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About Lerwick

Bustling Lerwick is the capital, and only town, of Scotland's Shetland Islands. Founded in the 17th century to service Dutch herring fleets, a number of its oldest structures, including the fort, were burnt to the ground many years ago. Today most of its historical architecture can be seen along the waterfront, including sandstone buildings, which date from the 18th century.

Perched on the hillside, over the harbour, the town's lanes retain their charm. As you stroll the narrow streets, you will discover a mix of shops and restaurants, whilst up on the hillhead stand more recent additions including villas, public parks and the Town Hall.
 
The Shetland's have an internationally celebrated musical heritage, in particular, their fiddle playing, which you might get the chance to sample whilst here. They also have a fascinating story to tell through the many, rich archaeological sites that can be found here, with remains dating back some 5,000 years.

 

Shore excursions in Lerwick

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

A Walk around Lerwick Town

Activity high

Duration: 3 hours

Situated amidst an archipelago of islands, Lerwick has fascinating stories to tell as well as unique architecture to discover.

The ancient fishing port of Lerwick, is the cultural and administrative hub of the Shetland Islands, the most northerly islands in Britain. The town itself dates from the 17th century, when it began to grow as a trading port for Dutch herring fishermen. Local merchants built Lodberries (houses with their own piers) to serve incoming fishing boats direct from their own properties, which still stand along the harbour front.

Overlooking the harbour is Fort Charlotte, built in 1665 and later rebuilt in 1781. The Fort provides panoramic views over the harbour, which, though not in use today, was once a prison and a Royal Navy reserve base.

Admire the exterior of the Lerwick Town Hall, a charming Victorian building that was completed in 1884, due to the wealth the herring industry brought.

A visit to the Shetland Museum and Archives, opened in 2007, provides an interesting insight into island life, past and present. View the various displays of archaeology, folk life, social and maritime history, as well as exhibitions of contemporary art.

You’ll also explore the intriguing ‘closses’ (narrow lanes), which run from the harbour area to the top of the hill, home to many secret tales from the lives of the town’s inhabitants. One of Shetland’s most famous sons, Arthur Anderson, founder of the Peninsular and Oriental shipping corporation (P&O), is also intimately connected with the town.

Essential information

This excursion will operate on foot. The walk includes several steep lanes and some cobbled terrain. Flat, walking shoes are essential.

Discover Northmavine

Activity mediumRefreshments included

Duration: 4¼ hours

Head across to Northmavine to visit the Tangwick Haa Museum and Eshaness Lighthouse.

Setting off from Lerwick, you’ll pause on the outskirts of town to view the exterior of the Böd of Gremista, birthplace of Arthur Anderson, one of Shetland’s most famous sons and founder of the Peninsular and Oriental shipping corporation, namely P&O.

Your journey will then continue towards Northmavine, the northernmost area of the Shetland mainland, which has some spectacular wild and rugged scenery. You’ll cross Mavis Grind, which is little more than 32 metres wide at its narrowest point, and is said to be the only place in the United Kingdom where you can throw a stone across land from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean.

Your destination is the Tangwick Haa Museum, a 17th century laird’s house that holds a fascinating collection of artefacts. Here, you can gain an insight into the past lifestyle of those that once lived in such remote areas. During your visit, coffee or tea and a scone will be offered at the Braewick Café, where you can also enjoy unique views of the famous sea stacks ‘the Drongs’.

Afterwards, you’ll head to Eshaness Lighthouse, which was built in 1929 by David and Charles Stevenson, uncles of Robert Louis Stevenson. Here, you can enjoy an optional walk along the cliff top to admire the stunning scenery. The ferocity of the Atlantic has contributed to the spectacular geological formations and the cliffs are also home to a number of seabirds.

Departing Eshaness, enjoy more Shetland scenery as you head back to Lerwick.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. This tour involves around 1 hour of leisurely walking over undulating grassy terrain, which may be boggy. Flat, comfortable walking shoes are essential.

Mousa Island, Broch and Seals

Activity medium

Duration: 4 hours

Gain an insight into one of Shetland’s most picturesque islands and visit the best preserved Iron Age Broch in the world.

