About Shetland

Shetland is an attractive destination for many sailing enthusiasts, who come to explore the coastline of these, the most northerly islands in Great Britain. With over 100 islands in our archipelago, we have 1,697 miles (2,702km) of coast featuring impressive sea-cliffs, caves, natural arches and sandy beaches.

Immersed in maritime heritage and with spectacular scenery and wildlife, Shetland has welcomed international travellers and traders for hundreds of years. Our neighbours to the east are Norwegians: we’re about 225 miles (360km) from their coast. To the north-west, the first landfall is the Faroe Islands (228 miles/365km), beyond which lie Iceland and Greenland, stepping stones used by Viking explorers to reach north America.

A Special Environment 

Shetland’s environment is special and very different from most other parts of Britain. This is partly because our latitude and location influence our climate. Our geology is also distinctive and quite complex. Shetland also hosts a huge population of seabirds and marine life, which draw many visitors to the isles. Learn more about Shetland.

People And Culture 

Shetland’s population of around 22,000 is spread around the 15 islands that are inhabited. Our culture stems from diverse roots. Pictish peoples were replaced by Vikings; in the fifteenth century, Shetland was pawned to Scotland as part of a marriage dowry and has since been under Scottish control. There have been important German and Dutch influences, too. The result is a refreshing and fascinating cultural cocktail. The recently-opened Shetland Museum and Archives provides an excellent starting point for visitors to discover the history of Shetland and its people.

Music is one of the foundations of Shetland’s heritage. Young people are encouraged to take up an instrument at school and there is an astonishingly lively and diverse musical life. Although the islands are best known for their fiddle tradition, jazz, classical, rock and other genres are well represented. Learn more about Shetland Music.

There is also a long craft tradition, with fine knitwear, lacework and weaving. Painters and sculptors are also very active and many writers have found inspiration in the islands.

Getting To Shetland 

A crossroads in the north-east Atlantic, Shetland is easily accessible from mainland Scotland by sea or air. There is a comfortable daily overnight ferry service, on modern ships, between Aberdeen and Lerwick. There are several daily flights from the Scottish mainland. Flight time from Aberdeen is under an hour and, from Inverness, Edinburgh or Glasgow, the journey takes around 90 minutes. There are convenient connections to London and other major UK and European Cities. Flights also operate, during the summer months, between Bergen (Norway) and Shetland. Learn more about travelling to and from Shetland.

Facilities For Sailors 

Shetland has great port and marina visitor facilities throughout the isles. We hope to offer several opportunities during the Cruise in Company for crews and ships of all sizes to sample the highlights of our islands before reaching the main port in Lerwick. Find out more about Shetland local marinas on Visit.Shetland.org.

More Information

Learn more about the Shetland from the following websites: