Orkney lies off the northern tip of Scotland and is made up of around 70 islands and islets — of which, only 16 are inhabited.
The county can be divided into three regions: the North Isles, the South Isles and the Mainland — the name of the largest island in the group.
The bulk of the county’s population lives on the Mainland, the majority around the towns of Kirkwall and Stromness.
Kirkwall has a vibrant town centre, clustered around the magnificent 12th century St Magnus Cathedral.
With independent retailers, craft shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, it's a good place to get your bearings, to shop and eat.
There are historic buildings, museums and a leisure centre with cinema, swimming and leisure pools, fitness and health suites, squash courts and other sports facilities.
Beyond the town, the open landscape offers stunning views and there's lots to explore. Around the coasts are quiet, sandy beaches, spectacular coastal walks, panoramic views and wonderful wildlife.
Inland, the rich farmland of rolling green fields is grazed by cattle and sheep, and wetlands are alive with birds in summer.
Stromness, 17 miles from Kirkwall, is home to the renowned Pier Arts Centre as well as a number of smaller, commercial art galleries and a museum.
With narrow lanes and closes leading uphill from town’s main street, the town is also the home of NorthLink's ferry service to Scrabster.
Across the Churchill Barriers, and roughly 15 miles south of Kirkwall, is St Margaret's Hope — a conservation village that is the first port of call for visitors using Pentland Ferries’ service to and from the Scottish mainland.
On the way to St Margaret’s Hope you can visit the famous Italian Chapel and visit other galleries and local museums.
Kirkwall is the main transport and distribution hub, with ferries travelling to and from the outer North Isles.
There are also short flights to the North Isles islands from the airport — just ten minutes out of town — as well as daily flights to Aberdeen, Inverness, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The island of Hoy, which lies to the south of the Mainland, is served by a ro-ro ferry from Houton — a 20-minute drive from Kirkwall — and a passenger ferry from Stromness.
The ferry to Flotta also operates from Houton.
The outer isles offer further riches for those who make the journey. Find out more here.
Among the wealth of historic sites of interest across the county — including Iron Age brochs, Norse palaces and coastal batteries from the First and Second World Wars — the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site, in the West Mainland, is a must-see for any visitor.
A Craft Trail provides a self-drive tour of artists, studios and workshops — making jewellery, textiles and other crafts — and there are a number of interesting local museums and visitor centres dotted around the Mainland and linked South Isles.