Shetlands, where they are

On the Shetland Islands, situated to the north of Scotland, the climate is oceanic, cold and wet most of the year. The wind blows frequently, and can be stormy especially in autumn and winter. Summer is very cool.
Here are the average temperatures in Lerwick, the main town.
Lerwick - Average temperatures
Min (°C)1123589108632
Max (°C)556810131414121076
Min (°F)343436374146485046433736
Max (°F)414143465055575754504543

Precipitation amounts to about 1,250 millimetres (49 inches) per year; the rains are frequent throughout the year, but especially from October to March, while there is a relative minimum in spring and summer.
Here is the average precipitation in Lerwick.
Lerwick - Average precipitation

Winter is long and runs from mid-November to mid-April, and it is cold but not frosty: the average temperature is a few degrees above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F). Wind and humidity, however, along with the lack of sunshine, exacerbate the sensation of cold. Owing to latitude, the days are very short from November to January. Snowfalls are quite frequent, though not abundant. Cold winds of polar origin blow quite often, but for the presence of the sea the temperatures do not drop by much, so there are often light frosts, but they rarely drop below -5 °C (23 °F). On the other hand, during periods when the mild westerlies blow, the temperature remains a few degrees above freezing, and can even reach 8/10 °C (46/50 °F), but the sky is cloudy, and wind and rain are frequent. Intense Atlantic depressions, which in this area occur often, can bring windstorms, and cause sea storms.

The short spring, from mid-April to late May, is cold: the temperature remains low, and winter-like periods are still possible, with snow showers, even in the first half of May. However, the days are long, the wind slows down a bit, and every so often you can even see the sun.

Summer, from June to August, is very cool, humid and rainy, and sometimes windy. The temperatures are similar to those of the Mediterranean coasts (Sicily, Cyprus etc.) in winter. When it goes well, daytime temperatures approach 20 °C (68 °F), which might not even happen for a whole summer. On the positive side, the days are very long, especially in June and the first half of July, when you can see the white nights (twilight at midnight). In addition, summer is the least windy season, even though some days with a strong wind are still possible.

Autumn, from September to mid-November, is cloudy, rainy and windy, and progressively colder.


The amount of sunshine on the Shetlands is mediocre all year round: cloudy skies are the norm. However, the (relatively) sunniest period goes from April to August.
Lerwick - Sunshine

The sea is obviously cold all year round: at most the water temperature reaches 12 °C (54 °F) from July to September.
Here are the average sea temperatures.
Shetland - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)888891012121211109
Temp (°F)464646464850545454525048

When to go

The best time to visit the Shetlands is the summer, from June to August, since it is the mildest season. However, there are often cloudy skies, wind, rain and a bit of cold at night.
In June, it's a bit colder than in July and August, but the days are very long (19 hours, compared with 18 hours in July and 15 August). In September, the temperature is similar to that of June, but it rains more often and the days are shorter (it is useful to remember that in the 23rd of September, the autumnal equinox, the day lasts 12 hours everywhere in the world).