Unst is the ultimate Shetland destination - the absolute end of every Great North Road in Britain, it has the northernmost of everything. It is also one of the most spectacular, varied and interesting islands in Europe.

Packed into an area just 12 miles long by five miles wide are stupendous cliffs, jagged sea stacks, low, rocky shores, sheltered inlets, golden beaches, heathery hills, freshwater lochs, peat bogs, fertile farmland - and even a unique, sub-arctic, stony desert which blossoms with unique flowers!

This stunningly beautiful and varied landscape supports a rich variety of wildlife, as well as purebred Shetland sheep and ponies which roam the common grazing land. Here you can meet Unst's world-famous Shetland ponies at the roadside.

The most northerly inhabited island in Britain, Unst, is fascinating for both its natural and human history.

Unst is one of the best places in Shetland for walking, offering more than 100 miles of coastal paths, trails and moorland walks in stunning scenery. There’s no shortage of amazing wildlife viewing and there are Geopark and Viking sites to visit, too. Twenty trails have been devised for walkers of all abilities. The ‘UnstWalk’ project to develop the island as a walkers’ destination is underway and a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ information centre is open daily from 10am until 5pm at Foord’s Café and Chocolate Experience, the North Base, Saxa Vord, from mid-March until the end of October. Find out more about the Unst Walkers are Welcome community.

Unst is also a very sociable community of some 500 people who welcome visitors at concerts, dances, regattas and other local events.

As well as the great outdoor attractions of birdwatching at Hermaness National Nature Reserve, rare arctic-alpine plants on the Keen of Hamar, sea and loch-angling and some wonderful coastal walks, there's plenty on offer if the weather keeps you indoors.

Unst is an ideal place to enjoy:

Alternatively, you can simply relax in peace and quiet.

Beautiful scenery, very good for birdwatching and wildlife, lovely walks and interesting history.

The Unst Boat Haven is Shetland's only museum dedicated to the history of the islands' distinctive wooden boats and the line-fishermen who used them until the early 20th century. The pleasure-boat descendants of these Viking-inspired craft can be seen at the Unst Marina in Baltasound, along with the 'Far Haaf', a locally-built replica of a sixareen (six-oared boat).

The Unst Heritage Centre tells the engrossing story of the islanders' struggle for existence over the centuries. Most Unst families are still involved with the traditional crofting life depicted here, but there's a variety of other work based on the island's resources and position, such as quarrying, fish farming, craftwork (fine knitwear in particular), and wildlife tourism. Unst has also played an important role in the nation's defences. The remains of a very early, Second World War radar station can still be seen and the Cold War radar dome on Saxa Vord – which no longer houses radar equipment – is visible from many parts of the island.

The collection of fine lace knitwear on display at the Heritage Centre is world-renowned. Workshops on knitting and weaving are held there regularly and there are residential knitting weekends in autumn and winter.

Indoor activities:

  • Valhalla Brewery, the UK's most northerly producer of craft beers, produces a range of six fine Shetland ales, the perfect refreshment after a long day. The brewery offers guided tours by advance arrangement, allowing visitors to see the ale production first-hand, and there is a gift shop.
  • The Shetland Reel gin distillery has a tasting room and visits can be arranged in advance.
  • A welcome surprise on a cold, wet day is the heated swimming pool and lagoon in the modern Unst Leisure Centre, where visitors can use all the facilities. There is a gym, squash courts and pool tables.

  • Foords Chocolates will satisfy a sweet tooth with their range of handmade chocolate selections. They have a café, operate Unst Cycle Hire and have created an RAF Exhibition.
  • Visit Victoria's Vintage Tearoom. It is open between 11am and 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday
We hope you enjoy your visit to this remarkable, accessible and welcoming island.
Love Shetland, specially Unst because the sense of openness and also being on the top of the world. Hopefully one day I will have my holiday home in Unst.

Getting There

Two ferry crossings are involved in travelling from the Shetland Mainland to Unst, but it’s a very straightforward journey.

  1. On the Shetland Mainland, follow the A968 road to Toft;
  2. Take the car ferry across Yell Sound from Toft to Ulsta on the island of Yell; the crossing takes 20 minutes.
  3. Drive north across Yell to Gutcher; allow 25 minutes without stops.
  4. Take the car ferry across Bluemull Sound from Gutcher to Belmont on Unst; this crossing takes 10 minutes.

The ferries between the Mainland and Yell run every hour or half hour during the day and evening. Those between Yell and Unst are also frequent, but bear in mind that some journeys from both Gutcher (Yell) and Belmont (Unst) are to the island of Fetlar, indicated by the letter H (for Hamars Ness) in the ferry timetable. It’s important to note that all the times shown are departure times.

It’s not always essential to book these ferries in advance but we recommend that you do. The telephone number for the booking office is shown in a panel on the timetable; you’ll be asked where you’re going, the sailing you want to use, your name and your car registration number. You pay on the ferry on the outward journey only.

A morning bus service leaves from Lerwick at 7.50am, going past the ferry terminal. There is an afternoon bus as well.

It is possible to make a day trip to Unst but, if time allows, we would recommend that you stay a few days to explore this fascinating island.

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