The Faroe Islands are a little-known archipelago located in the North Atlantic in the Norwegian Sea, approximately between Iceland and the Scottish Islands.
The archipelago includes 18 islands of volcanic origin, the total area of which is 1399 m². The main islands are: Streim, Estura, Sudur, Voar, Sanda, Bordeaux.
Officially, the Faroe Islands belong to Denmark, but they have autonomous management (except for issues related to defense and foreign policy). The capital of the archipelago is located on the island of Streimoy – this is the city of Torshavn.
The results of the latest census in 2016 showed that over 49,000 people live in the Faroe Islands. In the capital of the Faroe Islands and its suburbs live about 20,000 people, in the second largest city of Klaksvik there are almost 5,000 inhabitants. Only 1 person lives on Koltur Island, and 1 island is completely uninhabited.
Faroese, considered the descendants of the first settlers, make up approximately 92% of the total population of the islands. Another 6% consider themselves to be Danes.
The bulk of the inhabitants of the autonomy speaks a rare Faroese language (mixed West-Scandinavian dialects), although the Danish language is recognized as official.
Faroe Islands Attractions
People who have not lost the ability to be surprised and impressed will not have to miss the Faroe Islands. The main thing for which they go to these islands is the feeling that they have been to the ends of the world. And the amazing fantastic landscapes that are rich in the Faroe Islands help to feel this: lakes hanging over the ocean, numerous fjords, mysterious gorges, noisy waterfalls, coastal rocks covered with foggy haze. Each Faroe Island is unique and can be considered a separate natural attraction.
But in the Faroe Islands you can not only enjoy nature, there are also city attractions. For example, the rather picturesque and specific city of Torshavn definitely deserves attention.
The westernmost and most dangerous island of the archipelago is Michines. But at the same time, this island is the most beautiful and most popular among tourists, who consider it the main attraction of Faroe.
Only 10 people live on this island: 5 of them work in the port and receive tourists and local residents, and 5 raise cattle. The stronghold of civilization can be considered several buildings, half of which are equipped with sheds.
Mykines is called a bird island, because it is here that 90% of birds settle, making a grueling flight across the Atlantic. There are about 300 species here, and some, for example, dead ends, can be approached very close. By the way, dead ends are almost the only birds that do not show aggression. The greatest danger on Mykines is a walk through the territory where birds hatch chicks – trying to protect their offspring, feathered parents are capable of much.
This is one of the reasons why this island is dangerous, and why you shouldn’t travel alone on it (if something happens, there will be no one to help). It’s not in vain that everywhere, wherever possible, the signs “You are responsible for your health and your life” are hanging on Mykines.
The landscape on this island is not very convenient for a walking route, but all the difficulties are fully paid off with breathtaking landscapes. Climbing deep into the island is quite difficult and impassable: you have to go along mountainous terrain, beware of deep abysses, overcome steep and sharp climbs. The most hardy tourists reach the 35-meter pedestrian bridge leading to the neighboring island of Mykines-Kholmur.
On this island, on its very edge, rises the famous attraction of the Faroe Islands – the lighthouse. Previously, one of the local residents looked after this building, but now the lighthouse is fully automated.
You can get to the Mykines island by helicopter or by boat from the pier, which is located on the island of Vagar near the village of Sorvagur. Walking by helicopter will take only 11 minutes, by boat – about 50 minutes. It is advisable to reserve a boat seat in advance via the Internet, since there are only 2 flights per day to the island (at 10:20 and 16:20) and, accordingly, 2 flights from the island (at 11:05 and 17:05). One way ticket costs 60 DKK.
The unique attraction of the Faroe Islands is Lake Sorvagswatn, hanging over the ocean. The lake is located on the island of Vagar, on the high mountain platform Slave near the Atlantic Ocean.
The optical illusion gives the impression that Sorvagswatn is located at least 100 m above the ocean, but in reality the difference in height between the waters of the lake and the ocean is only 30 m. The area of the hanging lake is 3.5 km², length – 6 km².
From the waters running down the cliff, the picturesque Bossdalsfossur waterfall is formed. But since it is hidden behind sheer cliffs, you can only see it from a boat while traveling across the ocean.
If you want to see the “hanging” attraction, you can do it this way:
- You can get to Sorvagswatn by car on the highway number 11, which runs between the cities of Sandavagur and Sorvagur. For 4 km the track runs along the coast of the lake.
- In the city of Sandavagur, you can book a boat trip, the route of which passes near the Bossdalsfossur waterfall.
