Where The Wind Doesn’t Stop: Faroe Islands

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The Faroe Islands are a small archipelago of 18 rugged and rocky islands in northern UK and southwest Iceland. The island group is an autonomous country and one of the three countries constituting the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroese are of Scandinavian origin; many are descendants of Norwegian Vikings who colonized the islands around 800 CE. About a quarter of the population lives in Tórshavn, the rest live in small settlements, almost all located on the coasts. The official languages ​​are Faroese – most closely related to Icelandic – and Danish. Most of the islanders are Lutherans belonging to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark. The population tripled between 1801 and 1901 and has more than doubled since.

  • Capital: Torshavn
  • Population: 48,678 (2019)

Things to know before visiting the Faroe Islands

  1. The weather is unpredictable.
  2. Always pack a rain jacket, warm jacket and some snacks.
  3. 305 species of seabirds have been found to inhabit the Faroes, which is insane when you consider the size of this tiny nation in the sea.
  4. English is extremely widely (and often perfectly) spoken in the Faroes – which is super lucky considering Faroese is a seriously daunting language.
  5. The Faroes have a reputation for being pretty expensive – but with a little forward planning and some smart budgeting, your travels there absolutely don’t need to break the bank.
  6. You’ll be able to get to most places by bus, although for spots a little further out of the way, you’ll either need to rent a car or find some buddies to carpool with.
  7. There’s one place in particular where respecting the locals and not trespassing has become a serious issues, and that’s at the instagram-famous house at Saksun.

How Can Go

The Faroes national carrier, Atlantic Airways, fly from Edinburgh (this is how we got there!), Copenhagen (Denmark), Bergen (Norway), Reykjavik (Iceland), Paris (France) to Vagar airport year-round, with a flight time of around 2-hours for each. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) also fly a route from Copenhagen too.

What to See

Lake Sorvagsvatn

The biggest lake in the Faroe Islands, will let you hike here for about an hour, and gasp at its infinite length. You will find this lake in Vagar Island; astonishingly it sits above the ocean, some 30 m above. As you can imagine, this is perhaps one of the most fascinating sights you will ever see.

Saksun

A dreamlike disposition marks the splendid landscape of Saksun, as this remote village is one of the major highlights of the islands. Housing about 14 inhabitants, Saksun is tranquil to say the least; at its foot, you will find a lagoon. The village of Saksun also has a church that was built way back in 1858.

Torshavn

This former Torshavn Parliament “pier” is one of the oldest points of government not only in the country but also in the world! The ruling clan used to meet here during the Viking Age to discuss how and how to run the islands. These days there are no Vikings to see, just a lot of quaint buildings with “turf roofs”

Reasons to Visit the Faroe Islands

  1. The archipelago has the type of striking views typical of volcanic islands, like windswept mountains, crashing waves, and jagged coastlines.
  2. Despite their remote location and rugged terrain, it’s easier to road-trip and island-hop around the archipelago than you might expect.
  3. The most iconic landscape in the country is the Shire like village of Saksun on the northwestern coast of Streymoy.
  4. If you’re dying to see the most laughably adorable bird on the planet, there’s no place better than petite Mykines. While only 14 people live on the westernmost Faroe Island, its rugged terrain and precipitous cliffs draw thousands of breeding puffins during the summer months.
  5. The best way to enjoy the island is to hike to Kallur Lighthouse.
  6. Turf-roofed houses are something of a symbol of the islands, appearing everywhere from sporadic seaside villages to the capital city of Tórshavn.
  7. One of the most popular excursions are the boat trips to the Vestmanna bird cliffs, rock walls that rise nearly 2,000 feet above the Atlantic waters on Streymoy Island.
  8.  Some good spots are the villages of Gjógv on the northern tip of Eysturoy, and Klaksvík on Borðoy.

Tórshavn is a pretty small capital city. In fact, it’s smaller (in population) than my borough in London. Without sounding like a line from my old history teacher’s textbook, this area known as Tinganes is still home to the Faroese Government. It’s one of the oldest Parliamentary meeting places in the whole world!

 

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