Top things to do

Top Choice Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Maeshowe

Egypt has pyramids, Scotland has Maeshowe. Constructed about 5000 years ago, it’s an extraordinary place, a Stone Age tomb built from enormous sandstone blocks, some of which weighed many tons and were brought from …
Top Choice Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Skara Brae

Idyllically situated by a sandy bay 8 miles north of Stromness, and predating Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, extraordinary Skara Brae, one of the world's most evocative prehistoric sites, is northern Europe’s …
Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Ring of Brodgar

A mile northwest of Stenness is this wide circle of standing stones, some over 5m tall. The last of the three Stenness monuments to be built (2500–2000 BC), it remains a most atmospheric location. Twenty-one of the …
Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Broch of Gurness

Here is a fine example of the drystone fortified towers that were both a status symbol for powerful farmers and useful protection from raiders some 2200 years ago. The imposing entranceway and sturdy stone walls – o…
Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

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 revolutionised understanding of the neolithic in Britain. Evidence of a…
Archaeological Site in Birsay

Brough of Birsay

At low tide – check tide times at any Historic Scotland site – you can walk out to this windswept island, the site of extensive Norse ruins, including a number of longhouses and 12th-century St Peter’s Church. There…
Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Standing Stones of Stenness

Within sight of Maeshowe, four mighty stones remain of what was once a circle of 12. Recent research suggests they were perhaps erected as long ago as 3300 BC, and they impose by their sheer size; the tallest measur…
Archaeological Site in West & North Mainland

Barnhouse Neolithic Village

Alongside the Standing Stones of Stenness are the excavated remains of a village thought to have been inhabited by the builders of Maeshowe. Don’t skip this: it brings the area to life. The houses are well preserved…
Brewery in West & North Mainland

Orkney Brewery

These folk have been producing their brilliant Orcadian beers – Dark Island is a standout, while Skullsplitter lives up to its name – for years now, but this visitor centre is a great place to come and try them. Tou…
Cafe in Birsay

Birsay Bay Tearoom

A pleasant spot with sweeping views over green grass, black cows and blue-grey sea, this serves tea, coffee, home-baking and light meals. It's a good spot to wait for the tide to go out before crossing to the Brough…