AITO: The Association of Independent Tour Operators
Orkney & Shetland Self-drive

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive Overview

This self drive holiday to Orkney and 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.

Orkney & Shetland


Start your journey by travelling from Orkney from Scrabster near Thurso, where you will find your hotel which is based in the island's capital, Kirkwall.

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.

Your holiday will see you travel by overnight ferry to Lerwick, the capital of Shetland where you will explore the island'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!

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 .
Find out more about the Orkney & Shetland

Reviews of this holiday

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Tricia, 9 Jul 2019
Traveller rating:

An amazing experience combining archaeology, wild-life and more modern history. Comfortable friendly accommodation and ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Little Al, 23 Sep 2018
Traveller rating:

This was the first time we had visited these islands and we took lots of warm clothing expecting rain and the famous Shetland ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by The Clare's, 14 Nov 2017
Traveller rating:

We had 3 nights in Orkney and 3 in Shetland. All on a B&B basis. Excellent read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Chris, 6 Oct 2017
Traveller rating:

Rail travel from Inverness to Thurso/Scrabster, ferry and overnight in Orkney. Guided small tour of archaeological sites ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Bj, 17 Sep 2017
Traveller rating:

Three nights each on Orkney and Shetland. Not nearly enough timeto discover all these islands had to offer. Well located ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Ms H P 17, 20 Aug 2017
Traveller rating:

The accommodation and the itinerary provided by MacKinlay-Kidd were ideal, allowing us to see the outstanding scenery of ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Hugh/Dimi, 19 Aug 2017
Traveller rating:

We have just completed a self dive holiday to the Orkney and Shetland Islands which also included a short stay in Edinburgh... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Borderer, 16 Aug 2017
Traveller rating:

If you have never been to the Northern Isles, this is an excellent way to experience the attractions of these islands knowing ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Jane of Devon, 29 Jul 2017
Traveller rating:

We flew from Exeter to Orknew via Glasgow then on to Shetland and returned via Aberdeen and Manchester to Exeter....all ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Cat, 28 Jul 2017
Traveller rating:

We spent five nights on Orkney and five on Shetland on a self-drive holiday. The arrangements were smooth and efficient ... read more

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Reviews Submitted: 39
Reviews Accepted: 39
Reviews Rejected: 0
Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Tricia, 9 Jul 2019
Traveller rating:

An amazing experience combining archaeology, wild-life and more modern history. Comfortable friendly accommodation and ... read more

Orkney & Shetland Self-drive by Little Al, 23 Sep 2018
Traveller rating:

This was the first time we had visited these islands and we took lots of warm clothing expecting rain and the famous Shetland ... read more