Port of call Lerwick in the Shetland Islands has been a crossroads for Vikings, Scottish lords and modern day fishing fleets. Many historic sites and a large puffin population.
The Shetland Islands, formerly Zetland, are a subarctic island group in the Northern Isles of Scotland, situated in the Northern Atlantic, between Great Britain, the Faroe Islands and Norway. Lerwick is the government center of the Shetland archipelago and the most northerly town in Great Britain. The name comes from Old Norse Leirvík, meaning ‘muddy bay’. The town is situated on a fine natural harbor on Bressay Sound on the eastern coast of Shetland Mainland.
As your ship cruises into Bressay Sound you will pass the headlands and the Bressay lighthouse and anchor just off historic Lerwick.
To get a good feel for the place and the people that live here you can stream a popular television show that is a very good police show centered in Lerwick called Shetland.
Getting Ashore -Cruise ships will normally anchor out and use tenders to reach shore. The tenders will dock right in the center of this picturesque town with its narrow streets and historic buildings.
Transportation – While there is a good public bus network (www.zettrans.org.uk) with its hub at Lerwick that reaches most points on the main island, and connect with ferries to other islands it will occupy a fair amount of time to get around. The Lerwick bus depot is conveniently located near the center of town. Buses on a route going south from Lerwick leave about every hour and a trip to Sumburgh takes about 45 to 50 minutes. Along that route you will find the Broch of Clickimin, Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, the airport and the puffin nesting area at the park at Sumburgh Head.
Because of the time constraints involved in a day in port the best approach is to take an organized tour or better still rent a car. Shetland has really good roads and renting a car is pretty easy. Rates average about £40 a day. Companies include Bolts Car Hire and Star Rent-a-Car located near the bus station.
Money – The Shetlands is part of Scotland and has now reverted to the English Pound. US Dollars and Euros are not generally accepted but most credit cards are welcome.
The Broch of Clickimin is a large, well-preserved partially restored broch (a broch is an Iron Age stone hollow-walled structure unique to Scotland) dating to the late Bronze Age and is located just a mile north of town.
Fort Charlotte in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland, is a five-sided artillery fort, with bastions on each corner. The grounds and exterior battlements are open to the public and it offers good views of the towns harbor area. Today Fort Charlotte is managed by Historic Scotland, and is the base for Shetland’s Territorial Army. Visitors must call to get the keys to visit buildings.
Lerwick is home to a number of nice art galleries and gift shops. Art and crafts with puffins being the most popular subject.
The Shetland Island’s Puffins. These islands are home to a large population of puffins in the UK, making them a good place for puffin-watching as well as other bird watching but puffins only if you’re visiting from May through July. Puffins remain at sea the rest of the year. Within the Shetland Islands there are a number of places to see puffins, but of all puffin colonies on Shetland, Sumburgh Head is the most easily accessed. The site is about twenty miles south of Lerwick and a short drive from Sumburgh airport. The puffin grounds are just a few yards from the Sumburgh Head car park. The nesting grounds have around 5,000 puffins that nest, fish and fly on both sides of the headland so the chances are you will see puffins flying around the moment you step out of your car. The site is run by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.