Orkney is famous for its ancient history, but the island of Rousay is the real jewel in the crown. It has been described as the ‘Egypt of the North’ thanks to its array of more than a hundred archaeological sites.
Many of the fascinating locations can be found on just a mile of coastline. The Westness Heritage Walk gives visitors the chance to experience thousands of years of Orcadian history, from the Neolithic through the Iron Age, and the Viking era right up to the clearances of the early 1800s.
Take in the Midhowe Cairn and Broch, the archaeological excavation at Swandro and the remains of farming and crofting communities. A trip to Rousay is a great chance to explore some of Orkney’s finest sites in a quiet setting, as well as experiencing the welcoming nature of island life.
How to get there
There are daily Orkney Ferries sailings to Rousay from Tingwall on the Orkney mainland. The route also includes stops at the islands of Wyre and Egilsay which have their own interesting attractions.
In the area
Sea cliffs and natural arches – Rousay is a hilly, rugged island with plenty of walking routes. Visit Sacquoy and Scabra Head to see dramatic cliffs and arches, as well as seabirds, including puffins, during the summer.
The Tombs of Rousay – the Westness Heritage Walk doesn’t house all of Rousay’s archaeological attractions. The chambered cairns at Taversoe Tuick, Blackhammar and the Knowe of Yarso are within walking distance from the pier.
Wildlife – Rousay is a haven for birdlife. Expect to see oystercatchers, reed buntings, hen harriers and red-throated divers throughout the year. You can also explore the RSPB Reserve at Trumland.
Crafthub – visit the Crafthub co-operative when you’re in Rousay to find quality handmade arts and crafts, produced by talented makers from the island, as well as neighbouring Egilsay and Wyre.
Tours - take a trip around Rousay and all its attractions with an expert guide from Rousay Tours.
Find out more
Visit the Discover Rousay website to find out more about the island and its various attractions and activities.