Noss NNR - Visiting the reserve

Visit Noss to experience one of the greatest seabird spectacles Scotland has to offer.


For visitors

Our reserve leaflet is a good introduction to the reserve.

Noss ferry

The Noss ferry normally runs between the beginning of May and the end of August, except Mondays and Thursdays, and when the sea is too rough.  

There's no booking system for the Noss ferry, you just turn up at Noss Sound and the boat will come for you (the warden keeps a regular lookout during open hours).  Check the Information Line after 8 on the morning of your visit to make sure the ferry is running.

Ferry fare is £5 return adults, £3 children / students, under 5s free.

Please call the Noss Ferry Line on 0800 107 7818 for up-to-date information before you travel to Noss. 

The ferry is a small Rigid Inflatable Boat and staff will provide lifejackets for all passengers. There is a landing area on either side of Noss sound - depending on the tide you may need to take a large step up or down to get from the boat onto the pier. On occasion the boat will land at a different location due to tide or wind direction. 

Visitor centre

The visitor centre is open 10am to 5pm daily – except Mondays and Thursdays – from May to the end of August.

You’ll find a good mix of maps, panels, a findings table, books and objects to handle inside.


The toilets at the visitor centre are open 10am to 5pm daily – except Mondays and Thursdays –  from May to the end of August.

Rest areas

There are three benches next to the visitor centre on Noss, and seating inside the centre. Although there is no other seating on the reserve, there are plenty of flat grassland areas suitable for resting/sitting.

Trails for all

A walk around the island takes about 3 hours. The path is over moderate ground and can sometimes be very steep. You’ll need sturdy footwear and waterproof clothing. Walking anti-clockwise is easiest and gives you the best views of the seabird cliffs.

Seasonal highlights

Mid-May to mid-July are best for breeding seabirds. Seals, otters, wildflflowers and gannets can be seen until the end of August.


Spring sees the arrival of seabirds, including gannets, skuas, puffins, fulmars and kittiwakes. Watch the complex rituals as gannet parents swap incubation duties. You might also find some migrants making a pitstop on their way to breeding grounds further north.


Roseroot, red campion and sea campion are among the many flowers that form a natural rock garden on the sea cliffs. Elsewhere on the cliffs, eggs are hatching and seabirds are feeding their young. Porpoises can be common in the seas around the island. If you’re lucky you might also spot orcas – or orcas.

Getting here

By car

Take the car ferry from Lerwick to the Bressay ferry terminal. Follow the signs to Noss (6 kilometres to Noss Sound). Parking is beside the turning circle at the road end.

By bike

Bikes can be hired in Lerwick, which is on NCN Route 1 (Aberdeen to Shetland). Leave the route at Lerwick and take the car ferry to Bressay. Follow the signs to Noss (6 kilometres to Noss Sound).


Noss National Nature Reserve
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Hourly car ferry from Lerwick to Bressay (visit and follow Noss signs for three miles to the car park. Local bike hire is available in Lerwick. Then take the NatureScot inflatable boat (small charge) for three minute crossing. The NatureScot boat operates between 10am and 5pm each day in summer (except Mondays and Thursdays).