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Car hire in Kirkwall

Car hire in Kirkwall

Kirkwall is the largest town in the Orkney Islands, located on Mainland, the largest of the archipelago that lies a few miles north of John O'Groats and the north coast of Scotland. Despite being a small place in itself, it is a fascinating town with its own cathedral and a rich, multicultural history.

What I need to know

There are several Kirkwall car hire firms and these are all in or close to the city centre. We can compare car hire services in Kirkwall to ensure you get the best possible deal for your visit. ​Holiday Autos offer​s​ free cancellation, no credit card fees and track record of having served more than five million​ ​customers.

Where to pick up my car

Kirkwall's car rental firms are mostly located in the centre of the town, close to the harbour or even on the ferry pier. For those who want to pick up a car through an airport car rental firm, Kirkwall Airport (KOI) lies just ​a ​ten minute drive from the town centre.

Best Car Hire Companies Kirkwall


Car Hire Reviews Kirkwall

  • “The pick-up was easy, it took 5 minutes from arriving at the desk to driving out the car, and the return took even less time.”
    Diane T

Where to go

Kirkwall has its own fascinating cathedral, which was founded in 1137 by Earl Rognvald and named after his uncle Magnus. It is just one of many examples of Viking architecture and heritage on the island, which became part of Scotland in 1468. Nearby is the ruins of the Renaissance-era Earl's Palace.

Nearby Kirkwall

Just outside the town lies Scapa Flow, famous as the base of the British fleet in the first world war and the scuttling of the German fleet. The waters contain several shipwrecks.The fascinating Bronze Age Ring of Brodgar stone circle is just 17 minutes drive away.

Longer drives

For those catching a ferry to the mainland from nearby Stromness to Scrabster, the drive from the north coast town to Aberdeen takes just under five hours. Edinburgh is five-and-a-half hours away, while Inverness is around two-and-a-half hours away. All these routes pass through some spectacular Highland scenery.

Eating and drinking

The Orkney islands have around 20 pubs per 10,000 people, among the highest in Britain, and there are three whisky distilleries on the island as well as the Kirkjuvagr gin distillery. For food, try the traditional haggis - a mix of sheep offal, oats and spices - with neeps (mashed swede) and tatties (potatoes).

Things to do

The islands are a great place to enjoy nature, with plenty of seabirds. In summer the skies stay extremely light even late at night, while in the darker months the aurora borealis (northern lights) are often visible. For the latter, choose a night with a clear sky and stay away from sources of light pollution.


The history of the islands is visible everywhere. Apart from the St Magnus Cathedral and Brodgar, there is also the ruins of the neolithic village of Skara Brae, half an hour away from Kirkwall on the island's west coast. South of Skara Brae are the spectacular sandstone pillars rising out of the sea at Yesnaby.


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