Hoy Island

Travel Guide
Ward Hill showing a coastal town and mountains

A prime hiking and bird-watching destination, Orkney’s second-largest island is home to some of the archipelago’s most spectacular scenery.

Hoy Island takes its name from the Norse word for “high island,” a reference to its red sandstone cliffs, which can reach heights of over 1,000 feet (300 meters). Its northern and western reaches are home to mountainous moorlands and glacial valleys, and contrast with the lowland landscape that characterizes Orkney’s other islands. Hike along rugged sea cliffs, survey the island’s large population of seabirds and visit intriguing prehistoric sites.

No visit to Hoy would be complete without a trip to see its most well-known landmark, the Old Man of Hoy. This 450-foot (137-meter) high rock stack is one of the tallest in Britain. Hike along the scenic 3-mile (4.8-kilometer) path leading to the stack, which offers gorgeous views of Rackwick Bay and the chance to spot a variety of seabirds.

Continue along the trail from the Old Man of Hoy to St. John's Head, a vertical sea cliff that is among Britain’s highest. The cliff is best viewed in early evening, when the setting sun highlights its beautiful red and yellow colors.

Orkney’s highest summit, Ward Hill, offers yet another rewarding hike. From the hill peak, enjoy views over virtually the entire Orkney archipelago. Look for Dwarfie Stane near the beginning of the hill ascent. This compelling rock-cut tomb dates back over 5,000 years.

Travel to Lyness, which is located on the eastern side of Hoy, to explore the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre. Orkney was an important naval base for the British Grand Fleet during both world wars, and the center provides fascinating insight into the island’s military history. The center is set in an old pump house that once supplied oil to tankers moored off Lyness. Inspect war-time photos, the pump house’s well-preserved equipment, and read poignant letters sent home by seaman.

Hoy Island is connected by passenger/bike ferry to Stromness. A car ferry runs to Lyness from Houton on mainland Orkney. Buses from the ferry docks transport visitors to the island’s main settlements. Discover the striking natural scenery of one of Orkney’s most unique islands.

The Ayre Hotel
The Ayre Hotel
3 out of 5
Ayre Road, \N, Kirkwall, Scotland
Fully refundableReserve now, pay when you stay
The price is £73 per night from 5 Feb to 6 Feb
Situated in Kirkwall, this hotel is steps away from Mainland and Orkney Wireless Museum. St. Magnus Cathedral and Orkney Museum are also within 10 minutes.
4.1/5 Very Good! (35 reviews)
"Stayed in one of the new apartments. Well equipped only missing a bin (probably due to Covid)"

Reviewed on 19 Sep 2021

The Ayre Hotel
Pentland
Pentland
3 out of 5
Princes Street, Thurso, Scotland
The price is £76 per night from 4 Feb to 5 Feb
Located in the heart of Thurso, this hotel is 0.2 mi (0.4 km) from Caithness Horizons and 2.1 mi (3.3 km) from Scrabster Ferry Terminal. Dunnet Bay Beach and ...
3.9/5 Good! (142 reviews)
"Centrally placed with a nice view of the church from our window, though the pentland is an older building it has lovely architectural features and it was nice and warm"

Reviewed on 17 Nov 2021

Pentland
Seaview Hotel
Seaview Hotel
3 out of 5
County Road, John O'Groats, Wick, Scotland
The price is £86 per night from 13 Feb to 14 Feb
Situated in Wick, this eco-friendly hotel is within a 10-minute walk of John O' Groats Signpost and John O' Groats Ferry Terminal. Duncansby Head and Duncansby ...
4.1/5 Very Good! (100 reviews)
"Was a nice stay breakfast over priced for what you get"

Reviewed on 28 Oct 2021

Seaview Hotel
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.
Bungalow with sea-view, near small town of Thurso.
Bungalow with sea-view, near small town of Thurso.
4 Miller Place, Thurso, SCT
The price is £137 per night from 1 Feb to 2 Feb
Situated in Thurso, this ski holiday home is 0.9 mi (1.4 km) from Scrabster Ferry Terminal and 1.5 mi (2.4 km) from Caithness Horizons. Dunnet Bay Beach and ...
4.9/5 Exceptional! (10 reviews)
Astounding views
"Very clean and peaceful."

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2021

Bungalow with sea-view, near small town of Thurso.
Cosy, modern ground floor flat in central Kirkwall
Cosy, modern ground floor flat in central Kirkwall
86 Victoria St, Flat 1 Ground Floor, Kirkwall, SCT
Situated in Kirkwall, this apartment building is steps away from Mainland and Bishop's Palace. Earl's Palace and Orkney Museum are also within 5 minutes.
5/5 Exceptional! (3 reviews)
Excellent, walking distance for all shops
"Absolutely loved it,and so central in kirkwall"

Reviewed on 3 Sep 2021

Cosy, modern ground floor flat in central Kirkwall
Jog Lodge 11 - 3 Bed Sea-view
Jog Lodge 11 - 3 Bed Sea-view
3.5 out of 5
John O'Groats, Wick, Scotland
The price is £404 per night from 5 Feb to 6 Feb
Situated in Wick, this holiday home is within a 15-minute walk of John O' Groats Signpost and John O' Groats Ferry Terminal. Duncansby Head and Duncansby Stacks ...
Jog Lodge 11 - 3 Bed Sea-view
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

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