Posted on 22/05/2019 by Louise. Posted in Croft House Life

Shetland (the original home of fair isle knitting) has just been named by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 places in Europe to visit. With school holidays just around the corner, find out why travelling to the UK's most northerly isles is a great place to holiday with children as I run through my top 10 things to do.....


1. Overnight ferry. T.S Elliot once said "The journey, not the arrival matters."  Whilst you can fly to Shetland, when travelling with children a good way to get there is to take the overnight ferry from Aberdeen to Lerwick.  Look out on the Northlink website for "kids go free" which you can book by phoning direct.  On board there is a kids play zone and cinema to keep all ages amused. And of course, there is the excitement of sleeping on a boat in your own cabin.  By taking your own car, transport for the holiday is sorted and you can pack all the equipment and supplies that you may need without worrying about baggage weight.


2. Jarlshof.  At the southern tip of the Shetland mainland, Jarlshof is described as the most well preserved multi-occupational archeological site in the UK.  With areas deating from Neolithic times through the Bronze age, Iron age, Picts and Vikings to a 16th c. Laird's House, there is much to explore. Kids will have fun exploring all the nooks and crannies this large site has to offer.


3. Mousa boat trip.  Take the short boat trip from Sandwick to the uninhabited island of Mousa where you will have a few hours to explore.  As an RSPB nature reserve, it has amazing wildlife so look out for sea birds and seals.  It is also home to the worlds best preserved Broch.  A Broch is a distinctly Scottish structure dating from the Iron age. Standing at 42ft tall, you can climb to the top.


4. Shetland Museum.  This free museum in Lerwick is a great place to learn about the history of the isles from their geological beginnings to modern social history.  Choose from the selection of children's activity sheets at the entrance which will keep young ones entertained.  This modern museum also has lots of hands-on exhibits for them to try.


5. Northmavine.  The most northerly area of mainland Shetland is known as Shetland's geopark.  There is an easy (flat) walk from Eshaness Lighthouse to the Broch at Loch of Houlland.  You can walk for a short way along the spectacular cliff tops however if children cannot be relied upon to stay away from the edge, it is possible to walk nearer the road for this part.


6. Beaches.  Shetland has a huge range of coastline from dramatic cliffs to golden sandy beaches.  Due to the long maritime history of the Isles, search for "sea treasure" (glass and pottery pebbles) on stony beaches.


7. Clickimin leisure centre.  Shetland has many small leisure centres dotted around the islands.  However, Clickimin leisure centre in Lerwick has a leisure pool with flumes, whirl pool and toddler pool.  It holds "inflatable" and "busy kids" sessions.  It is next to Clickimin Broch and loch which makes a nice, easy walk.


8. Scalloway.  The pretty town of Scalloway was the ancient capital of Shetland.  There are cottages of every colour around the bay, dominated by the ruins of Scalloway Castle which is well worth a visit.  Next door is the Scalloway museum which details the village's unique role in WW2 helping the Norwegian resistance.


9. Pottery painting.  "Aa fired up" in Lerwick's Commercial Street is a great place to spend a few hours, especially on a rainy day.  Let your creative side loose painting your chosen piece and then collect later in your holiday or have it posted home once it is glazed and fired.


10. Animal experiences.  As you drive around you can't help but notice that there are a lot a sheep and Shetland ponies which enhance the natural beauty of the landscape. Get up close to Shetland ponies at "The Shetland pony experience " where you can also arrange to ride one.  "Burland Croft Trail" is a Shetland breeds farm where you can meet and feed the animals. They are on the islands of West Burra and Trondra which are accessible by road.

Shetland pony

There is a huge range of accommodation on offer. We chose a self-catering cottage on the cusp of the central and west side areas - rural but close enough to the ammenities of Lerwick.

As just a taster of what there is to do, there's plenty to make your island adventure full of happy memories.

Check out the official Shetland website to help plan your next trip to the Isles >