One of the most magical travel destinations in the world has to be the Faroe Islands. This little territory is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, and it consists of 18 different islands located in the northwestern part of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you love nature, photography or good food, you will find lots of great spots in the Faroe Islands. It can be considered an alternative to Iceland, since it offers equally dramatic nature, but with much fewer tourists and often the prices are a bit lower.
Facts about the Faroe Islands
The Faroe Islands are located southeast of Iceland and immediately north of Scotland. The islands are a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but completely autonomous – it has been self-governing since 1948, although it still receives military, legal and financial support from Denmark.
The climate is cold, windy and humid. There is a total of 779 islands, of which 18 are considered major. Only a select few of them are inhabited. They are connected by ferries, boats and helicopters. Most of the islands are rocky and relatively empty of human constructions. The Faroe Islands are highly famous for their dramatic cliffs. Several islands are very green when you get a bit inwards, and wildflowers and plants are common. A fun fact is that the Faroes don’t have any native trees, but some species have been introduced over the years.
With a population of just 52,700 people and a total area of 1,400 square kilometers, it is a small and often overlooked territory. However, in recent years, the beautiful and largely untouched nature of the Faroe has attracted more and more tourists.
The Faroe Islands were first inhabited by Irish monks in the 7th century. The Vikings came later, and the Faroe quickly became connected culturally to Norway and Denmark. Most Faroese people today have Danish, Norwegian, Irish and Scottish ancestry. A small minority of immigrants have arrived on the islands during the most recent decades.
Faroese is the official language, but Danish is widely spoken and sometimes used for practical purposes. Most inhabitants speak English as well. The standard of living is very high, and the Faroe Islands are safe to visit at any time.
The main city is Tórshavn, founded in the 9th century. The urban area has 21,000 inhabitants – a bit over 40% of the country’s total population. Tórshavn political, commercial, cultural, and industrial center of the Faroes. Most cultural attractions can be found in Tórshavn – more on that later – but when visiting the Faroe Islands, we highly recommend exploring several of the islands since nature is the main attraction.
How to get there
The vast majority of tourists fly in. Vágar Airport is the only one there, so that makes it easy to look for flights. Local helicopters do cover the rest of the islands, though.
SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) and Atlantic Airways have regular connections to and from mainland Europe. Other airlines might have occasional connections.
You find frequent routes between Copenhagen Airport and Vágar – practically every day. But there are also direct routes to The Faroe Islands from Paris, Reykjavik, Bergen, Billund and Edinburgh. If you can’t find any direct flights from your location, and you need to have a layover, we recommend taking that layover in Copenhagen.
From the airport you can take a bus into Torshavn. It takes around an hour.
Some ferries and cruises sail between Iceland and The Faroe Islands. That is an alternative option if you want a different adventure. Ferry services sail into Tórshavn from both Iceland and Denmark.
Most nationalities can visit The Faroe Islands without a visa. If you do need a visa, you need to apply for a Danish visa.
Best places to visit in the Faroe Islands
To give you some inspiration on where to go, we are mentioning a few of the best destinations in the Faroe Islands below:
Tórshavn is the capital and main city. As mentioned earlier, it is the cultural center and if you want to explore the human side of the territories, this is where to go. Tórshavn also works splendidly as a base while you hop around the islands. This makes sense since Tórshavn has the highest amount of accommodation options. The city is located on the largest island, Streymoy, and you have lots of beautiful nature in the vicinity.
Mykines is the westernmost island. Most tourists consider it to be the most magical part of the Faroes. It is famous for its lighthouse, the rocky terrain and the unique cliffs. It’s a paradise for birds and if you enjoy bird watching or photography, Mykines is an absolute must. It is a small island though, and you must sail to get there. The weather can be rough – it is incredibly windy, so be prepared for that!
Vágar is the island where the airport is located. It has Mykines to the west and Streymoy to the east. A tunnel is connecting Vágar with Streymoy, so it is possible to drive between them. Vágar is known for its many dramatic cliffs and waterfalls.
Gásadalur is a unique town that is surrounded by mountains on all sides. It was isolated for many years, on the far western part of the Vágar island, as there wasn’t any road connection to Gásadalur until 2004. Now there is a tunnel crossing the river which allows you to drive in. But we recommend you to park your car after passing the tunnel and follow the trails. Enjoy the view of the cliffs and the impressive waterfall.
Eysturoy is the second largest island, directly east of Streymoy (the largest island). It has several cute coastal villages that you can pass through. It also has some incredibly varied nature. The inland parts are very peaceful, the coastal areas are super charming. Like in Iceland, it has hot springs. You can drive between Streymoy and Eysturoy. The main village to see on the island, if we had to choose just one, would probably be Gjógv with its little natural harbor and its church.
