Stromness Travel Guide

  • Stromness
    Stromness
    by yvgr
  • Graemsay Ferry in Stromness harbour
    Graemsay Ferry in Stromness harbour
    by yvgr
  • harbourside
    harbourside
    by iaint

Stromness Highlights

  • Pro
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    Asa111 says…

     Wonderful views, food, people, atmosphere. 

  • Con
    Asa111 profile photo

    Asa111 says…

     Weather always a factor. Be prepared. 

  • In a nutshell
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    Asa111 says…

     The perfect introduction to Orkney...a magical land. 

Stromness Things to Do

  • Explorer Extraordinaire John Rae...

    The three masted vessel the "Prince of Wales" heeled as she met the fresh breeze and turned to starboard as she entered the choppy grey waters of Hoy Sound. John Rae stood enjoying the spray of salt air, the creaking masts, crackling halyards and snapping sails. He was on his way at the age of 19 to Hudson Bay as a doctor.Born on 30 September 1813...

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  • How Stromness helped establish Canada

    The boom of the signal cannon announced the sighting of the Hudson Bay ship in the choppy waters of Hoy Sound. The three-masted four-hundred-ton barque, the Prince of Wales, swung to port as it made its approach to Stromness harbour. It was the final port of call before crossing the Atlantic. The Company’s ship had come to stock up on fresh...

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  • Dive the German High Sea Fleet Wrecks

    At the bottom of Scapa flow lies the many ships of the German navy scuttled in June 1919. Some were salvaged but many are still down there. Also worth a visit are the block ships in Burra Sound. These are shallower and make perfect second dives.German ships: the Brummer, the Koln, the Dresden, the Kronprinz Wilhelm, the Markgraf, the Karlsruhe.Dry...

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  • See Layers of Villages in Orkney

    Skara Brae is actually multiple villages built on the same site over the centuries. It was fascinating. The day we visited it was blustery with rain showers which I gather is pretty much any day in Orkney. The weather just added to the atmosphere. You can't enter the ancient dwellings but you see them from above so you get a good look. Nearby...

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  • Broch of Gurness

    Go to the north coast of the West Mainland to see this site.Brochs are unique to Scotland, and this is one of the best preserved. They are tall circular dwellings, and in Orkney, surrounded by a village. This one probably began in 200-500BC, and ceased being used as such about 100AD. After that it was used as a single farm until the 8th...

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  • Brough of Birsay

    To get to this site, you drive as far as you can go on the mainland towards the north west. Then you walk across the beach from the car park to the island - only accessible for 2 hours either side of low tide (ie 4 hours in total each day). Check the tide times before you set off.Wear the right shoes & clothes...This is how Historic Scotland's...

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  • Pier Arts Centre

    I'd been past this place a couple of times in the evening, and vowed to return during opening hours...So glad I did. Amazing place to find in a community so small and remote. Saw Barbara Hepworth & Eduardo Paolozzi stuff...It's free - so don't miss out! Look at the website for "what's on" and opening hours.Just a wee gem...

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  • Maes Howe

    "The monumental chambered tomb of Maeshowe is simply the finest Neolithic building in NW Europe. Built around 5,000 years ago, it is a masterpiece of Neolithic design and stonework construction..."The text is from Historic Scotland's website (see below) and sums it up better than anything I could write. You have to pre-book a guided tour from HS'...

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  • Skara Brae

    This is the preserved remains of a Neolithic settlement from 3000BC. Older than the Pyramids...It was uncovered by a huge storm in 1850, having been buried by the sand at some stage after it was abandoned.It is fascinating to see how they lived, and the (relative) degree of sophistication.A good visitor centre, and a useful "reconstruction" to show...

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  • Stenness

    Orkney is rich in historic sites of various types. Standing stones like these are pretty common, but are spectacular.From memory they are Neolithic, and around 5,400 years old. Think about it....They are the oldest such stones in the UK.The site is run by Historic Scotland, but no entry fee required. It's just a field beside the road.The sheep just...

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  • See Stromness On A Wild Winters Night!

