With its high season from June to August, summer in the Faroe Islands is a marked contrast to the rest of the year.
There’s daylight for up to 22 hours, and locals pour into the streets to enjoy food festivals, outdoor concerts and an annual regatta.
“Winters are dark, stormy, and cosy,” explains Levi Hanssen, a manager at Visit Faroe Islands. “People spend a lot of time eating traditional Faroese food, such as fermented lamb and fermented fish. So it depends what you’re looking for.”
The Faroe Islands are made up of 18 islands, 17 of which are inhabited. (The uninhabited one is privately owned, and accessible by private boat). It’s an independent nation under Denmark, with a unique culture of its own.
The capital city is Tórshavn, and with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants, it’s the smallest capital in Europe (but in true European fashion, it has its own symphony orchestra). It’s likely the most rugged “city” you’ve ever seen: moody clouds, a perpetually churning sea, steep grassy hills, and rocky coastal cliffs.
As a result of its geography, weather conditions on the Faroe Islands can be fickle. It’s possible to experience all four seasons in one day, so the advice is to dress in layers and pack a variety of clothing.
The Faroes remain a relatively undiscovered corner of Europe, mainly because they’re perceived as being too far away from everything. In fact, they’re just an hour flight from Reykjavik and a two-hour flight from Copenhagen. Not so hard to reach, after all.
Once you’re there, choosing between all the different islands and activities can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on what not to miss for your next vacation to the Faroe Islands.
Peaks, puffins and an old lighthouse
Of the many scenic hikes throughout the islands, several call for special attention. On the island of Eysturoy, there’s a nearly 3,000-foot peak named Slættaratindur. Supposedly, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Iceland.
Meanwhile, Mykines (population: 10) makes for an excellent day trip. Here, you’ll hike past a bustling puffin colony out to a beautiful lighthouse that’s framed against cliffs.
Take a helicopter “taxi”
You can get from one island to the other easily enough with subsea tunnels, bridges, and ferries, but by far the most exciting commute in the Faroes is by helicopter. That’s right: Locals actually get around by helicopter in the Faroes.
Rides are subsidized by the government, making them relatively cheap at $25 per ticket. The Faroes, which were originally formed by volcanic activity 30 million years ago, make for some heart-stopping aerial views.
A helpful seasonal timetable allows travelers to plan their helicopter ride between islands, but be warned that rides are only offered on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and all are one-way.
Try the langoustine
“Faroese gastronomy has taken a front seat in recent years, with many people traveling to the Faroes to taste food they’ve never tried before,” said Hanssen.
He cites an example from the local dining scene: Koks, a minimalist dining room in Tórshavn specializing in native seafood, like pine-smoked langoustine. Located on the southern tip of Streymoy Island, it’s easy to see why gastronomy, coupled with spectacular ocean views, helped this spot win the Faroes’ first-ever Michelin star in 2017.
Step into Europe’s oldest wooden house
Kikjubøargar∂ur, a working farm technically owned by the Faroese government, has been inhabited by the same family for 17 generations. On this property — which is also open to the public as a museum — a turf-covered farmhouse known as a roykstova, or “smoking room”, dates back to the 11th century, earning it the title of Europe’s oldest wooden dwelling that’s still in use.
In medieval times, the Diocese of the Faroe Islands lived here, and today remains a popular tourist attraction, as well as a treasured piece of Faroese history.
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