How to Plan a Trip to the Faroe Islands
Have you heard of the Faroe Islands? These remote islands in the Northeast Atlantic are the perfect haven for travelers seeking stunning natural scenery, rich culture and a location off the beaten path. Intrigued? Let us help you plan your trip to the Faroe Islands!
But first, a little geography lesson. What exactly are the Faroe Islands and where are they?
The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 islands in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean between Norway and Iceland. Politically part of Denmark, these small volcanic islands are self-governed and have a population of just over 50,000. Epic scenery and a rich culture that combines Old Norse traditions with modern industry await visitors to the islands.
How do I get to the Faroe Islands?
The easiest way to get to the Faroe Islands from the US is to first fly to Europe and then take a short direct flight to Vágar Airport, the main airport of the Faroe Islands. From Reykjavik, Edinburgh or Bergen, the Faroe Islands are just a one hour flight away. From Paris or Copenhagen, it’s a 2-3 hour flight.
Feeling adventurous? You can also sail to the Faroe Islands from Denmark!
What is there to do in the Faroe Islands?
Short answer: a lot! The Faroe Islands offer a lot to be discovered, especially if you’re looking for an outdoor paradise. Imagine the natural wonders of Iceland but without the crowds. You can enjoy wildlife spotting, exploring epic scenery and partaking in adventure activities, like helicopter rides, sea kayaking and cliff jumping. And once you’re done, you can relax in a cute small town or enjoy some traditional dining.
Hiking & biking
Outdoor enthusiasts will love a trip to the Faroe Islands. While bike paths aren’t common on the islands, low traffic means bikers should have no problem sharing the road with motorists. All of the islands are connected, too, meaning you can easily island hop by bike. Rent a bike, pack for the weather (it rains a lot in the Faroe Islands) and set off to explore!
Hiking in the Faroe Islands is a must as there are plenty of walking paths and trails to discover. Villingardalsfjall is one of the most beautiful hikes on the islands. The summit is almost 3000 feet tall and offers views over the northern islands on a clear day. Luckily, you don’t have to make it all the way to the top to take in those views as the entire route is beautiful. Another awesome hike is on Mykines island. Head out to the Mykines lighthouse but beware, you’ll need to take a helicopter in order to try this steep hike. If you prefer something easier, check out the Ut a Lonna at Saksen.
If you’re a wildlife lover, you will enjoy a trip to the Faroe Islands – especially if you’re a fan of puffins! Puffins are often found in the cliffside and the perfect place to spot them is on the island of Mykines (reachable by helicopter or ferry). Sheep are also a common sight in the Faroe Islands, as they outnumber humans two to one. The Faroese sheep come in many colors and hair lengths, and a Faroese wool souvenir is a must-buy for visitors.
Like Iceland, the Faroe Islands have their own horse too: the Faroe Pony. These small ponies are surprisingly strong and riding them is a great way to explore the islands.
You might not think of the Faroe Islands as a scuba diving hotspot but you would be wrong! The water surrounding these 18 islands is pristine and perfect for exploring. Visibility is best in the winter months when temperatures hover around 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
Diving isn’t the only water sport you can enjoy in the Faroe Islands. Fishing is a long tradition in the islands and easy to do, as the ocean is never more than 3 miles away. Deep sea fishing and fly fishing are most popular. If fishing isn’t for you, you can still get out on the water and sail around the Faroe Islands. You can take in the archipelago in a traditional Faroese boat. Or you can take to the water on a surfboard! Surfing in the Faroe Islands has become popular in the last few years.
The Faroe Islands are all about natural wonders that will take your breath away – volcanic islands, epic coastlines, tall mountains, sweeping views and waves crashing in the distance. And they’re easy to see, thanks to the bridges, ferries and sub-sea tunnels that connect all of the islands.