Departing Lerwick, travel south along the coastal road passing through several small settlements before reaching the village of Sandwick. Travel by ferry to Mousa, where your skipper will be delighted to point out any sightings of porpoises or seals for which the island is famous. Mousa Sound is one of Scotland’s most important sites for the endangered Harbour Porpoise, present between May and September.

Once on the island, you’ll walk to the famous Mousa Broch, the most magnificent and awe-inspiring of all of the world’s Brochs. At 42 feet high, the tower is the tallest and best preserved Broch (an Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure) in the world combining features of a fort, fortified house and status symbol.

If you wish, take a guided walk of just under 2 miles to explore more of Mousa and perhaps see some seals in their natural habitat at the ‘Home of the Seals’. The circular walk will take you past 2 pools, which are known seal resting sites. You may also see many kinds of birds including Arctic Terns, Arctic Skuas and Great Skuas.

If you do not wish to take the walk, you will have time to explore the mysterious structure of the Broch and take photos from the tower where the views are magnificent and unspoiled.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by ferry, coach and on foot. There are no toilets on the island of Mousa. Comfortable, flat, enclosed footwear, waterproof clothing and long trousers are recommended. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed.

Seabirds and Seals

Activity lowRefreshments included

Duration: 3¼ hours

Travel by boat to remote Noss Island Nature Reserve to see the magnificent wildlife that flocks here during the summer months.

If you love nature and have an interest in seabirds and seals, this is the tour for you.

From the pier, step aboard the MV ‘Seabird’ – a fast catamaran with a good stable viewing platform and lots of space inside and out to view Shetland’s spectacular seabirds and seal colonies.

This Seabird and Seals excursion will take you really close to the 25,000 gannets, thousands of guillemots and hundreds of puffins, razorbills, black guillemots, gulls, shags and skuas at Noss National Nature Reserve.

Along the way you’ll discover the fascinating coastline of the island of Bressay. The route changes each day, depending on the wind speed and direction to ensure you are taken to the most sheltered water. Weather permitting, you’ll sail close to the magnificent rock arch of the Giant’s Leg and, with the ship's underwater camera, view plankton, starfish, crabs, sea urchins, sea anemones, soft corals and jelly fish in the beautiful Orkneyman’s Cave or a sheltered reef where fish glide above the kelp forest.

Porpoises are sometimes seen and very occasionally whales, otters and dolphins make an appearance. You will almost certainly get close to the grey seals and harbour seals.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by boat. Lifejackets are provided and demonstrated during the safety briefing. Flat, comfortable shoes are recommended. Dress warmly in layers and bring lightweight waterproofs if possible and binoculars. There is a toilet onboard. Wildlife sightings cannot be guaranteed. Complimentary beverages and biscuits will be offered. Smoking is not permitted. A Safety briefing will be given before departure.

Scalloway and Award-Winning Fish and Chips

Activity mediumMeal included

Duration: 4 hours

On this fantastic tour you will learn about Shetland’s fishing industry and enjoy traditional fish and chips at the award-winning Frankie’s Fish and Chips.

The tour will commence from the pier at Lerwick, crossing the mainland of Shetland on a scenic drive which takes in the fascinating landscape. You’ll stop at a beautiful viewpoint with the opportunity to take photos.

The port of Scalloway plays host to a wide variety of fishing vessels. The larger boats are part of Shetland’s whitefish fleet and the area is one of the most productive salmon farming areas in Scotland, fish being the mainstay of the local economy. The village is home to the NAFC Marine Centre which provides training for the Fishing and Maritime industry. The centre also researches by breeding species of fish to determine if they may become farmable and sustainable in the future. They also have a programme to breed lobsters for release into the wild.

Departing Scalloway you’ll skirt the pretty Loch of Tingwall with its Norse heritage and continue north to Brae. On arrival at Brae you’ll be able to enjoy fish and chips at ‘Frankie’s’. No ordinary chippy, the café and takeaway has won the coveted ‘UK Number 1 Fish and Chips Shop’ award back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 and is proud to be Britain’s most northerly, sustainably sourced, fish frying eatery.

Departing Brae you’ll take the return journey back to Lerwick.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach and on foot. There is approximately 30 minutes of walking on this tour over paved terrain.

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