The Faroe Islands – An Underestimated Paradise
If you’re getting a bit sick and tired of the typical holiday destinations that every budget airline offers…, then good news – today I’ve got a breathtaking place in store, that you’ll be guaranteed to fall in love with by the end of this article. I’m sure people have definitely heard of this little treasure before, but I guarantee you that this paradise is still sorely underestimated. Anyway, I won’t drone on any more and keep you in suspense – let’s take a look at the Faroe Islands together!
Where actually are the Faroe Islands?
The Faroe Islands are 18 islands of different sizes that make up an island group in the North Atlantic between Iceland, Norway and Scotland. With a total area of 1,399km² and a 1,289km coastline, the islands form a little triangle pointing towards the south. Since islands themselves are divided by straits and fjords it makes for beautiful scenery, and you’ll never be more than 5 kilometres away from the coast at any time. So, where ever you end up staying on the Faroe Islands, you won’t have to go far to reach the sea!
You’ve got some gorgeous and very unique nature to look forward to here – the archipelago doesn’t just have islands and skerries, but also breathtaking waterfalls that sometimes fall directly into the sea as well as distinctive vegetation made up of blossom, moss and mushrooms. The islands themselves have volcanic origins. As well as valleys and highlands there are quite a few little marshy areas, so be careful if you’re going off for a bit of exploration.
What awaits you on the islands
Exploration is the key word here – the Faroe Islands are split up into six regions that couldn’t be any more different from each other. Depending on the region you’re in you’ll be able to enjoy the individual charm of each little village, nestled in wildly different and breathtaking landscapes. More about that later though. The weather likes to keep you on your toes too and visitors to the island are surprised that it’s possible to see four different seasons in one day! Temperatures are mild thanks to the Gulf Stream, so in summer the temperatures average out at 11°C and in winter 3°C – but just be prepared for an unexpected shower or storm.
You should take these wild weather conditions into consideration when visiting different places. It’s completely normal for it to be gorgeous and sunny, only to suddenly be enveloped by fog until you’re soaked to the bone and then be battered by stormy winds. However you’ll be pleased to know that it’s really rare for it to rain the whole day. Just be sure to pack plenty of clothes, take a raincoat and enjoy the crisp, clean air! There’s a feast for the eyes in store as well. Plan your stay during the summer months and you’ll be able to witness the midsummer nights. Bright days and nights await you, with the sun shining for 19.5 hours on the longest day, and even when the sun sets it doesn’t go down completely. It’s also worth visiting the Faroe Islands during winter, but you won’t have to worry about the harbours being frozen over.
In the north you’ll find the Norðoyggjra region – Faroese for North Island – which is an absolute must for nature lovers. The six small islands that make up this region are characterised by the tall mountains with springs that tumble down into sea below as waterfalls. It’s a sight that’s both fascinating and breathtaking, so spare a moment to stop and admire it – you’ll find the roar of the water to be incredibly calming. There’s plenty of ways of reaching the individual islands – whereas you can only reach Kalsoy, Fugloy and Svínoy by boat, the islands of Borðoy, Kunoy and Viðoy are connected by roads. Borðoy in particular is worth a visit, as it’s here you’ll be able to visit Klavsvik, the fishing capital.
Unlike Norðoyggjar, Eysturoy is made up of just one island – the second largest in the entire archipelago. There’s all sorts of things to see here as together with Streymoy the Eysturoy region makes up the centre of the Faroe Islands. If you’re looking for more impressive feats of nature I recommend heading to Slættaratindur. Its 882 metre-high peak makes it the largest mountain in the country and from the top you’ll get fantastic views looking out over the entire archipelago as well as the neighbouring mountains Gráfell and Vaðhorn. You should visit the little villages as well such as Elduvík, Funnigur or Hellur, as you’ll feel as if you went back in time – the traditional lifestyles carried out here have remained unchanged for centuries.
If you want something a little more modern and central, set off towards Skálafjørdur. It’s the largest town on the island (and the largest fjord too) and it’s here where you’ll find most of the tourist activity. A place that’s equally as popular is the Gjáargarður guesthouse in the village Gjógv. Another thing that makes Eysturoy quite famous is the fact that it’s home to the most uncomfortable football stadium in the world, and you’d have to be quite the football fan to ever visit it – to visit Svangaskarð you have to undertake a miserable journey where you’ll be blasted about by the wind at full force, and even the surroundings on the way there don’t really make up for the effort! However it’s not all grim, as in Eysturoy you’ll find the village Gøta which hosts the G!Festival, voted as the second-best music festival in Europe!
