Find the nearest See & Do in Mainland
Heading to Mainland and looking for something to do or a place to visit nearby. Coast Radar is not just a list of beaches but we bring you the whole Mainland coast including castles, lighthouses, piers, museums, beautiful gardens, seaside towns, National Trust and other heritage properties.
When on an information page you can also use our tools to search for nearby Mainland seaside towns, and the surrounding coast for the best beaches and places to stay and eat.
Finding the best things to see and do on a Mainland day out with your family or friends is easy – simply explore the links below, to find the closest hit the jump to my location compass or use the search bar to plan where your next Mainland activity could be.
- Skara Brae is a large Neolithic settlement, located on the Bay of Skaill. The settlement consists of ten clustered houses, dated from the late Neolithic and inhabited for around 600 years, between 3200BC and 2200BC. The settlement is one of Europe’s most complete Neolithic village and has been called the “Scottish Pompeii” because of its excellent preservation. Because of this protection by the sand that covered the settlement the buildings, and their contents, are well-preserved. Not only can you see the walls of the structures but they are roofed with their original stone slabs, and the interior fittings of each house give a view of life was about. Skara Brae is within the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the Heart of Neolithic Orkney. The site is generally thought to have been erected between 2500 BC and 2000 BC. Most henges do not contain stone circles; Brodgar is a striking exception. The ring of stones stands on a small isthmus between the Lochs of Stenness and Harray. There are no obvious stones inside the circle, but since the interior of the circle has never been excavated by archaeologists, the possibility remains that structures may be present. The stone circle is the third largest in the British Isles at some 104 metres (341 ft) in diameter and set within a circular ditch. The ring originally comprised 60 stones, of which less than 30 remain standing. The tallest stones stand at the south and west of the ring.
- The Standing Stones of Stenness is a Neolithic monument located on a promontory at the south bank of the stream that joins the southern ends of the sea loch Loch of Stenness and the freshwater Loch of Harray. The site is thought to date from at least 3000 BC. The Ring of Brodgar and Maeshowe cairn is just over 1 km away suggesting that this area had particular importance. The stones were original elements of a stone circle of 12 stones, about 32 m (104 ft) diameter. The 5.6 m (18 ft) high Stenness Watch Stone stands outside the circle. The Standing Stones of Stenness is at the Heart of Neolithic Orkney UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Pier Arts Centre was established in 1979 to provide a home for an important collection of British fine art donated by the author, peace activist and philanthropist Margaret Gardiner. Alongside the permanent collection the Centre curates a year round programme of changing exhibitions and events. The arts centre is within original listed buildings and pier that characterise the historic town of Stromness once housed the office and stores of the Hudson’s Bay Company.
- St Magnus Cathedral is situated in the town of Kirkwall, the main town of the Orkney Islands. This magnificent cathedral, a fine example of Romanesque architecture, dominates the skyline of the town. Founded in 1137 by the Viking, Earl Rognvald, the cathedral was added to over the following 300 years and even has its own dungeon! It is known for being the most northerly cathedral in the British Isles and is a parish church of the Church of Scotland. Open all year round to the public.
- Mine Howe is a prehistoric subterranean man-made chamber dug 20 feet deep inside a large mound. It is not sure when it was built, some believe it to have been built roughly 2000 years ago during the Iron Age. Some researchers think that it could be as old as 5000 years, which would place it in the Neolithic period. There is some similarity to the well inside the Iron Age Broch of Gurness. The entrance is at the top of the small hill and there are indications of other Iron Age and earlier activity around the site. A flight of stone steps descend to a half-landing where they turn back on themselves and a further steps descend to a chamber. This chamber is only about 1.3 metres in diameter but is over four metres high with a corbelled roof. At the half-landing two subsidiary chambers/passages open out, one above the other.
- At the same time as St Magnus Cathedral was being constructed, the Bishop’s Palace was built nearby for William the Old, with a large rectangular hall above vaulted storerooms. The palace fell into ruins, but after 1540 was restored by Bishop Robert Reid who added a round tower, the “Moosie Toor”. He presided at St. Magnus from 1541 to 1558.
- Earl’s Palace is a ruined palace close to St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall, Orkney. Described as a fine example of French Renaissance architecture in Scotland, the palace was built by Patrick Stewart, the 2nd Earl of Orkney, in the early 1600s after he decided that the Bishop’s Palace accommodation wasn’t adequate for his needs. The palace fell into ruin in the 18th century and visitors can still see much of the stonework, which gives a glimpse of its former splendour. Open from April to October.
- The Brough of Birsay is a small 21-hectare uninhabited tidal island off the north-west coast of The Mainland of Orkney. The Island has Celtic and Norse remains and is well known for the breeding colony of Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis) and Guillemot (Uria aalge) The island is accessible on foot at low tide via a 240 metre long causeway over the Sound of Birsay.