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Visit the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a tiny archipelago located in the Atlantic ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle. If you look at the map you’ll see them around half-way between Norway and Iceland. They are an autonomous territory of Denmark and comprise 18 main islands with a plethora of smaller islands, all of which are stunningly beautiful. A fly-drive journey is the perfect way to visit the Faroe islands.

The Faroe Islands are a tiny archipelago located in the Atlantic ocean, just south of the Arctic Circle. If you look at the map you’ll see them around half-way between Norway and Iceland. They are an autonomous territory of Denmark and comprise 18 main islands with a plethora of smaller islands, all of which are stunningly beautiful. A fly-drive journey is the perfect way to visit the Faroe islands.

Visit the Faroe Islands

The Faroes are ideal for a road trip as most of the main islands are connected via bridges or tunnels and you can explore the spectacular scenery at your leisure. The roads are well made, usually clear of traffic and the distances between locations are relatively short. You can hire a car at the airport on Vágar. It’s definitely worth booking well in advance to get the best rates. Bear in mind that some of the driving can be a little challenging occasionally. There are a lot of single-track roads, so be aware of how to use passing places – if you see another car heading in the opposite direction towards you, pull over to the passing place on the right.

If there is a passing place on your left, keep right and let the oncoming traffic use the passing place. (It’s similar to driving in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, albeit on the other side of the road.) The Faroes also have an awful lot of sheep, some 70,000, more than the human population of the islands, and many of them roam freely. They can be a little skittish, so slow down if there are any grazing close to the road. If you do hit a sheep you have to inform the police by law. Keep your car’s headlights on all the time (many cars will automatically switch on the lights when you turn the ignition but check that they will do this).

Tunnels and Bridges

The major tunnels linking the islands are large and well-lit but probably the scariest driving experience we’ve ever had was going through single-track tunnels which link the northernmost islands. These do have passing places every 100m or so but nevertheless they are mildly terrifying, especially when you aren’t sure where the passing places actually are and the locals are happy to zoom through the tunnels. Seeing oncoming headlights in a narrow tunnel when you don’t know when to pass is pretty scary so take care when driving through them.

We developed a sneaky trick of parking temporarily by the entrance until a local driver entered the tunnel and then we followed them, which helped a little bit. The tunnels are undoubtedly the most likely places where you might have an accident. It’s advisable to check whether it’s worth buying additional insurance – have a close look at the terms and conditions of the car hire company. Also, there are tolls for some of the tunnels; our car hire company paid the tolls on our behalf and recharged them to our credit card at the end of the trip, which was very convenient.

Terrifying tunnels aside, driving around the Faroes is actually a very pleasurable and practical way to discover these gorgeous islands. Pretty much everyone starts on Vágar as that’s where the airport is located; we flew in using Atlantic Airways, the Faroese airline. We undertook a seven day itinerary which offered complete flexibility to explore and enabled us to do a lot of walking. There were also a number of boat trips available in various locations. It’s worth noting that the weather can change in an instant – from mild temperatures in the sunshine to rain lashing down and impenetrable fog. But that’s all part of the fun. Make sure you bring clothing for all weathers. We found that a pair of sturdy walking shoes and raincoats were essential and multiple layers of clothing worked very well.

Vágar to Streymoy

After leaving Vágar we headed to Streymoy via the first sub-sea tunnel, a gentle introduction as it was wide and well-lit. It’s also deep, reaching 105m below sea-level. We headed to Vestmanna as we had pre-booked a boat trip to the bird cliffs. It’s the most popular excursion on the islands and well worth undertaking. There are lots of bird viewing opportunities and puffins are a common sighting.

The boat sails very close to the cliffs and around some of the stacks so you are issued with a hard hat, just in case a bit of cliff decides to fall off while you are underneath it. (You’d have to be very unlucky.)

visit the faroe islands

There is also a bizarre museum located close to the harbour which shows some of the history of the Faroes, complete with scary mannequins, while you wait for your boat.

Visit the Faroe Islands – Gjógv

We then travelled to the beautiful rural Gjógv, a delightful rural town. Our hotel offered a cultural evening with local food and the chance to take part in a Faroese traditional chain dance.

visit the faroe islands
Visit the Faroe Islands

You can go walking on the cliff-tops and view the local puffins.

Faroe Islands puffin

On the way you can see some famous rock formations – this is the Giant, a stack just off the coast. We didn’t get quite far enough around the headland to see its companion, the Hag.

Saksun was a beautiful place to visit. It’s a village is surrounded by steep mountains and lake with a sandy beach leading to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a lovely walk along the beach out to the sea if the tide is out, even though the weather wasn’t really on our side that day.

From Gjógv to Klaksvík

We then travelled to Klaksvík, the islands’ second largest city after its capital, Tórshavn.

