Lerwick (Photo:Zdenka Mlynarikova/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Lerwick

Lerwick, the Shetland Islands' capital, is undeniably multifaceted. Superficially, Lerwick's architecture reflects that of its past -- deeply rooted in Dutch traditions with stone-facade buildings, known as lodberries, lining the busy port. Lerwick, like the rest of the Shetland Islands, is more than just superficial beauty though -- and just a few hours in town will uncover a rather fascinating history.

A gift to Scotland from a Danish princess in the late 1400s, the town wasn't actually founded as a port until the late 17th century. The geographic location close to Norway is reflected in all facets of Lerwick -- from many of the store's decor to the people. The locals' warm and embracing personalities are a near-perfect blend of Norwegian and Scottish. The Scottish reminders come when you're strolling through the UNESCO town and see rolling green hills behind tall castle-like administrative buildings and sheep traffic jams in the center of town.

For visitors, there's plenty to do here -- whether you're docking for just a few hours or overnight. With vibrant green-hued hills flanking the beautiful Bressay Sound, be sure to book an excursion that gets you outside to explore the wildlife (like the Shetland ponies) and the stunning scenery. If you're visiting in July, the Shetland Nature Festival brings thousands to Lerwick to celebrate the islands (which are comprised of more than 1,500 small archipelagos) diverse wildlife and outdoor activities. For those visiting on rainy days, the town has museums, restaurants, theaters and more to keep you immersed in the local culture. As a bonus, there are public buses and ferries that can cart you to neighboring islands and other landmarks, like the historical site of Jarlshof.

About Lerwick


Pro

A charming Scottish port with excellent local seafood and an abundance of wildlife

Con

It can get chilly -- even in the summer months -- so pack accordingly  

Bottom Line

This historic port is packed with stunning scenery, friendly locals and a bounty of delicious local fare  


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Where You're Docked

Since the port itself is still relatively small, most ships dock either right alongside town or just a few meters away. Regardless of your parking spot, the town is within walking distance, and a large landing stage and welcome ashore pavilion will serve as a great meeting point. The port authority can also be reached by taxi or bus if you plan an excursion away from Lerwick. If you're not able to walk, a complimentary shuttle to and from town is available.

Good to Know

The famed Shetlandic accent, which almost sounds like a dialect you'd hear in "Game of Thrones!"

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Lerwick's currency is the British pound. For up-to-date exchange rates, visit www.xe.com. Most ATMs are found in front of the banks, inside the Tesco supermarket, at the Sound Service Station and at the Toll Clock Shopping Center. Most hotels, restaurants and shops accept major credit cards, but it's safe to bring ample cash for eating and sightseeing just in case.

Language

English is the language -- spoken with a local, Shetlandic twang. In addition to Shetlandic, Gaelic -- the Celtic language of Scotland -- is also spoken among some residents.

Shopping

Cozy wool cardigans, fair isle sweaters and sheepskin rugs are found aplenty all throughout the many boutiques and gift shops of Lerwick. Thanks to the local farming community, the wool here is top-notch and is represented in the clothing, knitwear, accessories and even the rugs. If you're not sure what to get, a wool scarf or hat in traditional Scottish tartan is always a good bet for gifts.