There’s the Mulafossur Waterfall, one of the most famous icons of the Faroe Islands, that falls straight into the ocean. Don’t miss the Vestmanna Bird Cliffs that rise 2000 feet out of the ocean. You’ll need to see the optical illusion that is Lake Sørvágsvatn, which appears to be a lake floating above the sea. And, of course, you’ll want to add the Northern Lights to your Faroe Islands bucket list! The best time to catch them is between September and March.
The Faroe Islands aren’t just for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. There’s plenty for the indoor and city crowd too. Start your adventure in the capital city of Tórshavn. There you’ll find a beautiful old harbour, a cute downtown, brightly painted houses and churches that date back to the 18th Century. Next, travel to the village of Saksun, which might look like a scene out of Middle Earth. You’ll notice the green turf-roofed homes. Not only are these houses adorable, but they hold up well in the islands’ rainy climate.
Culture is a big part of the Faroese way of life, and that’s evident in their music and art. Take part in the Faroese chain dance and ballad, a 13th Century tradition, or enjoy modern artists like Teitur and Eivør. You can take it all in at one of the islands’ many music festivals. The Faroese art scene started in the late 1800s and has been inspired by harsh living conditions and beautiful landscapes. You can see it for yourself at the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands.
Something for the foodies!
What’s a trip without food? Certainly not a trip to the Faroe Islands. An essential part of Faroese cuisine is ræst, which is the traditional process of fermenting meat or fish outdoors. The right weather is key to getting the perfect taste. Faroese dishes include fermented lamb and fish, rye bread, blood sausage and root vegetables.
In 2013, the Faroe Islands were called the “new Nordic food frontier” and they have been serving up delicious dining ever since. Restaurants serve Faroese produce, fine dining takes on Faroese classics, and international foods like sushi, burgers and Italian pastas. You can even attend a supper club and enjoy dinner in a Faroese home prepared by locals.
Where should I go on my trip to the Faroe Islands?
Here are some of the awesome places to visit on the Faroe Islands:
- Kópakonan: The statue of the Seal Woman on Kalsoy island is derived from the Faroe Islands’ greatest folklore tale, where seals shed their skin to become human. Read the entire tale here.
- Gjógv: Gjógv is a charming village in the north of the Faroe Islands and home to only 50 people. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and solitude found here.
- Gásadalur: The famous Múlafossur waterfall is found in the village of Gásadalur. Besides the waterfall, you can also discover the lush landscape and tall mountains.
- Mykines: Mykines is home to turf-roofed houses, a stunning lighthouse and the much-loved puffins. This remote island is known as the paradise of birds.
- Slættaratindur: Slættaratindur is the tallest mountain in the Faroe Islands. On June 21, the longest day of the year, locals will traditionally hike to the summit to watch the sun set and rise again.
- Christianskirkja: Christianskirkja, or Christian’s Church, was one of the first modern churches in Scandinavia. It was inspired by old Viking halls and inside hangs a giant wooden boat.
How do I get around the Faroe Islands?
The best way to get around the Faroe Islands is by car. The islands are easily connected by roadways and most are paved, except those leading to small villages. Once you’ve arrived at your island of choice, you can easily explore on foot or by bike.
Note: You will need an International Driver’s License (unless you have an EU or Nordic license) to drive in the Faroe Islands.
If you’d prefer not to drive, the Faroe Islands are also well connected via public bus and ferry. You can purchase a multi-day travel card allowing you to access the public transportation network. And if you’re looking for a more unique mode of transportation in the Islands, why not consider a helicopter? Helicopter rides are subsidized in the Faroe Islands, making the trips much more affordable than you might think. However, because the subsidies are created by the community and meant to serve people living in harder to reach islands, visitors are asked not to overuse the service.
For more tips in how to get around, check out this post.
Where can I go after my trip to the Faroe Islands?
Since you can only get to the Faroe Islands directly from Reykjavik, Edinburgh, Bergen, Paris or Copenhagen, all of these stops make great additions to your Faroe Islands itinerary. If you want to keep with the theme of natural wonders and outdoor exploring, Iceland is a great choice. Plus, Iceland is on the way if you’re flying over from the United States!