Walking is the best way to explore and experience what Shetland has to offer in terms of wildlife encounters, wild seascapes, beaches and cliffs ('banks' as they are known in Shetland), moors and hills, geocaching and archaeological sites. Check out some of the options at Walk Shetland
. There's also a folder in the house with more ideas, including recommended walks around Walls that you won't find in any books.
Bird and nature watching
- Puffins, gannets, shags and guillemots
- Whales, dolphins and seals
Shetland is arguably one of the best places in Europe for the sheer variety and number of seabirds. Add the possibility of dolphin and whale watching offshore, widespread seals and otters and you’ve the makings of a memorable trip.
In the summer a trip to Noss
to see the amazing seabird colonies is an absolute must, even if you have no previous interest in birds. You spend a day exploring Noss
on foot (make your way across the isle of Bressay for the 200-yard ferry crossing of Noss Sound) or can take a 3-hour boat trip around the cliffs from Lerwick. Sumburgh Head
on Unst are other excellent nature reserves for large seabird colonies. Sumburgh Head is easily accessible - walk up to the lighthouse, look over the wall and there they are - and has the famous Puffcam. Fair Isle
has its Bird Observatory
, which also provides 3-star accommodation for visitors from April to October. For the latest sightings you can check Shetland Nature
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of sightings of whales and dolphins in the waters surrounding the Shetland Isles. A Facebook page has been set up by the team at Shetland Wildlife for people to share their Orca sightings (plus sightings of other whales and dolphins) in Shetland. Shetland Orca Sightings
There are a number of companies that offer wildlife tours, including Shetland Nature
With a 1000 miles of roads, cycling is another great way to see Shetland, and the various islands can be easily accessed by regular ferry services. Check out the
for ideas on routes or day trips as well as information on bike hire.
Shetland has an incredibly varied geology spanning almost 3 billion years, from the Precambrian to the Carboniferous eras. It was recognised as a Geoparks
in 2009 on account of its incredible earth heritage. Get out there and explore! Shetland Geotours
offer guided tours or walks
Shetland is a treasure trove of archaeology
, with over 8000 sites recorded in the Sites and Monuments Record. The best known prehistoric sites, Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof, were accepted onto the UK Tentative List for World Heritage Status in 2011. However, there are many others to explore. Clickimin Broch stands by a loch in Lerwick and is easily accessible. In Unst, there are the remains of at least 60 Vikings longhouses, the highest density of rural Viking sites anywhere, including Scandinavia. Three longhouses have been excavated at Hamar, Underhoull and Belmont.
The Shetland Isles have plenty trout fishing and sea angling possibilities. We don't know much about fishing but the Shetland Anglers Association has lots of information on its website
. A number of companies offer sea angling trips including St Magnus Bay Boat Trips
Shetland's coastline is a wonderland for sea kayakers and can be the best way to explore the cliff scenery, stacks, sea caves, arches, sheltered inlets and deserted beaches. More information...
Shetland is a memorable place to play Golf
, especially in mid-summer when the sun barely sets. There are three courses - Dale, Asta and Whalsay.
Museums and Heritage Centres
Shetland Museum and Archives
opened in 2007 and is an excellent place to explore Shetland's past and heritage. Scalloway Museum focuses on the village's role in World War II, including the Shetland Bus, as well as portraying the life, economy and personalities of the village and the surrounding area. In addition, there are a number of excellent but smaller heritage centres and museums
right across the Shetland Islands
Trips and Tours
There are a number of companies that offer a range of trips and tours
, whether it be on land or sea.
Lacework and knitting, paintings and jewellery, pottery and woodwork - these are just some of the themes to explore in the range of speciality shops on Shetland. You can find ideas on places to visit here