Orkney & Shetland Guided Island Hopping Holiday

Orkney & Shetland - AdobeStock_51267921.jpeg
Duration: 7 nights
Type: Island hopping
Walking Grade: 3
from £1,869pp

Scattered off the northeast coast of Scotland, Orkney and the Shetland Islands are staggeringly beautiful. In a land that’s been largely tamed, they remain rare unspoiled outposts of rugged coastline and remote beauty. Fiercely independent and sprinkled with Scandinavian tradition, this pair of wild windswept archipelagos offer an island-hopping holiday that ticks-off squawking seabird colonies, stunning scenery, and some of the best-preserved Neolithic ruins in Europe.

What you’ll love

  • Hopping between Orkney & Shetland
  • Exploring the best of both islands on foot
  • The wild and windswept natural landscapes
  • Spotting wildlife on these relatively untouched islands
  • Visiting some of the best prehistoric archaeological sites in Europe
  • Sharing the experience with a group of like-minded walkers

What’s included

  • Entrance to Skara Brae, Maes Howe, and Jarlshof archaeological sites
  • Comfortable en-suite rooms in our partner accommodation(s) 
  • Cooked or continental breakfast every morning 
  • Daily packed lunches
  • Three-course evening meals, plus tea & coffee  
  • Guided walks with an experienced HF Holidays Leader 
  • All transport to and from walks where necessary 
  • Luggage transfers
  • Flights from Edinburgh to Kirkwall returning from Sumburgh, including hold baggage and airport transfers

Trip Notes

Easy to download as a PDF, our trip notes provide detailed information for every holiday. Please click below to find the trip notes for your departure date.

All our carefully-curated itineraries are designed by our experts. While we make every effort to adhere to the described itinerary, we may take alternative routes or adapt the running order for weather and/or operational reasons.

Arrive on Orkney and settle in to the Merkister Hotel. Your leader will be in reception at 18:30 to give you a quick introduction to the holiday before dinner.

Orkney & Shetland - AdobeStock_51935974.jpeg

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


Our first walk on Orkney follows a clifftop coastal path from Marwick Bay to the Brough of Birsay, overlooking RSPB Marwick Head reserve. In the afternoon we’ll visit Maes Howe, one of the most treasured Neolithic sites in Europe. This mysterious tomb was built from huge sandstone blocks over 5,000 years ago and aligns perfectly with the winter solstice – testament to an advanced knowledge of astronomy by its architects. We’ll also visit the Ring of Brodgar and the Standing Stones of Stenness, which together with Skara Brae and Maes How, form the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.

9 miles (14km) with 760 feet (230m) of ascent.

Orkney & Shetland - AdobeStock_51267921.jpeg

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


A superb coastal trail along the spectacular sea cliffs from Yesnaby to the impressive ancient settlement of Skara Brae – a remarkable feat of ancient engineering predates the pyramids of Egypt and even Stonehenge.

9½ miles (15.5 km) with 1,280 feet (380m) of ascent.

Orkney & Shetland - Skara Brae - AdobeStock_259606966.jpeg

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


One of the most beautiful and rugged of the Orkney Islands, Hoy is much more akin to the Scottish Highlands than the rolling countryside and crofts found across the archipelago. Today’s walk takes us to the famous sea stack known as the Old Man of Hoy and will have bird watchers twitching with excitement at the prospect of spotting arctic and great skuas.

8½ miles (13.5km) with 850 feet (260m) of ascent.

Orkney & Shetland - Old Man - AdobeStock_283951233.jpeg

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


Today we leave Orkney and head north to Shetland. On arrival, we visit Sumburgh Head RSPB reserve. It’s the most southerly point of mainland Shetland and where thousands of species of seabird come ashore to nest on the cliffs. This elevated viewpoint affords extensive views over Shetland and of Fair Isle to the south. We’ll also visit the impressive archaeological site of Jarlshof. Over 4,000 years old, discoveries here include everything from Stone Age settlements and Bronze Age dwellings to Norse longhouses and medieval farms.

2 miles (3km) with 200 feet (60m) of ascent. We then rejoin our transport for the scenic transfer to Busta House.

Razorbill, Alca torda, sitting on the rock

Busta House, Shetland - Orkney & Shetland

In the Shetlands, it’s all about Busta House. While most tour operators use hotels around the capital, Lerwick, we choose to stay somewhere you can really appreciate Shetland’s remote beauty. This 16th century laird’s manor has bags of historic charm, as well as a roaring fireplace for chilly days, and a well-stocked whisky selection. Tastefully decorated rooms provide a comfortable place to sleep and on a clear night you can gaze up at the starry skies and search for the swirling ribbons of neon green, pink, and purple known as the northern lights. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


There’s an opportunity to learn about Shetland’s heritage at the Tangwick Haa museum today as we circumnavigate the beautiful Eshaness peninsula. Wildlife watching here is superb. Seabirds flock to this rocky outcrop in their thousands during breeding season and colonies of common and grey seal spend autumn in the waters of the bay. 

9 miles (14km) with 1,060 feet (320m) of ascent.

The wild Atlantic Ocean crashes against the sea stacks, rocks, and cliffs along the Western shore of Shetland Islands at Esh…

Busta House, Shetland - Orkney & Shetland

In the Shetlands, it’s all about Busta House. While most tour operators use hotels around the capital, Lerwick, we choose to stay somewhere you can really appreciate Shetland’s remote beauty. This 16th century laird’s manor has bags of historic charm, as well as a roaring fireplace for chilly days, and a well-stocked whisky selection. Tastefully decorated rooms provide a comfortable place to sleep and on a clear night you can gaze up at the starry skies and search for the swirling ribbons of neon green, pink, and purple known as the northern lights. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


A fitting finale to the holiday, this walk along the magnificent granite coastline around Muckle Roe offers a chance to admire the windswept isolation and remote beauty of Shetland.

