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Kirkwall Earl's Palace & Bishop's Palace

Find Scotland Tours that feature Orkney.

Address: Kirkwall, Orkney, KW15 1PD
Operated by: Historic Environment Scotland
Opening Hours: 1 April to 30 September, Daily 9.30am to 5.30pm  (last entry 30 mins before closing)
October - March: Closed 
Admission: Adult £ 5.00, Senior £ 4.00, Child £ 3.00
Parking: Yes, a few parking bays in the side street between the Bishop's Palace and the Earl's Palace (1 hour max)
Languages: Information boards in English
Accessibility: Visitors with limited mobility could access the ground floor of the Earl's Palace, but that is all.
Toilets: No
Shop: Yes, a small shop in the ticket office
Cafe/Restaurant: No, located close to Kirkwall town centre so plenty of cafes nearby.


The Bishop's Palace and Earl's Palace are not visits that we would consider to be an essential part of a holiday in Orkney, but they will keep you occupied if you have ~30-45 minutes to kill in Kirkwall. The best feature of a visit to these buildings is the view from the tower of the Bishop's Palace. This involves a climb up a narrow spiral staircase and is not advisable for anyone that suffers from vertigo. At the top of the tower, you step out onto a platform with a surprisingly low barrier as the only safety measure between you and a nasty plunge to street level. If you are OK with heights, you are rewarded with a great view of St Magnus' Cathedral, which is directly opposite.

In summary, enjoyable for the views from Bishop's Palace over the cathedral, but we'd only suggest you do it if you have already bought a Historic Scotland Explorer pass.

Read our Travel Blog for more information on the best things to do in Orkney.

Bishop's Palace - View of St Magnus Earl's Palace Earl's Palace - corridor

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