Visit the wonderful Orkney Islands

South Ronaldsay, photo by foxypar4/Flickr

The spectacular archipelago named Orkney Islands (“the Orkneys”) is situated in the northern part of Scotland. The archipelago consists of a number of about 70 islands. With an area of about 520 km², the largest island is named the “Mainland”. Kirkwall is the largest town and capital city of the Orkney Islands.

There are numerous natural and cultural attractions on the islands. For example, there are Neolithic sites here which are considered some of the best-preserved and oldest such sites of the continent. Besides the Mainland, the islands are divided into two groups: the North Isles and the South Isles. In the following article there will be presented the best attractions of the Orkneys.

The Mainland

As I already mentioned it, the Mainland is the largest island of the archipelago. Kirkwall, the capital city of the Orkneys is situated here. The second biggest town on the islands, Stromness can also be found here. Both of them are very attractive burghs and also popular among tourists. Kirkwall has numerous 17th and 18th century houses and buildings which are wonderful. Besides, there are several historic buildings in the town, such as St. Magnus Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace and Earl’s Palace. There are also two museums in Kirkwall, the Orkney Wireless Museum and the Tankerness House Museum. An ancient monument can also be admired by visitors of the town. It can be found in the western edge of Kirkwall and it is named the Grain Earth House. It is actually a passage situated underground which leads to a small chamber. Stromness is also a beautiful and attractive town with wonderful streets, houses and several museums which include collections relating to the town’s history. There are also natural and cultural attractions on the Mainland. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney is a group of monuments which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999.

St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, photo by David Stanley/Flickr

The North Isles

The major part of the islands which compose the North Isles is connected to the Mainland by ferries. Tourism is one of the major sources of earnings on the islands. The northernmost island is the North Ronaldsay which is a beautiful island. It is home to a bird observatory which will surely be a favorite for bird watchers. It is also home to a magnificent historic lighthouse named the “Old Beacon”. Eday is situated in the center of the North Isles and provides spectacular natural beauty. There are also several Neolithic tombs and historic castle ruins here. Other islands of the North Isles are: Rousay, Stronsay, Auskerry, Shapinsay and so on.

South Ronaldsay, photo by foxypar4/Flickr

The South Isles

The second largest island after the Mainland is part of the South Isles. It is the Hoy Island. It offers a breathtaking natural beauty with such attractions like the Old Man of Hoy. It is actually a wonderful sea stack located on the west of the island. Ward Hill is considered the highest point of the Orkney Islands. It is also situated on Hoy and it is a great attraction of the South Isles. Burray is another wonderful island. It is home to the impressive Neolithic site named the Tomb of the Eagles. Other islands are Graemsay, Glims Holm, Flotta, Lamb Holm and so on.

Inside the Tomb of the Eagles, photo by Kristel Jeuring/Flickr

 

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