Curving line of standing stones on our Orkney Tours from Inverness. The Stones are arising from grass, but otherwise surrounded by heather. The sky above is cloudless blue.

Private Tours to Orkney from Inverness – 2024

As Inverness Tours we have been running private tours to Orkney from Inverness for over 12 years. Our tours to Orkney have always been some of our favourite adventures. We take guests on private group tours throughout Scotland in our seven-passenger vehicles, but Orkney has a magic all its own.  

Getting to Orkney from Inverness     

Our first morning is spent travelling up the spectacular coastal route between Inverness (the Highland Capital) and the north coast. We take a ferry to the island group called Orkney, where we will visit several of the islands (connected by causeways) before returning south a day or two later.

How long to spend on Orkney?   

Orkney has so much to enjoy that we feel that you should spend at least one night (and maybe more). We have, therefore developed both Two-Day, and Three-Day Orkney Tours from Inverness. 

Orkney – Two Day Tour– Neolithic Orkney & Skara Brae from Inverness

We have packed our Orkney – Two Day Tour from Inverness with all of the Orkney world-class attractions. This is because we want to ensure you enjoy the best of the sites that all lie within the Unesco World Heritage site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. Their highlights include the Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Skara Brae and Maeshowe. You will see the impressive historical sites such as St Magnus Viking Cathedral, the Bishop and Earl’s Palaces and the Italian Chapel.

Orkney – Three Day Tour – History, Culture and Wildlife from Inverness

Our Three-Day Orkney Island Tour from Inverness contains all of the above and more.  When we add the extra day then it gives us more time to visit craft venues, but also to follow spectacular coastal paths to enjoy sea stacks, beaches, and the rich flora and fauna of these islands. Depending on time of year, tide or location you may see seals, puffins, the very rare Scottish Primula (Primula Scotica), or the even rarer and unique Orkney Vole!

Orkney Timeline

wide image of seven of the Standing Stones of Stenness on Orkney. Behind is the Loch of Stenness, lots of distant farms and farmland and in the far background the high hills of the island of Hoy.

Neolithic Orkney

Orkney is now recognised as having been the centre of culture in Neolithic Britain (five to six thousand years ago). One of the most exciting and significant excavations in the world today is happening at the Ness of Brodgar. The archaeologists are slowly but surely uncovering the mysteries of a Neolithic temple complex. But prehistory offers us even more than that. Other Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age sites are everywhere on Orkney, including the Brochs (a type of Iron Age stone tower from around two thousand years ago, unique to Scotland).

In the foreground are the low ruins of Skara Brae, Stone Age village, visited on our Orkney Tours from Inverness. Behind this is the broad crescent of the Bay Of Skaill, with a lazy Atlantic swell coming in over the sand, under a blue sky.

Skara Brae


Orkney Vikings

The Vikings arrive in Orkney in the 8th century, and some sources say they stayed for 700 years. Here at Inverness Tours we think they never left, and the Orcadians agree with us. They certainly left a lasting impression. In 1153 a party of Vikings took shelter from a blizzard in ancient Maeshowe. Trapped there for days, they left one of Europe’s largest collection of Viking Runes, carved into the Stone Age monument. Norway is a major influence in both the dialect and the flag of Orkney.

A sunny but windy/wild looking day on the tidal island called the Brough of Birsay. In the green grass of the foreground we can see the low foundations of Pictish and Viking settlement. In the middle distance we see the tidal crossing and in the background are the low rising green hills of Orkney Mainland.



When did Orkney become part of Scotland?

Christian I of Denmark pledged the islands to the Scottish Crown in 1468. This was as surety for a dowry for his daughter’s marriage to James III of Scotland. He then failed to pay the dowry and as a result Orkney was annexed to Scotland in 1472.

The Earls of Orkney

The wicked Earls of Orkney (Robert Stewart and his son Patrick) ruled in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. They held the islands from the Scottish Crown, but acted as if they were the kings of Orkney. And not good kings, either; they subjected the local population to all manner of cruelties. James VI eventually moved against Patrick (the son), who was finally beheaded in 1615.

The Earls Palace

Orkney in Modern Times

The twentieth century was a tumultuous time for Orkney, and the amount of WWI and WWII archaeology is impressive. Move forwards to 21st century and we think Orkney has matured beautifully, just like much of its produce

This is a wide picture of the Churchill Barriers we visit on our Orkney Tours from Inverness. On the left is the concrete block built WWII causeway called a Churchill Barrier. On the right is the rusting hulk of a war-time blockship. The ocean is still, and in the background a gentle green hill rises above a sandy beach.

Churchill Barriers

We love these islands and we love sharing their exciting heritage, culture, wildlife and scenery. Some of our Orkney favourites include the world-class food and drink including Orkney Seafood, Orkney Cheese, Orkney Ice Cream and Orkney Beef; the extensive arts and crafts scene including unique products like Orkney jewellery, and the Orkney Chair; award-winning Breweries and Orkney Distilleries to visit, and Orkney gin to taste.

Orkney Custom TOurs from Inverness

If you wish to be immersed in Orkney culture and heritage for more than two to three days then we can accommodate that too. We can build a custom tour to your desired length.

    Why Inverness Tours

    Inverness Tour Guides

    Our Inverness Tour Guides are a hand-picked team. As well as being accredited members of the Highlands of Scotland Tour Guide Association, they are all well-recognised as being at the top of their fields. We chose them because they are great storytellers, fun to be with, and uniquely qualified to do what they do well. We know you deserve the best team of guides available. See their individual profiles here

    Track Record

    We have a fabulous back-catalogue of reviews. Over 98% of our hundreds of TripAdvisor reviews are five-star, so we have received their Certificate of Excellence every year, and a placement in their Hall of Fame!