The elaborately ornate Italian Chapel at Scapa Flow, Orkney, created by prisoners of war
The amazing neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, Orkney
Orkney's neolithic Ring of Brodgar is magical in the evening light
The locals are very friendly!
Crystal clear waters surrounding the Shetlands
Visit the Shetlands' gannet colony
Your hotel on Shetland dates from the 1500's
Shetland's 2000 year old Mousa Broch
The Scandinavian-looking picturesque village of Voe, Shetland
Our self-drive touring holiday of Orkney & Shetland gives you the opportunity to experience the wonderful landscapes, fascinating wildlife and archaeological heritage of these magical, and very different, parts of the UK. Whilst Orkney is hailed for its rich folklore and abundance of wildlife, Shetland is experiencing ever increasing popularity thanks to hit TV series “Shetland” based on Ann Cleeve's gritty, iconic crime stories.
Day One to Three - Orkney
Travel to Orkney from Scrabster near Thurso, with the crossing taking just 90 minutes. Your hotel base is in the island's capital, Kirkwall.
Your Hotel on Orkney
The owners have put tremendous effort into transforming this hotel, located on the outskirts of Kirkwall. A genuine feel pervades the hotel, which is traditionally furnished, offering you the chance to find out just how comfortable Orkney chairs really are. Fast building a reputation as a destination for locals, the restaurant boasts menus packed with local produce: your chance to try lamb with its distinctive flavour due to the seaweed diet of North Ronaldsay sheep, or to sample local seafood including mouth-watering prawns, succulent salmon and delicious stir-fried squid. And you just must pop round to see the neighbours – the world famous Highland Park distillery is right next door.
What to see and do on Orkney
Orkney offers world class archaeology as well as some superb land and seascapes. There's simply so much to see it's difficult to choose, but our suggested itinerary would be to start at Orphir, with its beautifully proportioned round church and "Orkneyinga" Viking history interpretation centre. From here head to the West coast and Skara Brae, one of the most impressive stone age monuments in the western world.
Then drive north to the Earl’s Palace at Birsay; should time allow, travel round the coast to Evie and the broch of Gurness, return south to Maes Howe, and finally the Ring of Brodgar and standing stones of Stenness. Another day you might head south to South Ronaldsay - now connected by the famous Churchill Barriers to the mainland. Don’t miss the incredible example of human dedication - the Italian Chapel and the Tomb of the Eagles, one of the most impressive privately owned historic monuments in the country.
If you prefer, travel by Orkney Ferries to one of the smaller islands such as Hoy, Papa Westray, Westray, Rousay, Stronsay, Sanday or Shapinsay. Hoy, Orkney's second largest island, is mountainous and worth visiting for its famous sea stack, the Old Man of Hoy. At Westray, visit the ruined Noltland Castle and the Knowe o’ Burristae Broch. If you're interested in the archaeology of Orkney, Rousay boasts one of the finest sites, with its Midhowe Broch and Cairn. Here you can see evidence of many different eras dating as far back as Neolithic times.
Day Three/Four - To Shetland
Travel by overnight ferry to Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, arriving at 0730 and enjoy breakfast on board before disembarking.
Your Hotel on Shetland
The original, historic building dates from the 1500’s and has benefited from many tasteful additions throughout the centuries. Low ceilings, winding corridors, steep steps and sloping floors all add to the characterful ambience of the place which, rumour has it, includes its very own ghost. Guests comment on the friendly welcome and traditional service they have received here, and the hotel even has royal connections: the Queen of England once took afternoon tea in the library. Less regal guests can enjoy meals in the hotel bar or restaurant, both of which offer high quality, locally-sourced produce.
What to see & do on Shetland
The holiday includes a "Seabirds & Seals Boat Trip" a truly memorable wildlife experience. Thousands of birds nest and feed in the Noss Nature Reserve - see them on the cliffs and diving through forests of kelp on the underwater camera. Seals laze on rocks beneath the cliffs or nose around the boat. Prepare to be entertained as Noss warden, Dr. Jonathan Wills, shares his in-depth knowledge - the seals even know his boat! In the afternoon explore Shetland’s speciality shopping in Lerwick; don’t forget Scalloway and the Castle.
Time to explore. Visit some of Shetland’s rural villages as well as seeing the superb coastal scenery for which Shetland is famous, with an option to travel on to the islands of Unst and Yell. Another day’s plan could include the famous historic site at Jarlshof, to the stunning beaches at St Ninian’s Isle, and via a short ferry journey to Britain’s tallest Broch at Mousa. Enjoy the serenity of the birds and seals, Mousa’s only inhabitants!
Day Six/Seven - Return Home
Time to return home. Depart Lerwick at the end of the afternoon for the overnight journey on the cruise class Northlink Ferries service to Aberdeen. Accommodation on board in a double/twin en-suite outer cabin. Arrive Aberdeen at 0700 and enjoy breakfast on board before disembarking.
Orkney and Shetland, off the north coast of Scotland. The holiday described is based on taking your own car, but ask us if you would like a fly-drive proposal, flying to and between the islands and utilising hire cars.
£795 per person for March & October, £830 per person for April, May, June & September, £850 per person for July & August.
Prices are based on 2 people sharing a room for this 6 night holiday and include ferry crossings from Scrabster to Orkney, from Orkney to Shetland and from Lerwick to Aberdeen. Outer two berth cabins included on the Orkney to Shetland and Shetland to Aberdeen crossings, with breakfast on board. We also include the "Seabirds & Seals" boat trip on Shetland, as well as an Historic Scotland Explorer Pass covering entrance to their managed sites on Orkney, including Skara Brae and Maes Howe.
We can also offer this holiday as a fly-drive, based on direct flights from Glasgow or Edinburgh with car hire included on each island group, as well as a flight between Orkney & Shetland. This 6 night holiday costs £890 per person for March & October, £940 per person in April, May, June & September, £960 for July & August.
All our touring holidays include a map with recommended routes from your specified starting point, suggestions on places to see and visit depending on your personal interests and our expertise to help you get the most from your holiday.
All itineraries and room types are presented subject to availability at specific hotels.
The McKinlay Kidd Guarantee
All our holiday prices include a service charge of £8 per person per night towards the costs we incur in researching, planning and designing your holiday. We guarantee to refund this service charge if you believe that arranging your holiday through McKinlay Kidd has not met your expectations for value.
All we ask is that you write to us within 7 days of your return and explain your reason for claiming the refund. This will ensure that we can improve the experience for all our future guests.
- From March to October
To check the latest availability for this holiday complete the form below or call us on 0844 873 6110 from the UK, or toll-free from USA & Canada 1 866 922 8538 and +44 844 873 6110 for all other countries.
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Robert's Recommendations were excellent. The trip was seamless and each tour unique.
It was a tremendous relief to have the burden of booking lifted, and it was all dealt with helpfully and expeditiously
The favourite bit of our holiday was seeing puffins at last!