Read on for some ideas to whet your appetite for a trip out filled with stunning scenery, incredible wildlife, Norse treasures and family adventures in Shetland.
These suggestions are not just for visitors - if you're lucky enough to call this region home, then these ideas are for you too!
Uyea and Shetland's Oldest Rocks
Are you up for a challenge? Enjoy one of Shetland's wildest walks following the northern coast of Northmavine to view the remote island of Uyea. Along the way, you will encounter stunning sea stacks, sea arches and skerries, sandy coves and turquoise clear seas. The rocks in this area are 2,500 million-year-old gneisses with bands of red and black composite dykes. Shetland's incredible coastline can also be enjoyed everywhere you go, from Hermaness in the north of Unst to Fitful Head in the south Mainland.
Where will you walk?
- Climb Shetland's highest peak, Ronas Hill, and reach the hidden red beach of Da Lang Ayre, one of the most magical places in Shetland.
- Walk on the wild side along the rugged coastline of Fitful Head and the beautiful sandy Bay of Quendale.
- Explore the spectacular cliffs along the Westerwick coast.
- Keep your eyes peeled for elusive otters, playful seals, or even orcas, which are often seen along the coastline.
- Shetland's spectacular and accessible coastline is one of the best places in the world for sea kayaking.
Remember, it's always safer to carry a map and compass when you walk in Shetland, you never know how the weather can turn!
Hike through a Neolithic landscape to the intriguing ancient site of Stanydale Temple near Bixter. This is the only truly megalithic structure surviving from prehistoric Shetland, making it one of the oldest structures on the islands. The mysterious site consists of thick stone walls enclosing a wide oval area, which would have originally been enclosed by a great timber roof. No-one is quite sure what its purpose once was - it may have been used for religious ceremonies or as the chieftain house. Oddly too in Shetland, no body of water is even remotely visible from the site.
Where will you explore?
- Rediscover the spectacular Westside coastline on a scenic walk passing Culswick Broch and the Burga Stacks.
- Enjoy coffee and cake at Shetland's famous Honesty Cake Fridge and its little Tea Room , famed the world over for its freshly baked cakes.
- Create new family moments at Michaelswood, the beautiful woodland created in memory of musician Michael Ferrie.
Amazingly, nowhere in Shetland is more than three miles from the sea. There is no shortage of coastline and you will often get a beach all to yourself! You'll see the curve of the stunning beach of Bannaminn on West Burra from afar. The turquoise water and crescent of white sands form a spectacular tombolo leading out to the Kettlaness peninsula. This is a fantastic place to watch the sunset.
Other equally beautiful Shetland beaches to rediscover include Spiggie Beach in South Mainland, the Sands of Breckon on Yell or Norwick Bay on Unst.
Where will you explore?
- Shetland was awarded Lonely Planet's Best in Europe 2019 as one of Europe's top destinations.
- The Kettlaness peninsula gives fantastic walking above the wild coastline. Out on the Atlantic horizon, you might get a glimpse of Foula, the most isolated inhabited island in Britain, 20 miles away.
- Tresta Sands on Fetlar is a great place for a family picnic. A walk to the headland of Lambhoga is also not to be missed.
Shetland Museum And Archives
Why not revisit this fascinating museum on the waterfront of Lerwick? This is the perfect place to teach the bairns about the story of Shetland's heritage and culture, from its earliest geological origins to the present day, with an interactive visitor experience. Rediscover everything from delicate Shetland lace to Pictish art.
What will you discover?
- Hear old folklore stories in the Shetland dialect words while sitting in traditional Shetland chairs or see a trowie knowe; an example of where Shetland's mythical little people live - enter at your peril!
- The sea prevented starvation in the past, and islanders ate many kinds of fish and shellfish. Find out what seaweed and driftwood were used for, and why whales and birds were hunted.
- The Boat Hall tracks the development of boats in Shetland, from their Scandinavian roots to the present day.
- Learn about world-class Shetland wool and get inspired to knit your own toorie or ganzie using traditional Fair Isle pattern.
Isle of Bressay
A seven-minute ferry ride away from Lerwick, the peaceful Isle of Bressay is a world away from the bustle of the town. It's a haven of peace and quiet with beautiful landscapes, seabird cliffs, wild flowers and a fascinating history.
But have you explored some of the island's hidden gems? Take a walk around the Ward of Bressay and Kirkabister Ness and enjoy some of the wildest scenery on the island. Or get a glimpse into the past at Aith Ness with remains of Iron Age brochs and Viking houses.
Where will you go?
- The coast south of Wadbister features superb caves and natural arches, including the triple arch of Stoura Clettstack.
- Bressay has been inhabited for the past 6000 years. Culbinsbrough boasts a Neolithic dyke, Viking houses and the mound of a broch.
- The Bressay Lighthouse was built by the Stevensons in 1858 and sits above a beautiful natural arch. Today you can stay in the lightkeeper's cottages, which offer self-catering accommodation.
Wildlife Guided Tours
With towering sea cliffs and rugged coastline, Shetland is home to some of the most spectacular wildlife in Europe. Become a tourist on your home turf and go on a wildlife cruise around Bressay and the bird cliffs of the Noss National Nature Reserve. You won't believe how close the skippers take you to the thousands of gannets, guillemots and puffins... You might even get some regular visitors on board (the seals named George, Steve and Phil!)
Where will you go?
- Some boat trips include 'underwater viewing' so you can watch incredible submarine life in real time.
- Go on a wildlife adventure with Shetland Photo Tours and sit quietly watching a family of otters at play.
- Keep your eyes peeled for elusive otters, playful seals, or even pods of orcas.
Isle of Unst
Come to Unst, the 'island over all others' for unparalleled adventures. Britain's most northerly inhabited island has stunning landscapes, incredible wildlife and the highest number of rural Viking longhouses in the world. Take an unforgettable walk along the dramatic cliffs of the Hermaness National Nature Reserve. Overlooking Muckle Flugga, this is one of the world's best 'seabird cities', with thousands of puffins, gannets, fulmars, gulls, shags and kittiwakes breeding here.
Where will you explore first?
- Hermaness is one of the UK's best places to see puffins up close in Shetland.
- Unst was the first footfall of Vikings in the North Atlantic.
- Support local businesses and enjoy coffee and cake at Victoria's Tea Rooms.
- Have you visited the most famous bus stop in the world yet?
Rediscover Shetland! With so many places to visit across Scotland, will you head to one of your favourites or try somewhere new?