There are some places you visit that you hope to goodness you will get the chance to return to… one day. For me, the Faroe Islands falls firmly into this category.
The tiny archipelago, located in-between Iceland and Scotland only receives 40 odd-thousand visitors a year (compared to neighbouring Iceland, which continues to surge in popularity). This is a number that’s set to rise, as the world becomes smaller and the remotest of places become more and more accessible.
I left with many thoughts and emotions. One thing was for certain. Four days wasn’t enough time to spend in the Faroe Islands.
We based ourselves in Tórshavn (tor-shawn), the teeny tiny capital, in an AirBnB run by a very lovely local couple. We were even invited into their house for a glass of wine – that’s the first time that’s ever happened to me, in the entire time I’ve used the service!
If you’re considering a trip to the Faroe Islands, here’s a few factors that are worth knowing in advance.
Getting there is not impossible
Vágar Airport is not the most well-connected airport in the world, but it’s not the worst to get to.
You can fly directly there via Atlantic Airways from both Edinburgh, Scotland and Copenhagen, Denmark. I’d advise spending a few days chilling in either city before or after your visit because… why not? They’re both excellent cities in their own right.
My original plan was to spend three days in Edinburgh before flying on, travelling up there on the train from London. This plan got upended by a last minute trip to Kyrgyzstan. It made for a tiring trip onto the Faroes but… stuff happens.
You also have the option to travel to the Faroes by boat, on a route that travels between Iceland and Denmark. That would be an experience for sure.
You’re going to need a set of wheels
The population of entire archipelago in 2016 was only 48,000, with some villages numbering into only the double digits. This place is about as remote as you can get. So, it makes sense that public transport is not really readily available. Most people get to and fro in the country via car, which is the option you’re probably going to have to take as well.
Unless, of course, you really like walking super long distances. The islands are known for their great hikes, after all!
You can catch a taxi or the airport shuttle from Vágar to Tórshavn (more information on bookings can be found here) but you’re probably better off renting a car from the airport. Use it for your adventures around the islands and drop it back at the airport when you’re done. Easy.
It’s not a destination for budget travellers
I’m sure you could visit the Faroe Islands whilst on a very tight budget. You could eat food only from supermarkets, stay in the cheapest hotels, try your hand at hitching rides and cap your activities at hiking and not much else.
The one question I ask is – why on earth would you want to do that?
Like most Nordic countries, the Faroes are not necessarily what you’d describe as being cheap. You can spend a bit of money, or you can spend a lot.
I chose to not hold back. I did all the activities I wanted (and was able) to do. I ate where I wished and my tastebuds were grateful for the experience (the food in this country is good).
I may have returned to London a few hundred quid poorer, but I was richer for the experience. Clichéd, but true!
Time your visit accordingly
Peak season for visiting the Faroe Islands is during the summer months and I implore you to go during this season, if you’re at all able to.
Why is this? Simply due to the fact that you’ll miss out on some stellar experiences if you choose to go at any other point in the year.
This includes, in no specific order (joking, I’ve ordered them depending on how disappointed I was over missing out on doing these things).
Seeing puffins on Mykines Island
I’ve wanted to see puffins my entire life but APPARENTLY NOT ENOUGH as I keep going to countries like the Faroes and Iceland, shortly after these weird and whacky seabirds have departed for the season.
Mykines is completely inundated with the seabirds in the summer months, so you’ll be hard-pressed to miss them. Think of me, please.
Seeing seabirds on the Vestmanna bird cliffs & panorama view
There’s a bit of a bird theme going on here (well, look at the name of this blog and you’ll understand why).
We did actually go on this boat tour, but the seas were wild (to the point where I was fearful for my life) and the birds, essentially gone. It consisted mostly of our guide saying:
“Well, this is where the puffins and fulmer would be… and oh, look, some sheep!”
Visiting Kalsoy Island
We didn’t get to do this even in September. I was rather gutted as it is home to the very cute Kallur Lighthouse, as well as the Seal Woman statue, which is supposedly quite beautiful to look at.
Reduced helicopter and ferry services
There are far less chances to book helicopter and ferry rides around the island. Plus, they’re subject to cancel at bad weather, which usually comes part and parcel with winter.
Be prepared to eat the most amazing food of your life
I could rave on about the food in the Faroes, until I was blue in the face.
We didn’t hold back when it came to dinner time, even taking in a meal at the acclaimed Koks restaurant just outside of Tórshavn. Watching the sunset over the ocean was almost as good as eating the food. Almost, but not quite, believe it or not.
And do some hardcore shopping
I had to make a difficult decision during my time in the Faroes – whether I should or shouldn’t invest in a jumper from Guðrun & Guðrun.
If you’ve watched The Killing (the Danish version) you’ll know what I’m talking about. The fabulous jumper Sarah Lund wears in the pilot episode? That’s made by Guðrun & Guðrun.
The Faroese brand exploded into popularity shortly after The Killing first aired, with fans coveting their very own Lund jumper. After much deliberation, I ended up buying a very lovely and very pricey jumper made out of alpaca wool. Wearing it is like wearing a cloud.
Bring a set of hiking shoes
The Faroe Islands feature some of the most spectacular hikes you’ll ever come across, when travelling the world.
We didn’t do much hiking – it was raining pretty much our entire time there and I’m not exactly at peak physical fitness these days.
There are a range of hikes available from beginners to the more experienced.
If you have a tendency to get worn out fairly quickly, I’d recommend at least journeying out to Slættaratindur. It’s the highest peak in the Faroe Islands and it’s said that you can see all the way to Iceland on a clear day.
For a more challenging hike, you could opt to do the old route of Bøur to the small village of Gásadalur. It was one of the most isolated villages in the island, until a tunnel connected it to the rest of the island in 2004. It’s now one of the most famous sights on the Faroes, due to the nearby waterfall that flows straight on into the sea.
Speaking of waterfalls…
You’ll be chasing waterfalls, no matter where you go
I thought Iceland had amazing waterfalls. Not that it doesn’t. Yet there were waterfalls in the Faroes everywhere I looked.
It was just a little bit pretty.
Well, I’ve convinced myself that I’ll have to go back, someday. Question is – have I convinced you?
Have you been to the Faroe Islands? Were you as enamoured with the place as I was?
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