Shetland Islands


Great Britain - Shetland Islands

Coastline of Shetland (Near Eshaness Lighthouse)

Shetland is a wondeful though secluded set of islands off the extreme northern tip of Scotland. One of the charming things about Shetland is that it is largely untouched by tourism though visitors can enjoy the island with relative ease – Accessing much of the countryside easily via paths and simply wandering through the fields…Of course, the wildlife is also an attraction with numerous seals and puffins willing to pose for the camera.

The People

The people of shetland are very friendly and welcoming. Most income is derived from local industries and, of course, fishing. Shetland is generally quite wealthy with simple houses (generally all containing fireplaces for heating).


Weather is generally much cooler than Scotland and the winters can be quite cool with the occasional snow. Bad weather can move in quickly from the surrounding oceans drenching the islands with rain and sweeping it with terrific winds.

Getting There

The options for getting to Shetland are not too many:

  • Plane - There are regular flights offered by British Airways (through local carrier Logainair) from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Flights take about one hour and arrive in Sumburgh (on the southern most tip of the main island).

Leaving from Sumburgh Airport

  • Ferry - The ferry is operated by NorthLink Ferries Ltd and takes about 12 hours leaving twice daily from Aberdeen and arriving in Lerwick (the main town). I have it on good authority that if you do not get a berth (which is likely since there are not too many available) the floor is not too uncomfortable for sleeping.

Getting Around

Many of the roads are single lanes with “passing places” (bulges in the road that allow cars to pull over to allow traffic from the opposite direction, or behind, to pass). It is recommended that a certain degree of caution be used when driving…

There is a local bus service but I would not count on this too much. Biking is possible but I would strongly suggest caution as the traffic is pretty heavy.

Regular ferries operate between all islands of Shetland. Operation of the ferries is government subsidised so is not too expensive and generally new ferries are in use everywhere.


Accomodation might be a bit tricky. When I visited I stayed with a friend. There are only a few places to stay (generally hotels) so it would be advised that you book ahead.


Lerwick is the main town of the islands with a population of about 12,000. The charming high street is delightfully free of many of the commercial multi-nationals seen throughout mainland UK and makes for a pleasant walk.

Lerwick Harbour

Lerwick is also a commercial port with many cruise ships visiting throughout the year as well as the twice daily ferry from Aberdeen.

Clickimin Broch (Lerwick)

Be sure to look for the seals in the harbour where they congregate due to the fish packing factory being nearby.

St. Ninian's Isle

St. Ninian's Isle is in the south end of the main island and is accessed via a small local road (go to Bigton then turn left instead of right before going into the town, follow the small road down to the coast). The island is conected to the mainland by a sand causeway (flooded over occasionally in the winter). There are no people living on the island though there is a set of old ruins.

St. Ninian's Isle

Not much to do here but hike around amongst the sheep and enjoy the views…

View Along Coast of St. Ninian's Isle

Further Information

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