The Faroe Islands are considered to be one of the hidden gems of Europe. It’s an archipelago in the North Atlantic Ocean, located between Norway and Iceland, but it actually belongs to Denmark. The archipelago is composed of seventeen volcanic islands and has a population close to 50,000 inhabitants, who are the closest descendants of the old Viking clans.
An interesting fact is the language spoken by the population here preserves the most elements of Old Norse, the language spoken by the Vikings. Now, with those facts in mind, let’s look at everything you need to know about traveling to the Faroe Islands.
How to get there
Reaching the Faroe Island is easier than you might think. The archipelago has an airport and flights that go there every day, even multiple times a day, served by two airlines. Atlantic Airlines has daily one-hour flights from Bergen, Reykjavík, and Edinburgh. Both Scandinavian Airlines and Atlantic Airlines operate daily two-hour flights from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark.
If you want to travel slower and enjoy the feeling of infinite water around you, Smyril Line offers ferry transportation year-round. Don’t be fooled by the word ferry, because these small boats have gorgeous cabins with a view to the ocean and accessibility for disabled travelers. The ferry rides to the Faroe Island take around 37 hours, and are scheduled twice a week, so make sure you book your trip in advance. You can even take your car with you!
You’ll be happy to know that all the islands that are part of the archipelago are connected through mountain tunnels, bridges, and deep-sea tunnels. You have to pay to use them, but the connecting infrastructure is amazing. However, if you decide to rent a car, most of them come with a transmitter that automatically sends the tunnel/bridge fees to the rental company. They are way ahead of many countries when it comes to making everything accessible.
Once you reach the Faroe Islands, you can rent a car or use the public transportation system. You can purchase a pass for one day or for multiple days, and in Tórshavn, the biggest town in the archipelago, using the bus is free.
If you have to have freedom and visit everything at your own pace, you should consider renting a car (if you didn’t put your own car on the ferry). The renting prices are quite steep. Most car rental agencies are located in the airport in Sørvágur. The prices start at around $60/day. The roads are generally in very good condition and traffic is only high in the biggest cities. One great thing is that parking is free all over the archipelago. Since many parts of the islands are rural, you might have to keep an eye out for animals on the road, such as goats or sheep.
One surprising way you can get around the Faroe Islands is by helicopter, and it’s surprisingly cheap, around $14/ person.
It doesn’t return the same day, and you should only use it to visit remote destinations in the archipelago. However, you can only book your helicopter flight one week in advance.
Despite the Faroe Islands being a “hidden gem of Europe” to many, the tourist economy is booming and finding accommodations is not a daunting task. As we said before, the prices are quite up there. This is not a budget destination by any means, but most Scandinavian countries are expensive. We recommend that you book your rooms weeks in advance if possible. There are around 80 places that offer accommodations, including hotels, Airbnb, and private rentals, and the best-priced ones tend to sell-out really fast.
If you plan to travel during summer, you might have to book your rooms 5-6 months in advance, if possible. June-August is the tourist peak season.
You will be driving around a lot, so instead of using just one hotel in the main city, consider booking multiple rooms in different parts of the archipelago, so you don’t have to drive for hours back and forth every day. Also, accommodations further away from Tórshavn tend to be much cheaper.
The best way to decide where you want to stay is to make an itinerary before you book your hotel rooms. You need about a week to explore the whole archipelago and experiment the best tourist activities.
Here are some of the top-rated hotels in the Faroe Islands and the starting prices for 1 adult:
- Hilton Garden Inn – Staravegur 13, 100 Tórshavn ($200)
- Hotel Brandan – OKNARVEGUR 2, 100 Tórshavn ($195)
- Gjaargardur Guesthouse Gjogv – Dalavegur 20, FO-476 Gjógv ($150)
- Hotel Vagar – Djúpheiðar 2, 380 Sørvágur ($100)
- Gøtugjógv Log House – Brattagøta 6, 511 Gøtugjógv ($130)
- Hotel Runavík – Heiðavegur 6, 620 Runavík ($150)
Best times to visit
As we mentioned before, the peak season is between June and August, and that is the time when prices are the highest for accommodations, food, and travel.
