The Shetland Islands are very remote: the ferry from Aberdeen takes 10 hours (overnight) to reach Shetland. Obviously, it is expensive to travel that far. Although you could travel without a cabin, such a long trip justifies booking a bunk. The weather is harsh and the winds strong most of the year, so don't forget your seasickness tablets.
Shetland is mostly of interest to birdwatchers specalising in seabirds. There is not much else to see or do there.
Even at the height of Summer, the temperature rarely exceeds 15C, so don't bother with shorts or sandals. There are a few nice sandy beaches but only a polar bear would venture for a swim in the water wich rarely exceeds 12C. It rains a lot so bring wellies and clothes you would wear on a winter weekend on Dartmoor. Umbrellas are no use: the wind is too strong.
There are some B&Bs and some hotels. There is not much choice or competition, so service is somewhat below standards elsewhere. Nothing is cheap.
Don't expect to find much to buy; clothing is what you would find in a small county town; crafts are a recent industry. Most famous is the Shetland /Fair Isle knitting in Shetland wool. Expect to pay at least £100 for a hand knit jumper. Remember too that Shetland wool is not machine washable; some consider it itchy.
Tourist facilities are scarce. There are some archeological digs and a new museum which could occupy you one afternoon.
A good destination for a very keen birdwatcher with spare cash. A few days should give you plenty of time to see everything.
We found that the Orkney Islands are closer to the mainland and offer more archeological attractions and better tourist facilities, with better food.
Shetland, the northern most islands in britain lying 60 degrees north and one degree west. I am currently sitting in shetland, on my holidays writing this review, and quite common the weather is dull and it's raining, not so good. I come to shetland to see my family and every year i come, i always discover someting new.
How to get to shetland : There are two possible ways to travel to shetland, the plane or the ferry. The plane lands in the little airport in sumburgh, which is the very south of shetland and flights are available from aberdeen, edinburgh... The ferry (northlink ferries) travels from aberdeen to lerwick, which is in the central mainland and also the capital of shetland. The plane takes about 1 hour and a half to get to shetland from edinburgh but it will vary depending on where your flying from. The ferry takes 12 hours from aberdeen, but it is an overnight crossing, however if it stops off at orkney it takes another 3 hours roughly but thats only on specific nights of the week. The ferry is great if you want to take your car, but if you choose the plane, it is very easy to hire a car from the airport.
The weather = The weather in shetland is very changable, very common as it is in scotland! Depending how low you are there can be very thick mist, making visibility very poor. The temperature in the summer is roughly around 15 degrees, which is quite reasonable considering how far north shetland is.
The shops = The shops in shetland haven't got a big range, but there is not a lot of people. The most shops are in the capital, Lerwick where there are two main food shops coop and tesco. There are also a variety of shops on the town street, little local shops, shetland fudge company and the shetland soap company are included.
Where to stay = There are a number of different hotels, hostels, b and b's and holiday homes that tourists could stay in. The one holiday resort that i reccomend is saxa vord which is in the northest island called unst. It is a bit of a trek to get there i admit but the holdiay resort was just fabulous! My family and i stayed in a self catering house which had just recently been refurbished. There was also a restaurant and bar on the site. When in unst there are a variety of activities to do, walking, swimming or travelling to the northen most beach.
If you are considering a change of holiday then i reccomend that you give shetland a visit. It is peaceful and calm and everyone there is really nice. You would be able to get an insight into the shetland way of life.
I always go to shetland every summer with my mum and my sister, and i can never get bored! There are two ways to get to shetland, one is to go via plabe, in which you land in sumburgh. You can also take the very good ferry service which goes from aberdeen and on 3 nights a week also goes via Kirkwall in orkney. The ferry arrives in the capital of shetland, lerwick. You may want to get the ferry to shetland so then you can take your car but if you go via the plane then it is relatively to hire a car. There are lots of museums in shetland and also there is a little island called mousa which is home to a broch and many different birds. There is a ferry ehich goes accross and back daily. Shetland is a great place to escape to relax for a week.
