Categories > Guides and Tips

25 Things to Do in Shetland

25 Things to Do in Shetland

Shetland  is a subarctic archipelago in Scotland located between Orkney, the Faroe Islands, and Norway, with over 100 islands.

If you’re ready to plan an unforgettable trip and enjoy the beauty of the island, then read on for our list of fun things to do on the islands!

25 Best Things to Do in Shetland

1. Visit Isle of Foula

Visit Isle of Foula
Photo from Shetland

The Isle of Foula has the tallest sea cliffs in Britain, with thousands of seabirds and a population of barely 30 people. A large grassy field with many stones overlooks the sea here. 

The serene ambience of Foula, which is claimed to be ‘on the edge of the world’. is ideal for a soothing, get-away-from-it-all vacation.

2. Take a trip to Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement

Take a trip to Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement
Photo from Shetland

Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement is an archaeological treasure trove with a history dating back over 4,000 years. This area was initially inhabited by Neolithic civilisations, who lived there until the 1600s. 

There are various Bronze Age sites here, including Norse longhouses, antique farmhouses, laird’s home from the 1500s, and Iron Age brochs. The tourist centre houses a variety of remarkable objects uncovered on-site.

3. Get to know Shetland’s history at Shetland Museum & Archive

Get to know Shetland’s history at Shetland Museum & Archive
Photo from Art UK

The Shetland Museum & Archive has one of the most extensive collections in the British Isles and conducts a variety of spectacular cultural events throughout the year. 

The museum owns a handful of artefacts from the Shetland Islands, which were mostly donated by the island’s locals. These objects range from folklore, maritime heritage, textiles and trade. 

Meanwhile, the Archive provides access to a collection of ancestral documents of people from the past. This may be a wonderful way to spend a day in Shetland, particularly if you want to know if you have Shetland ancestors. 

4. Appreciate nature in the Broch of Mousa

Appreciate nature in the Broch of Mousa
Photo from Mousa

The island of Mousa in northern Scotland has one of Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic constructions. It is the highest of all the surviving brochs in the nation, standing 13 metres tall, and was built during the Iron Age 2,000 years ago. 

5. Explore Shetland Crofthouse Museum

The Shetland Crofthouse Museum is a 19th-century croft house recreation. It is located in Dunrossness, and there are tour guides available to assist you comprehend the site’s history. 

You’ll discover how people used to live in this area. The house is displayed in the style of the 1870s. 

Smell the peat fire, see the box beds, and experience setting your own traditional Shetland mouse trap! There is also a beautiful garden surrounding the crofthouse.

6. Witness the beauty of Scalloway Castle 

Witness the beauty of Scalloway Castle
Photo from Scalloway Museum

Scalloway Castle is a refined and majestic late 1500s tower house. It is one of only two castles built in Shetland; and for many people, it represents Earl Patrick’s brutal reign.

This Castle was previously the residence of Black Patie, an Earl of Shetland and Orkney who was notorious for oppressing and exploiting the people of Mainland Shetland. 

This castle’s unique history makes it an attractive site to see while exploring the Shetland Islands, particularly while in Scalloway!

7. Experience sunbathing in Banna Min Beach

Experience sunbathing in Banna Min Beach
Photo from tripadvisor

Banna Min Beach, located on the south side of the Shetland mainland, is one of the most quaint beaches in Shetland.

It exudes a Caribbean-like vibe, with its magnificent white sands, azure water, and peaceful surroundings. 

8. Take a walk along Clickimin Broch

Take a walk along Clickimin Broch
Photo by dassel from Pixabay

Clickimin Broch is a magnificent location worth seeing outside of Lerwick, Shetland Islands. The Broch is free to explore, and you’d be surprised at how big it is on the inside.

To the west of the Broch tower are the ruins of a number of separate buildings dating from from 1000 BC to 500 AD.

If you’re a history buff, popping by here could be just what you’re looking for. 

9. Visit Bobby’s Bus Shelter

Visit Bobby’s Bus Shelter
Photo from tripadvisor

Bobby’s Bus Shelter has an interesting story from years ago. Because waiting for the bus was difficult due to the changing weather, the six-year-old Bobby McGauley and his buddies built their own bus stop to wait for their school bus. 

Their bus shelter was only a piece of brown paper with a rusting iron chair. Nonetheless, it still gave them much-needed cover from the winds. However, the shelter was dismantled because of the heavy breeze. 

Even at a young age, Bobby petitioned the local newspaper to create a new bus shelter. Following the provision of a new shelter, numerous articles and furnishings such as a sofa, telephone, and carpet emerged one by one. 

10. Visit West Voe Beach

Visit West Voe Beach
Photo from Shetland

West Voe Beach is a spectacular beach in Shetlands Islands that received a Keep Scotland Beautiful award. It is located southwest of Sumburgh Airport and provides amazing views, as well as gorgeous blue oceans and white dunes. 

