Nature and geography in Shetland

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Made up of more than 100 islands, 15 of which are inhabited, Shetland is stunning at any time of the year. Visit this beautiful region and discover the dramatic landscapes and ever-changing colours of these remote islands.

Each of the islands has their own stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, unique heritage and special character with a diverse array of flora and fauna to admire. Whether walking, cycling or touring around, the region is a wonderful place to explore.

Uncover the remarkable Grind o da Navir as you tour around the spectacular coastal landscape and learn how it was created by the fierce volcanic eruptions and the ravages of the North Sea.

Visit the geological marvels that have won Shetland European and Global Geopark status. Hamar National Nature Reserve is an ancient ocean floor where some of the rarest plants in Britain can be found, or why not take a boat trip across to St Magnus Bay to see the four immense granite pillars of The Drongs?

In spite of its high winds and dry soil, Shetland is home to a wide range of indigenous plants and flowers that have adapted to its unique environment. Amateur botanists will delight in spotting rare and delicate wildflowers along the grassy verges of quite roadsides, or on walks over gently undulating meadows and the shingle banks of sandy beaches. Shetland also boasts a number of beautifully maintained private gardens which you can now visit as part of the Scotland’s Gardens charity. Did you know that this region is home to the most northerly botanic garden in Britain?

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, Shetland is rich in opportunities throughout the isles to see everything from the island’s world-famous ponies to vast gatherings of seabirds and incredible marine creatures. Birdwatching is a popular activity across the isles.

To witness the incredible sights of thousands of nesting birds, visit the cliffs of Sumburgh Head, Noss or Hermaness nature reserves, or take an evening tour to the Isle of Mousa to see another of Shetland’s natural spectacles - the swarms of storm petrels.

Whichever island you visit, there are countless routes to walk taking in the sweeping heather-clad hills, glistering sea lochs, spectacular coastal scenery and ancient historic sites that are great for family day out.

  • Hay's Dock and the Shetland Museum, Lerwick
    Hay's Dock and the Shetland Museum, Lerwick
  • The cliffs of Da Nort Bank, Foula
    Da Nort Bank, Foula
  • Looking over yellow flowers to the settlement of Voe at the head of Ronas Voe, Mainland, Shetland
    Looking over yellow flowers to Voe and Olna Firth, Shetland
Breckon Sands, Yell

Shetland's northern charm

Go island hopping in Shetland and explore the diverse landscape, history and more that this stunning region has to offer.

The natural arch of the Gaada Stack at Da Ristie, Foula

Shetland's geology

Shetland’s extraordinary landscape is a treasure trove of stunning geological landmarks found throughout these remote islands.

Garden on the Island of Tondra, off the south east coast of Mainland Shetland

Gardens and parks

Explore the many beautiful gardens in Shetland where indigenous and exotic flora is grown.

Voe, Mainland

Towns and villages

Discover the distinct character and history of Shetland’s towns and villages. Find information on things to see and do, local food and drink and more.