This is a review of the ferry service that runs almost daily between Aberdeen and Lerwick(Shetland). It also stops over at Kirkwall (Orkney). It can get rough seas up there.
Northlink Ferries has been ferrying passengers via car/foot to these islands for a long time now. i've travelled on them quite a few times and this is my review.
Although the outside of the ship might not look as appealing as a large modern cruise liner, the interior is absolutely fine. It is very clean and there are plenty of facilities on board and you can go outside on deck whenever.
Meals and drinks
There is a good bistro on board that serves both hot and cold food as well as snacks and sandwiches. The food quality is really good and the prices are reasonable.
There are also a couple of bars and there is a restaurant on board but we didn't use it.
We didn't use the cabins but seeing some of them from the outside they looked fine. They are quite expensive and we decided just to take one of the free aircraft style sleeper seats which were in a quiet part of the ship.
There is an option to share berths but we didn't want to share with strangers.
There isn't always entertainment on board but it is supposed to happen some of the time. For the 12 hour crossing we were quite happy with having dinner at the bistro, a drink or two at the bar then going to sleep; getting up to go back to the bistro for breakfast.
There is a cinema on board showing about 3 films per evening and there's also an amusement arcade and small playroom for the kids.
There's a small shop and TV's scattered about the ship showing terrestrial channels.
It is sailing on the north sea and it can get very rough in winter or moderately rough in the summer. The ships appears very sturdy from the outside so as to balance well in the storms.
The first time we went was in the summer and it was pretty calm but the next time we went in November and it was very rough at force 9. The best thing to do if you're seasick is to eat dinner while still at port then go and lie down for the remainer of the journey. The crossing was quiet then and the bar at the front of the ship was closed so people could even claim a long setee there and settle for the night.
There was a clear reception up to 2 hours after leaving Aberdeen but between Orkney and Shetland there wasn't, the same on the return journey.
You can take your car via the car deck but bicycles are free. We took our bikes which remained padlocked in teh car deck.
Very good prices for foot only passengers but can get more expensive when taking your car or getting a cabin. I'm not sure if the cabins were priced per cabin or per person but if per cabin then it'd certainly make sense to have one if you're taking your children as well.
Looking at the latest figures from the website, we are currently in Mid season for bookings so the single adult fare for foot passengers currently stands at £27.10 - this is the cheapest fare without cabin or taking a car.
To see more fares go to:
Shetland is 60 degrees latitude north and over a 150 miles north of Scotland.
It is green and mostly low lying with many smaller islands dotted around it's coast.
Vikings: The name Shetland comes from Hjaltland which means hilt land in Norn the ancient viking language because the islands form the shape of the hilt of a sword.
The viking culture is still very prevalent here. This can be seen in the fact that there is a fire festival in which a viking longship is burnt every february at a festival called up helly aa. Longships and dragons (there is a famous Shetland dragon called Big Willie) are used in the logos of many of the local companies and many of the place names can be traced to the viking language eg the capital lerwick means muddy (ler) bay (wick).
Before the vikings Shetland was known as thilensee to sailors and is noted by ptolemy as the legendary thule when it was one of the only places in the atlantic to have copper mines.
In the 1970's oil was found here and as a result education and roads etc are very good for an island of this size.
You can reach shetland by travelling from aberdeen by boat or plane. You can also travel here by plane from edinburgh, glasgow and stansted. Many cruise ships also dock here in summer carrying over 20,000 passengers.
Best food is local lamb from Globe Butchers and fresh fish from Blydoit and the locally grown neaps, kale and tatties are good too.
Best beach is meal beach on the westside or levenwick beach in the south.
Best wildlife are puffins and the occasional whale.
There are also fantastic rock formations, local fiddle music and the smell of peat smoke fires coming from traditional croft houses as this is one of the only places in the world where peat has been sustainably cut.
There are few trees because around the bronze age they were all cut for fuel. Since then the sheep and weather have prevented new ones from growing.
Wildlife is mostly adapted for island life and some creatures you won't find on Shetland are moles, squirrels, foxes, badgers and deer.