Tours & Trips

Photo: Kevin Tulloch Zoom Photo: Kevin Tulloch To get the most out of your Shetland visit make sure to fit in a trip with a local guide. These experts can help you watch the wonderful wildlife, catch the biggest fish, walk the wildest landscape or just enjoy the stunning scenery from land and sea. They can divulge the secrets of local history, dig into archaeological and geological mysteries, share stories from local folklore… and make sure you don’t miss any of the best bits.

On land, every aspect of Shetland’s environment is covered by a team of experienced and knowledgeable guides, both on foot or in comfy taxis or coaches. Whatever your interest – wildlife, botany, knitting, archaeology, photography, geology, folklore, gardening, food, music – there’ll be a tour or guide to help make your experience more fulfilling. Photo: Maurice Henderson Zoom Photo: Maurice Henderson

Boat trips to view the most spectacular and fascinating seabird colonies and, if you’re lucky, perhaps see a whale or dolphin or two, are a must for those interested in all things wild. From Lerwick you can visit the incredible seabird cities at Noss national nature reserve, taking in Bressay’s coastline on the way; from Sandwick you can enjoy the Mousa RSPB reserve and the best-preserved Iron Age broch in existence. Head to Aith for trips to view the impressive red cliffs and stacks in St Magnus Bay or set sail from Yell and voyage north to the end of Britain!

Photo: Brydon Thomason (Shetland Nature). Zoom Photo: Brydon Thomason (Shetland Nature). Diving and sea angling trips can be arranged by most boat operators and you can even try a short sail around Lerwick harbour on the replica longship Dim Riv, or have a day, weekend, or longer sail on Shetland’s restored herring drifter Swan (see below).

As well as scheduled trips, most guides will offer bespoke tours or private charters to suit your particular interests and requirements… just give them a call, browse their respective websites, or contact the Visit Shetland tourist information office (01595 693434) for more details.

Other useful contacts are the Shetland Islands Tourist Guides Association and the Shetland Amenity Trust Ranger service.

Swan’s silver year

Swan – LK 243 – is a familiar sight in Shetland and this year (2021) sees the 25th anniversary of her life as a sail-training and charter vessel. Photo: Kim Rendall Zoom Photo: Kim Rendall

Built in Shetland in 1900, Swan is a class B traditional wooden Fifie. She was one of the finest boats in the Scottish fleet when launched and part of the largest historical fishery in Shetland, which reached a peak in 1905 when 113,000 tons of herring were landed. At this time there were over 400 Shetland herring boats and 3,000 herring fishermen. Every community in Shetland had its own herring fleet, and Shetland was one of the main places in Europe for herring fishing. Yet there is hardly any evidence of this great industry left – apart from Swan.

Swan left Shetland in the 1950s. The Swan Trust was formed in 1990 to bring her back and, after extensive restoration, she was relaunched as a sail-training and charter vessel in 1996. 

Photo: Happyhansel School. Zoom Photo: Happyhansel School. This community asset brings people together, whether on a sailing trip, as part of its volunteer base, or through community events. As well as working with schools, youth and community groups, anyone can sail on Swan to a variety of destinations around Shetland and further afield, within and outwith the UK.

With no previous experience required, a ‘hands-on’ adventure on this unique vessel is open to anyone. Everyone plays an active role in sailing and working Swan, whilst taking in stunning scenery and getting to know their crewmates.

Sailing trips range from 1 to 12 days and the Swan is also available for private charter. Further info at www.swantrust.com.

Visit The Shetland Times Bookshop for a great selection of books, maps, guides and gifts.