Where is Shetland filmed? Real life locations of the hit BBC show

Interest in the Shetland filming locations remains high as season 7 lands on BBC

Doulas Henshall as DI Perez in Shetland, British crime drama television series, made by ITV Studios for BBC Scotland
(Image credit: BBC/Silverprint Pictures/Mark Mainz/Matt Burlem/Future)

Shetland fans listen up! We've listed all the must-know locations of where Shetland is filmed and whether you can visit them in real life.

Shetland is proving to remain as popular as ever amongst viewers and critics, with series 8 landing to the same positive critical response as its predecessors. The British crime drama debuted on 10 March 2013, and has become one of Britain’s greatest loved television exports around the world. Based on Ann Cleeves' book series of the same name, it's not just the gripping plots keeping the world enthralled, but the stunning scenery providing the ultimate escapism. Read on to find out about all the Shetland filming locations.

Season 8 won't be the same, with the departure of jimmy Perez - we looked at why did Douglas Henshall leave Shetland. Those seeking other gripping drama this autumn will enjoy both Time, and Boiling Point - both shows are riding high on BBC One with volumes of viewers tuning in. 

Where is Shetland filmed? 

The majority of filming takes place in the archipelago Shetland Islands. Lerwick, the main town and port of the Shetland Islands, is a prominent filming location. Meanwhile, the majority of Shetland's interior scenes are filmed in Glasgow.

In previous seasons, Ayr and Irvine have acted as substitutes for the Shetland Islands. According to iNews, other Shetland locations displaying their beauty in the show includes Fair Isle, which featured heavily in season 2 as part of DI Perez’s backstory. The Hillswick wildlife sanctuary in Northmavine played a central role in season 4. 

Banna Min beach in West Burra was the location used for the opening scenes of season 5. The beach is said to be one of Shetland's most beautiful beaches, running along the west side of a tombolo joining it to the Kettla Ness peninsula. 

Filming crews have reportedly been seen around the NorthLink ferry area - this connects Shetland to the mainland. South of Lerwick, the village of Wester Quarff acted as a location. The village runs along a glacial valley, providing a dramatic backdrop across the island, facing the Atlantic ocean. 

Is Skellwick a real place?

No, Skellick is not a real place. The area of Burra instead plays host to the fictional village of Skellwick, found in seasons 2 and 5 of Shetland

According to Shetland: Islands of Opportunity, East and West Burra, along with close neighbour Trondra, are positioned off the west coast of the south mainland. East and West Burra are linked over a narrow channel by a bridge, with all 3 islands connected to the mainland by bridges built in 1971. They form part of the Shetland National Scenic Area, and are 15 minutes away from the real town of Lerwick - featured in the series. 

The Skellwick hotel in the series was actually Busta House Hotel, built in 1748 for wealthy landowner Thomas Gifford. The building has a rich and varied history, and is even said to be haunted. Guests can now either stay in the hotel’s opulent rooms, or eat in the restaurant if passing through the area.  

 How much of Shetland is filmed on Shetland? 

Nearly all exterior location filming takes place in Shetland. The only exceptions are a few occasional scenes filmed on mainland Scotland, around the Glasgow area. 

According to National World, areas predominantly used on the Scottish mainland include Renfrewshire, Irvine Beach in North Ayrshire, and Barrhead near Glasgow. Renfrewshire is located in the west central Lowlands, sharing borders with Glasgow and North Ayrshire. 

Speaking to the Radio Times, Shetland producer Eric Coulter spoke of the importance of using real Shetland locations as exteriors for filming. He explained: "The landscape of Shetland is so particular that to try and match those exteriors is quite difficult. Any kind of major exterior work really has to be Shetland."

Filming in Shetland for the TV series additionally stays true to the books of which the show is based on. All of Ann Cleeve's best-selling detective books are set across the stunning Scottish archipelago islands.

Shetland Series: 8 Books Collection Set by Ann Cleeves £22.99 | Amazon

Shetland Series: 8 Books Collection Set by Ann Cleeves £22.99 | Amazon

Read the whole of collection of books that inspired the hit BBC crime drama.

Shetland: Where does Jimmy Perez live? 

The exterior of Jimmy Perez’s house is filmed on Commercial Street in Lerwick, with interior filming taking place on set in Glasgow.

DI Jimmy Perez is head Inspector for the Shetland Police, working out of Lerwick Police Station. He was born and raised on Fair Isle which is a real place, and the southernmost Shetland island. It is positioned 24 miles from the Shetland Mainland. Following the death of his wife, the fictional DI Perez moved to Shetland.  

Known to locals as ‘The Lodberrie’, the house has become one of the most photographed in the area. Lodberries were originally stone storehouses built extending into the sea, to allow boats to easily load and unload their goods. DI Perez’s house at 20 Commercial Street was built in the late 18th century, and is now a listed building.

Shetland: Where is the police station? 

The exterior of the police station is actually the real Lerwick police station. The interior police station scenes are filmed on a set in Glasgow.  

Shetland producer Eric Coulter revealed that the Lerwick police station also stood in for other locations. Of the building, he said: “The building itself is actually the courtroom, the procurator fiscal, and the police station”. 

A Twitter user visited some of the Shetland filming locations, and shared a picture of the show’s police station to their account. The building looked imposing set against a dramatic backdrop of dark and gloomy skies. 

When was Shetland season 7 filmed? 

Filming for season 7 began at the end of August, 2021, wrapping up January 20, 2022. DI Perez actor Douglas Henshall shared a tweet on August 31 of last year announcing his joy at being back in Shetland for the start of filming.

However, both seasons 6 and 7 had been filmed back to back throughout much of 2021, which Henshall said had been ‘tough’. The actor also shared regular updates with fans about the harsh weather conditions the cast endured during filming, along with the stunning scenery.  

The actor also shared a stunning shot of filming on a cliff edge, where a rare clear and dry weather day provided a spectacular backdrop. Henshall acknowledged the crew’s luck at the ability to view Fair Isle in the background of the shot.   

Video of the Week

Lucy Wigley
Parenting writer - contributing

Lucy is a mum-of-two, multi-award nominated writer and blogger with six years’ of experience writing about parenting, family life, and TV. Lucy has contributed content to PopSugar and moms.com. In the last three years, she has transformed her passion for streaming countless hours of television into specialising in entertainment writing. There is now nothing she loves more than watching the best shows on television and sharing why you - and your kids - should watch them.