Kirkwall Docks


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About Kirkwall

The main transport hub of the Orkney Islands, Kirkwall is a gateway to many of the most inaccessible and unspoilt areas of the British Isles. Kirkwall and the Orkney Islands offer a unique window into history, with some settlements dating back over 5000 years and others showing signs of Viking influences from medieval raids. In the areas surrounding Kirkwall, you’ll discover incredible geography, including gigantic natural rock formations, sprawling cliffs and rolling hillsides.

Weather is brisk with highs of 16°C in July and lows of 1°C in January - adding an extra touch of realism to those early Neolithic and Viking landmarks. With such a rich past, and the option to reach both the remote Fair Isle and town of Sumburgh in the Shetlands, Kirkwall and the Orkney Islands are great destinations for those looking for an alternative getaway.

Holiday deals to Kirkwall


Hotel deals to Kirkwall


Flight deals to Kirkwall


Hotels in Kirkwall

Traditionally, Kirkwall and the Orkney Islands have offered accommodation in the form of smaller bed & breakfasts however several larger hotels have opened on the island to offer more modern convenience to visitors. If you’re looking for a touch of luxury, a booking at The Foveran is a must. Marketing itself as a ‘restaurant with rooms’ The Foveran combines fine-dining with comfortable modern accommodation. Alternatively, if you want to experience the rustic lifestyle of the island then the Merkister Hotel is a good choice as it’s built into a large country cottage. And if you’d rather enjoy the hospitality of the island’s bed & breakfasts, the family-run Ardconnel is ideal.

Shopping in Kirkwall

While you’re unlikely to find many high street brands on the Orkney Islands, there are many independent retailers to be found offering fantastic local produce. If you’re looking to add a few new items to your wardrobe, the Quernstone Knitwear shop found in Stromness and the Aurora clothing and jewellery store in Kirkwall are well worth a visit. The highstreets of the Orkney Islands are almost entirely made up of local businesses, so exploration is the best way to find hidden treasures and keepsakes.

Food & Drink in Kirkwall

With its unique geography and climate, the Orkney Islands play host to many local delicacies. Meat lovers must try the North Ronaldsay Mutton which can only be found on the island and is produced by a hardy breed of sheep that eats only seaweed. Those with a sweet-tooth will be happy to know that the island also makes its own ice cream, made using only milk produced in Orkney. And if you fancy something a little different, you can pick up some Partan toes, which are locally sourced crab claws in a rich sauce.

Events in Kirkwall

Drawing upon thousands of years of history, the Orkney islands have many unique festivities that visitors will love:


A traditional game of street football played on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day through the streets of Kirkwall. Ba sees hundreds of men, split into the Uppies and Doonies, clash over a single leather ball as they attempt to either get it to the street opposite the Cathedral or the harbour. The game is played over hours and is a sporting spectacle unlike anything else.

Orkney Folk Festival

One of the biggest folk festivals in Scotland, the Orkney Folk Festival is held between the 24th and 27th of May as thousands of visitors flock to the town of Stromness for a series of incredible live performances. This is a great way to get a feel for the history of the island and its traditions.

St. Magnus Festival

Set around midsummer, St. Magnus Festival offers many exciting events as local performers and visiting artists take over the Orkney Islands for a week of fantastic musical acts, plays, poetic recitals and much more.

Useful Information

Key facts

Currency:Sterling Pound
Time zone:GMT
Flight time:1 hour 30 mins
Airport code:KOI
Holiday type:Sightseeing

12 month weather (°C)


Kirkwall map

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