Your complete Faroe Islands travel guide:
I’ve been in the travel game for many years and by far the number one question I’m asked is: ‘What’s your favourite country?’ When I first went to visit Faroe Islands in June of last year, I began answering people’s question with ‘The Faroe Islands‘. The responses would be a mixture of ”Huh? Where’s that?” or ”Oh, but you haven’t been to Iceland yet. Wait till you see Iceland!” and finally ”Why?”
This post will answer the ”why.”
But first, if you don’t know anything about the Faroe Islands, and you’re curious, check out this blog post I wrote yesterday.
For the record, I’ve since been to Iceland and of course, loved it. But after returning to the Faroe Islands (again) a month ago, (in a different season: autumn) I’ve relearned why it’s my favourite.
Visit Faroe Islands’ top 15 picturesque places:
First up – the only way you can replicate this itinerary is to rent a car and drive, baby! (Although two of the islands mentioned will require taking a passenger ferry)
I went with my friend Boyan and we actually drove on every single road possible on every single island connected by bridges and undersea tunnels. With that instruction in mind, you’ll miss nothing. So where to rent a car?
Unicar Car Rental:
email@example.com +298 544 000 http://unicar.fo/
We worked with Unicar Car Rental and Boyan shot a video for them while we were there. Their office is right at the airport and their staff members all speak perfect English. Tell them Kaptain Kenny sent you!
So let's get started.......
Faroe Islands Travel Guide
Island of Eysturoy
This village is everything. There’s nothing here except a handful of colourful homes, a couple of beautiful mountain tops and an easy 3-hour hike. If you want to do the hike, go into the Gjogv Guesthouse and pay the equivalent of around 5€ for the hike, as it’s on private property. We did that last year in summer on a beautifully sunny day. This time, we just walked to the lookout point and took photos.
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Eidi is just around the corner from Gjogv, so definitely all possible in a day trip. Luckily we had made sandwiches on this day so we drove down to the coast on the right-hand side of the below picture. Parked by the ocean, we watched a waterfall in the distance and some sheep frolicking around in the grass.
My biggest tip is to park your car somewhere near the famous football field by the ocean (just drive around – you’ll find it) and then go by foot towards the waterfall you see in the distance. You’ll find this rocky path and the whole coastline is worth many photos.
We drove past Funningur three times and I took a photo of it each time. But it was this photo (pictured) that blew my mind. There was a pocket of light coming through the otherwise grey sky and a sheet of rain about to arrive. Pair that with the little road, the fence and the gaggle of geese and this might be one of my favourite photos on this Faroe Islands travel guide.
If you decide to drive down to the bay, you can take a photo like this in the early morning. Early mornings and late afternoons are the best times of day for interesting light in the Faroe Islands.
Island of Vagar
It’s impossible to take a bad photo here, which is only one of the reasons it makes it on my Faroe Islands travel guide. If you put Gasadalur into GoogleMaps, you’ll find it very easily. You can park your car at the village up there and walk down to the Múlafossur waterfall. We also saw hikers who walked from the village to the left of the cliff face.
Once you get to the waterfall area, walk a bit further down the little road to get this full shot of the waterfall.
The island of Vagar is famous for a reason. It has two of the most popular natural attractions and this spot is number one. Everyone who decides to visit Faroe Islands is looking for this spot. Some have dubbed it an optical illusion because with a wide angle lens, and by standing close to the cliff face, you can take a photo where it looks like the lake is really close to the ocean. I could be wrong but I think it’s about 300 metres down. On this occasion, I just had my regular lens and it was very windy so I wasn’t prepared to get closer.
You’ll need to park your car quite far from here. From the entrance to the ‘classic photography spot’, the ‘internet’ tells you it’s a 45-minute hike to get up. I think you can safely double that. This is also said to be the Faroe Islands’ windiest spot and that’s no joke. It can be really dangerous up there so please do be careful if you’re close to the edge. You wouldn’t survive if you fell.