The weather is always unpredictable in the Faroe Islands, but summer, between May and August, is the best time to visit. If you visit in May, you might still find lower prices on most things.
When it comes to weather, because of the archipelago’s position, there is a chance you’ll experience various meteorological phenomena every day. It often rains and it can get quite windy. It never gets hot there. The average temperature during the summer months stays around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure you pack waterproof shoes, a raincoat, and some extra layers.
What to visit in Faroe Islands
And now we reach the part on why you should visit the Faroe Island. This secluded part of Europe has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world. You won’t mind the chilly weather when you will get to admire some of the most dramatic places you’ll ever see, meet wonderful people, visit remote villages with beautiful traditions and culture, and observe some of the most interesting fauna on the continent. Here are some of the top destinations to visit on the Faroe Islands:
The lake right above the ocean is a truly humbling scene to see. People from all over the world come to admire it. Known as the Slave Cliff is located on Vagar Island, and it’s easily accessible on foot. You’ll have the feeling the lake is about to spill in the ocean at any time.
Located one hour away from the city of Tórshavn, Saksun is a picturesque retreat. The village is very isolated from the rest of the community and has some of the most interesting houses with turfs for roofs. It’s one of the most relaxing places to be on this island, and it has almost no people living there, except for the ones tending the church, the museum, and the sheep farm. However, the Saksun House is inhabited, so avoid trespassing if you have not been invited.
You can reach this wonderful destination by taking a ferry from Klaksvik to Syðradalur. You’ll only be on water for around 20 minutes, and once you’re on the other side you’ll find yourself in the filming location of one of the James Bond movies, “No Time to Die”. The walk to the lighthouse is an adventure by itself, because the path has very steep edges on both sides, but you will get to see one of the most spectacular views.
Vestmanna Sea Cliffs
This is the perfect place for bird watchers, also known as the “Bird Cliffs”. There are thousands of birds inhabiting this area. From April until September, you can take the boat from Vestmanna village and sail to the cliffs while admiring the undisturbed nature. The boat will even sail through spectacular gorges from where you’ll be able to see the flocks flying above you.
The Puffin Colony
The puffins are probably the main tourist attraction in the Faroe Islands. These adorable birds can be found on Mykines Island, on the western side. The colony is huge, with around 1,000,000 individuals, and you can visit their nesting grounds and observe them in the wild. The Faroe Island are dedicated to preserving these goofy-looking birds that were once on the verge of becoming endangered.
The Mykines Island is a wonder by itself, with beautiful hiking trails and cliffs that might be a bit difficult for inexperienced hikers.
You need good weather to enjoy the most out of this sight. The one-hour-long hike from Miđvagur will reward you with an astonishing view of the lake spilling into the ocean. It’s a dramatic setting for every photography enthusiast, however, the area is well-known for high fees.
The National Museum
If you want to learn more about this incredible place, you must visit Føroya Náttúrugripasavn in Tórshavn, especially if the changing weather disrupted your plans of exploring the outdoors. The exhibits cover the geology of the archipelago, the plants, the animals, and the history of the people inhabiting it.
Essential things to know before visiting the Faroe Islands
- Unfortunately, the whale hunt is still an active tradition. If you don’t want to see it, we recommend staying away in July and August.
- Puffins are just one species to delight the bird watchers. In fact, the Faroe Islands are home to over 300 species of birds.
- Everything is expensive, not just the accommodations, but the food, the passes, and the hiking fees, sometimes reaching even $50 for trail access.
- Many of the popular attractions can be dangerous. Avoid putting yourself in dangerous situations to get a perfect photo. Nothing is worth your life.
- Drive carefully. Livestock is the main food source for locals and animals walk around freely, meaning they end up in the road quite often.