What to do and see in Stromness, United Kingdom (UK): The Best Places and Tips

August 1, 2017 Myesha Cogley

Stromness locally /ˈstrɒmnəs/ is the second-most populous town in Orkney, Scotland. It is in the southwestern part of Mainland Orkney. It is also a parish, with the town of Stromness as its capital.
Restaurants in Stromness

1. Skara Brae

Skara Brae B9056, Stromness KW16 3LR, Scotland +44 1856 841815
Excellent
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5 based on 1 reviews

Skara Brae

The Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae, near the dramatic white beach of the Bay of Skaill, is one of the best preserved groups of prehistoric houses in Western Europe. Uncovered by a storm in 1850, the attraction presents a remarkable picture of life around 5,000 years ago. Visitors can experience a prehistoric village and see ancient homes fitted with stone beds, dressers and seats. A replica construction allows visitors to fully understand the interior of a prehistoric house.

Reviewed By iLoveVeg - Edinburgh, United Kingdom

We've visited since our children were small and they (then not now) were able to walk inside the houses. It's a fantastic site to visit, not just to see how people lived then (they have built a mock up house near the Museum), but for the location. The bay itself is beautiful, the beach fabulous to walk on and in summer you can build your own stone circle in the sand. When quiet, standing on the beach, you can almost imagine the joy of those who once lived there. It's a very special place.
But it can get quite breezy, so wear your woollies in winter!
The café many years ago used to do excellent Gluten Free soup and home made bread.

2. Maeshowe

Ireland Rd, Stenness KW16 3LB, Scotland +44 1856 851266
Excellent
77%
Good
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Satisfactory
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4.5 based on 544 reviews

Maeshowe

Enter one of the finest Neolithic buildings in north-west Europe, a masterpiece of ancient engineering. This chambered tomb, which sits on a platform encircled by a ditch, is a monument to the skill and beliefs of Orkney's people some 5,000 years ago. If you visit in midwinter - and the skies are clear - you can witness the central chamber illuminated by a shaft of light from the setting sun. Maeshowe's unique story continued with it was broken into about 1,000 years ago by Norsemen. They left their mark in the astonishing runic graffiti, alongside the stunning 'Maeshowe Lion' carving. Visits are by guided tour only. Tours depart from the new Maeshowe Visitor Centre (at Stenness), postcode KW16 3LB. Tours are hourly and start at 10am with the last tour at 4pm. All visits must be booked in advance to guarantee entry. This also applies to Historic Scotland members and Explorer/Orkney Pass holders, but entry is free as normal.

Reviewed By KeithJenner - Barnsley, United Kingdom

Maeshowe offers a rare opportunity to go inside an ancient burial tomb, with some very interesting features such as Viking Runes. It really shouldn't be missed.
Access is by guided tour only, which leaves from the visitor centre about a mile away, with a shuttle bus to get between the two. When we visited there were a few spaces available for people who hadn't booked, but I'd certainly recommend guaranteeing your place by rebooking.
Being run by Historic Scotland, the tour is covered by members of that organisation and others covered by reciprocal arrangements (such as English Heritage). You still need to prebook to guarantee a space, but there is no charge for doing so.
The tour guide was very knowledgable and gave plenty of information about the chamber itself and related subjects.
Like so much on Orkney, don't miss it.

3. Yesnaby Cliffs

Mainland, Stromness, Scotland
Excellent
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5 based on 220 reviews

Yesnaby Cliffs

Reviewed By John C - Tillicoultry, United Kingdom

The cliff walk at Yesnaby was absolutely superb. The Old Red Sandstone cliffs are well eroded revealing interesting structures such as towering sea stacks and geos. It is well worth exploring the coastline and venturing south to take in the magnificent rock pinnacle in Garthna Geo. The seabird colonies are also a big attraction.

4. Standing Stones of Stenness

Stenness, Scotland
Excellent
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4.5 based on 350 reviews

Standing Stones of Stenness

These mysterious standing stones, similar to England's Stonehenge, date from 2000 BC.

Reviewed By John C - Tillicoultry, United Kingdom

The Standing Stones of Stenness are well worth visiting and tie in well with the neighbouring archaeological sites to give an outstanding day out. We were so impressed with the site that we visited it on three occasions in the course of a one week holiday, but granted were were staying nearby. Fantastic landscape adjacent to the stones with the lochs of Stenness and Harray being next to them and providing and excellent point for a kayaking trip which gives an interesting perspective on the archaeological site.

