By Adam CivicoOctober 31st 2023

As the popular BBC crime drama Shetland returns to our TV screens with Jimmy Perez’s replacement DI Ruth Calder leading the investigations, we highlight several spectacular locations that have featured in the series.

The iconic fictional detective Jimmy Perez made his first appearance in the books written by Ann Cleeves, and went on to be loved by millions when the books were adapted for TV.

Cleeves' relationship with Shetland began in the 1970s when she spent time in Fair Isle, working at the famous bird observatory as an assistant cook. It was there that she fell in love with the archipelago, and with her late husband Tim who was an ornithologist. Her time working in Fair Isle also inspired the first 'Shetland' novel Raven Black as well as lead character Perez, who grew up in the island.

The book was critically acclaimed, and Cleeves' Perez series went on to be best-selling. It later inspired the television show, first broadcast in 2013, with the islands’ stunning scenery and dramatic landscapes providing a wonderful backdrop to the gripping stories. Filming in Shetland has continued most years since, and the show remains a firm favourite in the UK and around the world.

Hello, Ruth Calder

Ten years after the first series, Shetland returns to our screens but there will be no Jimmy Perez, with lead actor Douglas Henshall leaving at the end of series 7. His replacement DI Ruth Calder, played by Ashley Jensen, will take the starring role in series 8.

She spent time in Shetland in the spring of 2023, and the familiar dramatic landscapes will still feature, along with the gripping storylines.

You can watch the trailer below.

Here we revisit some of the locations made famous by the television show.


Shetland’s main town is a great starting point for fans of the television show. The town’s Commercial Street has featured in every series, as has the much-photographed Lodberries house which was the home of DI Jimmy Perez.

Fans of the series will recognise many iconic locations from Bain’s Beach, adjacent to Perez’s house, Lerwick Harbour, Lerwick Town Hall and the sheriff court which doubles as the police station in the television show. It’s said that the entrance even had a fresh paint job in preparation for filming!

There are plenty of things to see and do in Lerwick including visiting Shetland Museum and Archives, used in several series, or exploring the historic Lerwick Lanes. These narrow passages ascending from Commercial Street are incredibly atmospheric and offer some excellent

While in the town you may decide to take the ferry across to the island of Bressay (the terminal has featured in many episodes), where you’ll be able to look back across the water and see Lerwick from a different perspective.

Eshaness and the North Mainland

Wherever you go in Shetland you’re close to spectacular locations, and the cliffs at Eshaness in the North Mainland are undeniably dramatic.

The area was once volcanic and the geology is as beautiful as it is interesting, with ancient lava flows dating back millions of years visible in the cliffs.

Keeping a safe distance from the edge, Eshaness is an excellent place for walking and exploring the coastline and the Stevenson lighthouse.

At nearby Braewick there are spectacular views of rock formations and sea stacks including the Drongs. Indeed, the whole northwest coastline is dramatically beautiful. It is easy to understand why producers frequently use the area for scenic shots (as well as the location for some of the darker storylines).

Many North Mainland communities have feature in different series and it is worth exploring Brae, Voe and Hillswick and enjoying a pit stop in one of the hotels, pubs or restaurants.

Burra’s beautiful beaches

If the North Mainland is all about incredible geology, a trip to Burra will give you the opportunity to visit two beautiful beaches, both of which are regular locations in the television series.

Minn beach is at the southern tip of Burra and is a tombolo (double-sided beach) which you can access along a track. It’s a 350-yard walk from the car park and the short trek is rewarded with spectacular views.

Another Burra beauty spot that was used in series 7 is Meal Beach near Hamnavoe. The path to the beach is along a gravel path with walkways and bridges across the boggy ground. It’s worth the effort to enjoy another of Shetland’s wonderful sandy expanses.

Sumburgh Head

At the southernmost tip of Shetland’s Mainland Sumburgh Head is home to another iconic lighthouse, as well as a nature reserve and cliffs that in the summer are the nesting site for thousands of seabirds.

The lighthouse visitor centre is open through the summer months telling more about the history of the site and its keepers (it wasn’t automated until 1991). If you’re lucky and are there at the start or end of the season you will get to hear the epic blast of the Sumburgh foghorn.

For the rest of the time it is a beautiful location to explore and experience wildlife. As already mentioned the cliffs are a breeding ground for birds including puffins, guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razor bills. And, although never guaranteed, it is not uncommon to spot orcas from the clifftops.

In the summer, there is also a coffee and cake shop, Katya’s Unken Kafee, that was used as the setting for a “hotel” in the series.

It’s also a great place to start a visit of the South Mainland with iconic sites including Jarlshof and Old Scatness close by. And if you want to visit more beautiful beaches make sure you stop at Quendale, Levenwick, and the spectacular tombolo at St Ninian’s Island – and you’ll see why they have all been used as locations in Shetland.

Discover Shetland's drama for yourself

If you are a fan of the BBC crime drama Shetland and the detectives Jimmy Perez, Allison 'Tosh' McIntosh and Ruth Calder, we've pulled together all the information you need to know.

Find out about the real Shetland, the show’s locations, the best-selling books behind the TV series and more.

Visit the page to start planning your visit and check out our itineraries including locations that have appeared in the show.

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