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TOP 8 things to do in the Faroe Islands

01.09.2020
Atlantic puffin
© Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

The Faroe Islands can be safely called one of the most unusual corners of our planet. Everything is unique here — nature, climate, and the lifestyle of the citizens. The towns and villages of the archipelago are also special. With the architecture, they remind of Denmark, Iceland, and Norway, but the unique lively roofs of the houses give them a completely inimitable look. Constant rainfall, fog and cool weather throughout the year exclude beach holidays here even in summer. But the Faroe Islands do not claim to be a resort — even the rain does not prevent you from admiring their stunning landscapes, bizarre combinations of emerald meadows and lifeless rocks, indescribably beautiful waterfalls, and majestic cliffs. A few years ago, tourists rarely came to the Faroe Islands, but gradually this destination is becoming popular among fans of outdoor activities among the harsh northern nature.

The Faroes are translated from Danish as "Islands of Sheep". The archipelago received this name because the most numerous inhabitants of the island — sheep, which are almost 2 times more than people. This amazing corner of nature is located in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Scotland. It consists of 18 large islands, of which only Lítla Dímun is uninhabited, and many minor islets and rocks. The largest of them is called Streymoy. Here is the capital of the Faroe, the city of Tórshavn.

Best things to do in the Faroe Islands

The archipelago is very picturesque and is noted for an unusual nature. For example, not a single tree grows here, and the grass on the pastures is so high that it completely hides the sheep grazing, and sometimes, they are forced to literally "eat" their way. The islands are so unusual that they will be interesting even for experienced travelers who toured all over the world — the Faroe Islands will become that worth visiting and amazing place that was lacking in the collection.

Gasadalur village and its iconic waterfall
Iconic waterfall Vagar © Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Fantastic waterfalls, lakes and dunes

The main natural attractions of the Faroe Islands are picturesque waterfalls and cliffs. The most famous of them are located on Vágar Island. First of all, it is the famous Bøsdalafossur waterfall. It looks especially powerful and majestic after heavy and prolonged rains, and in good weather, which happens rarely, it calms down, but still has an impressive appearance. Next to it is the Rock of Geituskorandrangur and the cliff of Trælanípan, famous for the fact that from its top, weakened slaves were thrown into the ocean. Another impressive waterfall is called Gásadalur, but it is not easy to get there, you have to hire a helicopter to the Vágar Village.

Of the Faroese lakes, first of all, it is worth visiting the magnificent Heimara and Noroara Halsavatn — they are located on the rocky terraces of Sandoy Island. Other attractions are dunes, which are very atypical for this region.

Gjogv gorge harbor in the Faroe Islands
Gjógv gorge harbour © EyesTravelling / Shutterstock

Original architecture

On Streymoy Island, in the capital of the Tórshavn archipelago, many old buildings are preserved, concentrated on the main Gongin street. Here is located the tallest building, the Tórshavn Cathedral of the 19th century. One of the oldest buildings in the Faroe Islands lies in the north, in the picturesque Saksun village, and now it houses a small museum. The pride of the archipelago is the 11th-century church on Sandoy Island. However, its appearance has changed many times over the centuries, the building was reconstructed at least 6 times. This attraction is located in the Skopun village.

Historic farm and museum in Kirkjubour
Kirkjuboargardur, also called Roykstovan © Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Tiny villages with vivid houses

Villages in the Faroe Islands are usually small — about a dozen houses, which stand out in bright spots against the background of lush greenery and rocks. Immediately striking are their bright green roofs overgrown with grass — this is an old way to protect housing from the rains that come here constantly. Plenty of sheep in the archipelago are indispensable helpers for locals. They often use animals instead of lawnmowers, and not only in front of houses, but also on rooftops. Sheep are not afraid of heights and quickly return a neat look to the roof.

The most picturesque archipelago villages are in Gásadalur on Mykines and Gjógv on the island of Eysturoy. The latter is located on the banks of the graceful harbor, on the edge of the wondrous beauty of the valley, surrounded by mountains. Be sure to stop here for a few days to admire the ocean views and wander the hills and mountains — the opportunities for hiking in this part of the island are truly endless. The main thing is not to go deep into the mountains in foggy weather, so as not to meet the local legend — "hidden inhabitants". The Faroese claim that these mythical creatures live in stones, and get out into the fog to throw lonely travelers off the rocks.

