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Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness

Highland Council, United Kingdom

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Free Cancellation
up to 24 hours in advance
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icon14 hours  (Approx.)
Mobile ticket
iconOffered in: English


Take an Orkney Islands tour of top attractions on this day trip from Inverness. You’ll travel by coach through Scotland’s dramatic North Highlands and ferry across the Pentland Firth from John O’Groats. Cross the Churchill Barriers and Scapa Flow to the Ring of Brodgar and Standing Stones of Stenness — part of the Neolithic Orkney World Heritage site. Your guide also takes you to the stone-age village of Skara Brae and the 12th-century St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Note: This tour operates during the summer months.
  • Day trip from Inverness to the Orkney Islands
  • Drive through John O’Groats, the northernmost town in mainland Scotland
  • See the top attractions of Orkney, and cross the Churchill Barriers
  • Visit to the Italian Chapel
Ferry crossing
English speaking guide
Transport by coach
Optional gratuities
Hotel pickup and drop off
Food and drinks, unless specified
Entrance fee to Skara Brae
Entrance to the Italian Chapel

Departure Point

Bus Station, Farraline Park, Inverness, Inverness IV1 1NH, UK

Departure Time

7:15 AM

Return Details

Returns to original departure point
Marvel at the highlights of Neolithic Orkney on this full-day Orkney Islands tour, departing by coach from Inverness during summertime. Set your eyes upon the magnificent landscapes of the North Highlands before arriving at Scotland’s northernmost point in the village of John O’Groats. 

From here, it’s just ferry ride across the Pentland Firth to the Orkney Islands. Search the strait for gannets, seals, puffins, pods of porpoise and the occasional whale as you island-hop through the Churchill Barriers, which connect five islands to form the Eastern boundary of Scapa Flow.

Your first stop is Kirkwall, the capital and largest town of the Orkney Islands. Learn from your guide about Viking history and admire the Romanesque architecture of St Magnus Cathedral, whose construction began in the 12th century. 

Then step back in time 5,000 years at Skara Brae, a prehistoric Neolithic settlement—perfectly preserved under sand dunes and discovered in 1850 during a winter storm (admission fee is your own expense). See it along with the Standing Stones of Stenness and the Ring Of Brodgar Stone Circle and Henge—all comprising the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Once you’ve landed back in Inverness, you’re returned to the bus station where your day trip ends.
Stop At:  
Scapa Flow
Scapa Flow was a famous naval anchorage for the Grand Fleet. See the block ships and cross the Churchill Barriers built to protect the eastern approaches.
Duration: 15 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
Ring of Brodgar
Visit the mystical standing stone circle at Brodgar.
Duration: 30 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Pass By:  
Standing Stones of Stenness
Neolithic standing stones. Probably the oldest henge in the British Isles.
Stop At:  
Skara Brae
Visit the 5000 year old neolithic stoneage village part of the Orkney World Heritage Site.
Duration: 1 hour 
Admission Ticket Not Included
Stop At:  
Saint Magnus Cathedral
Impressive, Viking cathedral dominating the centre of the town of Kirkwall belonging to the people of Orkney.
Duration: 1 hour 
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
The Italian Chapel
See the beautiful, little Italian Chapel on the island of Lamb Holm built by Italian prisoners of war using only basic materials. The beauty of the chapel has to be seen to be believed.
Duration: 15 minutes
Admission Ticket Not Included
Stop At:  
John O'Groats Ferries
Crossing time only 40 mins. The shortest, sea crossing to Orkney. Look out for wildlife on the way and even some whales and puffins.
Duration: 40 minutes
Admission Ticket Included
Stop At:  
Inverness Bus Station
Our Coach Departs from here at 7.15am
Duration: 5 minutes
Admission Ticket Free
Stop At:  
North Coast 500
Your trip to John O'Groats takes you on the spectacular Eastern Coastal route of the NC500. Settle back and enjoy.
Duration: 2 hours 
Admission Ticket Free
  • Confirmation will be received at time of booking
  • Not wheelchair accessible
  • Stroller accessible
  • Service animals allowed
  • Near public transportation
  • Most travelers can participate
  • This tour/activity will have a maximum of 40 travelers
  • OPERATED BY John O'Groats Ferries

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

  • This experience requires good weather. If it’s canceled due to poor weather, you’ll be offered a different date or a full refund.

Learn more about cancellations.

The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What is the maximum group size during Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness?
This activity will have a maximum of 40 travelers.

See all safety measures taken by Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness.

