Brochs are exclusive to Scotland. They date from the Iron Age (roughly 2500 years ago) but their exact function is still the subject of debate. Were they purely defensive structures or were they the houses of the most powerful families? There is debate even about whether they were originally roofed!But they really are most impressive and...more
There are several boat-trip operators working out of Lerwick, but I do highly recommend the one I took.The Seabirds-and-Seals boat trip has been running for 20 seasons (mid-May to mid-September, although it can run at other times by arrangement).Dr Jonathan Wills is both boatman and and guide and, even after all those years, his enthusiasm and...more
There is a lovely, and very scenic, walk along the cliffside to the Knab, a headland which has excellent views of the Bressay sound, small seabird colonies, WW2 relics and well-placed benches to rest your weary legs whilst watching birds and boats.I walked there in a very strong wind, enjoying the crash of the waves as they battered the shoreline....more
The oldest part of Lerwick (although it is not terribly old, to be honest) is a most pleasant place to wander.Its narrow closses and stone-flagged streets, the occasional imposing building (Victorian pomp, usually) and the variation in building styles make this area interesting to explore. You never quite know what you'll come across next...an...more
The Shetland Museum and Archive is pretty new (2007) and , imo, extremely well-thought out and designed.It overlooks Hay's Harbour, an old harbour to the north of Lerwick centre. The harbour is named for Shetland's foremost trading company during the late 1800s/early 1900s...Hay & Co...and until 1980 the harbour was the base for Shetland's...more
About an hours drive from Lerwick is Jarlshof.This is a truly extraordinary place and walking around it takes you back 4000 years. The various walks take you from the early 17th century AD laird's house through Medieval and Viking times to the prehistory. That really shows that the first dwellers in 2400 BC had the ability to choose a good site...more
Greenfield Place, Lerwick, ZE1 OAQ, gb
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Couples
24 Commercial St, Lerwick, ZE1 0AB, United Kingdom
Good for: Families
15 South Road, Lerwick, ZE1 ORB, gb
Good for: Families
This is the museum cafe, in essence, but it also opens some evenings per week for evening meals.It has a beautiful setting, looking out over the harbour so you can watch birds, boats and seals whilst you eat.I only had a sandwich and a beer, but some other guests at my b&b ate their evening meal there and were very complimentary.My salt beef and...more
This is a newish place, I think, set on Commercial Street (the 'heart' of the town centre) and brightly-painted.Osla's functions as a cafe during the day (an evening) as well as a restaurant/bistro. Everything is freshly-prepared (although some is obviously made and frozen in advance) and they offer a good choice of pizzas, burgers, salads, wraps...more
...but I didn't try them. Someone else was very much enjoying them!On my first night I was too tired to eat a full meal so wandered into the Queen's Hotel for a bar meal. The dining room was being refurbished (one of two eating places I found which were undergoing changes..I wonder if mid-August is very near the end of Shetland's season?) so I ate...more
When I first arrived in Lerwick I was chilly, wet and desperate for something to eat and a hot drink (I'd got up at 0330 to make my flight).The Peerie Shop Cafe seemed welcoming enough, had other people inside and was but a couple of minutes walk from where I'd parked the car, on the pier. So it was the obvious choice.It's nice inside: nothing...more
This is mentioned in a few of the guide books. It's cheap and cheerful although nothing to write home about. The main problem was it felt quite stuffy inside due to the heat. The food was fine but being fish'n'chips is quite limited and for drinks all you have is fizzy drinks or the instant crap coffee. It's probably a bette idea to take away your...more
Shetlanders take most of their pleasures in their own or other people's houses, so there are few pubs and bars. The Lounge is a quite exceptional one though. The food and drink scarcely matters. The reason for visiting The Lounge is for the informal music sessions which are simply stunning.more
The Thule Bar, a basic fishermans pub, can only fairly be described as "rough". But when the North Atlantic fishing fleet is in town, perhaps sheltering from bad weather on the open seas, it's fun to sit and watch the drunken, brawling, jolly fisherfolk being ejected one by one by the police. This must be what the Wild West was like once!
The ferry trip to and from Aberdeen on the good ship St Claire takes 14 hours. The boat is well-appointed and the cabins comfortable enough, but the crossing can be a real white-knuckle ride especially in winter in the Atlantic gales.
Some crossings call at Stromness or Kirkwall in Orkney, and naturally take longer.
if you like knitting then a good souvenir from Shetland is wool. A good shop is Jamieson and Smith. All the wool sold comes directly from Shetlands wool producers and no raw wool is purchased from outside the islands. The firm grades, sorts and blends the wool before it is spun into “pure Shetland” wool. They do also send orders out, you can order...more
Lerwick must have more chemist shops (ie pharmacies that also sell toiletries and other personal goods, and often camera equipment) per head of population than anywhere else on the planet. This dates back to the days of the Iron Curtain, when Soviet trawler crews, finding themselves in port, would buy all the perfume they could to take home.more
51 Reviews and Opinions
Up Helly Aa, which means something like "end of the holidays" but was simply meant to sound quaint and traditional, is not all that ancient. It was devised by the Victorians as a safer replacement for a much older tradition, in which burning tar-barrels were rolled through narrow streets of wooden houses, often with disastrous consequences!
The ceremony starts with the unveiling of the Guizer Jarl's proclamation at the Mercat Cross in the morning. The proclamation is full of satirical references to local events over the past year, usually with scathing references to the Shetland Islands Council (SIC). It's as well to know a local who can explain these things, as well as getting you an invitation to one of the Halls for the night.
There are no trees in Shetland, apart from street trees in Lerwick. It's said they've all been blown to Norway! While nesh southern England still talks of the Great Storm of 1987 (winds of up to 120kph), Shetland regularly gets winds of 150kph plus.
Prepare to wrap up very warm in winter. It's the winds, and the damp, that are the problem, not the reading on the thermometer, which doesn't usually drop much below freezing. The wind can be a killer though. This is a very exposed part of the North Atlantic. Sweaters in summer too.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Things may have changed since 1993, but you should have no problem here. Lerwick has wall-to-wall chemists shops.
Miscellaneous: Remember that Lerwick is on the same latitude as Anchorage, Alaska!
Lerwick Town Hall is a magnificent example of Victorian pomp and grandeur.Set at the crest of the hill behind Lerwick harbour (the highest point in the town) and facing the 'new' part of Lerwick which was created during the Victorian era, the Town Hall has turrets and Gothic twiddles galore, with dolphins curling around its lamp-posts and wonderful...more
Wandering cemeteries and graveyards is always a good way of learning a little of a settlement's past history. Lerwick's old cemetery, set into the cliffs above the Knab, has stunning views over the Bressay Sound.Walking this cemetery in the strong early-morning sunshine I was moved by the many memorials to 'men o' da sea'...much loved fathers, sons...more
A wild, desolate and beautiful place about 100km north of Lerwick. In 1993 it became the most northerly place on the planet that I'd set foot, and so it remains. Watch the thousands of seabirds, see the waves crashing on the spectacular cliffs, contemplate the wild ocean that is all that now stands between the United Kingdom and the Arctic. And...more
Favorite thing: Up Helly Aa, the midwinter fire festival. The men of Lerwick spend all year building a viking ship, which they then carry through the streets in a spectacular torchlit procession, dressed as vikings, nuns, squirrels, beer cans, or whatever. The ship is then set alight. Afterwards everybody puts on their finery and there is dancing till dawn in the thirteen Halls of Lerwick. Dawn is a long time coming, in Lerwick, in January!