Hiking Aside: Things to Do in the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands (located between Scotland and Iceland in Europe) are a popular Nordic destination for hikers and adventure seekers worldwide. Indeed, many venture to this remote archipelago just to partake in some of the epic and challenging walks, which can leave you rewarded with some fairly jaw-dropping views.
So the real question is, will there be things to do in the Faroe Islands if you’re not much of a hiker and are possibly in the worst shape of your entire life?
I managed to spend a few days in the Faroes without doing a single hike (I know that’s probably a terrible statement, but I was woefully unfit at the time). So, here’s what you too can get up to, if you’re feeling a little less physically inclined, the weather’s not working in your favour or you just don’t like hiking. And there’s nothing wrong with that!
Have a good proper poke around Tórshavn
Tórshavn is one of the most delightful Nordic capitals that I’ve been to, at least. It’s located on the main island (Streymoy) and packs a whole lot of history. It’s worth having a little wander around this tiny city and take in some of the sights (and eat all the food you can get your hands on, if at all possible).
What I found most interesting about Tórshavn was its parliament buildings. Although officially considered a part of Denmark, the islands are self-governing. The Løgting (Faroese Parliament, which translates delightfully to “law thing”) can be traced back 1000 years making it one of, if not the oldest parliament in the world.
Tórshavn is also home to the only traffic lights in the entire country – there are three!
I thoroughly recommend making Tórshavn your base and exploring the rest of the islands from that point – it’s a pretty short drive to just about anywhere. Hotel Tórshavn is quite conveniently located in town.
Buy a souvenir jumper at Guðrun & Guðrun
Guðrun & Guðrun is a sustainable fashion company that shot to fame a few years ago, after designing the sweater that The Killing’s protagonist Sarah Lund wore in the Danish version of the show. Delightfully Nordic, isn’t it?
After first visiting their store in Tórshavn, I spent three days deliberating over whether I should invest in a beautiful blue knitted jumper that I’d fallen in love with. And when I say invest, I mean it – the jumper retailed for the equivalent of £150.
In the end, I took up an extra shift at work and bought the sweater on my last day there. I can’t say I’ve regretted this decision in the slightest – it’s one of my favourite items of clothing and was worth every penny.Feeling somewhat inactive? Here are 10 alternatives to hiking in the Faroe Islands. Click To Tweet
Eat yourself stupid at the many wonderful restaurants on the archipelago
In traditional Nordic style, you can eat very well on the Faroe Islands. I’d start each day with a baguette and giant hot chocolate at Kafé Kaspar, take lunch out on the road somewhere and ate some truly amazing meals at a different restaurant every night. Particularly notable were Aarstova, which did a mean shoulder of lamb and KOKS restaurant, which was within the top three meals of my entire life (I’m a big fan of food, so that’s high praise indeed).
KOKS is where I tried sea urchin for the first time and let me tell you, it was worth travelling to the Faroe Islands just for that.
And don’t forget to explore the smaller towns
As much as Tórshavn has to offer, don’t forget to pop in to visit some of the smaller towns around the islands. We spent some time in Eiði, wandered around Vestmanna, cooed over the very tiny Bøur and drove out to Gásadalur twice, to get the iconic picture of the waterfall below the tiny town, which falls into the ocean below. If you want to travel to Eiði or further north, I 110% recommend that you follow your heart and do just that.
Ride a Faroese horse
Did you know the Faroese have their own special breed of horse and that they once nearly went extinct? In the 1960s there was only one stallion and four mares left. A breeding program was put into place by locals and now there are 74 Faroese horses in existence. All up, there are 400 horses roaming the island, some of which contain Faroese blood but have been bred with horses imported from other countries.
It is possible to do riding tours in the Faroe Islands. Berg Hestar offer tours with Icelandic horses but if you contact Davidsen Hestar Horse Riding, you might find yourself astride a robust and rare Faroese horse.
Take a boat out to Kalsoy to see the selkie statue
Kalsoy is one of the islands in the Faroes and is only accessible by the car-ferry that leaves from Klaksvík. I wasn’t able to make it there on my trip, which was most disappointing, as I quite dearly would have liked to have stepped foot in the town of Mikladalur to see the statue of the Seal Woman, which is representative of a Faroese folk tale (read about it here).
Journey out to Mykines to see the puffins
I write about this experience too with the bitter taste of disappointment in my mouth. My biggest life regret is that I’ve never seen puffins in the flesh, despite visiting Scotland and Ireland twice, Iceland three times and the Faroes too. I guess I just haven’t made it that much of a priority, as I never visit these destinations when the puffins are guaranteed to be there. Well done, LC.
These ridiculously cute little birds are prolific on the island of Mykines in the summer months. Catch the ferry out to the island to see the puffins for yourself… or better yet, fly over in a helicopter!
Or, just get on a boat for fun
Nothing will ever stop me from getting on a boat, so I went on what was the equivalent of a nautical joyride in the Faroe Islands.
We departed from the town of Vestmanna on a route that was usually ideal for seeing local birdlife – at least, in the summer months. In early autumn, it was more a case of “and this is where Fulmar would be roosting, if they were actually here at this time, which they aren’t.” An opportunity to use one’s imagination, I guess!
Road trip around the islands and take in the sights
You could have a fabulous time on the islands just driving around, stopping at places on a whim. They really are breathtakingly gorgeous and there’s a lot of history packed into them – represented in many features both natural and manmade.
That and the islands are really drivable. The roads that we drove down were well-tarred and spacious, even on the side of mountains. There were newish tunnels connecting to towns that previously has only been accessible by boat or on foot. The Faroes really are opening up to the outside world, on many different fronts.
Do go chasing waterfalls
If anything else, you can amuse yourself just by driving around and taking photographs of waterfalls all day, as there are plenty of them in the Faroes, of all shapes and sizes.
So, there you have it! There is plenty to keep you busy in the Faroe Islands, even if you don’t consider yourself to be at your fittest, or an outdoorsy sort of person.
Have you been to the Faroe Islands? If not, would you like to go?
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