    To really get a sense of the energy and mood of Orkney life, spend a night there in the midst of a howling winter storm!!!I guess you have read my Orkney introduction and my Stromness pages ...So my tip is to ignore the tourism season and come in winter. Sure, the daylight is much shorter and the weather rougher - but that is the fun of it!You can...

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  • Just take a walk

    As soon as you enter Hamnavoe and catch sight of the town from the Scrabster ferry you will realize you have been transported. Just take a walk anywhere through Stromness and you are back in the era of the great sailing ships. Narrow winding streets abound. Keep an eye and ear out for cars. Otherwise, breathe deep of the history and culture and the...

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Stromness Restaurants

  • just right

    The owner of my B&B directed me here. Not the most enticing place as you go in, but worked out very well. I was very hungry - sea air, ferry crossing, a long day - and the service was fast & friendly.The food was good, and the price was fair.I had crab, followed by scallops. Both delicious. Not the most sophisticated cuisine, but excellent raw...

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  • Nice little café

    The sign above the door seems more like a description than a name :-) Still, this is a cosy little café right around the corner from the harbour at the beginning of the "busy" high street of Stromness. It has a great range of hot and cold snacks, beverages and cakes available, as well as a small shop and a beer garden with views over the harbour.

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  • Always Busy

    Everyone is in here waiting for the ferry!Young staff and mix of customers.Internet access (one). Good food and great ambiance.I think it is getting too popular now.Prices seem to be rising, so less impressed on my latest visit.I would still recommend it though.

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Stromness Transportation

  • Pentland Ferries

    I used this service, which runs from Gills Bay (in Caithness, near John O'Groats) to St Margaret's Hope (on South Ronaldsay). Takes an hour exactly. Cost £80 return for 1 person in an Audi A3.It was on time on the way over - a calm sunny day, and perfect for the sail. The ship is modern & comfortable, but not big. On/off is quick and efficient St...

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  • Busses to Kirkwall

    The bus service is in frequent but well worth going as Kirkwall is a masterpiece capital; in waiting filled with history while Stromness has an historical well where the Hudson Bay ships filled up before going to Canada.

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Stromness Warnings and Dangers

  • Asa111's Profile Photo

    by Asa111 Written Jan 27, 2007

    Areas of Orkney contain some of the most spectacular cliff in the world rising hundreds of feet above the pounding waves. Please be VERY CAREFUL when walking near them. The wind can gust with amazing speed and ferocity. More than one poor soul has been swept over the edge.

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Stromness Tourist Traps

  • by chichino1 Updated Mar 29, 2008

    A term derogatively used to describe the growing band of wannabee islanders with their poems and tourist exploitation get rich quick schemes that somehow Orcadians are incapable of providing
    Not held in high esteem and the butt of many subtle jokes.

    Unique Suggestions: You don't have to. locals do know their island and are happy to share it with you for the time of day.

    Related to:
    • Backpacking

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Stromness Off The Beaten Path

  • North Hoy

    You can get to the North part of Hoy Island from Stromness. Just get to the Harbour and board the Graemsay Ferry. This is not a cargo ferry. If you wish to reach Hoy with car you need to board from Houton Bay (to Lyness).

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  • Even the Beaten Path is worthwhile in...

    The enviroment and immediate surroundings of Stromness transported me into an entirely undiscovered and unexpected place. I had heard a bit, back in history classes, about standing stones in Orkney. Sounded like a cool thing to see. I like really old things and places...otherworldly is even better.I was completely unprepared for the effect of the...

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Stromness Sports & Outdoors

  • adelinemmc's Profile Photo

    by adelinemmc Written Jul 13, 2009

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    See my things to do tip for more details.

    Two dive operators shops in Stromness:

    The Diving Cellar, 4 Victoria Street
    Scapa Scuba, Lifeboat House

    Equipment: Dry suits a must! You should not attempt to dive in Scapa without a dry suit or if you do not have previous experience of cold water diving to at least 35 metres.

    Related to:
    • Diving and Snorkeling

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