- By route 11 on a regular bus you can get to Vatnavegur stop (at this point the route sharply turns 90 °). Next, about 3 km, you need to go north along the lake.
- You can see the lake from a helicopter – such excursion programs are offered at the Faroe Islands Airport, which is located very close by.
There is another interesting attraction on the island of Vagar: Mulafossur Falls. In a narrow but powerful stream, water falls from a cliff 30 meters high directly into the ocean.
There is a waterfall near the village of Hasadalur, and you can get there by car. It takes about an hour from Torshavn, only 10 minutes from the airport. You can leave the car in the village, from which the waterfall is within walking distance.
The excursion program, during which tourists get acquainted with the sights of the capital Torshavn, is very popular. The heart of the city, its old part, founded in 825, is located on the tiny Tinganes peninsula.
In a chaotic manner, there are small old houses of stone, the roofs of which are covered with grass. The old town is quite small, you can get around it in 15-20 minutes, but you want to take pictures at every house.
Of the sights you should definitely see the Munkastovan monastery, built in the 15th century, as well as the royal warehouses of Leigubün. An art gallery is open at the Nordic House, considered the main cultural center of Torshavn, and in summer special educational events are often organized there especially for tourists. The Museum of Art is also worth a visit – there is a wonderful collection of paintings and sculptures, exhibitions and theater performances are held. It will be interesting to visit the History Museum, where household items of local residents, samples of applied art, ship models, collections of religious objects and other local attractions are presented.
The small village of Chödnuwijk is located on the island of Streimoy, in the harbor, surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks.
The settlement became famous for two coastal cliffs-raukans, called “Giant and the Witch”. These stone columns reach a height of 71 m and 68 m, although they look very tiny against the background of the mountains.
The village of Chednuvuik is famous for another attraction: nearby is the largest Fossa waterfall on the islands of the Faroe Islands.
The development of the culture of the Faroe Islands took place far from European civilization, so that this culture has not lost its exclusivity. It contains Danish and its own cultural heritage, very well manifested in local folk festivals. For example, no entertainment events are possible without Faroese round dances. You can see them at the most beloved holiday of all local residents – the festival for St. Olav’s Day (Oulavsёk), which takes place annually at the end of July. According to the established tradition, equestrian and rowing competitions are held at the same holiday, and art exhibitions of paintings are organized.
If Oulavsёka is known throughout the archipelago, then there are festivals that are held only on some islands. For example, Westanstevna is popular in the west, Yoansyoka in the south, and Noriyastevna in the north.
A special place in the life of the inhabitants of Faroe Islands is football. The football team was created in 1930. The first game ended in defeat, but this did not disappoint local fans. In 1988, the team was accepted into FIFA, and in the 1990s it was recognized by UEFA.
The inhabitants of the archipelago have one, to put it mildly, specific tradition: summer slaughter of whales. When a flock of whales (dolphins) enters the bay, they are surrounded by people in boats and driven to the shore. Already near the shore, animals are brutally slaughtered with knives, which is why coastal waters completely change their color. This tradition provokes the indignation of livestock protectors, but it is urgent for the region, because the only sources of income here are agriculture, sheep breeding and fishing.
You can learn more about the bloody tradition of the region in this article .
Island cuisine – what do Faroese eat?
Faroes national dishes are to some extent a reflection of the harsh local climate. They are simple, dense, quite interesting, but they can hardly be called healthy.
Faroe farmers often cook fish dishes, but more like fatty and unsalted meat, as well as potatoes. Smurrebrods, huge sandwiches with a large number of ingredients (meat, fish, butter, etc.) that are eaten with a knife and fork are popular.
They like rastyot here – small pieces of lamb, which were dried in the wind for 6-9 months. Fish is also usually dried, then various dishes are prepared from it, for example, soups. Small puffin birds inhabit the islands – their meat, along with rhubarb and potatoes, is used for filling pies, and whole carcasses are stuffed with sweet dough and served with berries and potatoes. The Faroe Islands is very fond of whale meat – it is harvested during fishing and left to itself, without being sent for export.
It should be noted that in the local cuisine they do not use a lot of spices and salt, and taste enhancers are not recognized at all, due to which all dishes have their own real taste.
Recently, international cuisine has become increasingly common on the islands of the archipelago, which makes it difficult to find an institution where you can try local culinary delights. Although, in general, in the capital there are no difficulties with food: there are relatively many restaurants and cafes here. For example, in the Koks Restaurant, dishes are prepared only from local products – harvested in the ocean or grown on agricultural land.
