Getty Images/Robert Harding World Imagery



Old and new collide here, with Sumburgh airport right by this picturesque, instructive archaeological site. Various periods of occupation from 2500 BC to AD 1500 can be seen; the complete change upon the Vikings' arrival is obvious: their rectangular longhouses present a marked contrast to the preceding brochs, roundhouses and wheelhouses. Atop the site is 16th-century Old House, named ‘Jarlshof’ in a novel by Sir Walter Scott. There’s an informative audio tour included with admission.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Shetland attractions

1. Old Scatness

0.88 MILES

This dig brings Shetland’s prehistory vividly to life; it’s a must-see for archaeology buffs, but fun for kids, too. Clued-up guides in Iron Age clothes…

2. Sumburgh Head Visitor Centre

1.16 MILES

High on the cliffs at Sumburgh Head, this excellent attraction is set across several buildings. Displays explain about the lighthouse, foghorn and radar…

3. Quendale Water Mill

2.76 MILES

South of Boddam, a minor road runs southwest to Quendale. Here you’ll find the small but excellent, restored and fully operational 19th-century Quendale…

4. Shetland Crofthouse Museum

3.17 MILES

At Boddam a side road leads to the Shetland Crofthouse Museum (donations welcomed). The years drop away when you enter and step back into a primitive…

5. Scousburgh Sands

5.51 MILES

This gloriously white sandy beach is backed by dunes and is Shetland's finest strand. Near it, Spiggie loch is an important bird reserve and also draws…

6. St Ninian's Isle

7.35 MILES

A couple of miles beyond Bigton is the largest shell-and-sand tombolo (sand or gravel isthmus) in Britain. Walk across to beautiful, emerald-capped St…

7. Hoswick Visitor Centre

8.99 MILES

Near Sandwick, Hoswick Visitor Centre has a great collection of old wirelesses (including the daddy of them all – the Murphy type). There are displays on…

8. Mousa Broch

9.52 MILES

On the island of Mousa, off Sandwick, this prehistoric fortified house, dating from some 2000 years ago, is an impressive sight. Rising to 13m, it’s an…