Five days in: The Faroe Islands

Five days in: The Faroe Islands

    The island of Tindhólmur sits on the southside of Sørvágsfjørður, on the West coast of Vágar in the Faroe Islands. It has five peaks: Ytsti, Arni, Lítli, Breiði, Bogni (or Farthest, Eagle, Small, Broad, Bent), and from the moment they first appeared on my Instagram horizon, I knew I’d visit the Faroe Islands.

    I knew very little about this remote archipelago, but I was instantly captivated by the language, landscapes, folklore, and culture of the islands. I didn’t know how to pronounce anything, but it still sang to me. Anyway, the good thing is I got some tickets and went about ten months later! Here’s just some of what I did in five days on the islands.

    Day one
    The Faroes are only 360km from the Shetlands, but distances don’t mean much when you’re surrounded by the North Atlantic: the weather always calls the shots. In the summer there are two direct flights from Edinburgh to the Faroes, but as I went in late September, we flew from Gatwick via Stockholm (Easyjet), then onto Vágar, the island’s only airport. Tickets were just under £260 return with a very tight transfer in Stockholm.

    A faff for a European flight, sure, but still only 6 hours door to door. Even landing in the Faroes is a thrill, you fly between valleys and over lakes into a small but well-equipped airport. We then jumped in a cab to our airBnB in the capital, Tórshavn. Our driver took us on the scenic route (after asking first) and we went past what’s honestly the prettiest prison I’ve ever seen - grass roof, stunning view down a fjord, it even had a small crazy golf course, and only two residents at the time! 

    Day two
    The Faroe Islands have a hilariously small population of about 50,000 people, the majority of which live in the capital, Tórshavn. There are limited hotels in the capital (with more on the way), and some are expensive, but there’s plenty of AirBnBs and we chose a simple apartment close to the harbour. We were picked up early on day two for a guided photography tour.

    There are 18 islands on the archipelago, but we focused on Vágar as it has some of the big hitters in terms of things to see: Múlafossur waterfall in the village of Gásadalur, Sørvágsvatn lake and of course Tindhólmur, which is easily viewed from the village of Bøur. I’m not the most skilled photographer, but it’s basically impossible to take a crap picture of these views. At just under £150, the tour wasn’t cheap, but it was fascinating, fun and includes a monster sandwich and a couple of beers on the best picnic bench in the world. 

    Day three
    And on the third day we chilled. Tórshavn is a joy to spend time in. We started with coffee and open sandwiches at Bitin, before strolling to the old town to lust after the tiny, grass-topped 14th-century houses. Next up was a Tiganes, the Faroes' parliament (the islands are a self-governing Danish principality), which is housed in a stunning collection of blood-red timber buildings.

    Lunch was sushi at eticka, which gets fresh fish from the harbour every morning. Then we strolled through Viðarlundin park to the Listasavn Føroya (National Gallery of the Faroe Islands) for a mixture of classic and contemporary art from the islands. In the evening, it was the greatest fish soup I’ve ever had at Barbara Fishhouse. Eating and drinking in the Faroes isn't very cheap unless you self-cater, but neither is it as eye-watering as some other Nordic countries. 

    Day four
    Putting on a dad hat for a moment, the quality of roads in the Faroe Islands is amazing. Seriously. Combine that with the fact there’s basically no one on the roads and we felt confident in hiring a car. I even asked if we needed a 4X4 and the nice man just laughed. So on day three we piled into our tiny hair-dryer and went exploring. It is honestly so easy to get around.

    The islands are connected by a series of epic sea tunnels and bridges, and we spent a happy day exploring the villages of Gjogv, Saksun and Tjørnuvík. In the latter we were invited in for waffles and coffee, and even paddled in the sea. Faroese weather is extremely changeable, so come prepared with decent layers and a good waterproof. We got everything from blazing sun, to freezing wind and dense fog, all in the same day sometimes.

    Day five
    Everything works extremely well in the Faroe Islands. On our last day, we’d booked a boat trip to the legendary Vestmanna bird cliffs. Having returned the hire car, we needed to get to the port in Vestmanna about 40km away. Luckily, in the Faroe Islands, there are just free buses(!) that will take you all over the islands. Amazing.

    The journey to Vestmanna is stunning, then you pile on a boat with lots of other tourists and take a two-hour cruise into another world. It’s hard to describe the scale of the cliffs here, but seeing the clouds roll off the edge like ghostly waterfalls is something I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. The Faroe Isles are still pretty quiet, tourist wise. It has a busy summer, and the winter is a bit intense to visit. But it’s ideal for Autumn and Spring. I think it might just be my favourite place in the world. 

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