Local Information

Eating out in Shetland

Activities

Walking tours can be a great way to really get to know Shetland. Check the Island Trails website for ideas. Geological walking tours with Allen Fraser can also be arranged through Shetland Nature.

Kayaking: Shetland is probably the top sea kayaking destination in the UK. If you would enjoy getting to know Shetland from the water and seeing some breath-taking coastline and even, possibly, sea otters, try Sea Kayak Shetland, a long established and qualified operator.

Wool and Textiles: exploring a vital part of Shetland’s past and present. Shetland Wool Week is now an international event, drawing designers and buyers from around the world. But outside that vibrant and busy week you can explore all that has made and continues to make Shetland’s woollen industry with local tours and tour guides readily approachable through Visit Shetland.

Exploring Shetland Art and Architecture

Have a look at the web site of Mike Finnie, founding trustee and chair of the Belmont Trust. Mike, as well as being a prolific artist, was a practising architect in Edinburgh and Shetland for over 30 years. He is also an expert on Shetland’s ‘Haa’ houses. Well known examples of these houses include Taingwick Haa, the Old Haa in Yell – both museums – as well as Sand Lodge in Sandwick. A tour of some of these will give a valuable insight into aspects of the social history and culture of Shetland. 

Shetland has a huge range of fascinating ‘faces’ to offer you and caters for many interests. Dramatic seascapes, birds and marine wildlife, archaeology, fiddle music, ponies, knitwear and the ‘Up Helly Aa Fire festival‘ are some of the immediate associations that people make when they think of Shetland – but there is so much more. Just learning how an island community with a history going back thousands of years has survived and flourishes on these islands is a fascination in itself. Though none of the links and suggestions constitute recommendations (we’ll leave you to make up your mind) we offer here some thoughts and starting points to help you explore activities and interests that may excite you. Will one visit be enough?

Birds

Shetland bird club is a good place to start, though many visitors are already experts in Shetland ornithology. The cliffs at Sumburgh Head have the most easily accessible colonies of Puffins. Hermaness National Nature Reserve on Unst is not to be missed if you can spare the time. A visit by boat to the cliffs and colonies of Noss can be astounding for the number and varieties of birds. There are a number of seasoned and knowledgeable operators offering trips there from Lerwick, some of which are listed below. Please make your own choices in a responsible manner.

Archaeology

Brochs, Crofts, Burial Cairns, Standing Stones, Burnt Mounds, Souterrains, Viking settlements, there is a lot to see. Download a brochure

Shetland textiles

There are fascinating displays at the Shetland Museum and Archives and at the Shetland Textile Working Museum at the Bod of Gremista. Shetland has many knitwear producers, small and large, some of whom are still able to source the exceedingly fine and rare hand-spun 1-ply shawls. As well as beautiful and traditional Fair Isle patterns, Shetland knitwear design continues to thrive and develop with young designers finding international recognition.

Geology

The land mass that is Shetland – now part of the European and Global Geoparks network – had an astonishing geological journey over eons from near the South Pole via the equator to its present position at the northern crossroads of Europe. As a result, in one day, you can walk on an ancient ocean floor, see signs of an extinct volcano and find a wide range of sought-after minerals. Download a brochure or explore yourself – you will be amazed.

Marine life

From Harbour Seals to Minke whales, Otters to Orcas, Shetland offers a variety of marine life to view that is hard to match on an island chain barely 100 miles long. Download the brochure and find out more.

Shetland Dialect

A fascinating exploration for those who love words.

Music

Shetland is particularly well-known for its fiddle music and there is plenty of that going on throughout the year. Special events are the Folk Festival in May and Folk Frenzy in August. Singing, Classical Music and Jazz are frequently on offer and the Mareel has an extensive programme of events.

Performance, film and visual arts

Mareel is the UK’s most northerly music, cinema and creative industries centre. Situated in a prominent quayside area in Lerwick next to the Shetland Museum and Archives, Mareel has a live performance auditorium, two cinema screens,
rehearsal rooms, a recording studio, education and training spaces, a digital media production suite, broadcast facilities and a cafe bar.

Opened in April 1994, Bonhoga Gallery at Weisdale Mill is the first purpose-built visual and applied art gallery in Shetland and the most northerly in the UK, showing a programme of local, national and international art and craft exhibitions

Disclaimer: Whilst we are very happy to help your searches with these links and do our best to make sure it is up to date, for the inevitable legal reasons we assume no responsibility for information contained on this website and accessed through this website and disclaim any liability with regard to that information. As you will appreciate, we cannot accept responsibility for the services or activities of the organisations accessed through this website.

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