Village on the island of Streymoy
Village of Saksun © Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Not too hot, and not too cold

The climate of the archipelago is temperate maritime. There is practically no frost and heat here. In winter, the temperature ranges from 0°C to +4°C, and in summer, the thermometer shows +11° - 17°C. Rain and fog are typical for the Faroes. Precipitation occurs about 280 days a year, with the largest amount occurring between September and January. The ocean temperature in this region is kept at around +10°C all year round due to the North Atlantic Current, into which passes the warm Gulf Stream. It softens the rather harsh and chilly climate of the Faroe Islands and creates ideal conditions for fish and plankton.

Atlantic puffins and more

Mykines island is home to a huge number of these bright and very noisy birds. You can watch puffins on the coast, from May to early autumn. While traveling to other islands, you will more than once have the opportunity to admire the noisy colonies of a variety of seabirds that have chosen the rocky areas of land closer to the ocean. For example, you can ride a bike to the western cliffs of Sandoy Island — here, on the inaccessible rocks, there are loud guillemots, reminiscent of the color and figure of penguins. You can meet the ocean dwellers of the Faroe Islands at the excellent The Faroe Islands Aquarium (Tórshavn).

Atlantic Puffins on Latrabjarg cliffs
Europe's largest bird cliff © Tsuguliev / Shutterstock

Fishing with the descendants of the Vikings

First of all, fans of this exciting activity should definitely visit Lake Leynar on Streymoy Island. Here you can fish for trout and salmon, but this will require a license in Kollafjørður village. And second of all, you should try your hand at real ocean fishing — the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands, known as the most experienced fishermen, will help you with this. It will not be difficult to find a boat owner on the islands, who will take you fishing and show you the traditional ways of fishing in the open ocean.
Vestaravag harbor in Torshavn with its boats and colorful buildings
Torshawn city, the capital of The Faroe Islands © Dmitry Pistrov / Shutterstock

Faroese fun

The inhabitants of the Faroe Islands honor their history and customs, so most of the local holidays will be of interest to those who want to learn more about the traditions of the archipelago. The brightest and most interesting event in this category is the summer festival Ólavsøka, which takes place on July 28-29. It is considered a very important holiday. Natives of the Faroes from all over the world come to celebrate it, so it is better to book tickets to the archipelago a year before the event. These days are not only a great opportunity to get to know the local culture, but also a rare chance to see the famous boat race.

Dishes cooked nowhere else, except here

Gourmets should visit the Koks restaurant, located on the shores of Lake Leynar. This is the only establishment in the Faroe Islands awarded with two Michelin stars. You can try the famous fermented meat prepared in the traditional way called Ræst.

Useful information

  • It is most convenient to travel around the islands by a rented car. There is public transport here, but it does not go everywhere. The traffic flow even in cities is very weak, and there is no such thing as "traffic jams" at all. There are only 3 traffic lights on the Faroe Islands, and all of them are located in the capital.
  • When traveling, you can use the ferry, but this is not necessary — all 18 islands are connected by an underwater tunnel. However, it is better to check in advance if it is open in the right direction. For travel by buses and ferries, it makes sense to buy a tourist Travel Card, as they will be cheaper.
  • The most remote areas of the Faroes can only be reached by helicopter. The service is accessible to tourists and is cheap as this program is sponsored by the Danish government.
  • The weather in the Faroe Islands is unsteady and capricious. It changes every 15 minutes, while rain and fog are commonplace. Regardless of the season, you need to take a raincoat and an umbrella, a waterproof jacket, warm clothes and gloves with you. At the same time, it is advisable to choose clothes so that you can warm up as necessary, or vice versa, remove excess. For hiking, you need comfortable and durable shoes, preferably sports ones.
  • To enter the islands, you need to obtain a permit at the embassy or visa center of Denmark — a Schengen visa in your passport will not be enough. Even though the archipelago belongs to Denmark, a member of the European Union, it is an autonomous territory and is not part of the EU. The thing is that the inhabitants of the island, most of whom are professional fishermen, are categorically not satisfied with the European fishing quotas.