Skara Brae

Skara Brae: Our most recommended tours and activities

From John O'Groats: Orkney Islands Day Trip

1. From John O'Groats: Orkney Islands Day Trip

Start the tour by boarding the ferry at John O'Groats. Depart 8.45am. Take the 40-minute ferry crossing, keeping a lookout for marine wildlife including puffins and orcas on the way. When you arrive on Orkney, board a luxury coach which will be waiting for you to begin your tour of the island. As you set off, enjoy the commentary from a local guide. First, see the Churchill Barriers built during the First World War. Stop in Kirkwall which is Orkney's capital city and discover St Magnus Cathedral, shops, the museum, and the scenic harbor.  Continue along the northern coast of Scapa Flow and admire the beautiful views of the Hoy hills. Then, arrive in Stromness, one of Britain's most picturesque towns. Stroll through the winding street, visit the museum, and find plenty of places to eat lunch.  Next, set off for the neolithic village of Skara Brae, established in around 2,500 BC and which has been hidden under sand dunes, perfectly preserved for thousands of years. Follow the route onwards along a narrow tongue of land between the lochs of Harray and Stenness, making a stop at the mystical Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness. Finally, board the return ferry, and make a stop at the Italian Chapel which is beautifully decorated inside 2 Nissen huts. Return to John O'Groats 6.15pm with incredible memories of your excursion.

Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

2. Scotland: Orkney and Northern Coast 5-Day Tour

Drive to the top of Scotland on a scenic 5-day tour, and learn the history of the Highlands at sites such as the battlefield of the Macdonald clan massacre, and Stirling Castle. Spend the day on the Orkney Isles, and travel the northenmost coast of mainland Scotland. The tour is by luxury 16-seat Mercedes minibus for a more intimate experience, while bed and breakfast accommodation is provided in Inverness, the lovely town of Kirkwall, and the whitewashed fishing village of Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom. Day 1: Depart Edinburgh, heading west towards Stirling. Pass Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, and continue to Doune Castle, used for location shoots in Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” Stop in the small town of Callander for refreshments. Then, marvel at the splendor of Loch Luibnaig, Loch Earn, Glen Ogle, and Glen Dochart on a scenic drive over the wild and remote Rannoch Moor. The views of the extinct volcano will take your breath away, and were also the scene of the infamous Clan Macdonald massacre of 1692. Continue north up the Great Glen to mysterious Loch Ness, with plenty of time to try and spot “Nessie” the Loch Ness Monster. The evening will be spent in Inverness, with free time to explore the “Capital of the Highlands.” Day 2: Depart Inverness early to cross over the Black Isle and past Andrew Carnegie’s Skibo Castle. From here, drive the northeast coastline, traveling into some of Scotland’s most dramatic scenery. Enjoy the views of some of Europe’s oldest landscapes, and the chance to spot wildlife such as golden eagle and red deer. Close to Scotland’s most northerly mainland village, John O’ Groats, board the ferry to cross the Pentland Firth to the Orkney archipelago. It is a short drive on arrival to the famous Italian Chapel, where you will stop for a quick visit before continuing to the Viking stronghold of Kirkwall, your home for the next 2 nights. Look inside Kirkwall’s magnificent Viking cathedral, and wander the winding streets of the historic town center. Day 3: Explore the ancient island of Orkney, and discover a land of contrasts, where fertile green pastures are fringed by shores of golden sands, and washed by the waters of the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Highlights include a visit to Skara Brae, the mystical prehistoric stone circle at Brodgar, the standing stones of Stenness, and Maeshowe, where Vikings left one of the largest collections of Norse runic inscriptions in the 12th century. Day 4: It’s time to leave Orkney and sail the Viking waters back to the mainland. From here, travel across the very top of Scotland, driving past the stunning Ben Loyal and Ben Hope mountains, following the rocky cliffs and stunning golden sand beaches of the northern coastline. Go to the far northwest of the Highlands, and admire the grandeur of the wild Assynt mountains. Stop to view the 15th-century ruins of Ardvreck Castle. Continue to Ullapool at the mouth of Loch Broom, a beautiful whitewashed fishing village where you will spend your last night. Day 5: Your morning includes visits to Corrieshalloch Gorge, and the ancient Clava Cairns, as well as exploring the more recent bloody history of the Culloden battlefield. Return south through the magnificent Cairngorm National Park, driving past the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Highland Perthshire, before your drop off in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Orkney, North Coast 500, & Hebrides 8-Day Tour

