People do sometimes ask what the best way is to get here, so for those who might be wondering the same thing here is a quick guide.
Most people come by ferry but you can fly to Kirkwall via Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen or Inverness airports. It is possible to ‘do’ Orkney without a car, but if you’re flying you’ll probably want to hire a car. As Orkney is becoming more popular as a holiday destination, it is advisable to pre-book your hire car for collection at the airport.
There are three possible ferry routes. Two are run by Northlink-Serco; The Hamnavoe from Scrabster (near Thurso on the north coast) to Stromness, which is the closest destination for Annie’s Place, and The Hjatland from Aberdeen to Kirkwall. The third route is from Gills Bay, near Wick to St Margarets Hope and is operated by Pentland Ferries.
Both Northlink-Serco ferries provide a comfortable crossing with many services and activities provided on board, including comfortable seating, a restaurant with a wide menu, a small shop selling Orkney gifts, magazines, sweets etc and a bar selling drinks and snacks. There are also cabins available for the overnight crossing to Aberdeen or for sleeping overnight on the Hamnavoe if you are booked on an early morning sailing. Sailing times vary throughout the year with more ferries available during holiday periods.
The Aberdeen/Kirkwall route leaves at 17.00 and arrives in Kirkwall at 23.00 pm. The return journey offers overnight travel, leaving Kirkwall at 23.00 and arriving at 07.00 in Aberdeen. The crossings are not every day.
For further information about the times and cost for both ferries contact Northlink ferries, see details below. If you have friends or family on Orkney then you may be able to arrange for a discount on the ferry crossings.
The Pentland ferry is a catamaran and is a no-frills service, with basic catering and seating arrangements. For timetable and costs please see details below.
I hope this information and the links assists your decision making, but I’m always happy to give further advice in individual cases.