6) Views of Tindhólmur and Trøllkonufingur
For some extra views while on the island of Vagar, be sure to keep your eye out for the beautifully striking and uninhabited island of Tindholmur. When there is a sunset behind it like this, it looks remarkably like a dinosaur’s back to me!
The photo below in the middle is Trøllkonufingur. We didn’t get closer to it than this photo. We spotted it in the distance from the car, drove down a gravel road and zoomed in with the lens. I wonder if it’s possible to hike up there?
We probably didn’t stay long because as I pressed ‘click’ on my camera, I felt something strange at my feet and realised I was standing on four fully fresh individual sheep legs. How? Why? I still don’t have the answers.
Island of Streymoy
7) Oyggjarvegur and the ‘Iceland-esque’ canyon.
When you get a free ‘Visit Faroe Islands map’ at the airport or on the ferry, you’ll notice there are two types of roads, both used in this Faroe Islands travel guide. Red roads are regular and green are for scenic routes. This is the scenic road out of Torshavn. Follow road number 10, which is called Oyggjavegur and make sure you stop the car at an amazing lookout point called Stidjafjall. Last year, after driving from Germany, I stopped at this lookout spot with my car and even got a re-post on Mercedes Benz’s page.
Have a look at how green it was in summer last year.
And now compare that to autumn and some slightly improved photography 🙂
Do not make the mistake of leaving after you see this viewpoint! See the winding road in the above photo? Follow it as far down as you can until you find this beautiful, mossy Icelandesque canyon like Boyan and I did. We parked the car and went down to take some photos.
This road down is worth it just for the drive. If you can find that little canyon, you’ll be pleased. It could even be the right spot for a little picnic as there’s a wooden bridge.
I didn’t know about this town when I came last, before making my Faroe Islands travel guide, so this time we stumbled across it because of our ‘drive on every road’ rule. It’s the final town at the end of a winding road on top of a cliff. You can park your car down there, use the bathroom and then have a play on the black sand.
On the winding road to Tjornuvik, you will bypass Fossa – one of the highest waterfalls in the country. It flows 140 meters down to the sea in two stages.
This is the only spot in the country where we saw two tour buses pull up. Both….filled…with…elderly…Germans. I could be wrong in saying this but based on my two trips to the Faroe Islands, seeing hordes of tourists is really uncommon.
This is one of the reasons I like it slightly more than Iceland! It feels more undiscovered. So you’d better hurry up before that changes.
You’re going to end up in Torshavn many times. Whether it’s to eat, get coffee or withdraw cash. It’s also got a few good cafe/restaurant options in case you’ve been slack in preparing food for the day. For good coffee and even some craft beers, you can try Cafe Brell. Right next door to that, you’ll get Fisk & Kips wrapped in newspaper. (Good for a quick N dirty takeaway option.) And finally, we ate a healthy salad at Umami which is right by the harbour.
Standing at this harbour, you’ll find many restaurants and cafes lining the water. That’s where I’d go looking for good food if I were you.
Close enough to the centre of Torshavn, you’ll find the old town with lots of red homes and a cobblestone path.
The significance of Kirkjubour: a scandalous Faroese tale ....
In 1151, Sverre Sigurdsson is born in Norway to a Norwegian mother, Gunnhild, and a Faroese father, Unås. Aged five, Sverre moves with his family to the Faroe Islands where he is raised in the household of Unås’ brother, Roe, bishop of the Faroe Islands in Kirkjubøur. In 1175, Gunnhild reveals that Sverre’s father is, in fact, Sigurd Munn, king of Norway. Sverre returns to Norway the following year and becomes the king of Norway in 1184.
I’m not officially mentioning Saksun as a place you should visit in this Faroe Islands travel guide, but I will say this… if you go there, be sure to stick to the main road and do NOT go off the public walking track. You’ll see where you’re allowed to go and where not. (The forbidden zones are all marked and blocked off.) Let me explain the issue with this picturesque place.