Streymoy, Nólsoy, Hestur and Koltur
Right next to Eysturoy is the region of Streymoy, the largest and longest island of the archipelago. Although Tórshavn is the capital it’s a relatively small town but it nevertheless has lots on offer, as do the towns Kirkjubøur, Saksun, Vestmanna and Tjørnuvík, and draw great numbers of tourists time and time again. I know you’ll be absolutely charmed by these towns’ charm as well! You’ll find a concentration of culture, music, restaurants art and sport. Music lovers are recommended to visit the Nordic House in Tórshavn, where many music and art events take place every year. You can admire more artworks, both old and new, at the National Gallery. There’s also the National Day of the Faroe Islands which is celebrated on on the 29th July. On both the 28th and the 29th of July the islands explode into activity – there’s a massive festival with cultural events, shows and concerts that takes place, and people can join in the choir to perform traditional songs at midnight in the town centre and ultimately bring the festival to a close.
To make sure we don’t forget about the other places I’m going to tell you something amusing bout Kirkjubøur. Whoever spends some time in Kirkjubøur will come face to face with Magnus Kathedral at some point. Although construction began in 1300 it was never completed to this day! The ruins are being renovated to save them from the elements, so it’s definitely worth seeing them whenever you have the opportunity. There’s also the village of Saskun which really stands out from modern towns and will captivate you with its breathtaking setting. It’s almost like a place of meditation where you can revel in the tranquillity and listen to your inner self. Water and light reflect in spectacular colours and the silence adds to this fairytale panorama. Many people come to the peak of Sornfelli mountain to revel in the midnight sun during the midsummer nights. If you’re going to be in the Faroe Islands during the summer this is something you can’t afford to miss!
Located next to the largest island, the region of Vágar is a place that holds itself back a bit. Away from the hustle and bustle this island will charm you with its impressive landscapes and animals. Bøsdalafossur, one of the most significant waterfalls on the islands, crashes down from a lake into the ocean below and from the tiny villages of Bøur and Gásadalur you’ll get one of the most beautiful views of the fjord and the Tindhólmur. The way to Gásadalur is something you won’t forget. Before there was only a narrow path that led from Bøur over the mountain, but now you can go through a tunnel as well – it’s up to you which path you want to take! Vágar also has a gorgeous little island next to it, Mykines. It’s a real birdwatcher’s paradise as you can watch the puffins and see how they fly above the sea and watch them fill their beaks with fresh catches.
Sandoy, Skúvoy and Stóra Dímun
Don’t be surprised when you’re on the islands of Sandoy, Skúvoy and Stóra Dímun – it may not seem like it, but you’re still on the Faroe Islands! Not only is everything greener and the mountains look small, you’ll also be able to fulfill your craving for a beach holiday! Tall sand dunes are made for romantic picnics and your search for a little paradise will be at an end! From here you can continue onwards to the neighbouring islands of Skúvoy and Stóra Dímun. Just warning you now though: Stóra Dímun is very far out, and it can be difficult to traverse too and you’ll be dependent on the weather conditions. Why is this effort worth it though? Because only one family lives here!
If you’re interested about the inhabitants themselves who live on the Faroe Islands, you’ll love the locals who live in Suðuroy – you’ll notice their directness and humour right away! Their hospitality is unmatched and contagious, and they know how to really appreciate the fjords and the breathtaking landscapes. However there’s one more reason to be proud of Suðuroy – from the bird cliffs you’ll be able to have a look into the abyss below, and it’s something that’ll make your blood run cold! Just be careful not to lean over too far… Adrenaline junkies can let of some steam with a climbing tour of Rávuna mountain – it’s a lot less dangerous this way!
So, what do you think of the Faroe Islands? You have to admit that you yourself have probably underestimated the Faroe Islands at some point! If you’d like to explore these islands as well, take a quick look at Skyscanner and Expedia for some cheap flights. From Edinburgh it takes around an hour and if you’re flying from the European mainland it’ll be around 2 hours. You’ll land at Vágar, which is where the only airport is located. From here you can start your little big adventure and discover the 18 islands at your own pace. If you need help with finding a deal, just pop over to my Deal Finder where I’m always happy to help!
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