Stop by at this lovely beach if you’re flying to the Shetland Islands while the weather is nice!

11. Spend time with nature in Culswick Circular Walk 

Spend time with nature in Culswick Circular Walk
Photo from Shetland

The Culswick Circular Walk in Mainland Shetland attracts hundreds of people due to its stunning views. It is one of the most well-preserved remains in Shetland.

Beautiful vistas of valleys, freshwater lochs, and the Culswick Broch can be found here. 

Because the walking track takes around 2 hours to complete, this is a great area to hang out with your friends and family.

Although Shetland Islands has several walking pathways, Culswick Circular Walk is one of the best and should not be missed when visiting the island.

Appreciate art in Bonhoga Gallery
Photo from Shetland Arts

Bonhoga Gallery is one of Shetland’s numerous bright spots. The Weisdale Mill Art Gallery opened in 1994 after years of being a barley mill, tannery, butchery, and worn out structure. 

Shetland Arts runs this gallery, and the name ‘Bohoga’ means ‘my spiritual home’ in Shetland dialect. 

It offers a fantastic lineup of shows showcasing the best in local, national, and international contemporary visual art and craft, as well as smaller-scale exhibitions by Shetland and other craft manufacturers. 

There’s also a cute tiny cafe and shop where you may pick up some souvenirs before you go.

13. View majestic artefacts in Tangwick Haa Museum

View majestic artefacts in Tangwick Haa Museum
Photo from tripadvisor

Tangwick Haa Museum has a variety of unusual artefacts and displays highlighting the region’s history. 

The interpreters and helpers are extremely experienced and dedicated individuals who make the Museum tour a delight to experience.

If you have time while enjoying other activities in Shetland, the Tangwick Haa Museum is definitely a must-see!

14. Explore Shetland Library

Explore Shetland Library
Photo from Shetland Library

Shetland Library was formerly St. Ringan’s United Free Church, a modest church built between 1885 and 1886 and designed by R. Sykes, G. 

Its conversion to a library was finished in 2002. Almost all of the original stained-glass windows in the cathedral have been maintained and now illuminate the collection of books and other instructional resources.

15. Be one with nature in Da Gairdins

Be one with nature in Da Gairdins
Photo from Gairdins

Da Gairdins is a 60-acre estate in the north of Scotland. You’ll observe a lot of species and plants as you walk through the magnificent woods!

Alan and Ruby Inkster pioneered this attraction in 1997 before establishing their own firm in Da Gairdins Environment in 2006.

16. Experience watching movies in Schoolhouse Cinema

Experience watching movies in Schoolhouse Cinema
Photo from Shetland Times

The Schoolhouse Cinema is perceived to be Scotland’s smallest theatre, with only 20 seats. Here, you can watch specific movies as long as you give the management seven days of notice. 

There are also popcorn stalls outside and films are played on a high definition screen. 

17. Try Shetland Cake Fridges and Honesty Boxes

Try Shetland Cake Fridges and Honesty Boxes
Photo from Shetland

Trying out Shetland Cake Fridges and Honesty Boxes is one of the many wonderful experiences to be had in Shetland.

In 2012, Lynn Johnson, a farmer and baker, came up with the concept for The Original Cake Fridge (also known as Da Cake Fridge)  after farmers markets in Shetland closed. 

Without the traditional outlet to sell her baked products, Johnson decided to use the honesty box system to sell cakes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As the fridge’s popularity rose, so did the items on sale and the number of businesses inspired by it—all of which relied on consumers leaving cash as payment before removing their sweet delights. 

18. Take a trip to the Old Haa’s Inuksuit Collection

Take a trip to the Old Haa’s Inuksuit Collection
Photo from Old Haa

The Old Haa’s Inuksuit Collection has a jumble of rocks heaped by indigenous people such as the Yupik and Inuit from northern Alaska, Canada and Greenland.

The ‘haa’ is a Scottish term for a lord’s (laird’s) house, comparable to the English ‘manor’ from which the museum takes its name from. 

19. Appreciate the beauty of St. Ninian’s Chapel

Appreciate the beauty of St. Ninian’s Chapel
Photo from Historic Environment Scotland

St Ninian’s Chapel was built in the 1100s to serve both local worshipers and pilgrims visiting St Ninian’s Shrine located at Whithorn. The chapel we see now is a reconstruction from around 1300.

It was one of numerous stops for pilgrims, including Chapel Finian and the Laggangarn Standing Stones. Pilgrims are welcome to add stones to a contemporary Witness Cairn on the site today.

20. Roam around Shetland on foot

Roam around Shetland on foot
Photo by Maggie Lentz from Unsplash

Walking is by far the greatest way to experience Shetland’s remarkable geology, which has earned the isles the distinction of UNESCO Global Geopark. 

You can get a unique opportunity to uncover old historical monuments going back to Neolithic times, as well as to witness a diverse range of fauna, including flowers, birds, and animals.

