Lerwick is the friendly capital of the 100 islands and islets of the Shetland. The bustling, cosmopolitan seaport is the islands’ only town, and its wonderful natural harbour is a joy to explore.
Until the 1600s, Leir Vik – Norse for a muddy bay – was little more than a few huts. However, conflict between the British and Dutch, whose fishing fleet fished for herrings off the islands, led to the building of a permanent settlement.[ReadMoreMob] This included Fort Charlotte, which once overlooked the harbour but has now been enclosed by the town following land reclamation.
Despite the wealth created by North Sea oil, modern Lerwick retains many fascinating small shops and historic buildings. Wandering along atmospheric Commercial Street is a delight, and the Böd of Gremista – a “fishing booth” built in 1780, is now a fascinating museum. The ground floor has the salt store and the kitchen, where herrings were hung to dry. Outside the town are the well preserved remains of the Broch of Clickimin, a small Bronze-Age settlement excavated in the last century.
Shetlands' Ancient Settlements
The Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse settlements in Shetland are one of the most important archaeological sites in Scotland.
Jarlshof is located at Sumburgh Head near the southern tip of mainland Shetland, and is an extraordinary site of complex ancient settlements which cover more than 4,000 years of human history. You will be amazed to find such a range of archaeological treasures in one place, including late Neolithic houses, a Bronze Age village, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, a Norse longhouse, a medieval farmstead and a 16th century laird’s house.
RSPB Sumburgh Head
Visit these cliffs during the summer and you'll be privileged to witness the amazing spectacle of thousands of breeding seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, shags and fulmars. Sumburgh Head is also a great place to watch for whales and dolphins, particularly minke whales and orcas.
Shetland’s world-famous small ponies can be seen throughout the island. Appearing to roam wild, the ponies are owned and tended to by local crofters. They stand up to 42 inches, or 107 cms high at four years or older.
From the 1840s, Shetland ponies began to be used in British coal mines as new laws forbade the employment of women,
girls and, later, boys. Hardy, resilient and very strong for their size, the ponies made ideal substitutes as they were able to pass through low underground tunnels hauling truckloads of coal.
Cruises to Lerwick
Departs: Southampton • Fri 05 Mar 2021
7 nights • Bolette • T2103
- Be part of something very special and experience the excitement of being one of the first guests to sail on our new flagship, Bolette.
- Celebrate as we begin a new chapter of Fred. Olsen history during a rewarding seven-night discovery of fascinating destinations in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- You’ll marvel at the intriguing wonders of Dutchman’s Cap and Fingal’s Cave; have time to explore ashore in the Shetland and Orkney Islands; and visit the attraction-packed city of Belfast.
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Departs: Dover • Sat 17 Apr 2021
7 nights • Bolette • T2108
- Week-long springtime escapes don’t get much better than this – enjoy ample time to experience the delights of ocean cruising, and revel in the beauty, tranquillity and charms of scenic islands.
- Sail to the enchanting Faroe Islands, to marvel at the spectacular scenery of Cape Enniberg, Streymoy, Gásadalur and Hestur Islands, and delve into the archipelago’s Viking history too.
- Closer to home, glorious Scottish isles await; there are breathtaking coastal scenes, natural wildlife reserves and ancient treasure aplenty to discover in the Shetlands and Orkneys.
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Departs: Rosyth (Edinburgh) • Thu 05 Aug 2021
5 nights • Balmoral • L2124
- In just five nights, visit two beautiful countries to uncover intriguing islands, natural wonders and enchanting wildlife for a short, yet simply unforgettable summer break.
- See magnificent sea stacks guarding the rugged Orkneys; and visit the Shetlands to take in gorgeous coastal scenery, remarkable ancient settlements and wildlife such as iconic native ponies.
- Marvel at the unspoilt beauty of the uninhabited islets of Gáshólmur and Tindhólmur; arch-shaped Drangarnir and picturesque Gásadalur; plus the bird habitats of Hestur Island and Mykines.
