The Faroe Islands form a small archipelago situated north of Scotland and halfway between Norway and Iceland. It’s not very well known as a tourist destination, much to the disadvantage of the world’s tourists. The archipelago has some of the best views in the world, and visting it should be on everyone’s bucket list. Though small, there are so many things to see on and around these islands that you could explore for a year without having to see the same thing twice. Of course, short of actually living there, most of us won’t have the luxury of exploring the entire archipelago. With that in mind, here is a list of some of the best things to do when you set foot on Faroe Islands.
Stay at the Hotel Føroyar
What can make a stay at a four-star hotel better? Awesome vistas of the sea and rugged landscapes. The Hotel Føroyar is situated on a hillside northwest of Tórshavn, the capital city. It’s in-house restaurant, Restaurant KOKS, has been hailed as the best restaurant on the islands, which is certainly high praise. At Restaurant KOKS, you can expect a selection of traditional Faroese food, such as dried mutton, dried whale meat, and even blubber. Now that’s a food adventure.
Like its surrounding landscape, Hotel Føroyar is simple, clean, and a testament to the no-frills sensibility of the Faroese Islanders. It’s a couple of kilometers away from the capital, but the trip will definitely be worth it.
The capital of Faroe Islands, Tórshavn, is a great place for visitors to explore. Though it’s a small city compared to what you’re probably used to, it offers a wealth of activities and sites to visit. If you’re a history buff, you should visit Tinganes, the oldest part of the city, where traditional turf-roofed houses still exist. The oldest house is 500 years old.
You should also visit the Tórshavn Cathedral, which is the second-oldest church on the islands, and the historic Fort Skansin. Art buffs will also be very interested in visiting the Listasavn Føroya, which is the national art museum. Make sure to make a stop at the diminutive Museum of Natural History.
You definitely should visit Klaksvik, if only for the ethereal quality of its natural landscape. Brewers and beer enthusiasts can visit the Föroya Byór, a family brewery founded in 1888, which is the sole producer of beer and soft drinks on the island. You can also visit in the summer to catch the Summarfestivalurin, or the Summer Festival, which features live musical acts.
If you’re interested in Viking architecture and culture, you should definitely visit the Christianskirkjan, which was the first church in Scandinavia to be built in the traditional Norse architectural style. Its roof is reminiscent of those in Viking halls, providing the church with great acoustics.
If you’re a history buff, you’ll enjoy visiting Kirkjubøur. It is considered to be the most important historical site in Faroe Islands. In the Middle Ages, this village was considered to be the spiritual center of the islands. Here, you’ll find the ruins of the fourteenth-century St. Magnus Cathedral. It was never finished because the roof was never completed, and it remains unfinished to this day.
Kirkjubøur is also the location of twelfth-century Saint Olav’s Church, the oldest church on the islands, which is still in use today. You’ll also find the Kirkjubøargarður, which is the oldest inhabited wooden house in the world.
Even if you’re not very interested in history, you’ll appreciate the otherworldly quality of the island’s sights.
You can’t come to the Faroe Islands without visiting the famous Sørvágsvatn, the largest and most famous lake on the islands. It may not seem like much from afar, but once you approach, you’ll see why so many visitors to the islands make such a big deal out of it. It may easily be one of the most beautiful natural formations you’ll see. The site also provides a nifty little optical illusion. From certain viewpoints, it will seem that the lake is situated higher than the sea and perched on top of cliffside caves. Do yourself a favor and make sure to visit this lake before you leave the islands.
Go on a Photowalk in Gásadalur
Once you’ve taken in the view at Sørvágsvatn, make sure to explore the village it’s in. Known as the most pictureque village on the islands, Gásadalur certainly has a lot of beauty to offer. It’s a very small village located by rugged mountain slopes that can serve as the village’s backdrop. You can walk around with your camera and take photos, and you’ll find that you won’t run out of subjects. The houses are quaint and picturesque, and the streets look very idyllic. There is also a beautiful waterfall you can visit and take amazing photos of. Even the road leading up to the village has beautiful scenery.
Visit the Kallur Lighthouse
Perched on top of a grassy slope with no other man-made structures in the vicinity, the Kallur Lighthouse cuts a lonesome figure. Despite this, it is beautiful to look at. From afar, the lighthouse seems to be a small, white, concrete dot set against green slopes, a jutting crag, and the blue-gray sea. The hike up to the lighthouse is tiring and kind of awkward, but the view you’ll find at the end of the hike is worth the climb and more.
Once you reach the lighthouse, you can simply sit or stand there and enjoy the view. There are amazing vistas that you won’t soon forget. Just make sure to watch out for the sheep dung.
