How to organize a group tour to the Shetland Islands?

The Shetland Islands, an enchanting archipelago located in the North Atlantic, offers a mix of awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse wildlife, and distinctive cultural heritage. Planning a group tour to this remote destination might appear daunting at first glance, but with the right approach and thorough preparation, you can transform this dream vacation into a remarkable reality. This article aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help you organize a group tour to the Shetland Islands, ensuring a memorable and hassle-free experience.

Understanding the Shetland Islands

Before setting sail to the Shetlands, it's crucial to get well-informed about what the islands have to offer. Located between Scotland and Norway, the Shetland Islands boast over 100 isles, a large percentage of which are uninhabited but nevertheless teeming with natural beauty and wildlife. From the rich history evident in ancient archaeological sites to the breathtaking coastlines and the rare bird colonies, Shetland offers a unique travel experience that few other destinations can match.

Choosing the Right Time to Visit

Timing is one of the most critical aspects when planning a group tour to this far-flung destination. Shetland is characterized by a cool temperate oceanic climate, which means moderate summers and mild winters. However, different seasons offer varying attractions. If you are hoping to witness the 'Simmer Dim', the phenomenon of twilight lasting all night during summer, plan your visit between late June and early July. If wildlife watching, particularly the famous Shetland ponies, seals, and diverse birdlife, is a priority, then opt for spring or early summer.

Selecting Suitable Accommodation

Given the remote nature of the Shetland Islands, it's essential to plan accommodation well in advance, especially when traveling with a group. While the Shetland Islands may not boast luxury resorts, they offer a range of comfortable options such as guest houses, self-catering cottages, and B&Bs. Lerwick, the capital, poses as a convenient base due to its central location and availability of amenities. If your group prefers a more immersive experience, consider booking a traditional 'croft house' in one of the rural areas.

Planning the Itinerary

When it comes to sightseeing, the Shetland Islands offer an embarrassment of riches. To make the most of your trip, it's essential to plan a well-structured itinerary. Ensure to include a mix of historical sites like the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement, natural wonders such as the dramatic cliffs of Eshaness, and cultural experiences at local festivals or museums. Remember to allocate time for leisurely pursuits like hiking, bird-watching, or simply soaking up the serene landscapes.

Dealing with Logistics

One of the most challenging aspects of organizing a group tour is dealing with logistics, particularly in a remote destination like the Shetland Islands. Consider engaging a local tour operator who can handle transportation, meals, and guides, ensuring a smooth journey. Additionally, carefully consider your group's needs and preferences when choosing the mode of transport to Shetland - by air or by ferry - and the type of activities included in your tour.

In conclusion, while planning a group tour to the Shetland Islands requires significant research and organization, the payoff is a unique and unforgettable travel experience. By understanding the destination, choosing the right time to visit, selecting suitable accommodation, planning a diverse itinerary, and dealing with logistics, you can ensure a successful and memorable group tour.

Remember, the key to a great group tour lies not just in the destination, but in the shared experiences and memories you create together. So, start planning your group tour to the Shetland Islands today, and look forward to the trip of a lifetime.

Setting the Budget

One essential aspect to keep in mind while organizing a group tour is the budget. Given the remote nature of the Shetland Islands, costs can add up quickly, so it's crucial to arrange a budget that can accommodate various expenses. This includes travel to and from the destination, accommodation, meals, local transportation, entrance fees for attractions, and any unplanned costs that may arise.

Always start by determining an overall budget for the trip and then break it down into these categories. Keep in mind that costs can greatly vary depending on the time of the year; for instance, accommodation and airfare might be pricier during the peak season in summer.

For transportation, weigh the costs and benefits of flying versus taking a ferry. While flights might be quicker, ferries can offer a more scenic and enjoyable journey, albeit usually at a higher cost. Additionally, consider the costs of local transportation, as you may need to hire buses or vans to move your group around the islands.

Accommodation in the Shetland Islands ranges from budget-friendly hostels and guesthouses to more expensive self-catering cottages and B&Bs. Food costs can also vary, with the option of dining in restaurants or preparing your meals if your accommodation provides kitchen facilities.

While attractions like museums or archaeological sites usually charge entrance fees, remember that many of Shetland's wonders, like its breathtaking coastlines or bird colonies, are completely free of charge. However, you might want to budget for guided tours or wildlife watching trips for the best experience.

Safety Considerations

Although Shetland is generally a safe destination, taking a few precautions can help ensure everyone's wellbeing during the trip, especially when dealing with a group. Firstly, ensure that everyone is adequately insured for the trip. This includes travel insurance to cover any potential medical emergencies, trip cancellations, or lost belongings.

Weather in Shetland can be unpredictable, so it's essential to advise everyone in the group to pack appropriate clothing and footwear. This can help avoid illnesses or injuries that could result from exposure to harsh weather conditions.

Furthermore, if your itinerary involves hiking or walking, make sure to brief your group on safety measures. Even the easiest hikes can become challenging due to sudden weather changes, so ensuring everyone is prepared and aware of what to do in case of an emergency is crucial.

Lastly, keep in mind that mobile reception can be unreliable in some areas of Shetland. It might be beneficial to have a contingency plan in case group members get separated, such as setting designated meeting points and times.


Organizing a group tour to the Shetland Islands might seem like a daunting task. However, with adequate planning and consideration, you can ensure a smooth and enriching journey for everyone. Keep the destination's unique features in mind, choose the right time to visit, select suitable accommodation, plan an enticing itinerary, deal with logistics, set a reasonable budget, and consider safety aspects.

As you embark on this remarkable adventure, remember it's the shared experiences and memories that make a group tour truly special. Whether it's marveling at the 'Simmer Dim', spotting a Shetland pony, or exploring ancient archaeological sites, the Shetland Islands offer a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

So, don't wait any longer. Start planning your group tour to the Shetland Islands today and get ready for an unforgettable journey into the heart of one of the world's most captivating destinations.

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