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Orkneys or Hebrides?

we are traveling to Scotland end of July into August.
we are trying to decide between going to the Hebrides or the Orkneys.
we would love some feedback and suggestions as to which trip we should take.
We like to hike, explore, good restaurants, B&B's, we do not like big crowds so aren't interested in festivals. We would like to see historical sights, good beaches and coastlines. We are late 30's, we like good pubs. We have rented a car. We really don't want to fall into tourist traps, we are hoping to explore off the beaten track find hidden gems. Any advice would be appreciated.

Best Answers


  • Beautiful pictures. I appreciate the feedback.
    We have a week dedicated to travel to either Orkney or the Hebrides. We are staying with friends in Fife, that will be our home base. We have rented a car so are able to go to either destination. Both responces have given us something to think about. Our biggest concern is getting herded into any tourists traps, we aren't big on big crowds.
    The sound of good beer whiskey and lamb is very tempting, so the Orkneys might win for that reason alone.
    We know whichever we decide we will love the experience and find fun. 
    I guess my biggest question is which is best to avoid big crowds, where we can escape and appreciate where we are.
  • VisitScotlandMurielVisitScotlandMuriel Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Both the Outer Hebrides and the Shetland Isles will feel quite empty compared to more touristy spots like the Isle of Skye or Loch Ness, Fort William and Glencoe etc. Unfortunately I haven't been to either of them so cannot advise. As you say I am sure you will love them equally, the scenery is amazing pretty much anywhere you to go in the Highlands and Islands!! Enjoy and keep us posted with your discoveries, we'd love to see your photos.  :)
  • cmillarcmillar Member ✭✭
    I was recently in Orkney and loved it - but we were there in June and there were definitely big crowds. Skara Brae was packed and Maeshowe was fully booked (we got in). Also the restaurants were booked out - this was because the Orkney festival was on. Perhaps the crowds were due to the festival but I doubt it because most of them came by cruise boat. If you did go to Orkney, you might want to spend time away from the mainland - Rousay is meant to be amazing for historic sites, Hoy wonderful for walking. That would allow you to enjoy Orkney without feeling bombarded.
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