The bleak beauty of Shetland has helped the group of more than 100 islands into the Lonely Planet travel guide’s top 10 destinations in Europe .

The guide praises Shetland’s “awesome coastal trails, wicked wildlife watching, and fabled fish and chip shops”, and suggests visitors “spot otters and orcas from craggy headlands, then ease into the evening at one of Lerwick’s local pubs” or experience the Viking-inspired Up Helly Aa festival which “bursts into fiery life each January”.

Shetland, of which only 15 of its islands are inhabited, came sixth in the Best in Europe 2019 rankings, with top spot going to Slovakia’s High Tatras, a mountain range and national park that forms part of the border with Poland.

Steven Coutts, leader of Shetland Islands Council, said: “Shetland has long been known as a welcoming destination for travellers, and it’s great to have made Lonely Planet – and Europe’s – top 10 this year.

“Those of us who live here know how fantastic the islands are, with stunning scenery and incredible wildlife on our doorstep.

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“We’re an outward-looking community and there’s a growing number of local businesses and organisations showcasing the best of our islands to visitors.

“We’ve a vibrant economy, tremendous natural resources and a beautiful environment, all of which makes Shetland an excellent place to live, work, study and visit.”

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As well as being a ‘top 10’ detination Shetland is a Unesco Global Geopark and is said to be more geologically
diverse than any similar sized area in Europe.

The full Lonely Planet Best in Europe 2019 list: