Useful information to help you prepare for your trip to Shetland.

A

  • Accessibility

    Attractions such as Mareel and the Shetland Museum are wheelchair accessible and lots of places offer disabled parking nearer to attractions such as Sumburgh Lighthouse and the Viking Longhouse in Unst.

    Ability Shetland have all-terrain wheelchairs for hire to visitors and Self Catering Shetland offer wheelchair accessible apartments and are able to provide a hoist if required.

  • Accommodation

    From self-catering and hotels to camping bods and Airbnb, there's an extensive list of accommodation available in locations all across Shetland.

  • ATMs

    In Lerwick, ATMs are situated outside the five banks in the town centre, outside the Toll Clock Shopping Centre and outside the Tesco supermarket. There's also an ATM inside Da Wheel Bar. ATMs are also located at Scalloway Meat Company and The Final Checkout in Baltasound, on the island of Unst.

    You can also withdraw money from most local post offices in Shetland, as well as carry out other everyday banking tasks.

B

  • Banks

    There are five banks in Lerwick town centre, which are generally open from Monday to Friday from 9am-5pm. These are: Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander, Bank of Scotland, Lloyd's TSB and Clydesdale Bank.

C

  • Camping

    There are a number of campsites dotted around the isles, some with a full range of facilities, while others are more basic but equally charming. You can also wild camp in Shetland if you fancy really getting out into the wild. Visit our Caravan and Camping page to find out more.

  • Currency

    British currency is the pound sterling (£), divided into 100 pence (p). Banknotes issued in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland are all legal tender in the UK.

  • Customs and duty free

    For information regarding customs and duty free allowances, please see the HMRC website.

  • Cycling

    If you want to cycle in Shetland you can take your bike by plane or by ferry, or, you can hire a bike when you get here. For a full list of cycle routes and places to go, see the Cycle section of our website.

D

  • Driving

    As with the rest of the UK, driving is on the left hand side of the road. Whether driving your own car or a hire vehicle, you must have a current driving licence and appropriate insurance.

    Shetland has many single track roads, so the 'passing places' in rural areas must be used to allow approaching drivers to pass. And, if you want to make the most of your surroundings and enjoy Shetland at your own pace, it's advisable to pull into a passing place if there are other cars behind you, allowing them to overtake.

  • Dog walking

    We love dogs in Shetland and welcome visitors with their pooches but we ask that you be mindful of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code guidance on dog walking. Dogs are also not allowed at National Nature Reserves and on certain beaches. Generally dogs are not allowed on public transport or taxis, but exceptions may be made in an emergency. Please contact service operators direct.

  • Drones

    One of the best ways to capture the scale and magnificence of Shetland's coasts and landscapes is by aerial photography. Drone operators must ensure they fly their craft away from aircraft, airports and airfields. It's also illegal to fly drowns over 400ft.

    Anyone using drones on a commercial basis needs a licence from the Civil Aviation Authority, which gives them certain exemptions including being able to fly closer to people or property within congested areas such as towns and villages.

E

  • Electrical equipment

    Ensure that any electrical equipment you bring with you, e.g. travelling irons, hairdryers, shavers, etc, can be used on British voltage. The standard voltage is 230V AC, 50Hz. Voltage converters are available to buy in various shops in Shetland.

  • Emergency services

    For police, fire brigade, ambulance or coastguard, dial 999. The operator will ask you which service you require and will put you through. These calls are free.

I

  • Insurance

    Whether you're travelling to Shetland from within the UK or from abroad, it is strongly recommended that you arrange travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. This will cover travel disruption, the loss of possessions and money as well as any health or medical treatment.

  • Inter-island ferries

    Drive–on, drive-off ferries operate regularly between all of the larger Shetland islands – Unst, Yell, Whalsay, Bressay, Fetlar and the Out Skerries. For inter-island ferry timetables and booking information, visit the Shetland Islands Councils Ferry Services website.

L

  • Language

    The official language in Shetland is English, but you'll notice that Shetlanders have a unique dialect, which varies from area to area. In its essentials, it’s a form of Scots, but is noticeably influenced by Norn, the language brought by the Vikings that is still the basis of Faroese and Icelandic.

    The best way to appreciate Shetland dialect is to converse with locals and listen to how they speak. You can also find out more on the Shetland ForWirds website, which is home to the online version of John J Graham's Shetland Dictionary.

  • Live music

    The annual Shetland Folk Festival in early May is your best guarantee of hearing traditional Shetland music, but there are also events, concerts and impromptu music sessions held throughout the year. Visit the What's On Shetland website for the latest gigs and music events.

  • Local radio

    BBC Radio Shetland broadcasts on 92.7 FM, Monday to Friday at 1730-1800, and the local commercial station, SIBC, broadcasts on 96.2 FM around the clock.

