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Ferries to Shetland Islands

The Shetlands are the most northerly point in Britain, comprising around 100 islands.

The islands are close to Norway and were under Norse rule until 1496, resulting in a Scandinavian resonance in the local accent and place names, such as Hulmalees and Stackaberg.

The exciting wildlife and fascinating prehistoric ruins are what make the Shetlands such an enjoyable holiday destination. In the sea there are whales, otters and seals, whilst on land there are a number of indigenous species such as the Shetland cattle, goose, sheep and the world renowned pony.

The Shetland Museum in Lerwick features everything you need to know about the islands’ 5000 year history, including its fishing industry, mythology and ancient Pictish carvings.

There are a number of Neolithic sites on the Shetlands. One of the most notable is in Sumburgh on Mainland’s south coast, known as ‘Old Scatness’. It is a prehistoric site made up of sandstone tower remains, known as a ‘broch’, dating back to 300BC.

The island of Unst offers one of the Shetlands’ more unusual attractions, a bus shelter like no other. Equipped with a sofa, television and many other home comforts, it's the most impressive and quirky bus stop in Britain.

Unst’s Hermaness Nature Reserve is a must for any birdwatcher. It has the world’s third largest colony of great skuas and a large number of gannets, fulmars, guillemots and puffins.

The island of Fetlar is another hub for bird species. It is home to 90% of the UK’s Red Necked Phalarope population, an extremely rare breeding bird.

There is a ferry route departing from Aberdeen on the Scottish mainland with daily crossings, lasting around half a day.

There is also a faster but less frequent service from Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands.

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Popular Ferry Operators

  • Northlink Ferries
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Shetland Islands reviews

  • "Happy traveller"

    No complaints at all everything was perfect .c

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  • "Ferry "

    Very helpful staff would do anything to help you out had wee bit of sea sickness and they were right there to help you so well done to all the staff x

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  • "Excellent "

    First time travelling to Lerwick, staff were so friendly and helpful.

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  • "quite uncomfortable overnight ferry"

    headed to shetland (lerwick) from aberdeen with myself, partner and motorcycle. first impression: the motorcycle parking on board the ferry is not great. they need you to park right next to a railing with the stand side towards the railing, and they tie the bike to it. for a large, heavy bike like mine, this is extremely difficult, puts weight on the fairing, and is probably completely unnecessary - other ferries just pass a tightening harness over the seat and hook it down to the deck. as a result, on the return journey, the mirror popped out of the fairing due to the pressure of being pressed against the railing. it could have ended worse, but luckily no permanent damage done this time (else i would have had to ride 250 miles home without a left mirror - scary thought!). once on board, the staff are helpful and friendly, the restaurant seems good (but we didn't order a dinner since we packed ours) and the bar had a variety of local ales on tap at very reasonable prices! our happiness ended there though. resting for the night proved highly uncomfortable as all sections had bright lighting on for the entire journey. the seats reclined a bit but there was no leg rest, so we ended up sliding down the semi reclined seats uncomfortably. we could tell by the way everyone else was trying to sleep that it was equally uncomfortable for all shapes and sizes of people! paying 2 pounds for a blanket, eye mask, pillow and earplugs is well worth it - other upgrades, definitely not! on our return journey, we learned from our experience and grabbed sofa seats, which allowed us to get some (but not much) sleep. the return ferry was also extremely overbooked, and people were sleeping on the floor as there was nowhere else for them! We were lucky to be traveling as a couple so one of us could hold the seat while the other went to the toilet/bar/stretched our legs etc, or we would have lost our spot in minutes. another grouse is the lack of charging points - on an overnight journey, people inevitably need to charge their gadgets, and the sockets seemed like they were placed for housekeeping to hook up vacuum cleaners, and not customers. there wasn't a single socket near any seat, and they were all at ground level. overall, other than the bar, it wasn't a particularly enjoyable ferry - a pity, since this is pretty much the only way to get to shetland with a motorcycle! I've heard the private suites are comfortable, but those literally cost more than a posh hotel room! also, it's a good idea to book direct from northlink as they give free changes/cancellation, which direct ferries does not (and northlink also charge much less for the ticket to boot)

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Routes and Ports in Shetland Islands