Faroe islands 101
Planning a trip to the Faroe islands? You have limited time? You reached the right place! This post has information and specific links on everything you need to know for your first visit in the Faroe islands. Here you can read a little bit about where are these islands, who do they belong to and more fun facts. The plan below is for about 4 days.
Who should go?
The trip is perfect for nature-lovers. There isn't any exuberant city life in the Faroes (forgive me Torshavn 😉 ). There aren't special attractions for kids like theme parks or whatever. Just setting the expectations.
Now, let's begin!
Before the flight
- When to visit – Weather can be unpredictable and it's not uncommon to experience 4 seasons in 1 day. So, the perfect season is between June and August. Relatively to the northern location of the islands, and due to the Gulf stream, it's not very cold, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't bring your wind jacket right?
- What to pack – If you came all the way here I assume you'll do some hiking. In that case bring good hiking shoes. Don't forget something warm and a rain/wind coat. I would also add a hat, a pair of gloves and a skarf since they're all pretty small and lightweight.
- How to get there – The easiest way to get there is by flying from Copenhagen (airport symbol: CPH) on a ~2.5 hours flight. There are 2 air carriers that provide this service – SAS and Atlantic Airways, which is the local carrier for the Faroes. If you're trying to reduce some of your costs I suggest to buy 2 separate tickets – one from your home airport to Copenhagen and another from Copenhagen to the Faroes' Vagar airport (symbol: FAE).
So you landed in the Faroes, now what?
The first island you'll meet in the Faroes is Vagar. Once you're off the plane, in no-time you'll get to the rental car area. Yes, its recommended to rent a car. More on that below. While they do the paperwork you can jump over to the Tourist Information office – get a map and buy a local SIM card in 97 krones (in 2018) which are equal to ~15 USD.
There's also an ATM so you can get some local cash which can become handy as some of the B&Bs don't accept credit cards. I suggest withdrawing about 800 krones (for 2 persons). BTW – although the local currency is different than the Danish one, the value is the same and it can be used interchangeably. So if you have some "leftover" cash from Copenhagen, don't throw it away 🙂 .
- Accommodation – An average night in the Faroe islands is about 100 USD in case you're staying in different places. Staying only in the capital, Torshavn, would raise the average a bit. On the other hand you can look for AirBnB options for some savings.
- Food – During the day you can grab a sandwich (or a hotdog) from the supermarket or a gas station along the way. In Torshavn there are a few nice restaurants like Barbara, Tarv and more.
- Transportation – Although the public transportation is fairly good, for maximum flexibility I vote for renting a car. The main islands are connected via bridges and sub-sea tunnels so moving between them is a piece of cake!
Some islands do require a ferry to get to. There are islands which you'd want to get to with your car and then there are ones where it does't make sense cause they are tiny. A ferry ride can take anywhere between 20 minutes to 2.5 hours.
Did you land in daylight and you feel energetic? I highly recommend driving to the Gasadalur waterfall, the most beautiful waterfall in the Faroe islands. Once you leave the airport, take a left turn, and you'll be in the right direction. It's only about 15-20 minutes from the airport assuming you'll make it with no stops.
In my case this assumption didn't work. I kept stopping to take pictures. #JustSaying. The first time you see the Faroe islands, I promise your jaw will drop. There's something about this unique landscape (did someone say no trees?) that's hard to explain. That's why it happened to me even on my second visit 🙂 .
On the way you'll pass your first tunnel in Faroes (Yay!) which was opened only in 2006. Meaning up to that point there was no road that connected the remote village that lies just above the waterfall. People would either walk from the closest village or arrive by boat… Here's a short guide about driving in the Faroes:
Spend the night in one of these cute villages on Vagar island (Midvagur, Sorvagur, Sandavagur) and take the next morning's ferry to Mykines (pronounced Mee-chi-ness), "the Puffin island" (they nest mostly there, go figure…). The ferry leaves at 10AM from Sorvagur "harbor", where you should park your car, and takes about 45 minutes.
Once you reached Mykines there are a few stairs to climb and then the tougher uphill walk on a grass/mud trail up the cliff to see the cute bird. They nest on the island between June and August.
Take your time, find a good spot and sit to watch those puffins. Once you're "done" I recommend to continue walking and cross a little bridge. On the furthest corner of that small island lies a very nice lighthouse.
