Near the Airport
Just off the perimeter road of the airport there is a great bird site at Sumburgh Head lighthouse and if you arrive by air, your holiday could start just yards from the terminal. There's good parking and good vantage points of the birds on the cliffs. At the top of the hill there are puffins in the summer, which can be seen just a couple of yards away.
Places to visit within easy driving distance
Some of the finest dramatic cliff scenery in the world is within easy reach at Eshaness on the north west coast, together with interesting geological features such as sea stacks and sea arches like the Dore Holm. The excellent Breiwick Café is not far from Eshaness and the St Magnus Hotel at Hillswick also serves a good carvery for Sunday lunch, which can be walked off with a fine walk around Hillswick.
At the most northerly end of Mainland is Fethaland with its now abandoned fishing station, but a magical place, nevertheless, to walk to on a fine day. Again, Muckle Roe and the Hams of Roe is a fine walk and you are rewarded with wonderful scenery at the coast.
Brae is 11 miles north from Skelberry with a small Co-op and a post office. It also has some reasonable eating places such as the bar meals in the Busta House Hotel, or you can book the restaurant if you want to splash out. Frankie's fish and chips are also recommended here.
Lerwick is a 20-30 minute drive south from Skelberry with two supermarkets as well as a number of other shops on Commercial Street and its environs. The Museum is outstanding and very child friendly. Its exhibits and layout are well thought out in a very fine modern building on the harbour front. It also has a gallery with some fine exhibitions and there is also a good restaurant serving meals at night as well as lunches and morning coffee. Lerwick has a number of cafes and restaurants and the hotels also serve meals. You will find this information in the Visitors file, which we have left in the lounge by the sofa.
An alternative, but longer, route into Lerwick can take you through Whiteness and Weisdale on the western side of the Kames. Part of this valley is wooded with scenery more like Scotland than Shetland. Weisdale Mill now contains the Bonhoga Gallery, which features multi-media exhibitions as well as a very good coffee shop. Shetland Silvercraft workshops are also in this district. Continuing south towards Lerwick there are some very fine views as you continue along the Voe looking out to the open sea.
Scalloway, which is about 5 miles from Lerwick, is Shetland's old capital with the ruins of Earl Patrick's castle still standing. Scalloway was also involved in the Shetland Bus operations during the Second World War and it became the base after the operations moved from Lunna House. The Scalloway Hotel serves very good food as bar meals and in their up-market restaurant. At the time of writing the Fisheries College in Scalloway was also due to open its restaurant to visitors at lunchtime and in the early evening, but it is advisable to check before you turn up.
Places to visit further afield
South of Lerwick there are a number of beautiful locations such as St Ninian's Isle, which is a wonderful example of a tombolo with a magnificent beach. Spiggie Loch is also in this area, which is a favourite nesting place for birds and geese and Spiggie beach is a beautiful picturesque cove.
Sumburgh Head is an excellent RSPB site for bird watchers and close by are two famous archaeological sites - Jarlshof, with its Norse settlement, and Scatness, which is predominantly an Iron Age broch settlement. The isle of Mousa is located on the east side of mainland and it offers fine views of its seal colony in the summer, but it also has the remains of the Broch of Mousa, which is the best example of its kind in the world.
Islands, such as Fair Isle and Foula, can be reached by local planes from Tingwall Airport as well as by local boat services, but again check service times. The northern isles offer RSPB nature reserves such as the one at Hermaness on Unst to view a range of birds including Great Skuas and puffins and also on Fetlar to view the red-throated phalaropes in the summer. The islands differ considerably and as a result there is a broad diversity of flora and fauna.