About Shetland

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Made up of more than 100 islands, 15 of which are inhabited, Shetland Islands are closer to Norway than to mainland Scotland and each of the islands has its own stunning scenery. Learn about the region’s fascinating past, discover the thriving arts and culture and soak up the sheer natural and built beauty.

With Shetland’s history stretching back over 6,000 years, there is an abundance of things to do and see that brings its past vividly to life. From the amazingly preserved archaeological sites, including ancient houses and Iron Age brochs to castles and standing stones, delve into the region’s history and find out how the past Scots used to live.

Shetland’s culture stems from various roots, including those of Picts and Viking origins. Proud of their history, the islanders always find something to celebrate. Explore the incredible array of arts and culture attractions, including arts and crafts shopping and various festivals and events, such as Europe’s largest fire festival, the Up Helly Aa, or Shetland Folk Festival, and you’re guaranteed unforgettable memories.

Whichever island you visit, there are countless routes to walk taking in the sweeping heather-clad hills, glistering sea lochs and spectacular coastal scenery with white sand beaches that are great for a family day out. Visit Shetland Museum and Archives and learn about the geological processes that contributed to Shetland’s unique landscape.

With the unforgettable settings like this, Shetland offers an excellent choice of outdoor activities from midnight rounds of golf to exhilarating cycling and various watersports, there is no better way to explore the isles and get close to indigenous fauna and flora.

Speaking of wildlife, the region is rich in opportunities to see everything from otters to the island’s world-famous Shetland ponies and even whales, and birdwatching is a popular activity across the isles.

After a day exploring Shetland’s many fascinating attractions, indulge in a real foodie experience by enjoying the unique and mouth-watering flavours of local produce in the islands’ many restaurants, cafés and bars. From freshly caught seafood to distinctive local lamb, spot the unique flavours of local food and drink.

Getting to and around those remarkable islands is simple - and when it comes to hopping between the isles, the journey is often just as memorable as the destination. Visit Shetland and explore its beauty.

  • Jarlshof settlement, West Voe
    Jarlshof settlement, West Voe
  • Cliffs at Braewick, Mainland
    Cliffs at Braewick, Mainland
  • Traditional handcrafts at Unst Heritage Centre
    Traditional handcrafts at Unst Heritage Centre
  • Up Helly Aa procession, Mainland
    Up Helly Aa procession, Mainland
  • A puffin at Sumburgh Head, Mainland
    A puffin at Sumburgh Head, Mainland
Jarlshof settlement, West Voe

History

The history of Shetland stretches back thousands of years and there is an array of attractions that bring it vividly to life.

Cliffs at Braewick, Mainland

Nature and geography

Shetland’s extraordinary landscape is a treasure trove of stunning geological landmarks found throughout these remote islands.

Traditional handcrafts at Unst Heritage Centre

Arts and culture

Immerse yourself in Shetland’s exciting music scene and discover how its proud creative heritage remains very much alive today.

A torch-lit procession through the streets of Lerwick.

Norse

The Viking invasion marked a turning point in the history of Shetland and Nordic culture can still be seen and heard today.

Shetland pony foal with its mother

Wildlife

Catch sight of thousands of seabirds and other species of wildlife in their natural surroundings in Shetland.

A plate of freshly caught Shetland lobster

Food and drink

Sample delicious food and drink in Shetland, a region renowned for its tasty local produce.

Shetland Crofthouse Museum

Itineraries

Use our great itineraries for Shetland and plan a day out using ideas and suggestions for history, wildlife and culture.

Cars and their passengers traveling aboard Inter Island Ferry

Travel

Shetland is the most northerly point of British soil; sitting in the middle of a triangle between Norway, the Faroe Islands and Scotland. Fortunately getting to and around Shetland is simple, and the journey is often just as memorable as the destination.