In the historical part of Torshavn there is a cozy fish restaurant “Barbara”, stylized as a traditional Faroese house – there is always fresh food prepared from fish caught on this day. If the route runs along the sparsely populated part of the Faroe Islands, then it is better to take food with you, as shops usually work for several hours a day, and a cafe may not appear at all.
If we talk about prices, then in the Faroe Islands they are higher than on the mainland, and tourists are unlikely to be able to save on anything, including food. The following are approximate prices:
- lunch in an inexpensive restaurant 13-17 €;
- 3-course meal for two in a mid-range restaurant 55-87 €;
- McMeal at McDonalds 11 €, a slice of pizza in fast food 6-7 €, a burger from 3.6 €;
- cup of cappuccino 4-5 €;
- glass of beer 6.0 €.
Although the Faroe Islands are located in the north, the local climate is quite mild due to the warm current of the Gulf Stream.
The average summer temperature is kept at + 14º C, sometimes rises to + 20º C. In winter, there are practically no frosts (the temperature is in the range from 0º C to + 4º C), but it is still very cold due to high humidity.
It often rains in the Faroe Islands, about 280 days a year. The rainy season falls on the period from September to the end of January, and then the island is covered for a long time by a hat of dense fog, almost not letting in the sun. The cold harsh wind almost never stops here.
The Gulf Stream, washing the Faroe Archipelago, does not allow coastal waters to freeze even in winter, keeping their temperature constant throughout the year: + 10 º C. Winter, when there are no tourists, and the water is especially clear, is an ideal time for diving enthusiasts.
Since the Faroe Islands are not included in the Schengen area, a separate visa is required to visit them. In addition to standard Danish Schengen, a Danish national visa is required to allow entry to the Faroe Islands.
Making such a visa is easy enough. An application for its receipt must be submitted to the Danish Consulate. The set of documents required for this is identical to the set of documents required to obtain a Schengen visa to Denmark.
If you have a valid Schengen of another country, you only need to apply for a national Danish visa, which allows you to enter the Faroe Islands.
How to get to the Faroe Islands
There are two ways to get to the Faroe Islands.
- Given where the Faroe Islands are located, the fastest and most convenient option would be to fly to them by plane. Danish autonomy has only one international airport, Vagar, which is located on the island of Vagar. The only company operating scheduled flights to Vagar Airport is the Faroese national airline Atlantic Airways. The cheapest flight “Copenhagen – Wagar”: departure takes place several times a day, the flight lasts about 2 hours. Flights to the Faroe Islands are also provided from the UK, Norway, Spain, Iceland. The Vagar Airport with the largest island of Streim and the capital of autonomy is connected by a tunnel running along the ocean floor. Its length is 5 km.
- The second option, how to get to the Faroe Islands – use the ferry. Ferries sail from Denmark (the city of Copenhagen, Hirtshals), Iceland, the Scottish Islands, Norway (the city of Bergen). Such a trip will cost much cheaper than air travel, but it can take up to 2 days in time.
Between settlements Faroe there is a well-established transport connection. Water remains the most popular local transport on the islands – moving between islands is possible by ferry. The old tunnels are gradually replacing the old roads along the mountain serpentines.
Interesting facts about the Faroe Islands
- As for alcohol, in the Faroe Islands it is sold only to people who have reached 18 years of age. Light beer is offered in supermarkets and small shops, cafes and restaurants. Wine, strong (dark) beer is sold only in state monopoly stores operating under the guise of “Government Monopoly” and licensed restaurants.
- Bargaining in the Faroe Islands is not accepted. This is not allowed in any institution, regardless of ownership or size.
- The Faroe Islands do not tip. Rewards of 10% are already included in the bill in cafes and restaurants, and are also included in the cost of the ticket for travel by transport.
- Under weather conditions characteristic of the islands of the archipelago, you can not do without warm sweaters, raincoat and high-quality waterproof boots. Sightseeing most of the attractions without them will be impossible.
- When leaving the territory of the autonomy of Denmark, you can return the VAT on purchases made. This is only possible when the purchase was made in the Tax Free system store for an amount exceeding $ 48.
- On the island of Sandoi in the village of Skopun there is a giant, the largest mailbox in the world: it is taller than several human height.
- The Faroe Islands did not enter the European Union because of the incredibly high taxes on fishing. Such taxes are unacceptable for local residents, and they do not intend to abandon fishing.
- Tourists who want to go fishing need to obtain a license for a specific reservoir or fishing in the ocean. If you have your own fishing rod, it must be disinfected according to the instructions before arrival on the islands.
Take 2 minutes to watch the video – amazing views of the Faroe Islands (aerial shot).