Skip to content

Is Shetland Worth Visiting? Yes It’s Amazing and Here’s Why

Wondering ‘Is Shetland worth visiting’?

Shetland is a place that gets under your skin. You will find yourself dreaming of this magical place when you leave. My guests tell me that once they get home.

I can’t wait to get back and see the huge skies and seas, and marvel at the wildlife which is incredible and I’ve been 15 times, more than anywhere else I’ve ever been.

Check out why I think it’s well worth a visit plus some of the important things you need to know before visiting.

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

Getting to Shetland

Getting to Shetland isn’t that easy and it certainly isn’t all that cheap. You have two options – either to fly or take the ferry from Aberdeen or Kirkwall in Orkney.

There are flights from London Heathrow, Edinburgh, Inverness and also from Orkney as well as flights from Bergen and Aberdeen.

These flights are operated by Logainair. They are small propeller planes. That means capacity can be limited. It can also be expensive!

The ferry is a cheaper option. The ferry sails from Aberdeen and it’s an overnight sailing. You can take your car on the ferry.

Cabins get booked up in advance due to the lack of supply.

You can also take a ferry from Orkney to Shetland. It’s the ferry that comes across from Aberdeen and it stops at Orkney on the way. This means the ferry departs Orkney at around midnight and arrives in Shetland at around 7-7.30 am.

Shetland Photos

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

You Need to Plan Ahead

There is more demand for ferries, flights and hotels than there is supply. Particularly in the summer months.

Shetland isn’t a place you can just visit on a whim because the chances are you will end up with nowhere to stay or it will be eye-wateringly expensive if you do have the fortune to find somewhere.

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

Shetland Has Lots of Weather

Shetland lies between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. That means there is a great deal of weather happening in Shetland.

Wind is common all year round – there’s just a lot more of it during winter! Gale force winds are common during winter and they can last for extended periods of time.

In the last couple of years, snow has returned to Shetland, with heavy snowfalls during the winter months – not something that had happened for a long time.

The winter weather can disrupt flights and ferries. Many guests visiting the Up Hellya festival in Lerwick in January 2024 were unable to leave Shetland due to cancelled ferries and flights for example.

During the summer months, the collision of colder and warmer air can lead to low-level fog and clouds. This can disrupt flights.

There are also midgies in Shetland – there’s a lot of peat. Often the wind will keep them out of the way but on the days where there is no wind in the summer they can be a right pain.

The weather is also very changeable in Shetland due to the climactic conditions. Be prepared for a little of everything and you should be OK.

is shetland worth visiting

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

It’s Stunning Any Time of the Year

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Shetland once a month from March to November. The weather has been different every time and Shetland has been stunning every time too.

I’ve visited Eshaness cliffs when it’s been 70mph winds. It’s incredible to see the huge waves crashing up the cliffs and over the small islands around the coast.

I’ve been soaked through to the skin due to the torrential rain that often happens and I’ve been perished due to mistakenly thinking that it would be milder in May than in November (it was the other way round!).

Whatever the weather Shetland is gorgeous. When I look back at the pictures I have taken I see huge skies full of colour and contrast. I see beautiful greens from the land contrasting with the blues of the sea and the colour of the sky.

You are never more than 3 miles from the coast in Shetland which is wonderful. There are all sorts of coastlines from beautiful beaches to islands, dramatic cliffs, and more. There is always something to see.

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

Shetland Isn’t Scotland

Whenever I take a group of guests to Shetland I start by welcoming them to Shetland and saying it isn’t Scottish.

Whilst Shetland is part of Scotland, it feels very different.

They have fiddle music rather than bagpipes, the language is based on the old Norse language Norn rather than Gaelic which has never been used in Shetland.

They celebrate Norwegian Independence Day more than Burns Night.

There is the odd bit of tartan but it’s nowhere near as common as in the rest of Scotland.

It feels very different and that’s what makes it special.

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

The People Are Lovely

I live in the Highlands and the people here are friendly and welcoming. It’s even more the case in Shetland. Folk have time to stop and chat, they are interested in where visitors are from and they all love Shetland.

Many people who live in Shetland are not from Shetland originally. Many of these people spent some time working in Shetland and fell in love with the place. I can understand that completely – my family are convinced I am going to move there too!

Is Shetland Worth Visiting?

The Wildlife is Great

The sound of birdsong was one of the first things I noticed about Shetland when I visited. It was everywhere we stopped. It’s not something we hear in the Highlands – our huge expanses of space are often filled with silence.

Shetland has a diverse mix of wildlife due to the climate. Many bird spotters visit for the rare species that get blown off course by strong winds. On my last visit to Shetland, a Hoopoe was living happily in the Southern part of the mainland – a very exotic pink-coloured bird that I had last seen in Portugal!

We’ve been lucky enough to see whales around the coastline a couple of times – and there is an active whale-watching community in Shetland.

There are seals all year round and you can see pups if you are visiting in June.

There are plenty of birds and one of the stars of the show are the puffins. Sumburgh Head is a fantastic place to see them. They nest from April to August time and then head back out to sea again during the winter months.

Nature is all around you in Shetland.

Is Shetland Worth Visiting – Conclusion

  • Shetland is well worth visiting but you will need to plan ahead to visit.
  • Allow plenty of time in Shetland – there’s a great deal to see and do.
  • Be prepared for all sorts of weather whatever the time of year!

You Might Also Like

If you found my ‘Is Shetland Worth Visiting’ article useful you might also like;

You can find more trip ideas on my Travel Inspiration page

Further Reading

error: Content is protected !!