Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, resonates with ancient echoes of Christian, Nordic and Celtic history. It’s a town that feels more Scandinavian than Scottish; in fact, the name Kirkwall comes from the Norse for 'Church Bay', relating to the town's 11th century Church of St Olaf of Norway.
Exploring the town’s atmospheric paved streets and twisting lanes, reveals a number of highlights, including the ruins of the Earl and Bishop’s Palaces, dating from the mid-12th century and serving as a reminder of the Orkney's turbulent past.[ReadMoreMob] The palaces are considered by many to be the finest Renaissance buildings in Scotland. Also worth visiting is the recently restored St. Magnus Cathedral, founded in memory of Saint Magnus Erlendsson by Norseman Earl Rögnvald Kali.
Don't miss Tankerness House, a beautifully preserved 16th century townhouse, and the Orkney Wireless Museum, with it's fascinating insights into the history of radio, too.
The group of Neolithic monuments on Orkney consists of a large chambered tomb (Maes Howe), two ceremonial stone circles (the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar), and a settlement (Skara Brae), together with a number of excavated burial, ceremonial and settlement sites.
Skara Brae, on the shores of the bay of Skaill, is reputed to be the best-preserved Stone Age village in Europe. Skara Brae is accorded the same status as the pyramids in Egypt, however, the village is in fact much older, dating from 3200BC compared to 2700BC when the building of the pyramids began.
The spellbinding Ring of Brodgar arguably the most iconic symbol of Orkney's prehistoric past. It is a site of ritual and ceremony, an archaeological treasure and without doubt, one of the islands' most visited attractions.
Cruises to Kirkwall
Scenic Islands of the British Isles • T2118
- Discover some of the British Isles remote islands
- Visit the intriguing Fingal’s Cave
- Immerse yourself in the rich history of the Orkney’s
Spectacular Fjordland Adventure • S2115
- Sail deep into the heart of Norway on Borealis
- Immerse yourself in the tranquillity of Nærøyfjord
- Ride the iconic Flåmsbana railway
Lochs & Legends of Scotland • S2117
- Create memories as you sail Scottish Lochs on a smaller ship
- See mighty Ben Nevis in Loch Linnhe, Loch Fyne and more
- See Legendary sites, from castles to Neolithic treasures
Scenic Scotland in Five Nights • S2120
- Discover enchanting waterways and remote islands from Borealis
- Relax during hours of enthralling daytime scenic cruising
- Go in search of many more of Scotland’s most famous highlights
Natural Wonders of Iceland • T2209
- Search for Whales in their natural habitat
- Visit the Gulfuss & Godafoss waterfalls
- Spot Puffins & Arctic Terns on Vigur Island
Scenic Isles of the UK • T2212
- Visit the UK’s most hard-to-reach islands
- Marvel at wildlife in natural habitats
- Explore off the beaten track on remote islands
UK Scenic Isles & Celtic Cities • M2228
- Visit remote islands of Scilly, Shetland & Orkney
- Explore beautiful Cornwall from Falmouth
- Experience scenic cruising by Fingal’s Cave