Getting About in Orkney

Orkney Ferries

A trip to Orkney is not complete without a visit to one or more of the islands, as well as visiting all the interesting places on the Mainland. Since each island is different, with its own charm and the inter-island transport system is good, it is both easy and interesting to visit all of the islands as well as the Mainland parishes.

Due to the number of routes and operators the system is rather complex, and intending users are strongly advised to procure the latest timetables from the Tourist Office, or direct from the operators.

Orkney Ferries operates ro-ro services to most of the islands, while Loganair operate flights to most of the North Isles. Bus services meet ferries at Stromness, Houton and Burwick, and there are services from Kirkwall to Stromness, Dounby, Tingwall, Houton, Deerness, and St Margaret's Hope. Minibus services are available on some of the islands, and taxis, hire cars and bicycles are available on the Mainland and on many of the Islands.

Inter-island Sea Transport

The internal sea transport operator is Orkney Ferries, which operates to most inhabited Islands from Kirkwall, Tingwall, Houton and Stromness. Orkney Ferries publishes a detailed timetable annually with full details of all services. Further information can be had by calling their head office at the Pierhead, Kirkwall, Tel (01856) 872044 or by visiting their website

All services are ro-ro except those to Papay, North Ronaldsay and Graemsay, where vehicles are handled by crane. The modern fleet of ships runs frequent daily services to all islands except North Ronaldsay, which is once or twice weekly.

Independent operators also have boats available for private hire. Please ask at the Tourist Office or locally for the latest information.

Internal Air Services


Loganair run daily services (except Sunday) to most of the Outer North Isles - Westray, Papay, North Ronaldsay, Sanday and Stronsay and to Eday on Wednesdays only with 8-seat Islander aircraft. Flying from Kirkwall airport, this service is very popular, and booking is generally required.

Special deals exist for visitors, including the Orkney Adventure ticket which allows visits to up to three islands at a very special price. Also available is the Sightseer Fare, bookable 30 minutes before departure, which allows a discount of 50% and is an excellent way to have an aerial tour of the North Isles.

Bookings and Inquiries Telephone numbers Loganair Tel (01856) 872494 or the local travel agent, Ridgway Travel, Tel 01856 873 359 for further details.

Public Transport

Scheduled bus services in Orkney are run by Stagecoach

Information on transport operators in the islands is available from the Tourist Board.

Car Hire

Orkney is very much a car-orientated society, and independent transport makes it much easier to see the areas not served by public transport. Several firms have cars for hire, including those advertising here. It is also possible to hire cars in many of the islands. Details about services are available from the Tourist Board.


Taxis are available throughout Orkney, either for normal hires, or tours. See advertisements for telephone numbers. Please check in "The Orcadian" or ask at the Tourist office for further information. There are taxi ranks at the Pier Head, and Broad Street in Kirkwall and in Stromness at the Pier Head.

Bicycle Hire

Orkney, being relatively flat, is good country for cycling - but note the wind direction before setting off - it could be much harder getting back! While the main Kirkwall-Stromness road can be rather busy, there are many secondary roads which are very quiet. On a nice day there is no better way to absorb the rhythm of the countryside than from a bike.

Bicycles can be hired on the Mainland in Kirkwall at Cycle Orkney, Tel 01856 875777 and in Stromness at Orkney Cycle Hire, Tel 01856 850255. They may also be hired on many of the other islands. Please ask at the Tourist Office or locally for further information.

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