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Orkney Islands day trip or overnight

We're thinking of taking a day trip from Inverness to the Orkney Islands on a day tour vs an overnight trip. Has anyone done this ?Please give me your thoughts and ideas.

Sue

Posted by
5669 posts

There are a lot of people who have done it. But it is a very long day. Also, I would argue that Orkney is worth more time. For the tour you leave Inverness at 7 AM and don't get back to Inverness until 9PM. That's 14 hours and less than half of it is spent on Orkney. And they will keep you on time as they have to make the ferry back.

If it's the only way you can see, then I guess you're stuck, but it's a magical place and you're not getting much time.

(I looked at GoScotland Tours. I am still trying to figure out why they say standing stones and not The Ring of Brogdar.)

Hopefully, you'll hear from someone with specifics as to their experience. I know that Toni did it once and is a fan.

Pam

Posted by
2278 posts

Pam is right. Orkney deserves more time, ideally 3 or 4 nights. There is a lot to see. You need two full days just to see the highlights. If a day trip is your only opportunity to see it and you don't mind all that time in transit, then it might work for you. I loved it!

Posted by
1345 posts

Day trip only if you have no other option for Orkney as Pamela says. Full stop. No ifs or buts.

If you can, it is at least on night there.

Posted by
1102 posts

I have done this and would definitely recommend the overnight. There is quite a lot to do there, and we managed to fill 2 full days and wanted more time there.

Posted by
5690 posts

Only undertake a day trip if staying near John o' Groats. It's not a sensible day trip from Inverness. You would have to leave Inverness before the ferry operator decided if the sea conditions were OK to sail.

Posted by
278 posts

Oh, there is so much to see just on the main island (called Mainland--don't ask) that one day trip just won't cut it! Two stone circles (Ring of Brodgar and the Stones of Stenness), at least one chambered tomb (Maeshowe, with the Tomb of the Eagles as another option), the amazingly preserved Neolithic village of Skara Brae, the Iron Age Broch of Gurness, and the two ruined palaces across the street from each other in the heart of Kirkwall, right next to St. Magnus Cathedral. Also, the tiny but fantastic Italian Chapel on the other side of Scapa Flow (where, if you're a diver, you can dive WWII ships). And I haven't yet mentioned the great shopping here!

We were there for three days and I am definitely planning to return, this time in the summer while the Ness of Brodgar archaeological dig is open to the public. Being able to see one of the most significant Neolithic sites in Northern Europe is high on my bucket list.

I also want to see some of the other islands next time, going for some hikes on the cliffs of Hoy and elsewhere.

Posted by
162 posts

Thanks for the advice, we're still trying to see if and how we can work this into our trip. We're thinking of flying over and spending one night and taking a private day tour. Its too early for flight and plane fares to be posted for next August, anyone have an idea of the cost of flights from Inverness?
Thank you,
Sue

Posted by
5669 posts

Sue, the last time I went to Orkney we started our trip there. We left Madison WI at 3 PM and got to Kirkwall at 6 PM the next day. We flew via St. Louis back in the day when American Airlines was still pretending that St. Louis was a hub. We went on to London--I think it was Gatwick though--and then to Edinburgh. At Edinburgh we got a direct, but not non-stop flight to Kirkwall. Between Edinburgh and Inverness they came down the aisle with whisky and there was barely time to down your shot. Then another round of whisky between Inverness and Kirkwall! It was fun. A wee plane, but lots of fun.

Pam