Visit the Shetland Islands

Visit the Shetland Islands

The Shetland Islands are some of the UK’s best kept secrets and it should really get more publicity. However, maybe it is for the best that it has remained a secret, it really is a hidden paradise and is somewhere that any good tourist should visit at least once. But, going back to our original problem, not enough people know about it. And that is where Visitalot come in, we are going to shed some light on this wonderful place and next thing you know, you will be on your way there.

The Shetland Islands are small islands off the coast of Scotland situated in the Northern Atlantic Ocean. The region is owned by Scotland and they govern the country. The island is famed for its natural beauty and stunning scenery, many of the islands are left undeveloped due to how far out the islands are and the very small population that live on the island. The largest island is called the “Mainland” and is the third largest Scottish Island, however, there are 15 smaller inhabited islands that are around the Mainland. They really are a great place to go and somewhere that you should definitely learn more about- with that said, here are a few interesting facts about the place.

How Surprising

This is the section where we explore a few unknown facts about the place in question just to wet your travelling appetite, and here they are.

  • When we say the Shetland ISLANDS (plural) we mean it. There are over 100 islands in total but only 15 are inhabited, this may be because the islands are too small, too remote or just genuinely are not habitable. Those 15 islands house a total of 23,000 people connected by boat or by bridge if they are close enough.
  • If you thought the word Shetland sprang to mind, then you are most likely thinking of the Shetland pony. Shetland ponies are characterised by being very small and quite cute- they are around 107cm tall and are very fluffy. However, you should not mistake this pony for some kind of pushover, no, they are in fact very strong and have been used by humans as working animals for hundreds of years.
  • As mentioned briefly earlier, the Shetland Islands are in the north Atlantic and are quite close to Scotland and also the Scandinavian countries as well. Historically this means that the Vikings will have had a say at some point in the culture of the place. That much is true and in the early 8th and 9th centuries, the Vikings arrived on the islands looking for land and riches. They must have found them because they stayed for the next 600 years. To celebrate this, every January they hold a festival to keep the culture and traditions live.
  • On the Shetland Island of Fair Isle, they have another wonderful, local tradition- Jumpers. All the locals on this particular island are famed for wearing a jumper that is knitted in a certain way- this pattern involves knitting together multiple different colours to produce a distinctive pattern unique to the island. In fact, the jumpers were so popular that the fashion house Chanel got into some trouble when it supposedly copied the same design.

Many of these facts you would not expect from somewhere as small and as traditional as the Shetland Islands, why not read on and learn a bit about the weather, the islands themselves and how to get there.

Where is it and What is the Climate Like?

visit the Shetland islands

We briefly touched on where the Shetland Islands are in our little introduction, however, we do not feel as if that give a real idea of how remote these islands are. They lie around 80km to the northwest of Orkney, another Scottish island,170km from the Scottish mainland and over 300km away from its Scandinavian friends in Norway. Although, it should be noted that because of the sheer number of islands that form the Shetland Islands, some may be further away than others. The remoteness of these islands mean that the landscape has not changed much since humans first landed on the island and only small areas have been developed. You can expect rugged coastline, ancient geology and a great many low, rolling hills.

When looking at the climate of the Shetland, it is very unlike the warm and sunny holidays that are so popular now. You will have to be prepared for some rather cold weather. The summer will come from the months of June to September, however, temperatures will barely make it into double figures- even during the summer, there will be days where temperatures actually will not make it into double figures. This is because the Shetland Islands experience a lot of rain and so cloud levels are high and the volume of rain is high. In the winter, temperatures can get about as cold as you will expect, with single digit temperatures on the cards and a high chance of some magical snow.

With this in mind, when packing for your trip, make sure to include some waterproofs, a few scarves and that bug, woolly coat that you save for those cold winter nights. If you do bring some optimistic clothes, then you will incur the wrath of the weather.

If you want to get there, then the journey that you will need to take is quite long. You will need to get to Scotland, the northern-most tip to be exact. You can do this via car or via train- getting the train may be cheaper and might well be quicker as well. From there, you will need to get to the islands via a ferry, or via plane or even via cruise ship. Out of all of these options, a flight will probably be the cheapest and the quickest. However, if you choose to go via the sea, then you could include the voyage as a part of the trip- especially if you are taking a cruise.

Where to Stay and What to Do

Below is a little guide as to where to stay and what to do while you enjoy the Shetland Islands.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse Accommodation

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse Accommodation

If you are looking for some unique accommodation when you visit Shetland, then this has to take the proverbial cake. This is a four-star hotel, rated 5-star on Google, that is situated in an old lighthouse. The rooms carry the traditional, homely theme with big beds, comfy sheets and some lovely on-suite bathrooms. However, you will not want to spend much time in your rooms when staying at this hotel as the exterior is truly stunning. The lighthouse is a feature in and of itself and allows you some amazing photo opportunities. However, there are also other perks, staying in a lighthouse means staying by the sea- this will provide you with some even better views and some even better photo opportunities.

Nearby, there is a wealth of things to do.

Just an 8-minute drive away is Jarlshof prehistoric site. As we mentioned above, the Shetland Islands have been occupied by humans for thousands of years and because of that, there are no many well preserved archaeological areas on the islands. This is one of them and when you visit you can expect to find a site that is over 4000 years old. It is the remains of an old human settlement on the island and will give you a great insight into both the history of the island and the culture of it as well. It truly makes for a great day out and unlocks the surprisingly complex history of the island for you.

Even if you are not a fan of walking, we are sure that you can make the 1-minute trip to see RSPB Sumburgh Head. It is a lovely spot of landscape that gives you a chance to see everything that is famous about the islands- the extremely rugged coastline, the plethora of rare wildlife and the beautiful rolling hills as you travel inland. The kind of wildlife that we are describing here are puffins, albatrosses and even killer whales- an animal that can only be seen in limited parts of the world. In the evening you can look out over the north Atlantic and take a few romantic pictures.

St Ninians Isle is an island connected to the Mainland by a beach and gives you a chance to take a dip. It is only a 25-minute drive away and alongside the beach you can expect to find yet more stunning scenery and a few archaeological sites as well. Because of where it is in comparison to the your hotel, it also gives you a chance to take a look at the north of the island as well.

If your looking for your own accommodation then use our handy hotel checker. This allows you to search based on location and budget, perfect for people who want something specific for your holiday of a life time. 

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More Weird Holidays in Europe

If your looking for more weird holidays and bucket list vacations in this area then pay a visit to our visit Europe category.  Here you will see amazing locations such as the Ice Hotel in Sweden, or the scenic and beutiful Faroe Islands. 

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