3. Edinburgh: Orkney, North Coast 500, & Hebrides 8-Day Tour

Day 1: Edinburgh to Loch Ness Depart from Edinburgh and travel north, taking in beautiful cathedrals, a local Scottish whisky distillery, historical sites, and even Outlander film locations! Day highlights include: •Dunkeld •Whisky distillery •Culloden Battlefield •Clava Cairns Day 2: Loch Ness to Orkney Discover the awe-inspiring North Coast 500 and explore fairy-tale castles, impressive cliff scenery, and beaches on Orkney Island. Day highlights include: •North Coast of Scotland •Dunrobin Castle •Italian Chapel •Orkney •Kirkwall Day 3: Orkney Let your guide bring Orkney's fascinating history to life and experience the magic of an ancient Neolithic village up close. Visit mysterious stone circles and wild coastlines and go puffin-spotting by the cliffs. Highlights include: •Skara Brae •Ring of Brodgar •Stones of Stennes Day 4: Orkney to Ullapool Bid farewell to Orkney and get ready for dramatic caves and zipline adventures (optional/weather permitting) before continuing to the picturesque fishing port of Ullapool. Highlights include: •Duncansby Head •Smoo Cave Durness •Ullapool Day 5: Ullapool to Stornoway Explore the impressive landscapes of Lewis and Harris and immerse yourself in the magnificent historical, natural and cultural heritage the islands have to offer. Highlights include: •Callanish Standing Stones •Gearrannan Blackhouse Day 6: Stornoway to Portree Learn all about the ancient skill of making Harris Tweed before dipping your toes in the turquoise waters of white sandy beaches. Venture to the Isle of Skye, where jaw-dropping mountains and famous rock formations await. Highlights include: •Luskentyre beach – Harris •Harris Distillery •Quiraing •Old Man of Storr •Lealt Falls Day 7: Portree After an action-packed 6 days of exploring, today is an opportunity to chill out, explore or get active at your own pace. From Portree, you can set off into the hills for a long hike, relax by the sea, or simply sit and watch the world go by. There is a shuttle bus to the Fairy Pools and wildlife cruises which depart from the harbour: dolphins, whales and sea eagles often show up around these parts! Day 8: Portree to Edinburgh Step into the shoes of the world-famous wizard that is Harry Potter and hop on the Jacobite Steam Train (optional add-on). Look out for Ben Nevis, the UK’s tallest mountain, as we pass Fort William, then we begin the road south with a stop in the dramatic Glen Coe and heading back to Edinburgh. Highlights include: •Jacobite Steam Train (optional) •Glencoe •Rannoch Moor •The Kelpies

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What people are saying about Skara Brae

Overall rating

4.8 / 5

based on 220 reviews

We had a great time on this tour which was very well organised from start to finish. Booking was simple and everything was professionally handled by the competent staff. Our coach driver was very skilled with a dry wit which kept us both informed and entertained. Overall, a great day-out which we would highly recommend to give a taster of all the great sites and towns on Orkney.

Great day out - our guide was awesome. He was professional and took great pride in showing us around- I’m sorry I don’t remember his name! We had a ball and learned so much- do it if you can. You won’t regret it!

Booking the trip was straightforward with no problems encountered. The ferry sailings were on time and the crew were pleasant and helpful.

Very knowledgeable and entertaining driver/guide. He allowed plenty of time for photo opportunities.

Great info from Jodi. So enthusiastic and thorough. Would love to comeback some day.