Planning a Family Holiday to Papa Westray

Cott, Papa Westray
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Papa Westray, locally known as Papay, is one of the northern islands of the Orkney archipelago off the north coast of Scotland. It’s a small island with a population of around 90, but it has plenty to offer for a fun family holiday.

Here is some advice on planning your perfect trip.

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Getting to Papa Westray

To reach Papa Westray, you’ll need to get a flight or ferry from the Orkney mainland. There are scheduled flights from Kirkwall Airport on Orkney to Papa Westray Airport, which take around 15 minutes. Alternatively, you can take the passenger ferry from the port in Kirkwall, which takes around 90 minutes. Book tickets for flights or ferries well in advance, especially in summer when demand is high.

When to Go to Papa Westray

The best time to visit Papa Westray is during the summer months between May and September when there’ll be more daylight hours to pack in all the activities. Summer is drier but bringing warm and waterproof clothing is still advisable as the weather can be changeable. Avoid the winter months as many attractions are closed and transport links are reduced.

Getting Around Papa Westray

Papa Westray is just 4 miles long by 1 mile wide so it’s easy to explore by foot or bike. There are no public buses or taxis, but you can hire a car on the island if you want to get around faster. Just be aware of the single-track roads and take care when passing.

Papa Westray
Photo Credit: Odd Wellies Licence

Where to Stay in Papa Westray

There are limited accommodation options, but the Beltane House Hostel offers budget dorms and private rooms. Alternatively, you could rent a holiday cottage for the family. Look out for traditional croft houses or more modern cottages, some with coastal views. Camping is permitted in certain areas – check regulations beforehand.

Top Attractions on Papa Westray

  • St Tredwell Chapel: A small 12th-century ruin with some remarkable Romanesque architecture.
  • North Hill Reserve: Extensive heathland home to rare plants, birds and butterflies. The kids will love the Viking ‘burning ship’ sculpture.
  • Knap of Howar: A fascinating Neolithic farmstead – one of the oldest preserved homes in northern Europe!
  • Pierowall village: Great for fish and chips at the Pierowall Hotel. Let the kids play at the park and beach nearby.

Activities on Papa Westray

There’s plenty to keep the family occupied:

  • Wildlife watching – look out for seals, puffins and Arctic terns
  • Beach fun – collect shells and fossils along the shore
  • Coastal walks – the walk around the island walk has superb sea views
  • Cycling – hire bikes and explore the quiet lanes
  • Fishing trips – take a sea angling excursion from Pierowall
  • Craft workshops – learn traditional skills at the local heritage centre

Eating Out in Papa Westray

There are limited dining options on the island. The Pierowall Hotel serves classic pub meals – the fish and chips are excellent. The community-run Bayview Bistro offers homemade cakes and light lunches. It’s also worth pre-booking the famous fish and seafood buffet at The North School. Stock up on groceries at the small Papay Co-op supermarket to cook family meals.

With its peaceful landscapes and simple rural pleasures, Papa Westray makes for an unforgettable Orkney family holiday. The combination of history, nature, food and relaxed island life will appeal to all ages.

Remember to ask your foster agency, for example, Foster Care Associates, for permission before booking a family holiday to Papa Westray.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Odd Wellies Licence

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Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

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