Last year when I visited, I posted a photo from here and one of Saksun’s eight residents sent me a private message on Instagram, explaining that his village is being destroyed by tourism. (Apparently tourists are breaking down fences for their photos and livestock have been running away.)
When you look up the typical Saksun shots on Instagram, you’ll see a photo of a house down by the fjord, however taking this photo would involve breaking onto private property. The landowner has apparently been very shocked at how many people come and photograph his house and go onto his private land.
I’m happy to say both times in Saksun, I’ve followed the rules. There are plenty of grass-covered homes to photograph here without needing to enter that man’s private property. Just respect the rules, it’s easy.
Funnily enough, these little huts are right by the public toilet. Pretty nice spot!
Island of Kalsoy
12) Go to Trøllanes, do the lighthouse hike and visit Mikladalur
How to get to the island of Kalsoy:
First, you need to take the ferry from Klaksvik to Sydradalur (a village on the island of Kalsoy). The ferry takes card payment on board BUT when we arrived at the harbour, the car ferry had broken down and they were only bringing people over on a smaller boat. This meant we couldn’t bring our car and would have to take the public bus on Kalsoy.
While we were grateful this service even existed, it meant we were at the mercy of its schedule. It was 20KR one way per person and we were so lucky that the ferry operator warned us that it only accepted cash. (We had none. Rookie error, travellers!) He gave us the right cash for the bus trip and charged us for this on our cards. Without his help, we would’ve been stranded on Kalsoy from 9 AM until 3 PM with no money, and nothing to do. (The famous hike everyone does is 17KM away from the ferry stop.)
When you get off the ferry at Syðradalur, you’ll need to hop in your car or get onto a bus and head for the farthest village on the island: Trøllanes. For your reference, the island of Kalsoy has four seaside villages in total and from one end to the other, it’ll be a 30-minute drive. This is one of the reasons you need a vehicle as it may be difficult to hike an entire loop of the island and make it back in time for the ferry.
Once you arrive at Trøllanes, it’ll become pretty clear where you need to go. ‘The only way is up!’ The sporty people in your group will rejoice at this ‘mild walk’ and those who are unfit will begin to wheeze. Where do you think I fit in?
Looking for the Kalsoy lighthouse? This is what the hike to the top looks like. It’s about 1-1.5 hours up but a lot of the path feels like you’re walking directly to Norway. The whole time in my head, I was making these kinds of calculations and wondering when it would end. Still, it absolutely makes this Faroe Islands travel guide.
Getting up to the Kalsoy lighthouse
Your brisk and ‘mild’ walk will certainly be beautiful up there! Bring a packed lunch – there wasn’t anything open on the island when we visited. There was a little kiosk in Trøllanes but the owner was on the mainland for the day so it was closed.
Here is the famous Kalsoy lighthouse that everyone wants to photograph from the other side. Once you reach the lighthouse, you’ll see there are three different directions you can walk to photograph it. I did not do any of these additional walks because a) I was still trying to de-wheeze b) it was sunny and beautiful and I was content just taking in the views and c) even though it was sunny, it was cold and icy and I didn’t want to slip down to my death. Safety first, kids!
My photo below featuring Jack Sutton and the Kalsoy lighthouse.
Next stop: visit Mikladalur
This is a factual travel guide so there isn’t room to do much storytelling. There’s a big story as to how our group ended up in the village of Mikladalur, but that will be the next article I write. For now, let me tell you that this little village is absolutely worth a visit if you do make it to the island of Kalsoy.
Mikladalur is one of my favourite little Faroese villages. It’s so colourful, full of character and it’s steeped with history, too. Look up the Faroese ‘seal woman’ story and you’ll read that it took place right here.
We also saw quite a few ‘hjallur’ drying sheds (see below) which the locals use to make Skerpikjøt, a type of wind-dried mutton which is a delicacy of the Faroe Islands.
Again if you’re hungry by this point, I hope you’ve packed some food – we didn’t see a cafe, bakery or shop here. Nada. Just beautiful sunlight, views from the opposing island of ‘Kunoy’ and some sweetly painted homes.
