from just £1,399 per person.

About Kirkwall

The 70 or so Orkney Islands lie at the north west tip of Scotland, where the Atlantic Ocean meets the North Sea. Kirkwall, the capital of the archipelago, is a Viking town founded in 1035 by Earl Rognvald Brusason. You'll find that the original ancient Norse town has been beautifully preserved and provides an intriguing place to while away your time.

For such a small town, there is plenty to see and do. Visit one of Scotland's finest town houses - The Tankerness House Museum - where examples of Orkney's rich archaeology are on display. Alternatively there are two palaces to explore; the mid-century Bishop's Palace and the stunning Earl's Palace, with its French Renaissance style of architecture. And there's St. Magnus Cathedral, which was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald Kolson in memory of his uncle Saint Magnus.  The island's 5,000 years of culture ensures you will find history around every corner.


Shore excursions in Kirkwall

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

A Special Invitation to Balfour Castle

Activity highRefreshments included

Duration: 4¾ hours

Enjoy exclusive access to the magnificent Balfour Castle, and savour one of Scotland’s top chef’s delicious afternoon teas.

Step aboard the MV Shapinsay Ferry and head across Kirkwall Bay to the island of Shapinsay. Balfour Castle is situated in a prominent position on the south west corner of Shapinsay, and has stood overlooking Kirkwall Bay for more than 160 years.

Upon arrival, your guide will meet you and take you on a leisurely walk through Balfour Village to Balfour Castle. As you arrive at the castle, you’ll take a tour of the principle rooms, including the drawing room and grand dining room, both affording panoramic views across Kirkwall Bay.

Afterwards, you’ll be served a delicious afternoon tea prepared by award winning Scottish Chef, Jean-Baptiste Bady. Enjoy sumptuous cakes and home bakes, accompanied by tea and coffee.

Finally, take a stroll through the lovely gardens, before taking the return ferry to Kirkwall.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach,ferry and on foot. This tour is accompanied by a local representative and the guide will meet the group in Shapinsay. Depending on the ships berth, passengers will either take a 5 minute coach ride or a walk of 100 metres to the Kirkwall ferry slip. The ferry ride is undertaken on foot and is around 25 minutes each way. There are 11 steps to reach the indoor seating areas and a further 11 steps to the outside seating areas. The ferry is not exclusive to P&O Cruises and seating cannot be guaranteed. There is around 3 hours of walking over relatively flat terrain with some areas of loose gravel. Flat, walking shoes are advised. Access to the castle is exclusive; however on occasions there may also be visitors at the castle who are staying guests.

Discover Kirkwall on Foot

Activity highShopping

Duration: 2½ hours

Stroll along the historic Streets of Orkneys Viking Capital and discover the fascinating history of the medieval Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces.

This walking tour offers the opportunity to visit some of the most fascinating architectural sites on the Orkney Isles.

Leaving the pier, you’ll transfer by mini bus coach to down town Kirkwall. Along with your guide, you’ll take a leisurely stroll through the historical Kirkwall Old Town, the Viking Capital of the Orkney Islands.

Your first stop is the magnificent 12th century, red sandstone Cathedral of St Magnus, known locally as the 'Light of the North'. It is the finest medieval building in northern Scotland. Nearby there are many narrow, winding streets and lanes, which have hardly altered at all over the centuries.

Your tour continues to the ruined Bishop's Palace (a good view of the town can be gained from the top of the 'Moosie Toor') and then on to the Earl's Palace, one of Scotland's most elegant Renaissance buildings. Both lie in the heart of modern Kirkwall and throughout the buildings there are colourful tales of the tyrannical Stewart Earls which bring the history to life.

Your last stop is at the Tankerness House Gardens, where you’ll have free time to explore the museum or take a stroll around the town, before returning to the ship on the shuttle bus.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by mini bus, shuttle bus and on foot. This walking tour involves around 2¼ hours of walking over flagstone streets which can be uneven in places and slippery when wet. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. Access to St Magnus Cathedral may be restricted due to Festivals, Events & Services.

