Kirkwall, Scotland, United Kingdom

Six miles of turbulent waters known as the Pentland Firth separate the northeastern corner of Scotland from Orkney. This archipelago comprised of some 70 islands, only 28 inhabited by humans, was first settled by the Vikings in the 9th century. Ruled by Norway and Denmark until 1468, the islands were given to Scotland by a Norwegian King in lieu of a dowry for his daughter's marriage to James III. Kirkwall is the capital city, located on Mainland, the Orkney's largest island. Explore this fascinating town with its steep-roofed houses and medieval St. Magnus Cathedral, or venture further out of town to see some of the wealth of prehistoric sites, which dot the island. Although politically a part of Great Britain, the archipelago retains a strong sense of Norse traditions as evidenced by the architecture and crafts found here.