Orkney pips Shetland to be crowned the best Scottish island in new Which? survey thanks to Ring of Brogdar and Skara Brae

Orkney, known for its sprawling views and tourist attractions steeped in Scottish antiquity, has been picked as the best Scottish island out by Which? survey respondents.

Orkney was voted the best in a whole host of categories, but saw the most positive and consistent high scores for its renowned Neolithic artefacts and structures such as the Ring of Brodgar and Skara Brae.

While Scotland boasts more than 800 islands dotted around its shores, respondents to the Which? survey on which island could be considered the best of all saw Orkney and its more than 70 associated islands scoop the coveted top spot.

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Orkney’s success in the survey was largely due to its high rankings for its prehistoric tourist attractions and archaeology, receiving five stars for “spectacular” sites and Neolithic wonders such as remains of Skara Brae and Ring of Brodgar stone circle.

The town of Stromness, Orkney

The archipelago received a score of 88 in the survey, with Shetland coming in at the second best island with a visitor score of 86 for its quiet serenity – receiving five stars for its peace and quiet.

Shetland and its considerable set of islands, of which only 16 are inhabited, received four out of five stars for travel, scenery, tourist attractions and shopping.

Meanwhile, Harris, Mull and Islay came joint third with a score of 85 as the three islands were praised for their rich food and drink and cultural heritage.

Of the 14 Scottish isles rated by survey respondents, 10 received a visitor score of 80% or above, with only one island – Benbecula – received a visitor score below 70%.

The skelton was discovered on a farm close to the Neolithic settlement of Skara Brae on Orkney but it is not clear if there is a link between the two, with the remains possibly from the later Bronze Age. PIC: Howard Stanbury/Flickr/CC.

The Outer Hebridean island with a strong military history gained a 67% score with less stars given for its scenery and views than other islands, but nonetheless received four stars for its beaches and its peace and quiet.

Rory Boland, Which? Travel Editor, said: “After more than a year of restrictions that have seen most of us confined to our homes, many of us will be craving a holiday featuring beautiful scenery, grand landscapes, and the peace and quiet to soak it all in.

"The Scottish islands have all of this in abundance, making many of them a brilliant choice for a UK holiday this summer.

“You’ll need to pack for all seasons, and be prepared for a bit of travelling to get there – but when you do, you’ll be glad you made the effort. Just be sure to book with an accommodation provider that will allow you to freely change or cancel your booking at short notice, should coronavirus restrictions change and prevent you from travelling as planned.”

Orkney and the majority of Scotland’s islands remain under Level 1 coronavirus restrictions, with visitors allowed to travel to and across the islands unless living in an area under higher restrictions such as Glasgow.

Those wishing to visit any of the Scottish islands are encouraged to book well in advance and take a coronavirus test in order to preserve the lower risk levels within island communities.

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