Shetland top tips:
- See the remarkably well preserved evidence of Bronze & Iron Age settlements at Mousa & Jarlshof
- Shetland is a world class bird-watching destination - enjoy close-up views of gannets, guillemots, puffins, razorbills & kittiwakes at Sumburgh Head or Hermaness
- Visit in January & February to experience Up Helly Aa - the UK's largest fire festival, celebrating Viking tradition in Shetland
- Pick up a unique souvenir - Shetland has a skilled craft community producing fiddles & woodwork, ceramics, textiles & jewellery
Shetland things to see and do
Evidence from early settlers, through the Bronze and Iron Age, to the Pictish and Viking eras is incredibly well-preserved. Standing stones and ancient houses, burial chambers, and chapels are all easily accessible to visit on the islands. Archaeological highlights include Mousa; the only example of a complete ‘broch’ in the world, and the famous Norse settlement of Jarlshof with records of human occupation going back over 5,000 years. The impressive Shetland Museum documents the islands history and is well worth spending a few hours in.
Shetland’s natural rugged beauty and magnificent coastlines are ideal for an activity holiday with walking, cycling, fishing and diving all well-catered for here. The islands’ unique and outstanding geology has recently earned them the right to become a "Geopark", and Shetland is committed to preserving and raising awareness of its rich heritage. The rocks tell a fascinating tale spanning almost 3 billion years of natural history.
As well as the "Mainland" visits to other islands are a must, including Unst, the most northerly populated island in the British Isles - the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse lies at the tip of the island, and the only thing that lies between here and the North Pole is the tiny rocky outcrop of Out Stack. In a place full of prime bird watching locations, the island of Ness is one of the most spectacular, and not to be missed. Remote Fair Isle, now owned by the National Trust for Scotland has an internationally renowned Bird Observatory, and has Special Protection Area status for its diversity and density of seabird populations. As well as offering the opportunity to see the ‘broch’ (some 13m high, and incredibly well-preserved, Mousa offers a great vantage point to view the local wildlife. In Shetland you are guaranteed to see seals all year round. Otters are a little trickier to spot, but with some patience there is a good chance. Occasionally Orcas, dolphins and harbour Porpoise make an appearance off shore. Shopping in Lerwick will offer up a great range of local arts and crafts, including the famous hand knitted textiles, homemade soaps and beautiful hand crafted jewellery.
Travel to and around Shetland
There are daily ferries from Aberdeen, and regular connections with Orkney. There are also good links by air with Edinburgh, Inverness & Glasgow. Well-maintained roads, frequent inter-island ferries and bridges make Shetland really easy to explore by car.