5 Reasons to Travel to the Faroe Islands
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
So you saw an incredible photo of the Faroe Islands on the Internet. If you are anything like me, you were not only awestruck by the beauty, but also curious about the lesser-known country. Here are five reasons why you should travel to the Faroe Islands.
Quite likely the most popular reason people travel to the Faroe Islands, the landscape is every bit stunning. Wide vistas, towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and the crashing waves of the north Atlantic Ocean lend just a few ways to describe this country's landscape. Most islands within the country contain all of these features so there is never a shortage of amazing views. If you are a photographer like me, this country is a dream come true. While most popular destinations provide some way of access, many locations are still off-the-beaten path. This provides an amazing opportunity for scouting, exploring, and discovery. Wherever your journey will take you, I would like to remind you to be respectful of the environment and the locals, and to practice leave no trace policies.
As I alluded to in the first point, the Faroe Islands are still relatively untouched from the grips of large-scale commercial tourism. This might be credited to the remote location of the islands. Situated between Iceland, Norway, and the UK, the Faroe Islands are ~200 miles from the nearest land mass. This remoteness and lack of tourism has plenty of perks. I found myself having incredible locations all to myself without another person in sight. In fact, there were only two occurrences when I ran into other people while out on the trail. I was also surprised that some locations were mostly untouched, with minimal amounts of trail marking, etc. There are countless locations with incredible views scattered around the islands that are just waiting to be explored. That, partnered with solid navigational skills and a drive for unknown can lead to some fun adventures.
The Ease of Transportation
While the islands are remote and quite literally in the middle of the ocean, the Faroe Islands have an incredible road infrastructure. Lending credit to three different subsea tunnels and tens of mountain tunnels, you can drive from one corner of the country to the other in around two hours. While not all of the islands are accessible by road, most islands that aren't are connected by ferry. The longest ferry ride is around two hours long and connects the capitol city of Torshavn with the most southern island of Suduroy. Shorter ferry rides connect most of the perimeter islands not connected by road. You can find out about ferry fares, timetables, and additional information on the Strandfaraskip Landsins website HERE. The Faroe Islands also have a helicopter shuttle service that brings locals and visitors alike to some of the more remote islands. This service is subsidized by the government so rates for flights are relatively speaking, quite cheap. The most expensive one-way flight provided is around $56 USD. It should be known that visitors are expected to only take a flight one way, as the subsidy is a community initiative. This can be a wonderful way to take a helicopter ride for cheap, and the views from the air are incredible. You can find more about fares, timetables, and additional information on the Atlantic Airways website HERE.
For being such a small country of around 50,000 people, the Faroese have a rich culture. In constant proximity to the sea, the people have strong ties to the ocean with many parts of their culture revolving around it. For instance, the majority of the country's economy is based on their fishing industry, and many local dishes are also heavily fish-based. The people depend on the land as well, more specifically the raising of sheep. Sheep are so prevalent on the islands that the Faroese title for their country, Føroyar, roughly translates to "The land of the sheep". The name was given to the land by Norse Vikings, who settled the islands in the Viking Age. This leads to my favorite part about the culture, Vikings. As with many Scandinavian countries, the Vikings extended their reach out to these remote islands. There have been remnants of Viking civilizations found on most of the islands, with the earliest being around 800 AD. A great resource for not only Viking history in the Faroe Islands, but for overall Faroe Island history is the National Museum of the Faroe Islands located in the capital city of Torshavn. This museum gives a comprehensive look into the Islands and I found it to be an amazing supplement to my outdoor-heavy travels. Whether you spend your time outdoors, or spend your time exploring the towns and culture, you will most definitely have interactions with locals. If you’re coming from an English-speaking country, you’re in luck. Almost every citizen of reading age speaks an astonishing three languages which comprise of Faroese, Danish, and English. Along with speaking English, every local I interacted with was very nice and inviting. Multiple travelers I met had occurrences where they were invited into local’s homes and spent an evening sharing stories over dinner. Depending on where you reside, this might seem a little sketchy. However, the crime rate of the Faroe Islands is extremely low and is considered very safe. As I mentioned in a section above, it is imperative that travelers have the utmost respect for both the land and the people who reside there. It is our responsibility to make sure our impact is positive.
If you are an outdoor lover, the Faroe Islands are for you. Does a boat tour around 2000 ft (610m) sea cliffs sound interesting? Maybe you would want to try your hand at surfing the waters of the North Atlantic or hike up a mountain to view a massive sea stack? There are these and plenty more amazing opportunities waiting for you in the Faroes. My personal favorites were a cruise aboard the traditional schooner Norðlýsið (The Northern Light) and the hike out to Kallur Lighthouse on the island of Kalsoy. I was able to spend quite a bit of time doing both activities and even did the Kallur Lighthouse twice. During my first trip to the lighthouse I was socked in by fog, but that is a story for another post. While I was not able to surf with Faroe Islands Surf Guide, I did spend some time with Kat and crew at their awesome surf shack in Tjørnuvík. This was something that I definitely will need to do next time. Reach out to Kat and book a surf outing or SUP paddle around the gorgeous bay of Tjørnuvík. Sightseeing is very popular given the incredible landscape and ease of transportation. Some of these require a decent trek to get to, but many places are doable by car. Look for the “buttercup” routes, as these are roads that are especially scenic. Most wind through and around the mountains and fjords providing epic views with very little effort. If you want hiking that is a little less intensive, the iconic Gásadalur waterfall is a short walk and is located only 20 minutes from the airport. Saksun and Gjogv are also amazing drivable locations located on neighboring islands Streymoy and Eysturoy respectively. While the Faroe Islands are quite close to sea level, a large part of the islands are steep mountains. This is very apparent hiking, as there are very little switchbacks. My analogy is that the trails originated as sheep trails that humans eventually turned into the trails we use today. Even so, hiking in the Faroe Islands is by far my favorite activity. There are many trails throughout the islands they provide amazing views the entire duration. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are a couple of companies offering more adventurous outings. Their offerings include rock climbing, cliff jumping, scuba diving, and more. You can check out a full list of these companies HERE. No matter what you're looking for, the Faroe Islands provide plenty of activities to satisfy your outdoor itch.
With only basic research, you will find that the Faroe Islands have arguably some of the most dramatic landscapes in the world. Depending on how you look at it, the remoteness of these landscapes are a trade-off. A major benefit being that tourism traffic is relatively low, allowing for plenty of discovery for those with an adventurous soul and even allows for empty locations at some the most popular spots. While the islands are remote, they are very far from undeveloped. An incredible road, tunnel, ferry, and helicopter system provide fast and easy transportation between all of the islands. With so many locations easily accessible in a day it’s a no brainer why this place is a photographers dream. Photographers aren’t the only ones who will love the Faroe Islands however. There are plentiful opportunities for adventure seeking and casual tourists alike. Go surfing in the North Atlantic, go rock climbing on one of the many cliff faces, visit the national museum, try traditional Faroese cuisine, or anything in between. There are plenty of activities for anyone. Hopefully this will get you intrigued with all of the wonders that the Faroe Islands have to offer. If you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below, or reach out to me via my contact page at ryanrumpca.com/contact.
Ryan is a freelance photographer and FAA part 107 commercial drone pilot based out of Duluth, Minnesota, United States. Ryan enjoys the extremes of mother nature and is constantly seeking out new experiences that will push the boundaries of his own comfort zone just a little bit more. An avid hiker, camper, and traveler, Ryan enjoys his time experiencing the elements. Catch him up the North Shore or exploring remote places on the other side of the globe.