Rousay | Colin Nutt

Island Intro

Head north to Orkney to the beautiful island of Rousay to enjoy wonderful wildlife and captivating historical sites.

Ask an Islander

We asked locals on Rousay to tell us why their island is special. Here’s what islander Dan told us:

“Each season has something special to offer,” he says. “But I particularly enjoy spring and the promise it offers for the year ahead. The wildflowers come to life with field edges and roadside verges packed with primrose, buttercups, celandine and cuckoo flowers. As spring goes on you can find common spotted orchids, bluebells and wild garlic on the island too.

“Rousay is also blessed with amazing birdlife. As well as starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds and wrens, Rousay’s rocky outcrops are home to nesting fulmars and the uplands are patrolled by raven, hen harrier, short-eared owls and great skua.

“It is fantastic to truly experience natural sound as the predominant backdrop to everyday life. In spring, the days are full of birdsong and the calls of livestock on the nearby farms.” It sounds magic.

We’ve heard about spring, but what does Dan think about winter in Rousay? “Winter on the island is much more varied than many people would expect. I love the changeability of the sea, and experiencing the Atlantic Ocean meeting the island is breathtakingly beautiful.”

And, as for Dan’s favourite parts of the island, he told us that “as a Yorkshireman, I find the meeting of the rugged landscape and the ocean a captivating spectacle at any time of year. There’s a sense of vastness on Rousay that takes my breath away. The combination of sight, sound & smell is evocative and unmistakable.”

“It’s not just the slower pace of life and the strong sense of community and identity the islanders have. There’s so much history in the landscape, from the Neolithic through to modern times. Being able to stand inside a structure that is thousands of years old really gives a sense of the generations of people who have made Rousay their home.”

Getting Here

Orkney Ferries operates several sailings a day between Tingwall on Mainland Orkney to Rousay – 7 days a week in the summer, and 6 days a week in the winter. Bus connections are available from Tingwall on Mainland Orkney to Kirkwall and Stromness.

Find out more about getting to Mainland Orkney.

Explore More

Want to find out more about Rousay and explore more of our amazing islands?

Download the free Scottish Islands Passport app to:

  • discover your perfect island match,
  • find out about the experiences each island has to offer,
  • collect passport stamps for the islands you visit,
  • find information on accommodation, travel and island amenities.

Get Your Passport

You can find lots more information about things to see and do on the island, see some amazing island photography and collect your island stamp by downloading our app.

Download the app

App in phone

Download the Scottish Island Passport app to collect your island stamps! The app also provides lots more information on each island including recommendations from locals about things to see and do, info on how to get around, more stunning photos and useful offline maps.

  • Unlock Stamps - Collect them all! Stamp your passport when you visit each island - with an individual stamp designed to represent a unique aspect of island heritage.
  • Experiences - Discover the best experiences each island has to offer – from local boat trips to exciting traditional festivals, there is something for everyone.
  • Maps - Navigate the islands with useful offline maps, handy for areas where internet connectivity is weak.
  • Travel Jounals - Create an in-location travel journal with pictures from your island adventures, to look back on your trip.
  • Favourites - keep track of your most loved islands with the favourites feature. Available to access from your account on both the app and web.