Traveler Photos

Traveler Tips

  • "As you'd expect it is a long day, so come prepared, and also pack an extra layer as it did get a bit chilly on the ferry crossing!" See review
  • "The bus rides from Inverness to John O'Groates is a little bumpy and is tiring, but the ferry ride is breezy and wakes you up and invigorates all as you see the cliffs approaching on Orkney." See review


294 Reviews
Reviews by Viator travelers
Showing 1-10 of 294 reviews
Orkney Islands Day Trip from Inverness
, Sep 2019
This was a very well organised tour. Early start but the bus station is so close to a multi- storey carpark in Inverness. The driver, tour guide and facilities offered were terrific. Short ferry crossing very enjoyable and bus tour on Orkney was great. Would really recommend.
Orkney Island Tour
, Aug 2019
I enjoyed the tour of Orkney Islands. We were able to see a lot in a short time with a very good explanation of the area. I wish you would inform your tour directors that making jokes about my President is not funny. I take vacations to get away and relax and sure do not support any criticism of my country.
icon Response from Host , Aug 2019
I'm really pleased that you enjoyed your day and thank you for giving us 5 stars. I'm sorry that certain jokes caused offence - I am not aware of every word of each Tour Directors commentary but I know that they all try very hard to create a fun and informative day out for everyone. Please be assured that it would certainly not be our intention to criticise any country or deliberately create any offence whatsoever. I can only think that perhaps the joke has been lost in translation - as a nation we do tend to laugh at ourselves easily (President Trump's Mum, Mary MacLeod was Scottish) but sometimes our humour is mis-understood. I'm certain that our Tour Director will be very disappointed on realising the offence caused. Please accept our sincere apologies but I'm very pleased that apart from this you had a good out.
A long day but worth it
, Aug 2019
We were blessed with a sunny day to visit the Orkneys. Everything was well-organized. I absolutely loved the visit to Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar. I appreciated the possibility to purchase food on the bus since the tour is 14 hours. If you have the time visit the Orkneys for 2-3 days.
Amazing Orkney
, Aug 2019
Long but seamless daytrip from Inverness. Once in a lifetime chance to visit Skara Brae & Ring of Brodgar. Seeing Scapa Flow adds life to WW I / Ii historical events.
Excellent, full packed tour
, Aug 2019
I truly believe that this is the best what you can get in just a single day but it's still too short. 14 hours long tour from Inverness takes you to John O' Groats where you will be taking a 40 minute ferry to the Orkney Islands. You will see the highlights but not everything. I would like to have a stop at the Whisky distillery of Highland Park and a longer stop than just 10 minutes at the Italian Chapel. There is so munch to discover that I would recommend a minimum of a 3 day visit. If you don't have time for it then I would surely recommend this tour.
Long, lovely day
Michael S
, Aug 2019
The ride from Inverness to the ferry was rather boring and uneventful. The ferry ride was a little tougher than expected. Once on Orkney, everything changed. Beautiful landscapes, stunning archeological sites, wonderful transportation and a great, well informed guide. ReAlky was a long, beautiful day.
Orkney Day Trip a truly Wonderful Experience
, Aug 2019
This trip from Inverness was truly a day to remember, the whole day was well organised and everything we could have wished for. The trip form inverness to John O'Groats was very informative with the on board guide pointing out where battles took place and other points of interest, When we arrived in John O'Groats a much needed bacon roll was waiting due to the forward planning on board the coach (well done viator), the ferry trip was good and coaches and guides were reading on waiting on our arrival on Orkney. After boarding the coach our guide Richard informed us of the experience that was ahead of us, what a wonderful guide truly a mine of facts and information coupled with a sense of humour. Richard made an already good day into a wonderful trip full of new facts and knowledge about Orkney and its history. The day was completed with sandwiches and drinks on the coach back to Inverness. Well done to Viator and all staff concerned especially Richard. Look forward to our next trip with you.
icon Response from Host , Aug 2019
Fantastic - really pleased you enjoyed your day with John O'Groats Ferries - we try very hard to give you the best experience
Outstanding Day
minka m
, Aug 2019
This is WELL worth the early start and long day...our guide Brian was absolutely awesome..learnt so much about the islands history (local, ancient, WW II) and fascinating natural and economic history as well. The islands are green, desolate and magical. Ring of Brigdar and Skara Brae are particular highlights for me but it was fantastic to see the bird life and otters as well! This is a day I will never forget and I will be back one day to explore more parts of the island
icon Response from Host , Aug 2019
That's really good to hear you had a great day out with us. Thanks for your review.
A Long Day
, Aug 2019
The things you see onsite are unparalleled and awe-inspiring. Very moving, very worthwhile. However, you have to note that Inverness to the Islands is 4+ hours each way by bus and boat, and there are several hours more on a coach on the Islands. Count on spending 10-11 hours of your 14 hour day in a coach or ferry. It's worth it, but bring a book.
Great trip as a taster tour of Orkney.
, Jul 2019
This is a great trip. You are accompanied on the coach at either end by friendly, knowledgeable and helpful staff. You don't get much time at each stop, but they do cram a lot in, so is the perfect taster tour. Skara Brae was a highlight for us. As you'd expect it is a long day, so come prepared, and also pack an extra layer as it did get a bit chilly on the ferry crossing! (We had a covering of fog for the journey back!). The opportunity to purchase food, drinks and snacks on the coach was a welcome addition.

Product code: 2746INVORK

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