NorthLink Ferries: 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. The MV Hamnavoe sails from Scrabster to Stromness in approximately 90 minutes. The MV Hjaltland and the MV Hrossey sails from Aberdeen to Kirkwall four times weekly as part of the Shetland-Kirkwall-Aberdeen service, and the journey time is around six-seven hours. The MV Hrossey usually arrives in Kirkwall around Midnight.
You can travel to the departure ports by Citylink bus if you are not using a vehicle.
Pentland Ferries: The Catamaran MV Pentalina sails from Gills Bay to St. Margaret’s Hope 3 times daily and is known as the short sea crossing. The prices are competitive and journey time is now less than 50 minutes.
John O’Groats Ferry: A foot passenger ferry operates daily during the summer from John O’Groats to Burwick on the southern tip of Orkney. It takes about 45 minutes to cross the Pentland Firth. No vehicles taken, but cycles allowed.
Buses to Kirkwall connect with the ferry. They also manage the Orkney Bus service from Inverness-Kirkwall.
Unless camping and backpacking, then to fully enjoy Orkney you must have access to a car while here, public transport is patchy at best and using taxis would soon become very expensive.
Driving in Orkney is a pleasure but the mileage rises rapidly without notice. Even super-fit cyclists would benefit from car access to get about.
Local Car Hire is easy and convenient but you are advised to book as early as you can to guarantee the type of vehicle you want and availability particularly during the summer months.
Getting around Orkney
The current provider of public transport in Orkney is Stagecoach and timetables are available via the Orkney Islands Council service directory which includes information on relevant timetables (Lower Quoys is on route 6), as well as contact details for Stagecoach and Travel line Scotland. There is also a useful transport guide.
Loganair are subcontracted by Flybe to manage both the main National Scottish flights and the inter-island service which flies to most of the smaller inhabited islands. They offer various Charter packages which are good value and good fun to do when you are here.
Orkney Ferries run the inter-island Ro-Ro vehicle ferry service linking the Mainland to thirteen of the smaller islands. Certain sailings are somewhat under resourced and very popular in the Summer (Hoy especially) so if you want to make sure book well in advance.