The tunnel from Oyndarfjørður to the island Borðoy (on which Klaksvik is located) had some amazing light installations created by Tróndur Patursson at its lowest point beneath the sea.

Klaksvík claims to have the most beautiful church on the Faroe islands and it’s difficult to disagree with this sentiment. We stayed in the city and used it as a base to explore the northern islands.

It was during this time exploring the northern islands that we discovered those terrifying single track tunnels. But it was worth it for the scenery: from Viðoy you could see some wonderful views of Svínoy and Fugloy

Visit the Faroe Islands

Viðoy has some of the archipelago’s most spectacular mountains.

Visit the Faroe Islands – Klaksvík to Tórshavn

And then we drove to Tórshavn which is, apparently, the smallest, cosiest capital in the world. Certainly according to the locals. It’s a great city to visit, with lots of history, interesting architecture, cool art galleries, fascinating museums and some really good restaurants. Because it’s compact it’s very easy to park the car at your hotel and walk to all the sights in the city.

Tinganes is the site of one of the world’s oldest parliaments, its name means ‘parliament jetty,’ and it was where the Viking parliament first started meeting in around 900 CE. 

Fort Skansin was built in 1580 by Magnus Heinason on a hill close to the city in order to protect against pirate raids of the town.

A day trip aboard the Schooner Norðlýsið made for a very enjoyable excursion.

Faroe Tórshavn boat

There’s a choice of a visit to either Hestur or Nólsoy and sometimes you can experience a concert in a cave.

Our trip took us to Nólsoy; we visited some of the caves in a dinghy (there wasn’t a concert that day so a man in another dinghy blew a few tunes on a traditional horn so that we could get an idea of the impressive acoustics) and then we made a brief landing on the island itself.

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18 Comments

  1. Great post, Mitch. I always knew that I wanted to visit the Faroe Islands, they never fail to amaze me when I see photos of them. Plenty of surprises and new infos from your post though. I would’ve guessed due to their remoteness that there are only a few dirt tracks. How cool that many islands are connected through (albeit terrifying) tunnels and bridges. A road trip certainly sounds like a fabulous idea. I definitely want to do a whole lot of hiking and perhaps a bit of climbing too.. 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Stefan. Can definitely recommend a fly-drive (single track tunnels aside – eek!). The islands are absolutely perfect for hiking – especially in such beautiful landscapes. And the climbing would be awesome!

  2. The Faroe Islands have always been on my list but I’ve never known how to get around the islands – now I know. Car seems so logical now that I’ve read your post. My thoughts were how to get from island to island and I never knew of these inter island tunnels that make exploring them all so easy. Love the trick of following a local through the tunnels so you know what to do – great idea
    The scenery looks very wild and remote and reminds me a lot of Iceland.
    Your list of places to see and things to do has given me lots of ideas for when I get there.

    • Thank you. The fly-drive was absolutely the best way to see the islands (terrifying tunnels aside) – you can explore at leisure. The scenery is very wild and you can experience four seasons in a day but we had such fun visiting these beautiful islands.

  3. I had no idea that was where the Faroe Islands were. I don’t know that I ever really thought about it much before for that matter! Lovely island, though. What was the theme of that museum? Because it looks like something out of a horror film.

    • Thank you. They really are beautiful islands and we so enjoyed exploring them. The museum was depicting local history and legends but many of the displays were unbelievably scary!

  4. I’ve never thought to visit the Faroe Islands and didn’t really know anything until your post. I’m sold. Also, the roads with the sheep reminds me of Wales as we have guidelines for driving near the sheep haha.

    • Thank you so much. We have driven in some of the more remote parts of Wales in the past and were always very wary of sheep, so it was good practice for driving in the Faroes! So glad you liked the islands!

  5. We loved Denmark, love road trips and the wife loves puffins so this sounds like a great confluence of many likes. Did you fly through Iceland? Great post and great photos as usual.

    • Thank you so much. We are certain that the Faroes would definitely appeal based on the things you like. We got so close to the puffins on our walk. We actually flew in from the UK. The Faroese airline, Atlantic Airways, offered direct flights from Edinburgh, so we flew up to Scotland and made the connection there.

  6. The Faroe Islands have been on my radar for a while so I am utterly jealous of your trip! I was in the planning stage a trip just about the time Covid hit. Your pictures are stunning and I am more determined than ever to get there. I’m not sure which is more terrifying though, the tunnels or those mannequins!

    • Thank you! Really hope you make it there – you will not be disappointed. We absolutely loved visiting the islands, they are very special. You have a very good point about those mannequins!

    • Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, we love puffins too. It was amazing to be able to get so close to them along the clifftops. We definitely recommend a visit!

    • Thank you – the islands really are stunningly beautiful. And it was wonderful to get so close to the puffins on the cliff-top.

    • Hee! Those mannequins really were something else! The Faroes are a wonderful place to visit, highly recommended. And the puffins were just adorable!

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