Shetland With Kids

Shetland is a great place for an active family holiday, with a full range of indoor and outdoor activities. The fresh air, quiet surroundings and freedom provide the perfect destination for families travelling with kids.

Outdoor adventures in Shetland are easy to find, with so many natural attractions. At Sumburgh Head, RSPB offers family friendly experiences, particularly through the ‘Date With Nature’ and open days. Or why not to go out on one of the Shetland RSPB Wildlife Explorer Group’s days?

Taking the ferry to Mousa RSPB reserve is also quite an adventure and the Mousa Broch, the best preserved of its kind in the world, is well worth a visit. There are also many heritage centres around Shetland, which tell stories of Shetland’s past through interesting displays and artefacts.

There are so many rockpools, spectacular beaches and burns to be discovered with kids. One of the most attractive beaches in Shetland is St Ninian’s – a sand tombolo which joins St Ninian’s Isle to the mainland and it is brilliant for walks, barbeques, paddling and building sandcastles.

This is a fantastic location. We now have a young family and would like to return with the littlies.

In July Shetland Nature Festival offers the opportunity to join local naturalists at some of the islands’ best wildlife viewing areas. Whether your interest is Puffins, Killer Whales, Otters, plants or rock pooling - there’s something for all ages at this exciting event. The Shetland Nature team guarantees you’ll be entertained, informed and wowed. Or arrange a tour with Above&UnderWater Shetland 24 hours in advance, and the crew will have live animals in their aquarium to show the kids.

Or visit a real Shetland working croft at Burland Croft Trail, on Tronda, let the children get amongst the animals and learn about this traditional lifestyle and native Shetland breeds.

Shetland was awarded membership of the Global Geoparks Network in 2009. Geopark Shetland brings to life fascinating stories behind Shetland’s geology and geographical location. Take a walk on the wild side to Eshaness and view the best section through the side of a volcano in the British Isles! Visit St Ninian’s Isle and stroll along shifting sands! One of the finest sand tombolos in Europe and the largest active tombolo in the UK!

Many of the archaeological and historical sites within Shetland are also fun for children. Scalloway Castle and also Muness Castle are favourites, as the ruins are quite well preserved. Old Scatness and Viking Unst both show how life used to be, with living history activities. There are also many heritage centres around Shetland, which tell stories of Shetland’s past through interesting displays and artefacts. Many have interactive elements where kids can get involved. Quendale Watermill, Crofthouse Museum, Tangwick Haa, the Old Haa in Yell, Unst Heritage Centre and Fetlar Interpretive Centre are only a few suggestions. Not to be missed however, is the Shetland Museum and Archives which tells Shetland’s story from its geological beginning to the present day. There are over 3,000 artefacts, including boats suspended from the roof in the stunning Boat Hall. With children’s activities regularly organised and many interactive displays and games, you could make a day of it!

My visit this summer was the fourth and I've never been disappointed. Would love to bring my three young grandchildren who all like birdwatching.

Shetland also boasts 74 play parks across Shetland, one of which you are sure to come across while touring around the islands. We also have 8 leisure centres, perfect for days when the weather is not ideal for the outdoors. The main one is the Clickimin Leisure Centre, in Lerwick, which has become a major holiday attraction with an excellent range of leisure facilities for the whole family. The other centres are located all across Shetland and offer swimming pools and sports halls.

For creative kids there is also a family friendly pottery studio on Lerwick's Commercial Street, that offer the opportunity to choose from a large range of novelty and functional pottery items to decorate however you desire. There are staff on hand to offer ideas, advice or help when needed in a relaxed environment. Refreshments are available. Once decorated items are left to be glazed and fired and then picked up or posted if required. Find out more on facebook here.

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