Everyone has a place where he feels happy. Associated with the best moments in life, it makes you coming back again and again. The Faroe Islands are exactly the place for us. Our first travel has changed that incredibly beautiful and breathtakingly unfamiliar land to the place where every fjord, cliff and village is keeping our small stories. Near the 100-year-old lighthouse we made our first step to being a family. Near a cliff we sat and drank tea with Erna, who hosted us for a few days and became our true friend. In the house of farmers we had one of the coziest evenings in our life. That is why when Visit Faroe Islands invited us to visit the islands next summer and we saw those green hills again we felt the homecoming peacefulness.
Since our first trip many people have asked us to tell more stories about the Faroes, to give advice on trails and places. We even made a few lectures on traveling to the islands and then were happy to see the photos of people who were inspired by us for their own travel to the Faroes. But we cannot reach everyone in person, unfortunately. So, we decided to create the Faroe Islands travel guide to help with planning your own adventure to one of the most unspoiled islands in the world.
So, what the Faroes are? It is a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean located between Scotland and Iceland. The main currency is the Faroese crone (equal to Danish); the main city – Tórshavn – is considered to be the smallest capital in the world. The archipelago consists of 18 islands, 17 of which are inhabited. The population is about 50,000. The name of the islands (Føroyar) is translated as «the islands of sheep», which is no surprise, as there is thrice as much sheep than people! Even on the steepest cliffs of the most remote islands there is always a chance to spot a sheep.
There are two options of getting there. The first is flying by the national airlines – Atlantic Airways. It is the only company that provides a regular connection to the islands by air. The most frequent flight (and the cheapest one) is Copenhagen – Vágar. The flight runs twice a day and has 2-hour duration. There are also flights from Great Britain, Norway, Iceland and Spain. Visit the following link to find more info. The second way to reach Faroes is to take a ferry but this will increase the travel time from two hours up to two days. Click here to check the schedule.
The majority of hotels is located on the main islands (Streamy, Eysturoy and Vágar). It is harder to get an accommodation on the remote islands; still, it is a problem only at first glance. As there is no really big distances, one could easily reach even the most distant place within two-hour drive from Tórshavn. We actually did so, staying in the hotel Føroyar (the best hotel to experience the Faroes, with the grass roof and the best view of the city). Then, there is still a way to accommodate on the remote islands: instead of exploring booking and airbnb, try the accommodation tab on the tourist site of the island you want to settle. And, yes, you can camp there but in the camping sites only.
It is easier that it may seem. In fact, the Faroe Islands are compact and the distances are really small. For example, if you want to reach Gasadalur or Sørvágsvatn, it will take you only five-minute drive from the airport! There is a nice public transport network. Most of the places are easily accessible by bus. The schedule is fulfilling and the routes are well synchronized; the prices are not big at all. Take a ferry to go between islands. Ferries here are just a public transport, so they are also common-used and not over-priced. And, yes, there is one more way to travel – by a helicopter. It is cheaper than taking a taxi to the airport! So, a heli flight is worth trying. The main thing is to book it in advance. Bus and ferry timetables are available here, for helicopter timetable search here.
If you are going to a small village or on a hike – it is better to take food with you. If there are any shops, they would work only few hours a day. In the bigger towns and villages (in the scale of the Faroes, of course) you will always find a supermarket or a cafe. And what concerns the smallest capital in the world, it competitively catches up with the bigger bros – food spots are pretty much everywhere. We especially recommend Koks Restaurant. One can make a talk on its unbelievable courses but we are not so pro in that. Instead, we will tell you about the thing that impressed us most of all there. We have had a few dinners in farmers’ and anglers’ houses before. And we saw how strong was the nature’s influence there, even in the way they eat. Here, in Koks, that connection was equally strong. It is not about the traditional food – the cuisine spots could be found in every country. It is all about the approach. All the courses compound earth and ocean gifts that were incredibly spiced and combined with the hand of the chef, Poul Marius Ziska.
Meanwhile, if you are a coziness seeker – we definitely recommend you to visit Barbara fish house in the historical part of the city. Located in the traditional Faroese wooden house with a grassy roof, this place always offer what the ocean brought them today.
