The Shetland Isles are fast becoming one of the most popular small European islands to visit. Their rural location, out in the north Atlantic, gives them a much slower pace of life than even some other parts of Scotland enjoy. This makes them popular with city dwellers who are looking to get away from modern life for a little bit. However, the rural nature of Shetland means that a little bit of planning is required before you go. Not much Shetland news tends to reach the outside world, so we’ve put together a quick guide to a few of the things that you’ll want to consider while your trip to Shetland is still at the planning stage.
One of the first things to think about, is how you plan to get around once you actually reach the island as Shetland’s public transport can be erratic. Naturally it is set up to meet the needs of the people who live there, and need to get to work, rather than tourists who may be looking to get to more secluded locations. Therefore, renting a car is pretty much a must for any trip to Shetland, and if you don’t drive, it’s highly recommended that you bring someone with you who does.
The weather in Shetland is another thing that can be somewhat unpredictable and, in general, it makes sense to expect the unexpected. This means that everything from t-shirts and shorts to raincoats and bulky sweaters will be at home in your luggage. You may end up using all of them on the same day. Check the Shetland weather before you go but make sure that you’re ready for things to change very quickly.
Once you’ve arrived in Shetland, you’ll find that things to do split into roughly two categories. The first contains all of the beautiful natural elements that there are to see. Shetland has fantastic wildlife (birdwatchers will find themselves to be particularly at home on the islands). Bring your binoculars and a good camera as you’ll find plenty of opportunities to view things that you’d struggle to see elsewhere. You probably won’t forgive yourself if you don’t manage to get a good photo.
The second category is pubs, restaurants and general good cheer, and company. Local Shetlanders are a friendly bunch, and the island hasn’t suffered from the mass tourism of places like Skye. Take a look at the Shetland Tourism website which has no shortage of suggestions of places to go and enjoy during your time on these beautiful islands. Whatever it is that interests you, you’re sure to find something that floats your boat when you visit the most northern reaches of Scotland.