A little information on the Shetland Islands


Shetland, an intriguing scatter of uniquely individual islands from Muckle Flugga in the far north to Fair Isle in the south, lies at the northermost tip of the United Kingdom. Approximately 80km NE of the Orkney Islands, Shetland straddles the 60 degree North line and is part of the division between the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean

There are over 100 islands and islets in the group, 15 are inhabited, and the largest Island "Mainland" is is just over 960 sq km in size making it the 5th largest island in the UK.

Shetland has been inhabited since the Mesolithic period and, it is a land of spectacular views and outstanding archaeological monuments - the brochs and prehistoric villages are among the most significant in Europe - where mysterious standing stones dot the landscape, and medieval castles at Scalloway on the mainland and Muness on Unst testify to Shetland's historic importance and ancient links to Scandinavia.

Fishing and Salmon Farming are important parts of the local economy but, the discovery of oil in the North Sea during the 1970's has brought significant extra revenue and employment to both the public and private sectors.
This has also driven the upgrades in communication and travel facilities and Shetland is well serviced by a daily ferry service to Aberdeen in addition to airports at Sumburgh (mostly passenger) in the south, Tingwall (mostly Inter Island) in the centre and, Scatsta (mostly Oil Industry) in the north

The home of the famous miniature Shetland Ponies, Shetland Sheep and Shetland Sheepdog is also home to a large variety of wildlife and over 50,000 visitors are lured to the islands each year to catch a glimpse of, amongst others, otters, seals, puffins and hundreds of other different species of wild birds. In fact, it is estimated that more that 1 million birds make Shetland their summer home with large colonies being estableshed at Hermaness Natonal Nature Reserve, Noss National Nature Reserve and the RSPB Sumburgh Head Reserve.

In addition to this we have Music Festivals, Fire Festivals, a Wool Week, the Simmer Dim Bikers Rally and, of course, a large number of viking themed Fire Festivals, all of which attract visitors and participants from around the world.
Check our events diary here.

As Lerwick has a very well sheltered natural deep water harbour we are also increasingly becoming a major stopping point for cruise liners and in the coming year (2018), over 90 vessels are due to visit.

In 2009, Shetland was awarded membership of the European Geoparks Network and, as well as those in search of peace and solitude, the pristine natural environment and unusual land formations also entice students of geology who wish to investigate our rocks which contain almost 3 billion years of Earth's history.

From wild isolation on the remoter islands to the friendly, bustling warmth of the attractive main town of Lerwick, Shetland holds a seductive fascination which will draw you back again and again.