Even with winter on its way, you can still get the most out of a visit to Orkney.
Tours are available all year round at some of our most fascinating sites. You can see ancient stone circles, explore our wartime heritage and visit the magnificent St Magnus Cathedral, all accompanied by knowledgeable guides.
Find out more about some of the guided tours you can still take across the islands during the coming months, before the grass starts to get greener and the days get longer once again!
The Heart of Neolithic Orkney
Orkney’s UNESCO World Heritage Site is a major draw for visitors during the summer months, but it can be a different story during the autumn and winter. The change in season brings a change in atmosphere, with low light transforming places like the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. The fantastic Historic Environment Scotland Ranger Service continues to run free guided walks at both sites throughout the off-season – strike it lucky and you might have your own personal tour guide. Join them at the Standing Stones of Stenness and Barnhouse Village on Wednesdays at 10am, and at the Ring of Brodgar on Thursdays at 1pm.
Only in Orkney could you stand in the middle of a 5,000-year-old stone circle one minute, then find yourself walking along the runway of a former WWII airfield the next! Launched in 2017, guided tours of the HMS Tern base include a look at the remains of some of the buildings at the site, as well as access to the unique control tower. Stories about the airfield and the men stationed there form a major part of the tour, giving visitors a real insight into Orkney’s rich wartime heritage.
St Magnus Cathedral
This beautiful sandstone cathedral sits in the heart of Kirkwall and looks stunning during the dark winter nights, when it's bathed in warm light. The building has played a central role in nearly 900 years of Orcadian history and thousands of people step inside every year to find out more. Only a handful get a behind-the-scenes look though…! Guided tours of the upper levels of the Cathedral are held every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the year, giving visitors the chance to see historical artefacts, the clock mechanism, the cathedral bells and the stunning view over the town from the base of the spire too. The passageways are small and the steps are steep, but if you are up for the challenge a trip upstairs is well worth it.
If a tour of HMS Tern is up your street then a visit to Ness Battery, perched on the south west tip of the Orkney mainland, should definitely be on your list. The gun battery at Ness helped guard the Royal Naval anchorage of Scapa Flow during WWII and a guided tour will let you experience the looming battery buildings first hand. You’ll also see inside the wooden mess huts, some of the last remaining of their type in the UK, one of which features a beautiful mural, hand-painted by a soldier stationed there more than seventy years ago. It’s a fascinating trip back in time.
Find out more via the Ness Battery website.
There are other tours, talks and events available across Orkney throughout the autumn and winter - take a look at our events page for more details.
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