Faroe Islands


Overview

Halfway between Iceland and Norway, to the north of Scotland, the Faroe Islands are a jigsaw puzzle of 18 volcanic islands, lying far off the tourist radar.

The weather can be unreliable in this stormy section of the Atlantic. But there's wisdom in the local Faroese phrase, “If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes” – conditions change fast at this latitude, and a wild, wind-lashed day could turn sunny in an instant. 

Whatever the weather, the Faroe Islands are an intriguing spot. Capital Torshavn, a cluster of brightly coloured houses with Viking heritage, is a good start-point. Then head out on foot: the cliffs are craggy and dramatic, the coastal walking spectacular.

Bird watchers will be in heaven: puffins, guillemots, razorbills and shags fill the skies. Take a boat trip to watch the birds from the sea, and keep your eyes peeled for whales and dolphins in the crashing waves below.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Sail to Rinkusteinar – Take a boat trip to these ‘rocking rocks’ – no one is sure why they roll as they do, but local legend has it that a sorceress turned two pirate ships into stone and doomed them to rock for eternity.
  2. Hike to a lighthouse – Walk to the lighthouse on Bordan across the island of Noloy's narrowest point for spectacular views of the islands and Atlantic.
  3. Bird-watch at Vestmanna – Sail out to the 600m-high bird cliffs at Vestmanna to see cascading waterfalls and deep caves, as well as fulmars, kittiwakes, guillemots and more.
  4. Wander Mykines – This western island is the place where you’re most likely to see puffins in their natural habitat.
  5. Go on a witch hunt – Search for the Giant and the Witch, two imposing stacks of rock (71m and 68m), off the north-west tip of Eysturoy.

Wanderlust tips

The puffin-beak earrings you'll see in the shops really are puffin beaks. The locals say it's recycling… You may want to give them a miss.

The weather changes within seconds on the Faroe Islands so be prepared to batten down the hatches and sit out a storm when hiking on one of the remote islands. Wear layers.

Further Reading

Travel in the Faroe Islands: vital stats

 

  • Capital of the Faroe Islands: Torshavn
  • Population of the Faroe Islands: 50,000
  • Languages in the Faroe Islands: Faoese, Danish
  • Time in the Faroe Islands: GMT (April-October GMT+1)
  • International dialing code for the Faroe Islands: +298
  • Voltage in the Faroe Islands: 220V 50Hz AC
  • Visas for the Faroe Islands: N/A
  • Money in the the Faroe Islands: Faroese króna
  • Faroe Islands travel advice: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Faroe Islands tourist board: www.faroeislands.com

 

When to go to the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands’ climate is extremely changeable. Rain is plentiful but often short-lived and localised; winds can be ferocious, then just drop away.

Summer (June-August) is the best time to visit, with long days and milder weather – expect 10-13°C. Winter days are dark, and many services close, though temperatures aren’t that cold (January average 3°C).

International airports

Vágar Airport (FAE), the only airport in the Faroe Islands

Getting around the Faroe Islands

A good system of roadways and ferries connects most towns and villages on the Faroes, and there are inter-town buses. Torshavn has an efficient local bus service.

Helicopters service some towns and villages for relatively reasonable prices.

Faroe Islands accommodation

There is a campsite along the seafront in Torshavn. There is also a selection of hotels and B&Bs.

Faroe Islands food & drink

Lamb and fish are the main staples on the Faroe Islands. Meat may be hung, and fish dried, to preserve it for a long time. 

Whale may also appear on menus. Whales are not hunted commercially here, but the practice has been generally condemned. Do not encourage it by ordering whale ‘out of curiosity’.

Health & safety in the Faroe Islands

Pack seasickness tablets if you’re prone. Pack layers for all weathers.