M

N

  • Northern Lights

    Definitely one for the bucket list! The best time to see the Northern Lights is in late autumn and winter and it's much easier to see them if you're away from brightly-lit areas such as Lerwick, Scalloway or Brae. See our Northern Lights page for more details.

P

  • Passport

    If you are visiting Shetland from the UK mainland, you don't need a passport. If you are arriving from outwith the UK (for example, flying straight to Shetland from Norway) you will need one.

    You will need photographic ID in order to check in for Loganair flights, but you do not require any ID to board the NorthLink ferry at Aberdeen or Kirkwall (or at Lerwick on your return journey).

  • Pets

    Animal lovers can, of course, take their pets to Shetland and both NorthLink Ferries and Loganair cater for pets. Read our pet-friendly Shetland blog for more details on pet-friendly accommodation, dog walking, pet sitters, dog groomers and where to buy pet food. Please note that pets are generally not allowed on local buses or taxis, unless in an emergency, but check with operators directly.

  • Post offices

    There are a number of post offices across Shetland, offering a range of services including everyday banking (cash withdrawals, cheque deposits etc) and mail services.

    Post offices are situated in Baltasound in Unst; Ulsta, Burravoe, Aywick and Cullivoe in Yell; Fetlar; Mossbank; Bixter; Reawick; Skerries; Skellister; Fair Isle; Weisdale; Eshaness; Dunrossness; Bressay; Aith; Ollaberry; Hillswick; Symbister in Whalsay; Hamnavoe in Burra; Walls; North Roe; Virkie; Bigton, Scalloway and Sandwick. There are two post offices in Lerwick – the main Lerwick post office on Commercial Street and Freefield post office in the Toll Clock Shopping Centre.

    For more branch details, including accessibility information and opening times, visit the Post Office website.

  • Puffins

    The best time to visit Shetland to see puffins is from mid April to mid August. Check our Bird Watching page to find out more.

S

  • Shetland ponies

    Small, stocky and hardy Shetland ponies can be found grazing on the heathery hills across Shetland, although very few are to be found in the main town of Lerwick. To guarantee a viewing, book a tour and your guide can take you directly to them.

T

  • Tourist information

    Visit Scotland's Lerwick iCentre is located in the centre of Lerwick at the Market Cross. As well as help with your visitor queries, the centre also stocks a range of Shetland's finest locally made crafts, from Fair Isle knitting to silver jewellery. Open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm and Sunday 10am-4pm.

  • Travel around Shetland

    Thanks to excellent roads, reliable and economical ferry services, and good public transport, getting around Shetland is straightforward, however you choose to travel.

  • Travel to Shetland

    Whether you choose to travel by sea or by air, and with connections from all major Scottish cities, getting to Shetland is easy.

  • Trips and tours

    You can see Shetland under your own steam, of course, but taking one of the trips and tours that are available can help you get even more out of your holiday, especially when it comes to seeing wildlife.

  • Taxis

    Licensed taxis are available to book in Shetland, with a taxi rank situated on Victoria Pier in Lerwick. You can also book taxis to pick you up at Sumburgh Airport or the Holmsgarth Ferry Terminal and take you to your onward destination. See our Taxi page for a list of reliable firms.

W

  • Weather

    The sunniest months in Shetland are April to August. Because we're so far north, from mid-May to mid-July Shetland enjoys the 'simmer dim' (summer twilight) when the sun only dips below the northern horizon for a few hours. In July and August, temperatures average between 14°C and 18°C, but on some days, it can climb into the low 20s. Shetland’s weather can be changeable – sometimes you’ll experience four seasons in a single day – but it’s all part of the islands’ enduring beauty and charm.

  • WiFi

    The Shetland Islands Council provide many free public connections throughout the isles, including:

    • SIC Inter Island Ferry Terminals
    • Shetland Museum and Archives
    • Mareel
    • Sumburgh Airport
    • Most visitor centres
    • NorthLink Ferry Terminal

    If you do not have your own laptop or mobile device, you can go to the Learning Centre at the Shetland Library, which provides free internet access.

    Almost all visitor accommodation includes free WiFi (check when booking) and you will also find free access at most cafes and restaurants throughout the isles, providing you purchase something to eat or drink on the premises.

  • What to pack

    Shetland's weather can be unpredictable, but that's all part of the enjoyment of the place. Our advice: pack for all weathers and be prepared! Bring warm clothes, plenty of layers and waterproofs. Sturdy walking shoes and boots are also a must if you plan on hiking the hills and coastlines.

  • Walking

    One of the joys of visiting Shetland is that you can freely roam around most places, but we do ask visitors to be mindful of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code at all times. You can also find out more about exploring Shetland on our Responsible Travel page.