Saksun is one of the most charming places on Streymoy, the main island. It’s an idyllic little village where you can truly find peace. Only 14 people live here, but there is an old church and a farm museum. The road to Saksun goes through some mountains. You can drive there from Tórshavn and spend a few hours.
Klaksvík is the second-largest city on the Faroe Islands, but it is far from all the other locations we have mentioned so far. Klaksvík is found in the east. It is the most important Faroe city when it comes to the fishing industry. It has a beautiful mountain view. You can use it as your base if you want to do some wild hiking. Klaksvík has a surprising amount of shops and dining places. The unique church, Christianskirkjan, is the main cultural attraction. You can get to Klaksvík by sailing with a ferry or by flying with a helicopter.
Of course, these places are just some suggestions out of many. Upon arrival you can easily explore many more areas of the Faroe Islands. Locals are happy to give recommendations.
What to eat and drink
There is a clear focus on seafood in the Faroe Islands, which makes perfect sense since it has been a fishing territory for such a long time. The local cuisine feels like a mix of the Norwegian, Icelandic and Scottish mixed together, and then with a unique twist on top.
Different varieties of fish and shellfish are locally sourced and of the highest quality. Atlantic cod, salmon, herring, mackerel and shrimps are common to eat. Fish soup is more common than in most other countries. Unique stuff such as whale meat can also be sourced in the Faroes.
Lamb is just as common to eat as seafood. The locals love it, and you will quickly notice how sheep are being raised on many parts of the islands. Dried mutton is a Faroese signature dish.
They like to ferment their foods. Fish often get dried and smoked.
Overall, the cuisine on the Faroes is highly meat-based. In recent years, more and more vegetarian and vegan options are coming, but the traditional Faroese cuisine has a clear emphasis on seafood and lamb. Most restaurants do serve high-quality vegetables of all types next to the meat. Locals typically eat potatoes with their meat.
Danish rye-bread and baking goods can also be found at several places – of course, with a Faroese twist.
Now, what to drink while visiting the Faroe Islands? Beer! There are a few great breweries. Due to the high-quality spring water, it is also possible for the Faroese experts to make world-class liquors. Generally speaking, the Faroese drink the same as the rest of Northern Europe. Beer and coffee are staples. The water quality is great in the Faroe Islands, so even a fresh glass of water can be a nice experience!
Estimated budget for visiting the Faroe Islands
Plane tickets to the Faroe Islands are often expensive. If you fly directly from Denmark, you can typically get a return ticket for around 2,000 USD/EUR, but if you’re flying from somewhere else and needing a layover, the ticket price might increase and cost you several thousands. SAS and Atlantic Airways are both on the more expensive of flying.
Staying in a hotel will cost you at least 100 USD/EUR per night. We recommend you to book your accommodation with Booking.com in advance since that allows you to scoop up the best deal.
Food prices are higher than elsewhere in the world. Some fish and shellfish are cheap because they are locally sourced. But meats, fruits and restaurant food is typically expensive. A daily food budget of 30 USD/EUR or more should be expected if you intend to eat out every day.
When is the best time to visit the Faroes?
Any time of the year is quite alright. Due to its location in the middle of the ocean, the temperatures don’t vary that much. The average temperature in the winter is 3,5 celsius, and in the summer it is 12. So the winters are mild, and the summers are cool. You should know that the weather is unpredictable and can change at any time. Rain is common all around the year. It can also be foggy at times. Some of the islands are incredibly windy. When there is a clear sky, the sunshine is very enjoyable.
In the winter, when the skies are clear, aurora borealis can sometimes be seen. In the summer, days are very long.
Overall, you should simply go whenever you get the opportunity. The Faroe Islands are enjoyable all year around, and the weather permits you to explore the islands during all of the months, basically.
Pricewise, it makes the most sense to go in the autumn since hotel prices are lowest at this time of the year. In the summer months, you have the highest amount of flights to choose from.
Health and safety
The Faroe Islands are incredibly safe. These islands have almost no human related crimes and can be considered to be one of the safest places in the world. But remember that nature can be wild, so if you intend to go out hiking or swimming, take your precautions!
Food and drinks are all safe to consume, you can even drink tap water without any problems whatsoever. The healthcare system is small but efficient. It can be a good idea to book a health insurance before your trip since you might have to pay for treatment yourself.
If you’re looking for a unique adventure, you should definitely visit the Faroe Islands. It is reminiscent of Iceland in many ways, but ultimately there is nothing quite like the Faroes. Entusiasts of nature can’t possibly find a better place, and if you are interested in Nordic culture, it is also a territory that you must visit at some point in your life.
We wish you a great trip if you’re going. Read our article on where to stay in the Faroe Islands if you need some specific recommendations!