In case you're planning this trip well ahead you can try returning to the mainland with a helicopter! The locals use it as public transportation so the government subsidies the cost. It's important to say that this is not a touristic flight in the sense that there's no guide who says "Here is the island of X and bla bla…". It's more like a flying bus 🙂 . To book a flight.
Local authorities ask that tourists don't use it in both directions due to the limited amount of passengers it can hold (about 10). The flight takes 11 minutes.
Look at this cute guy!
If you're not so into birds or you're visiting off-season, you can skip Mykines. It's a tiny island with no roads and very few people. The main attraction here is the birds.
Driving from Vagar to Streymoy takes about an hour. Here's a tip: a little bit after you leave the tunnel, try to take road #50 which is a buttercup road, AKA scenic drive. All the roads there are beautiful but the ones which are marked with the yellow flower have the WOW effect.
Streymoy is the most populated islands in the Faroe islands and that's where the capital, Torshavn, is located. The total population of the islands is ~50,000 and about 20,000 live in Torshavn. It's one of Europe's smallest capitals with an old part where the Vikings first settled a few hundred years ago. This "quarter" is called Tinganes and it's the home of the islands' parliament. It has wood houses with turf rooftops.
Just to be on the same page, when I'm talking about a city, it's probably not what you think about. Here are 2 examples: a) There are 3 traffic lights and b) There's one mall! Besides that there are a few hotels and some restaurants.
If you prefer a one base trip, that's the place I would base myself. From here driving to most places takes around 1 hour. The size or actually "lack of size" is one of the advantages of the Faroe islands.
Kirkjubøur is a small old town, just south of Torshavn. All houses here look the same – black wood houses with red window frames and grass roof tops. Now, all this town is situated right on the coastline so it's a perfect setting.
Until last year, a Michelin star restaurant (yes, there is one!) – KOKS was situated here, but it recently moved to a different location. If you fancy a unique culinary experience make sure to reserve a place in advance as the restaurant serves only dinner and only 3 days a week.
This is undoubtedly THE place on Streymoy island. It takes 40 minutes to get there (from Torshavn) but at some point you get to a very narrow road, which winds inside a valley. Drive slow, take your time and enjoy this beauty! Suddenly the road ends in a parking lot and to your left you'll see a white church with grass on top! This is so funny (and unique!).
The village is located at the tip of a fjord, so it's very isolated. You can walk around the area, climb to see the view from the waterfall to your right, go down to the church and even walk to the beach. Of course there are also longer trails if you have time.
The icing on the cake of Eysturoy is the village of Gjogv (pronounced Jekf). It's important to know that all the roads around this area are categorized as "buttercup roads" so I recommend driving all of them 🙂 . As I wrote before, these roads are marked with a yellow flower road sign. Tip: If you're arriving from Torshavn or from Saksun, head to Eidi and from there to Gjogv.
Feeling like hiking the highest mountain in the Faroe islands? Stop along the way between Eidi and Funningur and go on a 2.5 hour climb up 880 meters. On a good day you should see all 18 islands! If hiking is not your thing, continue to Funningur and then to Gjogv.
The entrance to Gjogv, like the drive to Saksun, is on a stunning road. Park your car somewhere and go on a short walk to see the gorge. By the way, the word Gjogv in Faroese (they have their own language!) translates to "gorge".
Try to see the gorge from different angles… If you decide to stay for the night there's a nice (and the only one) place called Gjaargardur which serves good salmon and lamb. Right next to it there's this private house with a cute very well groomed front yard. To read a little more about the 3 villages.
Until now I discussed the bare minimum for a visit in the Faroes. If you have a few more days I would recommend 2 more. They are also marked in the map at the beginning of this post. They require a little of planning but real easy!
- Take a 20 minute ferry from the 2nd city in the Faroe islands, Klaksvik, to the island of Kalsoy. I suggest taking it in the morning in order to spend maximum time on the island. Once you get off the ferry with your car start driving north.
In Mikladalur there's a nice statue of a seal-woman which is a local mythology legend. On the northernmost tip of the island there's an amazing lighthouse which requires a short walk. Link to the ferries website.
- Go on a cliffs sightseeing tour from Vestmanna. It leaves 3-4 times every day but I suggest going on either the 10AM or 2PM in order to enjoy the lunch served there 🙂 . Here's the link to the tour. By the way, on the way there you'll pass through Kvivik which is a nice village.
Did you find this post helpful? What's missing? Let me know 🙂
Have you visited the Faroe islands? Would love to hear about your trip!
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