Somewhere in the north Atlantic, where the wind is shaking with the waves of the ocean, between the Scottish archipelago known as the Outer Hebrides and the silent Iceland, a bunch of story islands, almost untouched by a human finger, can be seen.
Although small in size and, to put it bluntly, isolated at the end of the world, the Faroe Islands embody a dramatic landscape, worthy of Stephen King’s novels.
All this primitive and ruthless background goes into excellent contrast with the locals – people with golden hearts and weary demeanor. Such a story setting alongside the Faroese culture makes the Faroe Islands a worthy place to sit at the top of any travel bucket list.
Inhabitants of the Faroe Islands: Vikings with kind hearts
If you get to know the willful characters of the locals, the relaxed and yet so reliable personalities, their Viking origins will surprise you with nothing. In addition to all this, you will notice that the Faroese have their typical way of living. Whether we refer to their hour-long dance accompanied by a ballad song, their specific cuisine made from fermented meat, or the national sport so popular (boat racing), we can say that the people of these wild islands know something about keeping the traditions alive.
While the world is so busy updating the latest versions of their devices, this small community somehow manages to keep its old-fashioned charm alive. The roofs are made of grass, and you will see no more than three traffic lights, all located in the capital Tórshavn, on the whole island. In a world of technology madness, the Faroese do wonders to keep their heads on their shoulders and stay in close relationship with nature. There are people who are good at it and who love fishing, which work wonderfully in the kitchen and who know the rocky surroundings.
Ocean and flocks of sheep
Spanning 18 extremely steep islands, with green valleys, wild and devoid of trees, the nature of the Faroe Islands is, as challenging as it is, worthy of worship. The islands are separated by fjords or thin watercourses and are home to a population of barely 50,000 souls, divided on all 17 islands. Not to mention that one of them, the island of Stóra Dímun, counts only seven people. Despite the geographical isolation, the islands are extremely accessible – less than two hours flight from the northern European capitals.
Do not be surprised if you go around with the flock of sheep that roam the islands as free as the birds of the sky. They are as indispensable to the landscape as the almost vertical rocks they climb and there are practically everywhere. They are often seen clinging to the steepest rock faces and, although no one knows what they are waiting for, they are often seen falling from there.
Some islands are accessible via bridges and tunnels, others only by boat or helicopter. Although the latter may sound like an extravagant solution only to those spoiled by fate, the prices are actually much friendlier than you might imagine and is a great way to get to isolated places like the beautiful island of Mykines. This is known for its extremely diverse bird including sea goose, shearwater and haematopus (the national bird of the Faroe Islands).
Cracked roads running through a land of rock wonders
Covered in natural pastures, steep cliffs and framed by rocky slopes, the roads here are as if they were expressly made for travel. The distances are short, the routes are very numerous… you just have to take it step by step, wandering through valleys and villages, letting the instinct take you where you want. Wherever you are, you cannot be more than a few minutes away. To get to it, all you have to do is go down the main street and venture to lower altitudes, to shores and valleys sprinkled with small but colorful settlements with green grass roofs.
Excellent tours for those who do not reconcile with having their feet on the ground
For more heartbeats per minute than you would normally have for a little boat ride, choose one of the super-fast Rib62 tours and ride a boat that can reach 60 knots. Arriving near the caves, you will notice how the boat slows down slightly so as not to scare the birds.
Another great experience on board that you will remember long after, is attending a Faroese music concert through Nordlysid. Or, why not, contact the tour operator Skuvadal to visit as many destinations in the Faroe Islands – maybe a deep-sea tour of Vestmanna or a day trip to the beautiful island of Mykines.
And we can’t let you go home without telling you about Norðradalur village, located on the west coast of Streymoy. It is surrounded by all sides of steep hills, offers spectacular views of Koltur Island and boasts an impressive basalt rock, an excellent meeting place for the ever growing community of Faroese climbers. For some action under or at sea, find out that the Faroe Dive offers underwater guided tours, while the North Atlantic Experience comes with kayaking, hiking or boating.
Did you go crazy or did the fish on the plate look defiantly at you?
Apart from fishing, there is another thing that agitates the spirits of Faroese such as the bubbles in a bottle of Cola after the earthquake: the traditional food. And because they are somewhat separated from continental Europe, they have had to develop their own techniques, great conservation, aromas as you have never felt, making sure, of course, that they exploit the resources available to them.
The ingredients come absolutely from the surrounding nature, and people have learned to use every bit of animal or fish. And when we say “each” we refer to the eyes or tongue of the sheep. Their preservation techniques have received some attention lately, since the local Koks restaurant just received the first Michelin star in the Faroe Islands. The restaurant has perfected until its mastery their unique flavor called “ræst”, obtained by a variety of fermentation and here are served dishes with ingredients as possible of bio, eco, local, fair-trade and how you want to make them you name, among which cod, swamp, lamb or mushrooms.
For a modern approach to local cuisine, cross the threshold of Heima í Havn’s Restaurant , divided into 4 areas, each specializing in a different local cuisine. And better yet, try home-dining, a meal taken at and together with one of the families here – probably the best way to taste as traditional a meal as possible and to get acquainted with the hospitality of the Faroese and the stories of through the part of the place.
Find out how it is to live all 4 seasons in one day
The weather in the Faroe Islands seems to have a personality of its own. Do not think that it’s rainy and windy reputation is just a rude rumor and don’t expect to wear your bathing suit or sunglasses too much. However, the temperature is quite mild, with an average of 13 Celsius degrees in summer and 3 in winter (one of the warmest winters in the Nordic countries).
Topographic, altitudinal changes and ocean currents excuse the unstable nature of the weather and forgiveness for wearing different masks from one area to another. Even from one hour to another. In fact, looking at the full side of the glass, we can say that you have the opportunity to feel all four seasons before the sun goes to bed.
If that thought scares you, come here in the summer. At least that’s how you make sure you catch some sunlight and good weather. If you do not get back with one by two, behave like a fearless Viking and come at another time of the year.
Tórshavn – a small capital, but beautiful
Your Faroese adventure cannot be complete unless you spend a day or two in the capital Tórshavn, located on the southern tip of Streymoy Island. The old center of this city, together with the port and the colorful houses in a palette of wonderful shades, make up an image that you will want to keep forever in memory.
Apart from the privilege of being a picturesque city with an open sea, Tórshavn also has a lot of cafes, restaurants and shops. Visit Guðrun & Guðrun’s, a pilot shop where you will find the latest wool knitwear, and admire the deepest national art in the national gallery Listasavn Føroya and/or at Nordic House.
Note: To find the city of Tórshavn in its best form, visit it during the Ólavsøka festival, the largest event of its kind, celebrated every year between July 28 and July 29, around National Day. You will find the streets overflowing with happy ferocious people, dressed in national costumes, dancing in hours, listening to local troops and participating in ferocious boat races.
Wherever you choose to stay in the Faroe Islands, you have no bad beard; most places are wonderful. But if you decide to spend a while in Tórshavn, we strongly recommend Hotel Føroyar – it offers indescribable views over the city and the Nólsoyarfjørður fjord.
Wherever you travel, it’s important to enjoy your time out and to make the best of it. A successful journey is one where you don’t forget anything important at home, for example, you can pack a tablet or an extra smartphone to ensure you capture the best moments of your trip. They’re also a faithful travel companion, you can listen to music on the go, maybe use the GPS features to find your desired locations, or even play games in a UK casino if you wish; even posting on social media about your trips, along with some cool photos is a great alternative of enjoying your travelling time. Whatever option you choose, just enjoy your trip and have fun!