Your Amazing Race: Outlanders in the Shetland Islands

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Shetland Islands Mike Pennington [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia CommonsViewers got a brief peak at the beauty of the Shetland Islands in last week’s episode. The rolling green countryside is littered with sheep and quaint villages. The islands have kept their charm over the years partly because it is quite the feat to get to them. They lay 600 miles north of London which is an equivalent distance to that of Milan or Berlin.

There are however a variety of ways of getting to the island if you decide to venture north. Travelers to the islands can opt to fly or take the ferry like the Amazing Race teams did.

Shetland by Air

Shetland does have its own regional airport called Sumburgh which is twenty-five miles south of Lerwick, the largest municipality on the islands. There are ten daily flights from the UK, mainly from Scotland. Most will land in under two hours making the trip a quick hop. The Shetland airport also has a bus, rental cars and taxis waiting right outside the exit.

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The short trip does come at a bit of a cost. British Airways is the main provider of these flights and tickets can range from $400 to $700 per person. If this is not in your travel budget, consider the ferry.

Shetland by Sea

Depending on your budget and plans there are few ways that you could find yourself floating up to the dock. There are yachts for hire and many cruise ships make Shetland a point of interest for the passengers’ excursions. The majority of seafaring visitors however arrive via the ferry from the UK mainland.

Ferry service is provided by Northlink Ferries. The company will take on passengers in Aberdeen, Orkney and Kirkwall. Because the crossing to the Shetland Islands takes 12-13 hours depending on where you started, the ships are designed to keep passengers comfortable for an overnight trip.  The “cruise ferries” provide on board entertainment and food. If you rented a car for your trip on the mainland, the car can be easily loaded on the ferry as well. As an additional bonus, the boats are pet friendly.

The racers opted for one of the less expensive options for this crossing. The large seats they were in are called Sleeping Pods and cost only $58 round trip! The cost of the Sleeping Pod includes a blanket, pillow, eye mask and a shower token. If you are really trying to stick to a tight budget, a basic reclining seat for only seven quid (or $12). The ships also have full scale cabins if you would like more privacy for the crossing.