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Skara Brae
Skara Brae

Skara Brae

Skara Brae B9056, Orkney, Scotland

The Basics

The UNESCO World Heritage Site can be visited on a day trip from Inverness or John O’Groats. Tours typically include round-trip ferry transport and stops at Orkney sights such as Standing Stones of Stenness, the Ring of Brodgar, Lamb Holm Italian Chapel, and St. Magnus Cathedral. You can visit Skara Brae on a more leisurely multi-day Orkney Islands tour. Admission to Skara Brae covers the visitor center, excavated site, and—April through October—Skaill House, a 17th-century manor.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • Winds can be strong at the waterfront site, so wrap up.

  • The visitor center and parts of the excavation site are wheelchair accessible.

  • Find a cafe and toilets at the visitor center.

  • You must book a time slot but you can stay as long as you want.

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How to Get There

Ferries depart from Gills Bay on the Scottish mainland and stop at St. Margaret’s Hope ferry terminal on the island of South Ronaldsay. From St. Margaret’s Hope, it’s about a 55-minute drive to Skara Brae. Between May and September, ferries run between John O’Groats and Burwick on South Ronaldsay.

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Trip ideas

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When to Get There

Summer is the best time to visit Skara Brae, as warmer weather makes outdoor exploration less of a challenge. Skara Brae is open year-round, though last entry is relatively early (3:30pm) October through March. In the summer high season, go early in the day to beat the crowds.

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Neolithic Orkney

Skara Brae is one of several sites on the Orkney Islands that make up the Heart of Neolithic Orkney - UNESCO World Heritage Site. Others include two stone circles (the Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar), and Maeshowe (a 5,000-year-old passage tomb), as well as multiple excavated burial sites, ceremonial sites, and settlements.

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