Independent Hostelling in the Orkney Islands

The 70 islands and skerries which make up the Orkney Islands make it a magical place to visit.  The mainland towns of Stromness and Kirkwall have fabulous built heritage, culture and seashore settings  while the smaller isles offer an idyllic escape to a world of sandy shores, blue-green seas and amazing nature and wildlife. The whole of Orkney is an archeological wonder.

Scottish Independent Hostels have no fewer than 13 members throughout these islands.  For an affordable trip with lots of local knowledge provided, hostelling in Orkney is an excellent way to get a true flavour of the islands.  Our members are located in Stromness and Kirkwall on the mainland, in Birsay on the far North West coast of the mainland and on the islands of South Ronaldsay, North Ronaldsay, Hoy, Sanday, Rousay, Westray and Papa Westray.  Find out more about the individual Orkney Hostels here>

Top Tips from our Orkney Independent Hostels

Hamnavoe Hostel in Stromness is run by George Argo. The hostel is few minutes walk from the ferry terminal and travel centre and guests can watch the Northlink Ferry and the Hoy passenger ferry arrive in Stromness from the Hostel lounge window. From Stromness it is possible to stay overnight on the island of Hoy at the Hoy Centre Hostel or Rackwick Hostel, both run by Orkney Council, via the Hoy passenger ferry which leaves from Stromness, 7 days a week (on which you can take your bike). All of the Hostels on the Mainland of Orkney are accessible within one days travel from Hamnavoe Hostel; even the Outer North Isles can be reached within one days travel by public transport.  To do this you would take a bus to Kirkwall which departs hourly then a ferry to whichever island you wish to visit. Stromness is situated very close to the heart of Neolithic Orkney and the world heritage site which includes Scara Brae, Ring of Brodgar and Maes Howe. These can all be reached by bike or bus and some visitors on bikes may decide to continue north on the mainland to Birsay Outdoor Centre Hostel which is run by Orkney Council. Public transport is limited in Orkney especially in the off peak and shoulder months.  George recommends Orkney Transport Guide where you can see all ferry, bus and air transport timetables. Mainland Orkney is accessible by car from a base in Stromness and car ferries daily to most of the Islands.

Brown's Hostel, run by Sylvia Brown is also located in Stromness on he picturesque High Street, with storage for bikes.

St Margaret's Hope Backpackers is on the island of South Ronaldsay and run by Barbara and Fred Brown.  The Hostel is very handy for people arriving in Orkney either with Pentland Ferries which departs from Gills Bay & docks in St. Margarets Hope or Pentland Venture which departs from John O Groats & docks at Burwick. If you fancy a cycling trip to Orkney you can take your bike on both boats.  For onward travel, there is a regular bus service to Kirkwall where you can stay in the quaint Kirkwall Peedie Hostel formed from two fishermans cottages and run by Chris and Julia Wild.  Kirkwall is a transport hub for travelling to the rest of the Orkney mainland and islands. Our newest member, Orcades Hostel, run by Erik and Sandra, is also located in Kirkwall, offering child-friendly accommodation and storage for cycles

Michael and Teenie Harcus run The Barn Hostel on the Island of Westray. The islands of Westray and Papa Westray have close links and work well together promoting each other's Hostels and visitor sites.

Papa Westray Hostel is community-run and with the shortest scheduled flight in the world connecting the two islands and therefore the two Hostels this makes a great trip for visitors.  There is also a passenger ferry which runs between the two islands. As you will gather, Papa Westray Hostel and The Barn Hostel are separated by a stretch of sea and the easiest way to get from one hostel to the other using public transport is an amazing journey in the 9-seater Loganair Islander plane which takes in the  'World's Shortest Scheduled Flight' (takes under 2 minutes!). From May to September it is also possible to get from one hostel to the other using the Orkney Ferries passenger boat 'MV Golden Mariana' and this summer our visitors have seen close ups of killer whale, porpoise, seals and seabirds from the 25 minute ferry journey between the isles! The ferry also takes bicycles.  Alternatively visitors staying in Kirkwall can island hop to Papa Westray Hostel on the subsidised Loganair Kirkwall to Papa Westray flight (currently only £21 return) which takes 12 minutes and gives visitors a great aerial view of the North Isles en-route to the hostel!  Papa Westray Hostel is open in October and for the rest of the winter. We offer discounts for stays of 3 nights or more and for groups booking at least 4 of our 6 en-suite rooms including over Christmas and New Year.

Ayre's Rock Hostel is run by Paul Allan and located on the Island of Sandy.  They offer free cycle use for all hostel guests and a car hire service with www.easycar.com. From Sanday there is a flight to North Ronaldsay Bird Observatory Hostel for just £19. Ayre's Rock Hostel is closed from the 11th Oct to 26th Oct 2014 but the best time to see Grey Seal pups is late autumn. The Grey Seal Breeding Watch will run in November 2014 with the Ranger, Roderick Thorne, who is also available to provide guided walks to visit the cam watch site.Wifi is set up in the Hostel so people can log on to watch seals and their pups, or you could choose to look out of the Hostel window to see the pups feeding.

Rousay Hostel is located on an organic farm on the Island of Rousay and is within easy walking distance from the pier, shop, restaurant, pub, bike hire and the bird reserve. It is easy to get to Rousay - once on mainland Orkney travel from Kirkwall to Tingwall Pier to cross by frequent ferry to Rousay.

Birsay Outdoor Centre and Rackwick Oudoor Centre are closed October - March
All other Orkney Hostels are open all the year round apart from winter holidays - check with the individual Hostel.

Independent Hostelling in the Orkney Islands
 

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