Founded by Dutch fishermen in the 17th century, Lerwick today is a busy town and administrative center. Handsome stone buildings—known as lodberries—line the harbor; they provided loading bays for goods, some of them illegal. The town's twisting flagstone lanes and harbor once heaved with activity, and Lerwick is still an active port today. This is also where most visitors to Shetland dock, spilling out of cruise ships, allowing passengers to walk around the town.
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Discover the pristine natural beauty and history of the Shetlands during this half-day sightseeing excursion to Jarlshof and Hoswick, and a scenic mainland drive.
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximate one-hour drive south to Jarlshof. Unearthed in the winter of 1896 by a violent storm, this archaeological site spans more than 4,000 years, and offers a unique insight into life during the Stone Age,late-Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish Era, Norse Era, and the Middle Ages. The remains of these settlements are sprawled over a low green promontory by the sea. With your guide, explore oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, Viking long houses, a Medieval farmstead, and a 16th-century Laird's House.
Next, drive to nearby Hoswick. Upon arrival in this small historic village, a stop is made at the Hoswick Visitor Centre. Here, learn about the history and culture of Shetland through interpretative displays and by observing the traditional knitting skills of the islanders. You may also purchase an original Shetland garment from the wide variety of Shetland wool items for sale in the knitwear shops.
Scenic Mainland Drive
Leaving Hoswick, commence the 45-minute drive back to the pier. Along the way, pass by small agricultural areas where sheep farming is important. See the distinctive black-and-brown Shetland sheep grazing in pastures enclosed by neat dry-stone walls, and small crofting communities nestled on narrow peninsulas near the inlets of the sea. Peat is now rarely in Shetland to heat homes but as you cross the moors en route to the pier in Lerwick, you pass by the areas where it is still cut .
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking, with rough, uneven paths at Jarlshof and a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Lightweight, comfortable clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes and sun protection are recommended. Due to local average temperatures, the coaches are air-cooled. The vehicles provided for this tour are the best available in the area.
Experience a taste of daily life in 18th-century Lerwick during this scenic Old Town walking tour.
Depart Victoria Pier for a two-hour guided walking tour of Lerwick. As you proceed through the Old Town, gain a unique insight into daily life here over 200 years ago. Sights to be seen including Lerwick's unique, 18th-century Lodberries, the Market Cross,imposing Tolbooth and an intricate web of lanes. Along the way, hear lively tales of Lerwick's growth, from trading merchants and shipping fleets to smugglers and shipwrecks.
Your walking tour continues on to Lerwick's elegant Town Hall and Fort Charlotte, which has dominated Lerwick since the 17th century and offers panoramic views extending out across the harbour and island of Bressay.
Continue to the fascinating Shetland Museum which you can visit at leisure after the walking tour to learn more about Shetland's heritage and culture. This award-winning museum has over 3,000 artefacts on two floors, a wealth of easily accessible archive material, a temporary exhibition area, Boat Hall and Sheds. The exhibits are beautifully displayed and very well interpreted - a visit not to be missed!
At the conclusion of your walking tour, you may return directly to the pier with your guide, or opt to remain in the Old Town to browse the local craft and knitwear shops at your leisure before walking back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves an extensive amount of walking for approximately 1.5 miles (about 2.4 kilometres), at times over steep inclines and cobblestone streets, and takes place entirely on-foot. Lightweight, comfortable clothing, flat, closed-toe walking shoes and sun protection are recommended. The tour sequence may vary.
Explore the culture, history and beautiful ponies for which western Shetland is renowned during this scenic, half-day sightseeing excursion.
Lerwick, Holmsgarth, Clickimin Broch, and Scalloway Castle and Museum
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 30-minute drive to Holmsgarth. Upon arrival, take an orientation drive through town, passing the Town Hall and other local landmarks before continuing on to Scalloway, the second-largest settlement on the mainland. En route, a photo stop is made at the Clickimin Broch, a drystone hollow-walled structure with surrounding buildings dating from the Iron Age. Upon arrival in the Old Town of Scalloway, take a guided tour of the ancient Scalloway Castle, built around 1600, and its Museum. Following your tour, some free time is made available in Scalloway for shopping and independent exploration.
Carol's Ponies, Shetland Jewellery, Wormadale Hill and Whiteness Voe
Next, re-board your coach past the lovely Loch of Tingwall, where a stop is made at Carol's Ponies. Here, you can learn about and photograph the small, yet beautiful, Shetland ponies. Afterward, re-board your coach and head to the shores of Weisdale Voe for a visit to Shetland Jewellery, where traditional local jewellery is still handcrafted into Celtic- and Norse-inspired fashions. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your coach and commence the approximately 45-minute drive back to the pier, with a stop atop Wormadale Hill for splendid panoramic views across the waters of Whiteness Voe.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking for approximately 400 yards (about 366 metres), at times over uneven, slippery and cobblestone surfaces and inclines, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach and at the sites visited. Walking in Scalloway is at the discretion of each guest. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable clothing in layers with a weatherproof jacket or coat and flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection from the ship. The coaches utilised on this tour are air-cooled, and whilst not up to the standards of those found on other excursions, are the best-available in this area. The tour sequence may vary.