Visit the Seal Woman Statue in Mikladalur
After visiting the lighthouse, trek on down to nearby Mikladalur to see the Seal Woman Statue for yourself. Legend has it that a selkie, as what a seal woman is called, was captured by a man from Mikladalur and forced to become his wife. When the selkie escaped and returned to her home and family in the sea, her human husband killed her selkie husband and her two selkie sons. In revenge, she put a curse on all the men of Mikladalur. She vowed that the men will die at sea or fall from mountain tops, until the dead men become so many that they can link hands and encircle the entire island of Kalsoy.
Eat at Aarstova
Let’s return to the capital and see what it has to offer in terms of traditional Faroese food and drink. Here, you’ll find the best Faroese roast lamb you’ll taste. As you enter, you’ll be greeted with the traditional offering to guests: a glass of schnapps. You’ll also have excellent wine pairings with the food, and you’ll be able to hobnob with the locals as you sit and eat.
If you order the lamb, make sure you bring a large appetite because the servings are huge. Not that you’ll hate finishing it—it is tender and well-seasoned, and it is definitely a great meal to go with the cold Faroese weather.
Bird Watch on Mykines Island
The island of Mykines, located in the westernmost tip of the archipelago, is home to a great bird watching experience. The island has large populations of puffins and gannets, and the cliffs of the island are great for cormorant nests. The slopes above the cliffs are home to puffins, whose guano makes the slopes fertile and green.
Take note, though, that visiting these bird watching spots entails a day hike. Tiring as it may sound, you’ll have a great time taking in the scenery and the crisp, fresh air. There’s a great view of the Atlantic, and, best of all, you’ll be able to sight droves of puffins on the slopes.
Go Sailing on the Norðlýsið
While there are lot of things to see when you explore the Faroe Islands by land, there’s also something to be said for exploring the islands by sea. Norðlýsið, the islands’ most famous schooner, has a storied history. It was built in the 40s and met its first owners on the same day that World War II ended. Until 1980, it sailed around the islands as a fishing ship. It was then revamped and given a schooner rigging. Now, it is used to take visitors on a tour around the islands in the summer. If you go on this tour, you’ll be able to see the islands from an entirely new and entirely amazing perspective.
Fight your Vertigo at Slættaratindur
Do you have a fear of heights? There is no better time to overcome it than when you’re surrounded with the best vistas nature has to offer. Slættaratindur is the highest peak in Faroe Islands, and it also has the longest line of sight in the entire world. According to rumors, you can see all the way to Iceland on a clear day. What better way to know for sure than climbing to the peak and seeing for yourself? Going on a day hike to the peak might be tiring, though; it’s best to have ready-to-eat meals so you can sustain your energy all the way to the top. Our XMRE’s Meals Ready-to-Eat is a great choice for long hikes.
Are you interested in seeing how early Faroe Islanders lived? Visiting the village of Saksun will give you a pretty good idea. Here, you’ll see traditional stone and wood houses with turf roofs, all of which are still inhabited. Plus, you won’t be doing any hiking, which may be a nice respite from all the climbing up and down. The village also has a museum you can visit, as well as a church and a sheep farm.
If you’d like to just relax and wander around while taking in the great scenery, visit Saksun to do just that. There’s also a harbor you can visit if you’d like to see how Faroese fishermen work.
Listen to Music on Nolsoy
When you visit the village of Nolsoy, you’ll probably come upon some ruins called the Prinsessutoftir. According to legend, centuries ago, there was a Scottish princess who had run away from her father. Her father disapproved of her marriage and the child she was carrying, so she and her husband fled Scotland and settled in Nolsoy.
You can set sail from Tórshavn to reach Nolsoy, where you can explore and catch a live concert that’s held in a cave. If you take a guided tour, your boat’s skipper can prepare a fresh seafood meal for you as you explore the village. It’s definitely a great way to experience what the islands have to offer.
Drive up to Sornfelli
If you don’t really have the energy to climb all the way up to the Slættaratindur peak, Sornfelli is a good alternative. Unlike Slættaratindur, you can drive up to the peak of Sornfelli and take in the view without having to exert too much energy or spend too much time hiking.
If you visit in the winter, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of white snow in all directions, and it’s quite the sight to behold. In other seasons, you’ll have a great view of the surrounding vistas, the rugged rocks and slopes, and the valleys below. It’s a great place to just sit down, relax, and enjoy the view.
Go on a Helicopter Tour
There’s a chance for you to see the islands by sea, and there are a lot of chances for you to explore by land. But what about seeing the islands from the sky? Helicopter rides are surprisingly cheap, because helicopters are subsidized by the local government. For roughly $55, you can have an amazing bird’s eye view of the islands and the surrounding waters. You’ll be able to sea the coasts, the lakes, the villages dotting the landscape, and the rocky cliffs spread all across the archipelago. It’s an incredible way to see beautiful landscapes from above, and it’s a rare chance that you’ll definitely have to take. While the Faroe Islands are beautiful no matter what viewpoint you look from, seeing it from the sky is just about magical.