The islands form part of Orkney's remote north isles. Your visit to Orkney should be planned to experience both - the vibrant island spirit of Westray and, in contrast, the tiny rural community in Papa Westray which is accessible from its neighbour on the world's shortest scheduled flight!
Westray, affectionately known as the 'Queen o' the Isles', is a thriving community of 600 islanders. It has vibrancy, charm and genuine island spirit. Westray also boasts a wide range of visitor attractions making it a popular year-round destination.
Much of the island's recent prosperity can be attributed to the work of the Westray Development Trust, formed in 1998 to buck the trend in population decline. Westray now has a growing community and a new generation of islanders who have planned their future on this beautiful isle.
Westray was firmly put on the map in the summer of 2009 when a tiny carved stone figurine - the Orkney Venus - was discovered. It is the oldest representation of the human form to be found in Scotland. Such was the worldwide interest in this remarkable find that locals refer to it as the Westray Wife, reinforcing its association with the island.
In Westray, archaeology enthusiasts are in for a treat as the island's heritage is etched across its landscape at sites including the Quoygrew Viking longhouse, the 12th century Cross Kirk and St Mary's Church in Pierowall. Here you will also find the Westray Heritage Centre home to the stunning Westray Stone, a Neolithic carving from a Stone Age tomb.
For wildlife lovers, the RSPB reserve at Noup Head (affectionately known as Seabird City!) is the place to go. The high sea cliffs identify one of the most important seabird sites in the UK and around the Castle o' Burrian sea stack the loveable puffins can be spotted from May to August.
In contrast, Papa Westray, known locally as Papay, is one of the last places in the British Isles where you can experience rural island life for real. In Papay, visitors can step back in time and encounter the oldest house in Northern Europe. The Knap of Howar, a Neolithic farmstead, predates the Pyramids by over 1,200 years!
While you can catch a ferry across, the journey to Papa Westray from its near neighbour is a memorable experience itself! In the tiny 10-seater aircraft, you will touch down in just two minutes and be part of the world's shortest scheduled flight!