Scotland's Orkney Islands

Scotland's Orkney Islands

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5 Days From

$2095

$1935

Scotland's Orkney Islands

5 Days Starting and ending in Inverness

Visiting: Inverness / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands, Kirkwall / Orkney Islands, Mainland / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands, Shapinsay Island / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands, Kirkwall / Inverness

Tour operator:

Intrepid Travel

Tour code:

BWSO

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 12

Physical rating:

Low, Low

Age range:

15-99 years

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active, Adventure Tours

Interests:

History, Island Hopping

Activities:

Hiking, Whisky Tasting

From:
$2095
$1935 Operator discount: -$105 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$55

NB: Prices correct on 19-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

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 walk on Shapinsay Island, and bookend your days with plenty of local history and perhaps some 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.

Highlights

  • 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.

Itinerary

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Day 1: Inverness / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Location: Inverness / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Welcome to Scotland! Meet your local leader and fellow travellers at Inverness Railway Station.From here, take a train to Thurso, where you’ll jump in a taxi for a brief transfer to the nearby port of Scrabster to board the the ferry over to Stromness, 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 the quaint accommodation on the fringes of Kirkwall.
After a long day of travelling, it’s time to unpack and settle into your accommodation, then perhaps head into Kirkwall to a cosy pub for food and drinks. Your group leader will be happy to recommend some options.

Day 2: Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Location: Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals Included: breaksfast

Stretch your legs this morning and explore 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 architecture of 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 can tell you about.
This afternoon, you have free time to explore at your own pace. Perhaps retrace your steps, stopping by the craft shop, museum or other historic sites that piqued your interest. 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, but plan early as these are popular activities!


Included Activities:
-Kirkwall - Leader-led Walking Tour

Day 3: Mainland / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Location: Mainland / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

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 are now an important connection for the smaller islands to Orkneys mainland, and dotted in the sea are a number of shipwrecks nearby. After, continue west to perhaps Orkey’s most famous site – the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. It’s northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village predating Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage listed 'Heart of Neolithic Orkney'. By now, you'll have worked up an appetite, so your group will 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. On the way back, you’ll stop by at the renowned Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones, another UNESCO World Heritage listed site, dating back over 5000 years.
When you arrive in Kirkwall, maybe join the rest of your group for dinner and chat about the fascinating sights of the day.

Included Activities:
-Orkney Islands - Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones
-Orkney Islands - Italian Chapel
-Orkney Islands - Orkney Mainland Day Tour
-Orkney Islands - Picnic lunch with Local Orkney Produce in an old schoolhouse
-Orkney Islands - Churchill Barriers & Scapa Flow
-Orkney Islands - Skara Brae Prehistoric Village Visit

Day 4: Shapinsay Island / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Location: Shapinsay Island / Kirkwall / Orkney Islands

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Meals Included: breaksfast

Enjoy breakfast this morning, 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. When you arrive, set off on a coastal walk past Balfour Castle and along the western coastline. Along the way, keep an eye out for seals! Today’s walk 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’ll have a free afternoon to relax, or enjoy some other suggested activities. Tonight, maybe get back together with your group and leader for one last evening in a local pub and maybe enjoy some whisky tastings, including local Orkney whiskys and others from around Scotland. You’re only in the Orkneys once!

Included Activities:
-Shapinsay Island - Coastal Walk
-Shapinsay Island - Day Trip

Day 5: Kirkwall / Inverness

Location: Kirkwall / Inverness

Meals Included: breaksfast

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).

What's Included

  • Kirkwall - Live Music at a Local Pub

  • Kirkwall - Leader-led Walking Tour

  • Orkney Islands - Italian Chapel & Churchill Barriers

  • Orkney Islands - Ring of Brodgar Standing Stones

  • 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

  • Meals

    4 breakfasts, 1 lunches

show more

What's Not Included

  • International Travel

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Transport

  • TRANSPORT IN SCOTLAND
  • One of the highlights of this trip is our use of a combination of public and private transportation. Public transport is not only a cost-effective way to travel but also provides a unique glimpse into Scottish life as we traverse picturesque landscapes. Private vehicles, on the other hand, allow us to make frequent stops at intriguing points of interest that may not be reachable via public transport. Need a taxi, no problem, please speak to your group leader should you require a taxi outside of what is included. We believe that this blend of travel options is the ideal approach for exploring Scotland as a group.

Accommodation

  • OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
  • The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
  • TWIN SHARE BASIS
  • Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per the gender marker on each of their passports. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
  • CHECK-IN TIME
  • Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
  • PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
  • If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
  • FACILITIES
  • Your accommodation may not always have private en suite facilities or air-conditioning. European hotels generally don't provide kettles or fridges.

Important Information

  • 1.A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights of your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
  • 2.This trip starts at 1pm in the ticket hall of Inverness Railway Station on Day 1. Afterwards, your group will immediately depart for Kirkwall. This trip finishes upon arrival in Inverness on Day 5 at approximately 5pm. Please consider this when booking onward travel.
  • 3.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.

Check out our Q&As

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    Yes if aged 15+ and accompanied by an adult

  • Are international flights included in this tour?

    No

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    No

  • Is this trip right for you

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

    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.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for latest COVID-19 policies

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Intrepid Travel has been taking travellers around the world for over 30 years

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Since 2002, The Intrepid Foundation has supported over 130 organisations across the world. We’re creating positive impact through the joy of travel, community and connection.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 50% of traveller travel solo with Intrepid. You can choose to share a room with another solo travelle of the same sex for no additional charge, or choose to pay a single supplement if you’d like your own room. Please request this when booking, and we will secure you a single supplement wherever possible. Please note, if you are booking a last-minute trip, it may be harder for us to secure a single room

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Intrepid Travel allows you to make 10 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 56 days before the start of the tour.

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Intrepid Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform intrepid travel, 56 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Intrepid Travel requires a minimum deposit of 400 USD per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 56 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of intrepid travel charges.

    Up to 56 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 55 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

  • COVID Protection

    Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
    From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

    However, we continue to strongly recommend that all travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and other Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.

    This policy excludes all Polar trips and select adventure cruises, where testing and vaccination remains a requirement. Please refer to the Essential Trip Information of your chosen tour for more details.

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