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Shetland

LLACampbellLLACampbell VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭
edited April 2016 in Scotland's Islands
Hey everyone!

After having a friend that I've known for many years who comes from Shetland, I finally managed to find the time to go to Shetland with her early on this year and I've got to say I wasn't disappointed. Living in Aberdeen means that it is quite easy to get to Shetland: you can either fly direct or take the ferry. I chose to fly as it is a lot quicker than the ferry. 




As I went at the end of January it was pretty cold and wet but that didn't stop me exploring the beautiful landscape. It was so breathtakingly pretty that I couldn't get enough of it! I even got to see some authentic Shetland ponies!




The main reason that I chose to go to Shetland in January is that they have a viking fire festival, called Up Helly Aa, at that time. Which makes it one of the best times to go to Shetland. Especially if you are really interested in the culture and history of the island.

Up Helly Aa started in the 1880s and it is an annual event that celebrates Shetland's heritage. What amazed me was the craft that goes into the event as each year the Jarl and his squad (the main viking squad) is different and they have to make all their viking outfits and the Galley (their viking ship) from scratch. Everything is handcrafted and it is so interesting to see how these skills have been passed down through generations. The festival is a full day of celebrations and processions that start from 9am in the morning and carry on through the night until around 8am the next day. I have a more detailed look what goes on throughout the day on my blog (here) if you are interested in seeing all of the day's events.

Shetland is somewhere that I thought I'd never visit but I am so glad I got the opportunity to and I can't wait to go back there again! I'd highly recommend anyone who is thinking of going to Shetland to do it as the landscape is just incredible and something that everyone should witness.

Have you ever been to Shetland? What did you think of it? If not, would you ever consider going to Shetland?



Comments

  • VisitScotlandIntroVisitScotlandIntro Administrator
    Fantastic post @LLACampbell - I went to Orkney a couple of times as a youngster, but have not yet made it to Shetland. I would love to see Up Helly Ya though. 

    How did you find getting accommodation and transport around that time of year? Were most places really busy?
  • LLACampbellLLACampbell VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandDave I would definitely recommend either taking your car on the boat or renting a car when you get there as it would make it a lot easier to get around the island. 

    Accommodation-wise I was lucky enough to stay with my friend. Although, I'm sure if you book early enough you'd get a good deal. I think booking early is the best idea, especially if you are going for Up Helly Aa as both flights and accommodation prices will rise the closer it gets. 

    I hope this helps :) 
  • VisitScotlandJohnVisitScotlandJohn Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    As a born and bred Shetlander who as they say back home left the croft many years ago, I still go back once or twice a year. Shetland's landscape of cliffs, lochs, hills, voes, hundreds of islands (and no trees) is remarkable any time of the year, but I really recommend if you ever get the chance visiting in mid-summer when you the hours of daylight are so long that you can, if you chose to, read a book outside at 11 o clock.
    As for getting around.  Definitely recommend either hiring  a car, or if you are feeling fit enough to take on Shetland's hilly roads, a bicycle. 
  • Robin_Fae_UnstRobin_Fae_Unst Member ✭✭
    Up-Helly-Aa is definitely an exciting time to visit Shetland and the dramatic weather is a complete contrast to our summer months. @VisitScotlandDave Accommodation certainly does get busy and it is worth remembering that most places have a minimum 3 night stay for Up-Helly-Aa so make sure you give yourself ample time for visiting but the VisitScotland Information Centres in Lerwick & Sumburgh keep availability and cancellation lists from September onward so are a great source of information for coming to Up-Helly-Aa. 
    From the island above all others, Unst is Britain's northern most island.
    Shetland is an amazing and unique location to visit and all of us Shetlanders are eager to share our wonderful little part of the world with everyone, so come along & visit us. 
    Join me on my underwater explorations of Shetland at my instagram @rdmouatt ;
  • LizaLiza Member
    If I can't drive a car what is the best option to explore Shetland? Maybe are there some day tours?
  • BrianBrian Member ✭✭
    Hi just thought people looking this Shetland blog might find the website Shetland Cam of some interest.Webcams in various places on the island.
  • galadougiegaladougie Member
    As well as visiting Shetland on my own steam I have been to Lerwick's Up Helly Aa as a tour guide nine times. These visits have been conducting tours with HAGGiS Adventures and Highland Explorer Tours, these tours depart Edinburgh and both take the overnight ferry to the islands.

    I can say - without a shadow of doubt - that Shetland, Lerwick and Up Helly Aa itself are all mind blowing experiences that should be sampled by all!!
  • Robin_Fae_UnstRobin_Fae_Unst Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    @Liza There are some excellent tour companies here in Shetland which offer day trips, most of them will normally do a section of Shetland each day. You can have a look at: 
    www.island-trails.co.uk 
    www.discovershetland.net 
    www.shetlandminibustours.co.uk
    www.selkieventures.co.uk 
    www.boddamcabs.co.uk/tours 

    There are also a few very companies which do package holidays to Shetland if that is a preferred option: 
    www.shetlandnature.net
    www.shetlandwildlife.co.uk 
    www.wildaboutorkney.com 

    Shetland also has a pretty good transport network of buses & ferries which you can use to visit quite a lot of Shetland - some of the more remote locations can't be so easily reached this way but you can combine tours and using the public transport system. There is website and app with public transport options www.travel.shetland.org 

    There are also great boat tours, you will find plenty of information about them here on visitscotland.com too :-) 
    From the island above all others, Unst is Britain's northern most island.
    Shetland is an amazing and unique location to visit and all of us Shetlanders are eager to share our wonderful little part of the world with everyone, so come along & visit us. 
    Join me on my underwater explorations of Shetland at my instagram @rdmouatt ;
  • Robin_Fae_UnstRobin_Fae_Unst Member ✭✭
    @galadougie the Haggis Tours people that come to Up-Helly-Aa always seem to be having a total blast too, you guys make a really good job of that trip, I would definitely recommend Haggis Tours as a great way to experience Up-Helly-Aa. 
    From the island above all others, Unst is Britain's northern most island.
    Shetland is an amazing and unique location to visit and all of us Shetlanders are eager to share our wonderful little part of the world with everyone, so come along & visit us. 
    Join me on my underwater explorations of Shetland at my instagram @rdmouatt ;
  • j2scotlandj2scotland Member ✭✭
    I would love to visit Shetland, hopefully next year.  I am very interested in the wool and textile industry there.  Thanks for the photos and write-up, @LLACampbell!
    Come by and say hello.  :) 
    Blog:  journeys2scotland.wordpress.com
    Instagram: journeys2scotland
  • mucklevikingmuckleviking Member
    Hi, Simplyscotia. If you're interested in the wool and textile industry in Shetland, every year there is Shetland Wool Week - usually at the end of September. Can't post links yet, but google Shetland Wool Week.
  • j2scotlandj2scotland Member ✭✭
    cheers @muckleviking!  The Wool Week looks amazing.  It would be so fantastic to make it there some day.
    Come by and say hello.  :) 
    Blog:  journeys2scotland.wordpress.com
    Instagram: journeys2scotland
  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    Thanks for sharing @LLACampbell. I am currently packing my bags for my Shetland/Up Helly Aa trip next week. I have four days up there and looking forward to exploring and taking photos.
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

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