Island of Kunoy
13) Visit the mini forest in the village of Kunoy
On the island of Kunoy, there’s one village called…. you guessed it: Kunoy! Park your car somewhere nearby and follow the scent of birch and pine. Just kidding – the ‘forest’ looks like this. I’m glad we drove all the way to see it, though, and it’s definitely worth adding to this Faroe Islands travel guide despite its stature. There’s serious debate over why the Faroe Islands has no trees. Some resources state the Atlantic wind is too strong and they’ve all died over time. Others say the Vikings came in and chopped them all down for their own use and they never grew back. Either way, you’re looking at the Faroe Islands’ only forest. And for a brief moment in time, when you’re in there, amongst ‘all that foliage’, you might actually remember you’ve still been in Europe all along.
There’s not actually anything else to do on the island of Kunoy – except the forest and a death-defyingly scary one-lane tunnel which is what nightmares are made of. If you’re driving alone and are not the world’s most confident driver, well I’ll leave that decision up to you. The view of Kunoy from Kalsoy sure is pretty though, as seen in this picture below.
Island of Mykines
14) Puffin colony
A few things need to be mentioned about this island for my Faroe Islands travel guide to hit all the main points. First of all, I went in summer last year specifically to see the puffins and back then it was possible to get a ferry there yourself, hike 9KM through one of the biggest Atlantic Puffin colonies in the world and then head back on the boat at the end of the day. However, when I was last in the Faroe Islands, there was talk that this wouldn’t be allowed for much longer and that in the future, people would need to be paying guides to take them on day trips. This means I cannot confirm in this Faroe Islands travel guide whether it’s still possible for you to try this alone or not. However, I’ve decided to mention this island because that’s literally where you’ll find ‘puffin paradise.’
This time around (end of October/beginning of November) we didn’t bother going as it’s not puffin breeding season. I think you have to check exactly when that is to make sure this is a good decision.
Island of Bordoy
Klaksvik is the town you need to remember for practical reasons. It’s the country’s second largest ‘city’ so it’s where you’ll find lots of groceries, an alcohol store and even a nice cafe called Frida. This is also where you can take many ferries to other, smaller islands. Klaksvik has a beautiful lookout point, too. When you’re approaching from the southern end, drive past the big Bonus supermarket and then follow the road up as far as you can if you want to find this spot.
As you know by now, the Faroe Islands is a sparsely populated place. Last time when I visited in summer, before starting this Faroe Islands travel guide, I counted roughly 25 restaurants in the entire country. Before you spit out whatever you’re currently eating in shock, yes that’s correct. I don’t know if they have more now – in fact, we didn’t really eat out except for Fisk & Kips (fish’n’chips) and a salad in Torshavn.
It just means that you’ll have to be prepared.
1) Bring some protein/nut/hiking bars with you from your own country. This will help when you’re out and about and hungry.
2) The petrol stations have fast food sections with things like fish and chips, burgers and hotdogs.
3) My recommendation is to go grocery shopping and just be ready to cook for dinner and to prepare sandwiches for lunch.
4) You’ll usually find a public toilet in each town and this is usually found near the church, so keep an eye out for that. We often found they were heated, too!
Island of Vidoy
Vidoy is an island connected by a bridge so you can drive there and check it out just to say you’ve been. Although I’ve now been twice, I haven’t really got anything to show you or recommend in this Faroe Islands travel guide. According to my Faroese friend, there’s a fantastic hike on the island but it’s apparently not to be attempted without a guide, especially not in the colder months.
So what did you think?
Oh boy! Did you enjoy reading this Faroe Islands travel guide as much as I enjoyed putting it together? I really believe with this list, you cannot go wrong in the Faroe Islands. I have not hidden one tip from you – these are my absolute favourites.
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If you’re still looking for more reading material, try these:
I published this post two days ago: Faroe Islands: Interesting facts about the country you don’t know
and last year, I published these two. You’ll definitely notice my photography has changed quite a bit since then, though!