Kirkwall, home to Britain's northernmost cathedral, is the main town on the Orkney Islands. It is an ancient place, with a strong Norse heritage and many fine old buildings. Being home to the Cathedral, it is often referred to as a city, although this is not strictly the case. It is, however, the Island Capital, County Town, main ferry port and largest settlement on the Orkneys. There are many shops and services clustered around the town, not only to serve the islanders, but also the thousands of tourists who visit every year.
Almost all of the A roads on Orkney start in Kirkwall, with the A960 heading south east, the A961 south across the Churchill Barriers to the southern isles, the A964 and A965 head west to Stromness, and the A962 and A963 providing short links in the town. Indeed, the A962 is perhaps one of the shortest A roads in the whole country, being just about 100m long! There is also a B road in the town centre, the B9054, which curves around the east side of the Cathedral, whilst the A960 passes to the front. To the south of the town, the B9148 and B9053 serve the piers on Scapa Bay.
Kirkwall is also the main ferry port on Orkney. Whilst mainland ferries mostly approach the south side of the mainland chain, Aberdeen Ferries, which operate in conjunction with the Lerwick sailing to Shetland arrive at a terminal just outside the town. The northern outer isles of the Orkney archipelago are mostly served by the town centre pier, from where ferries sail to Shapinsay, Westray and Papa Westray, and a combined sailing that visits Eday, Stronsay, Sanday and North Ronaldsay.