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Departs: Dover • Thu 18 Mar 2021
7 nights • Bolette • T2105
- Experience some of Scotland’s most outstanding scenic highlights, from on board Bolette and during time ashore, on this rewarding week-long break.
- Relax and revel in the Sound of Mull’s tranquillity and countryside beauty; see the legendary Duart Castle; study the volcanic Dutchman’s Cap; and marvel at Fingal’s Cave’s mighty basalt stacks.
- Explore ashore amongst the glorious landscapes of Scottish isles; seek-out the Shetland’s coastal scenes and native wildlife, and delve into the Neolithic heritage of the Orkneys.
From £599ppFares Explained | What's Included
Departs: Liverpool • Fri 23 Apr 2021
6 nights • Borealis • S2107
- On this very special six-night sailing, you’ll be amongst the first guests to cruise on Borealis, and get to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in Fred. Olsen history.
- The cruise offers a rewarding discovery of beautiful, close-to-home destinations too – some of Scotland’s greatest islands and waterways await you.
- Feel the tranquillity of Loch Broom, Eriboll and Torridon, as you look-out for scenic sights such as Beinn Ghobhlach, and enjoy time ashore to seek-out the treasures of the Shetlands and Orkneys.
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Departs: Liverpool • Thu 03 Jun 2021
12 nights • Borealis • S2112
- With chances to uncover rugged waterways and archipelagos, and experience the magic of the Midnight Sun, immerse yourself in Northern Norway’s unrivalled drama and beauty.
- Enjoy unforgettable scenic cruising into spectacular Sortlandsundet and by beautiful Reine; and explore ashore amongst Lofoten and Vesterålen’s astonishing scenery.
- Take in the attractions of Tromsø, including the iconic Arctic Cathedral and Mount Storsteinen; visit breathtaking Harstad and enjoy a rare opportunity to explore colourful Hammerfest.
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Departs: Liverpool • Thu 29 Jul 2021
8 nights • Borealis • S2117
- Create memories that last a lifetime as you sail Scottish Lochs on a smaller ship – the best way to experience the beauty and tranquillity of this astonishing part of the world.
- See mighty Ben Nevis in Loch Linnhe and Beinn Ghobhlach towering over Little Loch Broom; Loch Fyne; Fingal Cave’s basalt columns and more.
- Ashore, your call at Fort William could coincide with the annual Lochaber Highland Games, while legendary historic sites, from castles to Neolithic treasures, await you too.
From £1,399ppFares Explained | What's Included
Departs: Liverpool • Sat 28 Aug 2021
5 nights • Borealis • S2120
- Discover enchanting waterways and remote islands on board Borealis and experience a memorable snapshot of Scotland’s gorgeous summertime scenery.
- Relax during hours of daytime scenic cruising, taking in historic Duart Castle and the picturesque Sound of Mull, the intriguing Dutchman’s Cap and astonishing Fingal’s Cave.
- Step ashore in the Shetlands and the Orkneys, to go in search of many more of Scotland’s most famous highlights, such as UNESCO-listed Skara Brae and iconic Shetland ponies.
From £799ppFares Explained | What's Included
Departs: Southampton • Wed 25 Jan 2023
9 nights • Balmoral • L2303
- Making the most of a rare wintertime exploration of Norway’s magical fjords, you’ll enjoy a very special seasonal snapshot of inspirational landscapes and enchanting destinations.
- Breathe in crisp, fresh air and savour the spectacular scenes of Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord; ride Bergen’s famous funicular railway; and immerse yourself in the local culture of Stavanger and Eidfjord.
- After Norway, you’ll sail south via the Shetland Islands for a unique experience – during an overnight stay in Lerwick, you’ll catch all the parades and ceremonies of the unique Up Helly Aa Festival.
From £1,199ppFares Explained | What's Included