Highlights of Orkney and Shetland
Sail away to lands steeped in history, wildlife and stunning scenery, far from the jostling crowds to the haunting beauty of the Orkney and Shetland Isles. Many people have landed there before you - some as early as 3000 BC. Most famous of all were the Vikings, but they were not alone and all around you will find historical treasures. Both islands, but particularly Shetland, in summer have virtually no darkness and the beauty of this ‘Simmer Dim’, as it is called locally, has to be seen to be realised. Both Orkney and Shetland have their own identity, Orkney being very green and fertile while Shetland has a more rugged cliff and sea loch scenery. Both however share a colourful history of Picts, Norsemen, ancient antiquities, buried treasure and seafaring legends, bound up with an independent spirit that makes them quite different from the rest of Scotland.
We sail with Serco Northlink Ferries and their modern, purpose-built vessels, the Hrossey and the Hjaltland, from Aberdeen overnight to Lerwick. We then have two full days to tour Shetland. After rejoining the ship for an evening sailing to Kirkwall, we have a further two full days touring Orkney, before our short crossing back to the mainland.
NC500: Please note that this itinerary features part of the North Coast 500, the highly scenic coastal route which begins and ends in Inverness.
Bus stop on North Hanover Street, opposite Queens Street Station
Outside Reception at the Marriott Hotel, Glasgow Road
Halbeath Park & Ride, Jct 3, M90
Moto Services on M90
Broxden Park & Ride, A93
Outside Discovery Point
Aberdeen (Northlink/No Rtn)
Northlink Ferry Terminal
Please note that all timings are approximate and subject to change. Final timings and pick-up points will be confirmed with your joining instructions approximately 10 days prior to departure.
Your Departure date
Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £395
Enhance your experience
Whether you want to add extra nights on either side of your tour, you want to upgrade your flight or hotel room, or you are hoping to enjoy a door-to-door airport transfer, we can help.
To add special extras to your tour, call our Specialist Sales Executives to discuss your needs on 01334 657155.
Day 1 -
We depart from our designated departure points and travel to Aberdeen where we board the Serco Northlink Ferry (Hrossey or Hjaltland) overnight to Lerwick (departs 19.00hrs).
Once on board we shall check in to our comfortable, twin-berth cabins which all have en-suite facilities. The ship has a delightful restaurant, where dinner is served this evening, together with a bar and lounges where you can relax. There is also a well-stocked gift shop for souvenir shopping or essential items.
|Hotel||Northlink Sea Ferry|
Day 2 -
Our ship is due to arrive in Lerwick at 07.30hrs. After breakfast on board (available from 07.15hrs) we will leave the ship and commence our tour of Shetland. Our first stop is in Scalloway, the former capital of Shetland, where we visit the ruined castle built in 1600 by the infamous Earl Patrick Stewart. We then continue north towards the spectacular cliffs of Eshaness, look out for the ‘Otters Crossing’ sign at the narrow isthmus known as Mavis Grind, where it is said to be possible to throw a stone from the North Sea to the Atlantic.
Following our visit here we transfer to our comfortable accommodation at the historic Busta House Hotel, Brae. All rooms have en-suite facilities. Dinner will be served in the evening.
|Hotel||Busta House Hotel, Shetland|
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 3 -
Today we will start with a visit to the outstanding Prehistoric and Norse Settlement of Jarlshof, with over 3 acres of remains, spanning 3,000 years since the days of the Stone Age, including oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, Iron Age broch and wheel houses, Viking long houses and medieval farmhouses. From there we travel to the southern tip of mainland Shetland, Sumburgh Head, where the North Sea on the east meets the Atlantic Ocean on the west. Here we visit the RSPB Reserve, which is home to thousands of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots and razorbills.
In the afternoon we travel through small communities such as Gulberwick and Cunningsburgh before we explore the island’s capital town of Lerwick, where we have some free time and an opportunity to visit the state of the art Shetland Museum for more detail on this special set of islands. We will rejoin our ship, which sails at 17.30 hours for Orkney. Dinner is served on board.
On arrival in Orkney (expected 23.00hrs) we will transfer the short distance to Kirkwall to our accommodation at the Kirkwall Hotel. All rooms have en suite facilities.
Day 4 -
After breakfast today we have an all-day excursion of mainland Orkney visiting the many archaeological sites including the great stone circles of Brodgar and Stenness, which lie to the north side of the Orphir Hills. To this day the monuments’ ages remain uncertain, however they are generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC & 2000 BC. We continue to Maeshowe, the finest chambered tomb in Western Europe. Built before 2700 BC, Maeshowe was raided by Vikings in the 12th century. It houses the largest collection of runic inscriptions to be found in any one place in the world. A visit to Skara Brae is also included, with its new visitor's centre depicting the history of this world-famous monument.
Dinner will be served at the hotel in the evening.
Day 5 -
Today we will have some free time to explore Kirkwall and its environs at leisure. Places of interest include St. Magnus Cathedral, one of Europe’s greatest architectural masterpieces, its red and yellow sandstone still vibrant after 861 years, and the adjacent Bishop’s Palace. Spend some time shopping and enjoy lunch (not included).
In the afternoon, we will depart on a tour of the south end of mainland Orkney, crossing the Churchill Barriers which were built after the sinking of the HMS Royal Oak in October 1939. The causeways are built of 5 and 10 ton concrete blocks and have good roads on the top connecting Burray and South Ronaldsay to the Orkney mainland. We also stop off at the beautiful Italian Chapel, built on the site of a former prisoner of war camp. Several hundred Italians, captured during the North African campaign of World War II were sent here to work on the Causeways and converted two huts into a chapel. The marvellous paintings in the interior were done by Domenico Chiocchetti, one of the prisoners who returned several times to restore and repaint parts of the building.
We return to our hotel, where dinner is served this evening.
Day 6 -
After breakfast we check out of the hotel and transfer to St. Margaret’s Hope to catch the Pentland Ferries' late morning sailing to Gills Bay. We will then return to our original pick up points by early/late evening (please note Aberdeen and Dundee are not available as drop-off points).
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Meals - as per the itinerary
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Ferry crossings
|Tour Departure||Tour ID||Departure date||Return Date||Guided by||Price||Deposit||Single supplement||Offer||Availability|
|15 May 2023||BOSH230515||15 May 2023 (Monday)||20 May 2023 (Saturday)||£1,325
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|12 June 2023||BOSH230612||12 June 2023 (Monday)||17 June 2023 (Saturday)||£1,370
|Call for availability|
|14 August 2023||BOSH230814||14 August 2023 (Monday)||19 August 2023 (Saturday)||£1,345
|Book your trip|
|18 September 2023||BOSH230918||18 September 2023 (Monday)||23 September 2023 (Saturday)||£1,295
|Book your trip|