Hello all! I noticed there weren't any discussions about Orkney yet so thought I would add my 'Top Ten' in case anyone was planning a visit up here soon. I love living in such a beautiful part of the world and I love sharing it with anyone interested in finding out more.
1. Visit one of the smaller islands
Orkney is made up of around 70 islands but only 16 are inhabited. You should definitely try to visit one of the smaller isles if time allows. Westray or Hoy will always get my vote but there are plenty to choose from.
2. Visit St Magnus Cathedral
A beautiful building that definitely deserves a visit. Be prepared for feelings of awe.
3. Visit the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar
Always popular with visitors but with good reason. These iconic stone circles, part of the heart of Neolithic Orkney, are simply incredible and need to be seen in person to be truly appreciated.
4. Visit Helgis
Recently voted the best pub in Kirkwall and popular with visitors and locals alike, Helgis is a 'must visit' when eating out in Orkney. The have a great menu with local produce, as well as vast selection of drinks ranging from cocktails to local beers and whisky.
5. Go for a wander through the streets of Kirkwall and Stromness
There are some lovely shops to visit in both towns and be sure to check out The Brig Larder in Kirkwall and The Bayleaf Deli in Stromness for some local foods.
6. Try crispy cheese at the Kirkwall Hotel
You just can’t come to Orkney and not try crispy cheese.
7. Head to the East Mainland and visit Dingieshowe.
A beautiful beach and one of my favourites. The word Dingieshowe comes from Viking times and it is thought this is where people met to pass laws and settle feuds. You're going to be on holiday so hopefully you won't have any feuds to settle but I don't think you'll be disappointed with the vast amounts of beach and the spectacular waves on offer.
8. Another reason to visit the East Mainland is the Gloup and the Brough of Dearness. It is a lovely walk with some great views. Once you reach the brough you can see the remains of a 10th century chapel and some impressive cliffs.
9. Head to the West Mainland, visit Skara Brae and then go for a walk along Skaill beach.
Skara Brae is Europe's most complete Neolithic visit and it's easy to see why people travel so far to see it. It's older than the pyramids and so well preserved that you will feel like you have stepped back in time. Skail is a beautiful beach and I suggest allowing an extra hour or so to visit it, too. The visitor centre at Skara Brae has a great cafe where you can get some lunch or coffee and cake before enjoying the fresh sea air.
10. While in the West Mainland, visit the Brough of Birsay and then walk out along the cliffs towards the whale bone.
A lovely walk and a great chance to see some waves. Check tide times for visiting the Brough itself because you don't want to get stranded. Birsay Bay Tearoom is also lovely and definitely worth a visit.
Thanks for reading and please comment if you want to know anything else. I struggled to get my list down to 10 so feel free to ask for any other ideas. Have you been to Orkney? What would you recommend?