Experience the spectacular cliffs, seabirds, seal colonies, and abundant marine life of the Shetland Sea during this picturesque, half-day sightseeing cruise excursion.
Lerwick, Catamaran, Underwater Camera, Marine Life
Depart the pier for the short walk (or a short bus transfer) to your awaiting, twin-engine catamaran. After receiving your safety and boating instructions, embark the comfortable catamaran, which features lots of interior and exterior space for viewing Shetland's spectacular seabird and seal colonies. The catamaran also includes underwater viewing with a remote-controlled mini-submarine, which offers a unique and unforgettable showing of the teeming marine life below the surface of the Shetland Sea.
Shetland Sea Cruise, Noss Cliffs and National Nature Reserve, Bressay, Seabirds, Seal Colonies
During your scenic, approximately three-hour catamaran cruise, your ornithologist, captain and wildlife guide takes you on the ultimate Shetland wildlife experience. Enjoy breath-taking vistas and photo opportunities of some of the less-accessible cliffs of Shetland and awesome Noss Cliffs, then cruise around the Noss National Nature Reserve and Bressay to observe Shetland's abundant seabirds, seals, marine life, scenic views, and geology. Your tour concludes back at the pier. Upon arrival, disembark the catamaran and commence the short walk back to your ship.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of activity and a minimal amount of walking, with a few steps to negotiate to embark/disembark the catamaran. This tour is suitable for guests with limited mobility, but is not wheelchair-accessible. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable clothing in layers with flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring a weatherproof jacket or coat from the ship. Although frequently encountered on this type of tour, wildlife and marine life sightings are not guaranteed. A signed waiver is required to participate on this tour. The tour sequence may vary. Operation of this tour is subject to weather conditions. Space on this tour is extremely limited; we suggest you book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Discover the charming villages, unforgettable landscapes and breath-taking coastline of northern Shetland during this panoramic, half-day sightseeing excursion.
Lerwick, Mavis Grind and Northmavine
Depart the pier for the scenic, approximately 1.5-hour drive towards Northmavine, the northernmost part of the mainland of Shetland, via the North Road, Strand Loop, Girlsta, Voe, Brae, and Mavis Grind, which is approximately 35 yards (about 32 metres) wide at its narrowest point. This is significant not only because it is the gateway to Northmavine, but it is also said to be the only place in the U.K. where you can toss a stone across land from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.
Tangwick Haa Museum, Braewick Café and 'The Drongs'
Next, a visit is made to the Tangwick Haa Museum. This 17th-century laird's house features a fascinating collection of artefacts that offer a unique insight into the harsh lifestyle of people living in this remote area during that time. Following your guided tour of the museum, proceed for a refreshment stop at the Braewick Café, which offers splendid views of the famous sea stacks, 'The Drongs'.
Eshaness Lighthouse, Atlantic Ocean and Geological Formations
Your last stop is at the Eshaness Lighthouse. Built in 1929 by David and Charles Stevenson, uncles of Robert Louis Stevenson, the Eshaness is the last of the Stevenson lighthouses to be built in Shetland. Upon arrival, take a short optional walk along the clifftop. For scenery and geological forms, few places in Shetland, or perhaps even Britain, rival Eshaness. The ferocity of the Atlantic has contributed to the spectacular geological formations found here, which include sea stacks, natural arches, deep clefts, caves, and cliffs, which are home to an abundance of seabirds. At the conclusion of your visit, re-board your coach and commence the approximately one-hour drive back to the pier.
Please note: This tour involves a moderate amount of walking for approximately 400 yards (about 366 metres), at times over uneven and slippery surfaces and slight inclines, with a few steps to negotiate to get on/off the coach. This tour is not suitable for guests with limited mobility and guests who utilise a wheelchair. Guests are advised to wear warm, comfortable clothing in layers with a weatherproof jacket or coat and flat, closed-toe walking shoes, and bring sun protection from the ship. The coaches utilised on this tour are air-cooled, and whilst not up to the standards of those found on other excursions, are the best-available in this area. The tour sequence may vary.
Following a panoramic drive to the township of Sandwick, a short ferry crossing takes you to the tiny island of Mousa, whose only inhabitants are lively nature seabirds and seals. Dominating the island is Britain's tallest and best preserved broch, a great tower built almost 2,000 years ago. Standing over 42 feet (13 metres) high, Mousa Broch may be entered to explore. Climb to the top to appreciate the ingenious and careful building technique.
The adventurous may choose to participate in an optional two mile (3.2 km) walk around the island, which incorporates a visit to the East and West Pools, home to many seals. Look out for seabirds, such as Arctic Terns and Guillemots, on the return ferry trip and Shetland's famous ponies on the drive back to Lerwick and the ship.
Please note: This tour requires an extensive amount of walking, approximately 2 miles (3.2 km) over some rocks and grassy terrain. There are some steps at the Broch. Walking shoes or boots and weather appropriate clothing (water and wind proof) are recommended. Operation is based on a minimum number of participants as well as favourable weather and sea conditions. Binoculars are suggested for the best viewing of wildlife, although their sightings cannot be guaranteed.