Why You Need to Explore the Faroe Islands

Take a journey to a magical land that will have you gasping in awe at every turn of the road and cheerfully delirious of mother nature's beauty at every cliffside; a tiny island nation that is far from being bombarded by tourists called the Faroe Islands.

By: Mike Fennell

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Ten years ago, the chances that you had heard of the Faroe Islands was probably slim to none. But since the revolution of social media and the astounding ease of access we have to discovering new places and images on the internet, I’m going to bet you’ve come across a stunning photo go this magical land. You then probably thought, what in the heck is that place and how can I go experience it?

Well, that’s what I’ve come to tell you.

Located between Iceland, Norway, and Scotland, the Faroe Islands is a tiny island nation first inhabited over 1,600 years ago and at it’s present day has a population of just over 50,000 people. An archipelago comprised of 18 islands, the majority of them are connected via bridge or underwater tunnel, while the smaller few can be accessed by ferry. There is very minimal flat land, and the islands shoot straight out of the sea in the most glamorous manner. There are only a handful of “towns”, while the rest of the country consists of tiny villages nestled into the pockets of these giants island hills. 

The Faroese people might just be the kindest folks you’ve ever met. Descendants of Vikings, the Faroese language is a mix of Icelandic and Norwegian, and their currency is the Danish Krone since they are an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Humble and cheerful, they take great pride in their culture, and as one might imagine of a tiny island nation, live a life of luxurious simplicity. 

With just one airport, you’ll begin your journey on the island of Vagar, just an hour and a half flight from it’s much more touristy neighbor, Iceland. Public transportation is very limited, so it is recommended to rent a car from the airport, or you’ll find yourself stuck to regime of tour buses to explore the great sights scattered throughout the islands. Either way, you’re most likely going to have to set up base camp in the capital city of Torshavn. It’s just about the only place in the country you can find a hotel, but it’s centrally located, being on the south end of the island Streymoy. 

From Torshavn, it should take you no more than an hour to get anywhere else in the country that is accessible by car. And the beautiful islands of Sandoy and Suduroy are south of the city and can be reached via thirty minute and two hour ferries respectively. You can bring your rental car on these ferries for a simple price of about $10 USD. As with the rest of the Faroe Islands, it is extremely difficult to get lost as there are usually no more than two roads on each island. 

On the east side of the country, I would recommend you drive as far as you can to the village of Vidareidi and hike around the seaside cliff areas. Then stop at the fairly large town of Klaksvik and take the 20 minute ferry over to the island of Kalsoy. Drive to the north side of the island and hike to the very north edge of the land from the five building village of Trollanes. The hour long hike will reward you with a stunning lands-end view and a gigantic cliff essentially hanging over your as it drops hundreds of feet straight into the ocean. 

The northern region of the Faroes is home to numerous quaint little grass-roofed villages such as Saksun, Funningur, and Gjogv. You could easily spend a full day driving from village to village and explore the beautiful homes and scenery. The best hike in this region is the climb up Slaettaratindur, the island nation’s tallest mountain. Although I can’t speak from experience since we got fogged in on our attempt to summit it, the locals were telling me it’s the most brilliant view in the entire country, which speaks volumes. I can however, tell you that the mountain pass road taking you to the trailhead will provide you with views that will blow your mind. That being said, pretty much any road in the Faroe Islands is going to blow your mind, while some may raise your heart beat just a little bit higher than anticipated. There are dozens of one-way tunnels, so be cautious of who has the right of way when entering, because if it’s not you, you’re going to have to make sure you can reach a pullout before the on-coming car reaches you!

The west side of the Faroes might just be the most magical places you’ve ever seen. The northwest coast of the island Vagar is home to two of the most iconic places in the country; the cliffside waterfall of Gasadalur, and Leitisvatn Lake that appears to be hanging over the ocean. In case you hadn’t caught on yet, there are a whole lot of cool looking cliffs around the Faroe Islands! The west is also home to the mysterious bird island of Mykines, that can easily be accessed by ferry. The west coast of Vagar was probably my favorite region if forced to choose one, and a great thing about it is that it’s also where the airport is located so you can easily visit these majestic landmarks twice, and with the weather being as unpredictable as it is, you may actually need that second chance to visit. 

With neighbors like Iceland and Norway becoming so overwhelmed with tourists, the Faroe Islands are your perfect North Atlantic landscape getaway. There may not be as much variety as Iceland, but the indistinguishable and vibrant scenery of this beautiful land is something I could never tire of. Buy the ticket, take the journey, and long live the Faroe Islands. 

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.