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In the Footsteps of the Vikings – Top Reasons why you should visit Shetland

Up Helly Aa
Up Helly Aa.

Following in the footsteps of the Vikings, here are top reasons why you consider venturing out into the vast North Atlantic to visit the remote Shetland Isles.

The History


Rich in history, Shetland’s past can be traced back thousands of years.

Once under Viking rule before becoming a part of Scotland, the Shetland Isles have an intriguing story to share with visitors.

Preserved historic landmarks to visit include the Broch of Mousa and excavated Jarlshof.

Both chart the way Shetland way of life practiced centuries ago.

Norse and Scottish heritage woven together through the fabric of the island, Shetland has a long agricultural and creative history.

Looking at a crofter’s life, an on-island museum charts the evolution of Shetland crofting through the years.

The museum actually resides in a former home occupied until the 1960s!

Another attraction exploring the island’s crafting past, the Textile Heritage Museum has a large collection of exhibits.

From the late 19th century right through to modern times, the items on display show the skill of islanders across different disciplines.

Striking Coastline

Eshaness Cliffs
Eshaness Cliffs.

Extremely rugged, Shetland is best characterised by it’s wild coastline, home to huge towering rocks shaped by the sea, birds nesting on rocky outcrops and stunning sandy beach stretches.

Shetland’s beaches are some of the finest in the UK.

Visits to Skaw, the Sands of Breckon, St Ninian’s Ayre or Banna Minn all offer wonderfully picturesque moments.

Showing off the Shetland coastline at its most cinematic, the spectacular cliffs at Eshaness are one of the archipelago’s most impressive sights.

A testament to the power of nature, rising high out of the water, the area is best explored by following a popular circular route.

Close to four miles in length, the route is rewarding, presenting walkers with some wonderful coastal views.

Wonderful Wildlife

Atlantic Puffins
Atlantic Puffins.

The sparsely populated Shetland Isles is one of the UK’s great wildlife destinations.

Whether admiring the birds and marine life at Sumburgh Head or visiting the ‘nose’ of Shetland, Noss, these protected spaces serve up excellent wildlife watching opportunities.

In the warmer months, visitors can spot curious locals including Puffins, Guillemots, Fulmars and Otters.

Noted for its wildlife, Noss, reached by boat, welcomes thousands of seabirds each summer.

Attracted to high cliffs, birds can be observed competing for nesting positions on rocky outcrops.

To the south, both Sumburgh Head and Mousa are also excellent wildlife spots.

Shetland is also famous for its iconic ponies with Orcas often seen just off the Shetland coast during a small window each year.

Unforgettable Up Helly Aa

Up Helly Aa
Up Helly Aa.

Grabbing international attention, the annual Up Helly Aa Winter Fire festival is one of the great Scottish traditions.

Celebrating Shetland’s Viking roots, the festival brings islanders together.

A small group of locals dress up in their Viking finest before embarking on a tour of the Shetland Isles.

Marking the end of the Yule season, the grand finale takes place in Lerwick in the form of a torch-lit procession.

Leading the way aboard a Viking Long Ship through Lerwick down to the waterfront, the appointed Jarl (lead Viking) then sets the ship alight!

Visitors from around the world flock to Shetland to experience the festival firsthand.

Feeling inspired?

Browse our full range of holidays to the Shetland Isles today.

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