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Planes, ferries and automobiles

Shetland – a hundred scattered islands at the crossroads of the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. This may be one of the remotest parts of Britain, but Shetland is easily accessible and travelling around once you get here is easy too.

Photo: John Coutts Zoom Photo: John Coutts Inter-island flight and ferry services to the smaller isles, good vehicle hire, public transport services and a first-class road network will help you make the most of your visit and sample as much as you can of what Shetland has to offer.

How to get here

The NorthLink ferries Hjaltland and Hrossey sail overnight between Aberdeen and Lerwick, offering a relaxed start to your holiday. The ferry terminal at Holmsgarth, in the north part of Lerwick’s busy harbour, is a 15-minute walk from the town centre. For the town and all places south, head left on leaving the terminal; if heading to the north or west, turn right. The harbour, managed by Lerwick Port Authority, is Britain’s ‘top’ port and the hub of shipping links between the UK, northern Europe and Scandinavia.

Sumburgh Airport at the southern tip of the mainland, the main arrival point for flights into Shetland, is 25 miles from Lerwick.

Photo: Brian Gray Zoom Photo: Brian Gray Self-drive vehicles and taxis are available from the airport terminal. A service bus goes via the airport but doesn’t meet specific flights so check times beforehand.

How to get around

Getting around in the islands is easy too. Take your own transport and explore about 640 miles of good roads at your leisure, or, if you need to hire a vehicle, good car rental facilities (and cycle hire) are available.

Photo: Peter Parker Zoom Photo: Peter Parker Inter-island ro-ro ferries connect the smaller isles to the Shetland mainland, allowing you to take your vehicle wherever you go.

The smaller outer isles are also served by an 8-seat Islander plane from Tingwall airport.

A 24-hour taxi rank is situated at Victoria Pier in the town centre.

Comprehensive travel information, timetables and contact details can be found at travel.shetland.org.

Ferries:

Serco NorthLink Ferries

0845 6000 449

www.northlinkferries.co.uk

Flights:

Loganair Photo: courtesy SIC. Zoom Photo: courtesy SIC.

0344 800 2855

www.loganair.co.uk 

Inter-island flights:

Airtask Group (Directflight)

01595 840246

www.airtask.com/shetland-islands-inter-island-service

Inter-island ferries:

Timetables and general information: Photo: Chris Brown Zoom Photo: Chris Brown

www.shetland.gov.uk/ferries

Telephone bookings:

Unst: 01595 745804

Yell: 01595 745804

Fetlar: 01595 745804

Whalsay: 01595 745804

Skerries: 01595 745804

Papa Stour: 01595 745804

Fair Isle: 01595 760363

Foula: 01595 840208 (operated by BK Marine: www.bkmarine.co.uk)

Bressay: booking not required

Public transport:

Timetables and general information online at travel.shetland.org

Approximate distances by road from Lerwick to:

  • Toft ferry terminal: 27 miles (43km).
  • Laxo ferry terminal: 22 miles (35km).
  • Vidlin pier: 24 miles (38km).
  • West Burrafirth pier: 26 miles (42km).
  • Walls pier: 25 miles (40km).
  • Scalloway: 8 miles (13km).
  • Grutness pier: 25 miles (40km).
  • Tingwall airport: 7 miles (11km).

Some practical ‘road’ points to remember are:

  • Drive on the left;
  • Speed limits: 30mph in built-up areas (20mph zones near schools/residential areas/Lerwick Esplanade); 60mph on rural roads (some 50mph through villages);
  • Parking restrictions apply in parts of Lerwick town centre. Parking discs for ‘zoned’ areas are available from most shops and the Tourist Office at the Market Cross. Free parking is available at Market Street, Upper Hillhead, Church Road (limited spaces), with paid parking on Victoria Pier;
  • Cyclists should bear in mind that the ‘rush hours’ in Lerwick can see fairly heavy traffic and it might be an idea to avoid, if possible, the main roads in the town at these times (around 9am and 5pm; also between 1pm and 2pm).