Kirkwall Tourist Guide

Kirkwall Tourist Information

The Orkneys have about 20,000 inhabitants, with the majority of the population living in the more significant towns of Kirkwall and Stromness. Kirkwall is the largest town and the Orkney Island's administrative centre and capital. Seventy islands and skerries form the Orkney archipelago. Today, there are 17 inhabited islands. Kirkwall can be found on the main island and it has several attractions of historical interest.

A popular activity is island-hopping, and if you really want to appreciate the Orkneys, you can travel by mini cruise or ferry to the other gorgeous islands. Orkney Ferries' operations give you the option to fully enjoy wonderful landscapes, exciting wildlife and the island's renowned archaeology.

The tiny islands are ideal wildlife-watching territory, on the serene shores, hills or out at sea, and on all of the islands, you'll find a rich and interesting fauna and flora. Plenty of visitors come back again and again to enjoy the ancient traditional culture and modern hospitality. The mystery of the ancient standing stones, the people's warm hospitality, the lovely scent of wildflowers, the clean air and the trouble-free, slow pace of life all make holidaying on the Orkney's an unforgettable journey.

The St Magnus Cathedral is a must-see in Kirkwall. Other notable attractions include the Bishop's Palace, Orkney Museum, Grain Earth House and the Wireless Museum. In the heart of the town, you can visit the St Magnus Cathedral, and its tower and spire are widely visible from throughout both the land and the ocean. The cathedral was constructed to commemorate St Magnus Erlendsson. Positioned next to the cathedral are the remains of the former Bishop's Palace and the Earl's Palace.

Kirkwall boasts two fine museums: housed in a very well-preserved 16th century town house is the Tankerness House Museum. The museum displays numerous items which relate to the fascinating local history. The Pictish, Viking and prehistoric artefacts, are of worldwide historical importance. The second interesting museum is the tiny Wireless Museum, offering insight in the past of radio transmissions and recordings. The ancient prehistoric Grain Earth House is located on the western edge of the town, surrounded by modern and industrial buildings. This monument is a short and low stone-walled passage, which is deep underground and leads to a small pillared chamber.

Hotels in Kirkwall

Kirkwall and its surroundings have several fine accommodation establishments on offer. There are posh four-star hotels, but there is also accommodation for travellers on a budget such as guesthouses and cosy bed and breakfasts.

Two of the respected and reputed establishments include the four-star rated Sands Hotel, which is located just over nine miles (15.5kms) from Kirkwall. All of the hotel rooms are en-suite and they look out over the pier and beach, with a panoramic view of local fishermen at work. Amenities feature an outstanding restaurant, free-of-charge car parking, a bar and lounge, child-friendly amenities, 24-hour porter service, an outdoor play area and garden and a café.

Alternatively, the Castle Arms Hotel can be found in the idyllic village of Mey, eight miles (13kms) from John O'Groats. This pet-friendly hotel establishment dates from the 19th century and once served as a coaching inn. The establishment boasts facilities such as a free car park, a restaurant and a delicious English breakfast. The hotel is situated near the ocean, and set in a spacious piece of open land.