Fancy an escape from your everyday surroundings and routine? The Shetland Islands are the perfect getaway! You’ll find freedom, wildlife and wild beauty, rich culture, and a lively, progressive society.
The Shetland Islands offer the opportunity for a return to nature, impressive coastal hikes, and solitary white-sandy beaches. With its desolated seas and wide sky, Shetland is a true escape! To prove this statement we’ve prepared these 34 interesting facts about the Shetland Islands that’ll surely inspire you to mark Shetland on your map, as your next destination…
There are more than 5,000 archaeological sites across the Shetland Islands as evidence of its rich history, with human activity as far back as 4320 BC.
Brochs, Iron Age drystone hollow-walled structures, were built near the sea across Shetland Islands between 150 and 200 AD.
In the 9th century, the Shetland Islands were colonised by the Vikings, the beginning of a long Norse and Scandinavian influence, even after the islands were regained by Scotland in the 14th century.
Today, the Norse influence can be felt in Viking sites and in its place names, many of which are originated from Old Norse.
The Shetland Islands are a welcoming place with its own identity and folk culture, from folk music to myths about trows, the Shetland response to elves.
Until 1469 the Shetland Islands belonged to Denmark.
When Princess Margaret of Denmark married James III of Scotland, Shetland Islands were part of her offering.
The Shetland Islands had a secret role in World War II, when regular fishing boats were transporting munitions, supplies, and even rescuing refugees.
Considering themselves first as Shetlanders and second as Scots, they’ve often tended to vote contrarily to the Scottish Mainland, voting Liberal or Liberal Democrat in every election since 1950.
The Shetland Islands host many events, like the Up Helly Aa fire festivals, the Shetland Folk Festival, and Shetland Wool Week.
The Islands offer amazing local food products, from Britain’s best mussels to tender lamb from free-roaming sheep.
Lerwick, Shetland Islands
While in Shetland visitors can experience the Island’s unique culture, with stronger Viking and Scandinavian influences than anywhere else in the UK.
Shetland Island’s active economy has occupations across multiple sectors, and the islands are set to lead the UK from renewable energy to transporting small satellites into space.
The Islands offer opportunities for new businesses in a beautiful part of the UK, a new occupation and lifestyle that just might be perfect for you. Think about it!
Shetland Island’s communities are sustainable, with great schools, world-class infrastructure, and loads to do, from sports clubs to events and many outdoor activities.
With their low crime rate, the Shetland Islands are a place where children can wander freely, and where many people live with a view of the sea.
Shetland is an archipelago in the North Sea of around 100 islands, fewer than 20 of them inhabited, with a total population of 22,920 (2018).
Lerwick, Shetland Islands
Most of the Shetlanders live on the biggest island, called Mainland, but there are also people living on smaller islands connected by bridges.
About 4,000 people live on the outer islands which can be reached by ferries.
The Mainland is the largest island.
The North Islands of Yell, Fetlar, and Unst, are situated north of the Mainland.
The island of Fair Isle to the south, almost halfway to Orkney, has a population of just over 50, while Foula to the west and Out Skerries to the east have even fewer inhabitants.
The Shetland Islands are in the middle of the North Sea, bounded by some of the North Sea’s richest fishing surroundings, close to some of its most valuable oil fields.
The latitude line of 60 degrees cuts through Shetland Islands’ South Mainland, but even though Shetland Islands are on the same latitude as parts of Alaska, thanks to the Gulf Stream, they’re warmer.
The Muckleflugga Lighthouse
Norway lies directly to the east, with the Shetland Islands closer to Bergen than Inverness.
The Faroe Islands and then Iceland lie to the northwest, a popular course for the cruise ships that stop in the Shetland Islands.
The wildlife is one of the biggest attractions of the Shetlands, whether you’re in search of otters, rare red-necked phalaropes, or just fishing for halibut around the Muckle Flugga lighthouse at the edge of the British Isles, the Shetland Islands have it all!
Shetland Islands’ visitors can also try kayaking, boat trips around the islands, see the broch at Mousa, the diving gannets at Noss, or take a cruise to the remote isle of Foula.
The Islands attract enthusiasts, bird-watchers, artists, photographers, wild swimmers, and even textile obsessives.
The Shetland Islands are spot-on for strolling or just walking along the cliff edges to see the lighthouse at Muckle Flugga, Britain’s northernmost point.
Shetland ponies, unsurprisingly come from Shetland. These ponies are between 28 and 42 inches high. Despite their size, Shetland ponies are very strong!
To catch a glimpse of the northern lights or aurora borealis people often visit Iceland and Greenland. The Shetland Islands are as far north as St Petersburg, Russia, or Anchorage, Alaska which makes them an ideal place to watch the aurora borealis.
The lights of the aurora look like they’re dancing so the Shetlanders call them “mirrie dancers”.
The Sun barely sets at the height of summer in the Shetland Islands, aside from a few hours of twilight which Shetlanders call the “Simmer Dim”. Amazing! Have we convinced you yet to mark this exquisite destination on your map? With the help of this fact file, we believe we have!
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about the Shetland Islands that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!