Despite the northern location, thankfully, the Gulf Stream makes the climate mild. It is up to +20ºC (with average 13º) in summer and rarely less than 0º in winter. There are also white nights in summer and a chance to see northern lights in winter! Now it is time to discuss less pleasant sides of the local climate. There is a lot of rain and wind, so it is better to take a raincoat and a pair of good waterproof shoes. Though there is no severe temperatures in winter, it feels really cold due to a high level of humidity. And one more thing – the weather is constantly changing. The Faroese say that if you are not satisfied with the weather – just wait for 5 minutes. And that is obviously true. Once, we took a taxi to the nearest town and the driver said that a warm and sunny day like that hadn’t been for a long time, and the next few hours we spent under the pouring rain falling almost horizontally due to the wind. It is all about the Faroes – you have to consider that!
The places of interest
This small islet is located between Vágar and Mykines islands. It is famous for its sharp peak that occupies almost the entire islet. The best ground based view opens from the village Bøur that faces the island. But we strongly recommend you to see it from a helicopter or a ferry on your way to Mykines. There is also a tour directly to the islands but it is only available in summertime.
The steep cliff studded with small houses on top with the waterfall running down to the ocean – everyone saw the photo of the village Gásadalur (located on the Vágar island, not far from the airport btw), which is truly became one of the Faroe Islands’ landmarks. Still it is hard to name it a touristic place. Having been there five times, we saw hardly more than two people each time. You also have a deep feeling of serenity there. Our friend Erna said that even in a big storm it still remains within.
One more landmark of the Vágar Island that is very close to the airport (actually, Sørvágsvatn is the first thing you see while landing). Sometimes it is called «the hanging lake», because it is located on the elevation and from some angles you can see how it «floats» above the ocean.
It is a small village on the Streymoy Island. The village is located in the wonderful harbour surrounded by the mountains. Two rocks crowns the right edge of the coastline – they are called Risin og Kellingin, which means The Giant and the Witch. Comparing to the surrounding cliffs they look small, even tiny, – being 70 meters high! You can only imagine the height of that cliffs around :) On your way to the village do not forget to stop by Fossá – the biggest waterfall in the Faroe Islands.
This island is perfect to feel the authentic Faroese living. One would hardly meet a single person here, except the time of ferry’s arrival, when all village greets it in the harbour. Any other time the village dies out completely and you start to feel somehow lonely. All houses around seem abounded and you are the only person for miles. But this feeling is hardly depressive, actually, it is perfect for writing a melancholic novel.
This island is definitely a gem of the archipelago. In summer it attracts hikers, photographers and nature-seekers from all over the world and, of course, from neighboring islands. And there are several reasons for that. Firstly, the island is fantastically beautiful with trails going across the high mountains and step cliffs – indeed, a well enough reason to witness the place. Secondly, this island is a home for thousands of birds, including the cutest ones in the world – puffins! In summer there are so much of them that you can not step away from the pathway, because there is a danger to damage their homes! And the last, but not the least reason – a 100-year-old lighthouse at the westernmost point of the entire archipelago. In fact, it is located on a separate island – Mykineshólmur – but it is bridged with the main one. Before the lighthouse became fully automatic, his keeper lived there with his family. Just imagine their life cut off from the whole world, even from the main part of the island – a ship was the only thing that brought news and food from the archipelago. Imagine how the lighthouse keeper lighted it up every day. It is hard to express how important his job was, how many lives furrowing the cold Atlantic water were saved by that light. Though it was not of that importance for us, still, our stories united the moment we were engaged near the lighthouse.
Though our life runs in one of the world's biggest cities, everything around seemed small after our trip to the Faroes. We could not understand the reason for this feeling until we realized that it was about the rhythm of our lives. In the everyday metropolis we repeat the same routine in small square rooms, travel the same routes, deal with the same people. The world of the small Faroe Islands seemed incredibly big – open spaces, high mountains, giant waves. You are standing on an island, in the middle of the vast ocean, free to walk any direction without following the geometry of urban development and traffic limits. You are a tiny human, who found himself in the land of giants. And you do not understand how the locals live in those scales. But these people match their country – they have giant hearts. Kindness, willingness to help and the ability to live as a big family – this all helps them to live amongst the huge waves and stormy skies. We miss those people. And we miss those places. That is why we are coming back there again. Very soon.
This post was brought to you as a result of the blog trip in partnership with Visit Faroe Islands. We want to thank Faroe Islands' tourist board for all help and support provided during our travel.