This tiny, low-lying agricultural island between Hoy and Stromness once supported a healthy population of crofting families (more than 200 people in 1841), but today is home to only a couple of farms. You can stop here on the way to or from Hoy and walk around the island – there's a fine sandy beach on the north side, a short walk from the ferry landing.

The island has two Stevenson-designed lighthouses dating from 1851: Hoy Low at the southern tip of the island, and the rather fine Hoy High in the north, a brilliant-white 33m-high tower with a balcony supported by Gothic arches. The keepers' houses were built in the Stevensons' distinctive 'Egyptian temple' style.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Orkney attractions

1. Stromness Museum

2.21 MILES

This superb museum, run with great passion, is full of knick-knacks from maritime and natural-history exhibitions covering whaling, the Hudson's Bay…

2. Pier Arts Centre

2.54 MILES

This gallery has really rejuvenated the Orkney modern-art scene with its sleek lines and upbeat attitude. It’s worth a look as much for the architecture…

3. Dwarfie Stane

3.11 MILES

A short walk from the road through Rackwick Glen, and an obligatory stop on the way to the Old Man of Hoy, the 5000-year-old Dwarfie Stane is the only…

4. Unstan Chambered Cairn

4.35 MILES

This atmospheric neolithic tomb, on a smaller scale than nearby Maeshowe, is a site that you may well get to yourself. It's a very tight squeeze down the…

5. Orkneyinga Saga Centre

4.63 MILES

This centre has displays relating to the Orkneyinga Saga, and an interesting video depicting some of the saga’s deeds. To get here follow signs for the…

6. Earl's Bu

4.65 MILES

Earl's Bu, in Orphir, has the foundations of a 12th-century manor house belonging to the Norse earls of Orkney. There are also the remains of St Nicholas’…

7. Standing Stones of Stenness

5.43 MILES

Part of this Mainland area's concentration of neolithic monuments, four mighty stones remain of what was once a circle of 12. Recent research suggests…

8. Ness of Brodgar


The spectacular finds from ongoing excavations at this archaeological site between the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar have…