The Shetland Mainland is by far the largest of this island group, with a long and fjord-like coastline of bays, inlets, headlands and smaller nearby islands, which make for some breathtaking seascapes.
To the south is a long finger of land pointing down to Sumburgh Head, with spectacular cliffs home to a historic lighthouse and thousands of breeding seabirds, best viewed from the RSPB nature reserve. This area also has the finest archaeological remains on the islands.
Jarlshof was exposed by a storm 100 years ago, just like Skara Brae on Orkney, and is an incredible collection of ancient buildings daring from the Bronze Age to the 17th century. Mousa Broch is accessible by boat, and is a wonderfully preserved Iron Age tower.
The charming harbour of Lerwick is Shetlands largest town, built on the prosperity brought by the herring fishing trade and more recently North Sea oil from the oil terminal in Sullom Voe. This bustling and characterful place has some fine stone buildings overlooking the water, old-fashioned shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants and a good local museum.
On the opposite coast is the attractive historic port of Scalloway, once the capital of the islands, and dominated by its atmospheric ruined 17th century castle.
North of Lerwick the island is less populated and has some wonderful scenery.
The west is characterised by rolling hills and moors, inlets and lochs and some fantastic sandy beaches. To the north is a more rugged landscape of cliffs, caves, arches and rocky sea-stacks.
Whatever you prefer, the island has fantastic opportunities for getting out and enjoying the countryside - walking, sailing, fishing, mountain-biking, golfing and more.
The island has everything - enjoy the beaches as well as the small towns.
Towns Near Shetland Mainland To Visit - straight line distance:Whalsay (9.42 miles) Bressay (12.84 miles) Yell (19.45 miles)
Shetland Museum and Archives Award-winning museum complex.
Noss and Bressay Cruises Boat trips around the spectacular coastline of the islands of Noss and Bressay.
Up Helly Aa World-famous Viking fire festival.
Mousa Broch Best preserved Iron Age defensive tower.
Scalloway Castle Imposing ruined castle dominating this small town.
Fort Charlotte 18th century fort protecting Lerwick harbour.
The Croft House Museum Life in a thatched 19th century crofters cottage.
Quendale Water Mill Restored mill and crofting museum.
Hoswick Visitor Centre Local history centre and cafe.
Bod of Gremista and Shetland Textile Museum Historic fishing booth hosting textile heritage exhibitions.
Scalloway Museum Local history, including the Norwegean WWII resistance movement.
Taingwick Haa Trust Local history of Northmavine.
The Cabin Museum Wartime history of the islands.