7½ miles (12km) with 1,360 feet (420m) of ascent.

Orkney & Shetland - Shetland - AdobeStock_216038173.jpeg

Busta House, Shetland - Orkney & Shetland

In the Shetlands, it’s all about Busta House. While most tour operators use hotels around the capital, Lerwick, we choose to stay somewhere you can really appreciate Shetland’s remote beauty. This 16th century laird’s manor has bags of historic charm, as well as a roaring fireplace for chilly days, and a well-stocked whisky selection. Tastefully decorated rooms provide a comfortable place to sleep and on a clear night you can gaze up at the starry skies and search for the swirling ribbons of neon green, pink, and purple known as the northern lights. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.


Group transfer to Sumburgh airport for your return flight.


Itinerary map for Orkney & Shetland

The Merkister Hotel - Orkney

We’ve had a long love affair with Orkney’s family-run Merkister Hotel, not least for its enviable setting on the shores of Harray Loch. It’s just six miles from Skara Brae and has an award-winning restaurant overlooking the loch, serving outstanding Scottish seafood and Aberdeen Angus beef. Rooms are simple but homely and all come with TV and tea and coffee making facilities. You’ll find comfortable public areas with free Wi-Fi, as well as a cosy bar, and handy drying facilities, too. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.

Busta House, Shetland - Orkney & Shetland

In the Shetlands, it’s all about Busta House. While most tour operators use hotels around the capital, Lerwick, we choose to stay somewhere you can really appreciate Shetland’s remote beauty. This 16th century laird’s manor has bags of historic charm, as well as a roaring fireplace for chilly days, and a well-stocked whisky selection. Tastefully decorated rooms provide a comfortable place to sleep and on a clear night you can gaze up at the starry skies and search for the swirling ribbons of neon green, pink, and purple known as the northern lights. This hotel is dog-friendly so you may meet four legged friends in some of the communal areas.

Essential information

The UK has a famously unpredictable climate so it's best to be prepared for weather that’s sunny one minute and raining the next.  To make it easier, here’s a list of items you should consider packing.   

Essentials  

  • Suitable footwear such as waterproof walking boots that provide ankle support and good grip  
  • Waterproof and windproof jacket 
  • Comfortable clothing (jeans & waterproof capes are not suitable)  
  • Mid-layer(s) to keep you warm. Fleeces make a good choice
  • Waterproof overtrousers  
  • Gloves and a warm hat  
  • Rucksack with waterproof liner 
  • Spotting scope and/or binoculars 
  • Flask for hot drinks   
  • Water bottle (at least 1 litre capacity)  
  • Sunscreen  
  • UV sunglasses  

Recommended  

  • Several base layers (long-sleeve or short-sleeve)  
  • Cushioned walking socks to avoid blisters  
  • First aid kit, including plasters and insect repellent 
  • Sit mat   
  • Waterproof pouch for valuables  
  • Rubbish bag (remember to always leave no trace)  
  • Wallet/purse  
  • Camera 
  • First-aid kit 

Guest reviews

All holidays are subject to availability. Supplements may apply.

Non-member fee: £30 per person.

All packages that include flights are ATOL protected. Advertised prices listed below show the lowest economy flight price option for that departure. On holidays where we offer local UK airports, details will appear in the “Important Information” section below and available alternative flight options will be offered when you book. Seating upgrades may be available on request and at an additional charge, please call 020 3974 8865 for a quote.

Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

28 Apr - 05 May 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

05 May - 12 May 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

30 Jun - 07 Jul 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single from

£2,294

Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire

from

£2,294

Call us to book
Trip Notes
Enquire

18 Aug - 25 Aug 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single from

£1,869

Double from

£2,129 pp

from

£2,129 pp

from

£1,869

Call us to book
Trip Notes
Enquire

25 Aug - 01 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single from

£1,869

Double from

£2,129 pp

from

£2,129 pp

from

£1,869

Call us to book
Trip Notes
Enquire

01 Sep - 08 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping
Flight from Edinburgh Airport

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes
Date (Start - End) Itinerary Double / Twin Room Single Room Notes / Offers Trip Notes Book
2024

28 Apr - 05 May 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

05 May - 12 May 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

30 Jun - 07 Jul 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single from

£2,034

Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire

from

£2,034

Trip Notes
Book Now

18 Aug - 25 Aug 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single from

£1,609

Double from

£1,869 pp

from

£1,869 pp

from

£1,609

Trip Notes
Book Now

25 Aug - 01 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single from

£1,609

Double from

£1,869 pp

from

£1,869 pp

from

£1,609

Trip Notes
Book Now

01 Sep - 08 Sep 2024

7 nights

Island Hopping

Single Call to Enquire
Double Call to Enquire
Call to Enquire Call to Enquire Trip Notes

Important information

  • With flights holidays: Price includes return flights from Edinburgh to Kirkwall Airport returning from Sumburgh Airport, hold baggage and airport transfers
Duration:
7 nights
Type:
Island hopping
Walking Grade:
3

7 nights from £1,869pp

or call 020 3974 8865

For group bookings of 10+ guests click here

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