5 Best Sights in Lerwick, Orkney and Shetland Islands

Clickimin Broch

Fodor's choice

A stone tower on the site of what was originally an Iron Age fortification, Clickimin Broch makes a good introduction to these mysterious buildings. It was possibly intended as a place of retreat and protection in the event of attack. South of the broch are vivid views of the cliffs at the south end of the island of Bressay, which shelters Lerwick Harbor.


Fodor's choice

Next to the Shetland Museum, the bold and beautiful—although somewhat brutal around the back—Mareel is Shetland's adventurous and ambitious arts center. It has a live performance space attracting national and international musicians, two cinemas showing art-house and mainstream films, and a café and bar area that showcases local crafts, acoustic musicians, and some very drinkable Shetland beers.

Shetland Museum

Fodor's choice

On the last remaining stretch of the old waterfront at the restored Hay's Dock, the striking Shetland Museum, with its sail-like tower, is the area's cultural hub and a stimulating introduction to local history. The two-story space is filled with displays about archaeology, textiles, and contemporary arts. Standout exhibits include depictions of the minutiae of everyday Shetland life across the centuries, the last remaining sixareen (a kind of fishing boat), and the collection of lace shawls donated by Shetland families. Its informal spaces make this a wonderful place to hang out; look for vintage vessels moored in the dock and seals that pop up to observe everyone at the glass-fronted café-restaurant terrace. The museum shop is a must-visit, with a beautiful selection of nicely priced postcards and useful things inspired by the museum's collection.

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Fort Charlotte

This artillery fort was built in 1665 to protect the Sound of Bressay from the invading Dutch. They seized it in 1673 and razed the fort to the ground. They were soon chased out of Shetland and the fort was rebuilt in 1781.

Noss National Nature Reserve

The island of Noss (which means "nose" in old Norse) rises to a point called the Noup. The smell and noise of the birds that live on the vertiginous cliffs can assault the senses. Residents nest in orderly fashion: black-and-white guillemots (45,000 pairs) and razorbills at the bottom; gulls, gannets, cormorants, and kittiwake in the middle; fulmars and puffins at the top. If you get too close to their chicks, some will dive-bomb from above. To get here, take a ferry from Lerwick to Bressay, then (weather permitting) an inflatable boat to Noss. It's a four- to five-hour walk around the reserve, so allow plenty of time if the walk is the draw. Mid-May to mid-July is the best time to view breeding birds. No matter when you visit, be sure to wear waterproof clothing and sensible shoes.

Noss, ZE1, Scotland
Sights Details
Rate Includes: Free, Visitor center and inflatable ferry closed Sept.–Apr