As destinations, venues and tourist attractions begin to open up again in Shetland, we often get asked by people what is the best way to get to Shetland.
You can travel to Shetland either by ferry or you can fly from all major cities in Scotland.
The main ferry service is daily between Aberdeen and Lerwick and is operated by Northlink Ferries. The crossing takes about 12 hours on a direct overnight sailing. The boat has lovely cabins and reclining chairs, so it is extremely comfortable. It is a roll-on/roll-off ferry so you can come over to Shetland with your vehicle. This allows you to bring more with you and to buy lots of gifts on the island to take home, without having to worry about luggage weight restrictions.
If, however, you do not have strong sea legs and the weather forecast is not favourable, then we strongly advise that you travel with the necessary medication to make your crossing comfortable.
If it is not a direct sailing, you will call into Kirkwall in Orkney as part of your journey. This gives visitors the opportunity to include a stopover in Orkney as part of their holiday. Kirkwall is a delightful town and has many great restaurants and small shops to explore as well as breath-taking scenery, which is just a short drive outside of Kirkwall itself.
Flights to Shetland are operated by Loganair. You can connect to Sumburgh, Shetland or Kirkwall, Orkney from all four of the major Scottish cities: Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Inverness. Generally, the flight times are an hour or just slightly longer. You will need be at the airport an hour before departure.
Currently, anyone visiting the islands are recommended by the Scottish Government to take a lateral flow Covid test. These are available on the Scottish Government’s website.
When you arrive in Sumburgh, if you are not being met by family or a guide then there are a couple of options for your onward journey.
There are a few car rental companies in Shetland, however, I recommend Bolts Car Hire. I really need to say that as it is owned by Jolene’s parents and I will lose my job if I do not haha! Joking aside, a hire car is the best option for getting around Shetland. There is also a bus service between Sumburgh Airport and Lerwick and other routes throughout Shetland. Buses are not as regular as what you find on the Scottish Mainland so it would be best to consult the Zettrans website for further details.
Shetland Islands are made up of 100 islands and 16 of those are inhabited all year around. These islands are linked onto the mainland of Shetland either by ferry, plane, or bridge.
When you arrive in Shetland and want to travel to one of the other islands on offer then there are a few more things that you would need to know.
We have a small 8-seater plane that will need to be booked for travelling to Fair Isle our most Southerly island and to Foula our most Westerly island. These flights depart from a small airport in Tingwall, which is about 7 miles North of Lerwick.
Details of ferry times and prices can be found on the Shetland Islands Council website.
There are bridges to the islands of Burra, Trondra and Muckle Roe.
Of course, if you don’t want to have to think about how to get around Shetland and you just want to enjoy our incredible scenery, why not look at some of our tour options.
We look forward to seeing you soon.