5. Ness of Brodgar

Heart of Neolithic Orkney, Stromness, Scotland
Excellent
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5 based on 231 reviews

Ness of Brodgar

Reviewed By borobabe_69 - Durham, UK

I returned to Orkney deliberately in August to visit the dig at Ness of Brodgar, I was not disappointed. The guide was fantastic, there's so much archaeology here it's unreal. Truly magical and a must see.

Stromness Ferry Terminal Ferry Road | Ferry Terminal, Stromness KW16 3BH, Scotland +44 845 600 0449
Excellent
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4.5 based on 398 reviews

NorthLink Ferries

Let NorthLink Ferries take you on a voyage of discovery to the Islands of Orkney and Shetland. With NorthLink Ferries, travelling to Orkney and Shetland is more convenient than ever before. Choose from up to three sailings a day from Scrabster (near Thurso) to Stromness in Orkney and nightly sailings from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland - with four of these sailings going via Orkney's capital, Kirkwall.

Reviewed By Trainbook - Ohio

We were with a tour group and had been warned that the crossing from Scrabster to Stromness might be rough due to the weather forecast. Hence we took our motion sickness pills. Boarding was very smooth. The ship was bright, clean with nice décor. Chairs in the lounge were comfortable. There is a nice gift shop and cafeteria. When we boarded our group was to be served dinner in the cafeteria which is on an upper level at the front of the ship. Once the ship started, the motion began. We did not eat but headed to the lounge a level below and more centrally located on the ship. The crossing normally takes about 90 minutes but do to the high winds, the Captain change to a crossing route that would take about 2 hours but would be smoother after about 40 minutes.
Our return trip was very smooth. Great ferry service!

7. Scapa Flow

Kirkwall, Scotland
Excellent
66%
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4.5 based on 264 reviews

Scapa Flow

This treacherous pass made ship navigation difficult, resulting in over 10 sunken ship wrecks, providing an excellent dive site.

Reviewed By GreenThumb331 - Manila, Philippines

Scapa Flow has a lot of unique interesting history. Unfortunately, much of it cannot be seen because it is underwater. We saw some shipwrecks jutting out of the water. You would need to read up on its history before visiting to fully appreciate seeing the rusty pieces in this apparent graveyard of warships.
Scapa Flow is a body of water about 120 square miles in area and with an average depth of 30 to 40 metres. The Orkney Mainland and South Isles encircle Scapa Flow, making it a sheltered harbour with easy access to both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. It was used as a harbour by the Vikings and gained importance as a vital trading route to the Baltic sea.
In both World Wars, the German war ships and submarines was a constant threat. At the end of WWI, the German admiral purposely sank 52 ships in the area. These were salvaged afterwards. However, after HMS Royal Oak was sank by a German Uboat in 1939, Churchill ordered the construction of the eastern entrance with defensive barriers. This is what we have today.

8. Ring of Brodgar

You do not need to book to get into this attraction. There is free access at all times., Stromness, Scotland
Excellent
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4.5 based on 972 reviews

Ring of Brodgar

This is the largest Neolithic standing stone circle in Scotland, which is more than 340 feet in diameter consisting of 25 stones, the largest of which is 15 feet in height.

Reviewed By Grizz372387 - Halifax, United Kingdom

A programme on the telly by the bloke from Coast introduced this area. When I visited it was bleak and just a pile of stones with tourists ( or archaeologists) taking photos and measurements. Not very impressed and poor relation of stonhenge

9. Stromness Museum

52 Alfred St, Stromness KW16 3DH, Scotland +44 1856 850025
Excellent
52%
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Satisfactory
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4.5 based on 161 reviews

Stromness Museum

Reviewed By Ydnewyrrap

You'd think Orkney is quite remote, but in fact as a stopping off point for transatlantic traffic it has an amazing history. Explorers and adventurers came from Orkney and the self sufficient folk have been in demand by seaborne exploits for a long time, so the museum is full of stuff from their adventures, as well as local artifacts. Well worth a visit.

10. Pier Arts Centre

28-30 Victoria Street, Stromness KW16 3AA, Scotland +44 1856 850209
Excellent
70%
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4.5 based on 137 reviews

Pier Arts Centre

The Pier Arts Centre in Orkney was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of British fine art donated by Margaret Gardiner (1904 - 2005). Alongside the permanent collection The Pier Arts Centre curates a year round programme of temporary Exhibitions and events for the education and enjoyment of the general public.

Reviewed By cate949 - Petaluma, California

I love this place. The building is a marvel - design is super and so many surprising views of the outside - turn the building itself into art. The collections - excellent local artists, and others. A open research room filled with voids and comfortable tables and chairs. A video was running. You can view anything you choose and help yourself.
There is a gift shop with quality items as well.
I can't share photos of art for copyright reasons. This photos are of the outside, taken from inside.

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