begin your return journey to Kirkwall, stopping by the renowned Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones, dating back over 5,000 years.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Orkney Islands - Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones
  • Orkney Islands - Italian Chapel & Churchill Barriers
  • Orkney Islands - Orkney Mainland Day Tour
  • Orkney Islands - Picnic with Local Orkney Produce
  • Orkney Islands - Skara Brae Prehistoric Village Visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy breakfast and then walk down to the harbour to board a ferry bound for the island of Shapinsay. Although a short 30 minutes from Kirkwall, this island feels a world away from where you’ve been, and sees much fewer tourists than other hotspots in Orkney. You’ll spot the grand 18th-century Balfour Castle as you approach Shapinsay Island – the most regal of all private homes in the Orkneys. On arrival, set off on a coastal walk past Balfour Castle and along the western coastline. Pro tip: keep an eye out for seals. Today’s walking loop returns to the village of Balfour, where you can stop in at the local café and heritage centre, plus check out the unusual saltwater toilets. In the early afternoon, head back on the ferry to Kirkwall, where you will have an afternoon at leisure. Tonight get back together with your leader and head to a local pub to see some local live music. Perhaps enjoy a whisky tasting session, including local Orkney whiskys and others from around Scotland. You’re only in the Orkneys once!
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Shapinsay Island - Coastal Walk
  • Shapinsay Island - Day Trip
  • Kirkwall - Live Music at a Local Pub
Optional Activities
  • Kirkwall - Whisky Tasting with your Leader - GBP10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
After breakfast this morning, begin your journey back to Inverness with your group, arriving in the late afternoon. With no activities planned in Inverness, you are free to leave the group upon arrival at the railway station. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to spend more time in this northern UK hub, we’ll be happy to organise additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Please note that arrival in Inverness is scheduled for around 5pm. Consider a later evening travel connection or perhaps stay an extra night in Inverness to account for any possible delays your group may face today.

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Train, Public bus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Ferry, On foot

Accommodation

Guesthouse (4 nights)

Included activities

  • Kirkwall - Leader-led Walking Tour
  • Orkney Islands - Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones
  • Orkney Islands - Italian Chapel & Churchill Barriers
  • Orkney Islands - Orkney Mainland Day Tour
  • Orkney Islands - Picnic with Local Orkney Produce
  • Orkney Islands - Skara Brae Prehistoric Village Visit
  • Shapinsay Island - Coastal Walk
  • Shapinsay Island - Day Trip
  • Kirkwall - Live Music at a Local Pub

Dates & availability

Trip departures are unavailable.

There are currently no scheduled departures on our Scotland's Orkney Islands trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

Prices may go up, so secure your trip today!
Jump to a departure month

Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
A single supplement is bookable on this trip, subject to availability at the time of booking. Please note that due to the small properties we use in Europe there is only a limited amount of single supplements available per trip departure. If you would like to book a single supplement and enquire about availability please speak to your booking agent.

ITINERARY
As the trip starts in the early afternoon of day 1 and ends after 5pm on the last day we recommend you arrive a day early and stay an additional night in Inverness before and after the trip. We are happy to organise additional accommodation for you, subject to availability

TRAVEL TIMES
Please note that the journey from Inverness to the Orkney Islands and vice versa is quite long (approx 7.5 hours), involving a train, taxi, ferry and local bus. Our arrival into Kirkwall on day 1 will be at around 9:30pm and arrival back into Inverness on the last day will be at around 5pm.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View Essential Trip Information

Reviews