21. Ride a bicycle

Ride a bicycle
Photo by Didgeman from Pixabay

Shetland offers everything a rider could desire. Cycling is a terrific way to see Shetland as a whole. 

It allows you to cruise the whole length of the islands at your leisure, allowing you to immerse yourself in all sections of the island.

The several islands are linked by regular ferry connections, and cycling is a delight with 1,000 miles of road to explore, excellent road surfaces, and low traffic volume on even the main routes.

22. Experience kayaking

Experience kayaking
Photo by 931885 / 10 from Pixabay

Enjoy kayaking with your family and friends and witness the stunning cliff scenery, arches and everything that makes up Shetland!

While on the water, you may also view a flock of birds, seals, and whales. 

That said, the weather in Shetland, on the other hand, may be erratic. 

As a result, we advise you to kayak on open water only if you are experienced and adequately outfitted with life jackets and other safety equipment. Paddling novices should hire equipment and paddle with an experienced guide.

23. Golf with your friends or family

Golf with your friends or family
Photo by Pexels from Pixabay

Golf is another way to bond with your family and friends. You can also improve your golf skills! Memberships are available at the Shetland Golf Club and visitors are greeted by a warm, well-equipped clubhouse.  

24. Dive in and explore Shetland’s waters

Dive in and explore Shetland’s waters
Photo by MartinStr from Pixabay

The coastline of Shetland is 2,702 kilometres long, with 351 caves, 246 bays and firths, 190 stacks, 405 geos, 205 skerries, 158 natural arches, and 7 underground passageways. There’s plenty to keep you busy and excited here!

Additionally, you can dive all year ‘round and explore its underwater life as much as you like. 

25. Go climbing

Go climbing
Photo by wallace769 from Pixabay

As Shetland has a variety of cliffs, there are lots of places you can climb for. You may climb the most northerly rock climb and enjoy the breathtaking sunsets. 

The cliffs face all ways, allowing you to climb wherever the wind blows.

In climbing, you’ll witness stunning skies, and a whole world of adventure and adrenaline just waiting to be known!

Are the Shetland Islands safe?

Are the Shetland Islands safe?
Photo by dpbueroservice from Pixabay

Shetland Island is a safe place to visit, with exceptionally low crime rates. It has the second lowest crime rate compared to other local authorities, with only 195.1 crimes per 10,000 people. 

When is the best time to go to the Shetland Islands?

When is the best time to go to the Shetland Islands?
Photo by dassel from Pixabay

The best time to go to the Shetland Islands is during summer, from June to August. During these months, the average temperature climbs to 13.3°C, compared to 7°C all year. 

The warm weather allows you to explore and participate in outdoor activities more easily. 

What should you pack for Shetland?

What should you pack for Shetland?
Photo by ConvertKit from Unsplash

When packing for Shetland, bring light dresses or blouses, shoes, jeans, and a cap if you’re travelling between June and August. 

If you want to visit Shetland outside summer, we recommend bringing the following items depending on the month:

MonthThings to Bring
January – May / November – December– Heavy jackets or sweatshirts
– Scarf
– Winter gloves
– Thermal underwear
– Thick jeans
– Hiking boots or comfortable sneakers
September – October– Light jeans
– Light skirts
– Comfortable polo, blouses or dresses
– Sneakers

You should also bring an umbrella, a raincoat, rain boots and extra clothes in case it rains during your visit. 

Other essentials you can bring all-year round include first aid kit, power banks, disinfecting wipes and other similar belongings that can provide you comfort during travel.

How to go to Shetland

How to go to Shetland
Photo by 11302098 / 7 from Pixabay

To go to Shetland, you can hop on a plane and land in Sumburgh Airport or ride the ferry operating back and forth from Aberdeen to Shetland, or Lerwick to Shetland.

From the airport, you may take a cab going to Lerwick. Sumburgh Airport to Lerwick is around 1 hour and 18 minutes. The ferry ride takes roughly 12 hours and 30 minutes alone, while aircraft flights vary depending on the country you’re flying from.

Sumburgh Airport is accessible through flights from Glasgow, Inverness, Aberdeen and Edinburgh. 

Conclusion: Is Shetland worth visiting?

Is Shetland worth visiting?
Photo by Hamish Duncan from Unsplash

Shetland is worth the visit as there’s so much to do and explore! You can appreciate the nature & wildlife, the island’s history & culture and there are loads of fun activities, too.

It is also an excellent site to learn about Scottish history and culture. The rich oral tradition is passed down by the islanders, making the islands a one-of-a-kind way to explore Scottish culture.

While visiting, you may even see a variety of wild birds, seals, and dolphins—just remember to bring your camera along!

FAQS about Shetland

What are you waiting for? Pack your bags and ready yourself for an adventure that awaits you on these beautiful Shetland Islands!

While you’re here, you may also check other stunning places to visit in Scotland like Aberdeen

Related topics