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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.

Scenic Shetland and Jarlshof Settlement

Activity mediumRefreshments includedShopping

Duration: 4 hours

Enjoy the unique, picturesque landscape of the Shetland Islands and visit one of the most impressive archaeological sites in Europe.

Enjoy a short tour of Lerwick Town, capital of the Shetland Islands, and the most northerly town in the British Isles. The compact town is built of stone, with narrow paved streets to give the residents some protection from the fierce winter gales. It has a very unique character not found elsewhere in the world; founded on the fishing industry and with strong Viking connections, little now remains of the old village of Lerwick.

Travelling south along the coastal road with the sea on one side and the hills of the South Mainland on the other, you’ll pass through several small settlements. A stop will be made to see the Island of Mousa, home of the best preserved Broch (Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structure) in existence. Drive on a short way to Hoswick and make a stop at the Hoswick Visitor Centre, a small souvenir shop and local museum about Shetland life, including information about the world renowned Shetland weaving.

From Hoswick, there is a short drive to the remarkable archaeological site of the Jarlshof settlement at Sumburgh, on the southern tip of the mainland. Jarlshof presents one of the most interesting remains of early human habitation and displays, through its monuments and ancient dwellings, a view of many different peoples and periods.

Refreshments of tea or coffee and shortbread will be served during the tour.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. There are cobbled, narrow paths and grass verges at Jarlshof.

Shetland Ponies and Panorama

Activity lowShopping

Duration: 3½ hours

Enjoy a scenic and cultural tour of Shetland and admire the photogenic Shetland ponies for which the islands are renowned.

Shetland has a 5,000 year old history, which has provided the islands with a fascinating background, steeped in legends and myths. Lerwick began as a fishing port in the 17th century, and today the centre of Lerwick is full of character. Moving through the town you’ll see the Town Hall and other interesting monuments before travelling out to Scalloway. A photo stop will be made en route at the Clickimin Broch, a drystone hollow-walled structure, with surrounding buildings dating from the Iron Age.

Arriving in the old town of Scalloway, the 2nd largest settlement on the mainland, see the ancient Castle, built around 1600 by Earl Patrick Stewart. Enjoy some free time is given to enable you to browse the shops or soak up the atmosphere.

Your journey continues past the pretty Loch of Tingwall, where a stop will be made at Carol’s Ponies. Here, you’ll have a chance to photograph the small, beautiful Shetland ponies and the local stud owner will also provide some interesting facts about these lovely animals.

Back on the shores of Weisdale Voe, a visit will be made to Shetland Jewellery, where traditional local jewellery is still hand crafted in the Celtic and Norse inspired fashions. On the return journey, ascend Wormadale Hill to enjoy panoramic views across the water of Whiteness Voe and Stromfirth. You’ll also pause to view the exterior of the Böd of Gremista, birthplace of Arthur Anderson, founder of the Peninsular and Oriental shipping corporation, namely P&O.

Essential information

This excursion will operate by coach. Walking is at passengers’ own discretion.

 

A selection of cruises to Lerwick

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