3. Re: Planning for 1st visit
We booked a weeks s/c on Unst in April to the consternation of locals who were very concerned that we did realise it might still be winter.... There was snow around Lerwick but that cleared as we drove north and we had the most fantastic week of bright blue skies and sunshine - although it was cold and we needed to be very well wrapped up.
April has the advantage of being a lot quieter than September.
We've also visited in September. Weather has varied from good to a week of steady rain....
Lerwick is a good base as most places are drivable from there. There is a big co-op store there which has a good range of food and a couple of decent butchers in the town. Scalloway has a small co-op and some smaller food stores. Otherwise food shopping could be more 'difficult'.
We have used Self Catering Shetland several times. They have several properties on the outskirts of Lerwick. They are well equiped, furnished to very high standard and spotlessly clean. Gillian and Steve are Shetlanders with an extensive knowledge of the islands. As they book by the day you can book the exact dates you want.
We always use the ferry from Aberdeen. It is an overnight sailing so effectively gives you 2 extra days holiday. It also means you can take your own car. Book early to make sure you get a cabin. Sumburgh airport can get a lot of fog and flights do get cancelled.
Local ferries on Shetland are cheap, so do try and visit some of the islands during your visit.
Shetland is marvellous for walking. Everyone will have their favourite walks. Ours is Esherness.
Have a look at this website:
You are likely to see wildlife anywhere. We've seen dolphins from Jarlshof, whales at Lunnaness and otters at Eshaness and on Unst. You just need to keep your eyes open.
You may find this website useful;
There is loads to do in Shetland - certainly enough to keep you busy for 3 weeks. If you do combine this with a trip to Orkney think about doing Orkney first, as it has a much more mainland (cosmopolitan?) feel to it than Shetland.
An archipelago made up of more than 100 islands, 15 of which are inhabited, the Shetland Isles are closer to Norway than mainland Scotland.
Scotland meets Scandinavia
The same goes for Shetlander's unique cultural heritage. The Old Norse language crops up everywhere, from practically every place name to the local dialect spoken with a distinctive Scandinavian lilt, while fantastically preserved archaeological sites and the spectacular Up Helly Aa festival are vivid reminders of the islands' Viking past.
Over 6,000 years of history
It's not just the Vikings who left their mark on Shetland. Traces of ancient peoples stretching as far back as the islands' earliest Neolithic settlers are laid bare at astoundingly well-preserved archaeological sites and ruins. From Iron Age brochs to mysterious standing stones, from Pictish wheelhouses to traditional crofthouses, we invite you to delve into the lives of Shetland's inhabitants through the ages.
Ruggedly handsome and wonderfully secluded, the Shetland Islands boast a landscape quite unlike anywhere else in the world. Think miles of breathtaking coastline fringed by pristine beaches and crystal-clear, vivid blue shores. Not to mention the glistening sea lochs, heather-clad moorlands, monumental rock formations and towering clifftops sculpted by millennia of wind, sea and sand.