Orcadian Cycle Tour

Activity high

Duration: 3 hours

This exciting nine-mile bike ride takes you to Scapa Beach and through the lovely Orcadian countryside.

After your bike fitting and safety briefing, you’ll meet your guide and head south, passing through the outskirts of Kirkwall town. After a short ride, you’ll begin to enjoy the pastoral Orcadian landscape en-route to Scapa Beach.

Your first stop is at Scapa Beach to enjoy the delightful setting and visit the HMS Royal Oak Memorial Garden, built to honour the men who perished when the ship was torpedoed in 1939.

Enjoying the fresh sea air, you’ll head west along Bloomfield Road and admire the splendid views over Orkney’s countryside. Wideford Hill is visible in the distance.

There’s an optional stop at a local artisan jeweller before cycling onwards through the drystone walled fields.

Following the main road back into Kirkwall, you’ll arrive at the bike path and follow it along the harbour and through the town. Before returning to the pier, pause for a moment at the St. Magnus Cathedral, founded by the Vikings in the 12th century, and the most northerly cathedral in Britain.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by bicycle. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. A Good level of fitness is required or you should be regular cyclist. Distance covered is 9 miles - an approximate 2 hour ride. This tour will only be cancelled in case of extreme weather conditions. Minimum age to participate is 13. Helmets are supplied.

Orcadian Cycle Tour

Orkney Panorama

Activity low

Duration: 3¼ hours

Discover a veritable haven abounding with fantastic wildlife, breathtaking panoramas and fascinating ancient wonders.

Follow the marvellous coastal trail through the Parish of Evie. Here you will be afforded stunning views across Eynhallow Sound to the Island of Rousay and the spectacular tidal roosts on either side of the mysterious Isle of Eynhallow, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. Skirting the nearby Birsay Moors RSPB Reserve, a stop will be made at the sandy beach of Birsay Bay, from where the distant cliffs at Marwick Head can be seen, another designated reserve and arguably the best sea bird cliffs in Orkney.

Travelling inland, your drive will take you into the heart of Neolithic Orkney, designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. You’ll pass by the great ceremonial stone circle, known as the Ring of Brodgar, and a stop will be made at the imposing Standing Ring of Brodgar, and the imposing Standing Stones of Stenness, one of the earliest stone circles in Britain.

Your journey then takes you along the coastline of the historic Scapa Flow. Listen as your guide tells stories from World War I and II that make this one of the best known stretches of water in the world.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. There is minimal walking over grassy, flat terrain or rocky cliff edges during the photo stops, however this is optional.

Orkney's Archaelogical Wonders

Activity medium

Duration: 3¾ hours

This scenic circular tour takes in the beautiful West Mainland and a concentration of World Heritage pre-historic sites.

Travel through an area of rich farmland, rolling hills and moorland, fringed by magnificent cliffs, to see the great ceremonial megalith circles of the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness before arriving at Skara Brae.

Skara Brae is one of Orkney’s most exciting and oldest monuments, a 5,000 year-old Neolithic village, beautifully preserved and interpreted in a new visitors' centre. Lying beside the pretty, sandy crescent of the Bay of Skaill, this stone age settlement was totally buried under sand for thousands of years, until suddenly revealed during a fierce storm in 1850. Amongst the fascinating relics found here are tools, beads, pottery and whalebone artefacts. Looking across the village, it is easy to imagine how it looked all those centuries ago, and close inspection of the houses gives a unique insight into how our ancient ancestors lived.

The hardship of life in Skara Brae can be directly contrasted to Orkney's finest manor house, Skaill House, located next door. It was built by a powerful Bishop in 1620 on an ancient graveyard and is now surrounded by spacious lawned gardens in a beautiful secluded spot between the sea and the Loch of Skaill.

Return to Kirkwall, passing by the historic bay of Scapa Flow, one of the most renowned stretches of water in the world.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. The walk from the coach park to Skara Brae and back from Skaill House is around 500 yards each way on a fairly good path, though sometimes exposed to harsh weather.


A selection of cruises to Kirkwall

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