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5 Days in the Faroe Islands: The Ultimate Itinerary

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1 month ago

Sitting in the North Sea between the United Kingdom and Iceland, the Faroe Islands somehow pass under the radar of most travelers. They really shouldn’t though. This archipelago of 18 islands (16 of which are inhabited) plus about 700 islets, skerries and freestanding cliffs, is full of dramatic landscapes, little villages, waterfalls, puffins and, ultimately, surprises.

Despite being an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands are much closer to Scotland. The nearest inhabited land is Foula, the most remote of the Shetland Islands. Mainland Scotland is 200 miles to the south east and Iceland is 280 miles north west of the Faroes.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting the Faroe Islands, you are in for a treat. Sweeping moorland, mystical fjords, larger-than-life mountains and a charming yet surprisingly lively capital city lay in store. Here’s our ultimate 5-day itinerary for the Faroe Islands.

When to visit the Faroe Islands

At 62° North, just 4° south of the Arctic Circle, it’s safe to say that the Faroe Islands aren’t known for sunshine and balmy weather. Even during the peak of summer, average temperatures hover around 9°C (48°F) which is probably a bit chillier than you’d otherwise want for a summer holiday.

Through autumn and winter (October to March), the weather in Faroe generally involves rain, snow and some incredibly strong winds. On the shortest day, Faroe gets just five hours of daylight. But that doesn’t mean visiting Faroe in winter is necessarily a bad choice. The snow-covered mountains are a spectacular sight and there’s a possibility of seeing the Northern Lights.

During spring and summer (April to September), the sun occasionally manages to break through the clouds. It still rains, it’s still windy, but it’s warmer and the days are long. By long, I mean really long: on it’s longest day, Faroe sees over 19 hours of daylight. It goes without saying, if you are visiting in summer, there is less risk of travel disruption due to bad weather.

We consider the ultimate time to visit Faroe to be around May and September when the weather is good (by Faroese standards), but the number of tourists is lower.

Where to stay in the Faroe Islands

Most visitors to Faroe stay in Torshavn, the island’s capital. Most of the larger, more comfortable hotels are located here, as are all the local services. From Torshavn, almost anywhere in the Faroe Islands is easily accessible for a day trip – thanks to an excellent public transport system and a developed road network.

As with many remote places and Scandinavia in general, it’s no surprise that accomodation in the Faroe Islands is on the pricey side. Full-service hotels tend to average around 1700 DKK (US$250, £200) per night. A room in a smaller guesthouse usually costs around half this.

If you are looking for an excellent higher-end option, Hotel Djurhus offers an onsite gym and complimentary breakfast served every morning.

For a comfortable option which is reasonably priced, I recommend Hotel Torshavn (complimentary breakfast, excellent restaurant). More budget conscious travelers will want to check out the 62N Hotel which has clean, basic, modern rooms with private bathrooms or slightly cheaper rooms with shared facilities.

Getting to the Faroe Islands

By plane

The quickest and easiest way to get to the Faroe Islands is by air. There is only one airport (Airport Code: FAE), located on the island of Vagar, 29 miles outside of Torshavn. Atlantic Airways (the Faroe Islands’s own airline) operates the majority of flights to Faroe.

Atlantic Airways runs year-round services to Denmark, Iceland and Norway with a number of seasonal destinations across Europe. Icelandair, SAS and Wideroe also provide a limited service to Faroe.

In June 2024, Atlantic Airways will launch a twice-weekly service between London Gatwick and Vagar, operating on Tuesdays and Saturdays. With this addition to their existing twice-weekly flights to Edinburgh, getting to Faroe from the UK has never been easier.

For visitors coming from North America, connecting through Reykjavik, Iceland is often the fastest option. This way you avoid backtracking and flying right over the Faroe Islands to the UK or Denmark to change planes.

Atlantic Airways operated flights from New York to Faroe in summer 2023, but Atlantic have not yet announced flights from New York to Faroe in summer 2024.

By boat

If you’re a fan of slow travel, the alternative to flying to Faroe is to travel across the North Sea by ferry. Smyril Line operate between Hirtshals in Denmark and Seydisfjordur, Iceland via Torshavn. The crossing takes around 29 hours from Hirtshals (40 hours during winter) and around 14 hours from Seydisfjordur (20 hours during winter).

Travel tip: You’ll want to double check with Smyril Line as crossing schedules and frequencies can vary by season.

Getting around the Faroe Islands

Unquestionably, the best way to explore Faroe is to hire a car and do so at your own pace. Whilst public transport is excellent, there are always some hidden spots you’ll only discover with your own wheels.

Tunnels connect most islands, with car ferries running to those without. You can rent a car at Vagar Airport or in Torshavn. We recommend that you book as far ahead as possible – particularly during summer.

If you prefer not to drive yourself, Faroe has a fantastic bus network. All services are operated by state-owned SSL, who are also responsible for inter-island ferries. Their website has details of all routes and timetables and is kept updated with any changes and disruptions. Tickets for buses and ferries can be purchased on board using cash (Danish or Faroese Kroner) or card.

Travel tip: For the best value, purchase a Travel Card.

Travel Cards come with 4 or 7 days unlimited travel on all buses and ferries within Faroe (excluding the ferry to Mykines). Buy yours on any bus or ferry, from Torshavn bus terminal or Vagar Airport Information Centre.

Our 5 Day Faroe Island itinerary

Day 1

If you’re coming from Europe, there is a good chance you’ll arrive in the Faroe Islands in the afternoon. This is ideal as you can collect your rental car or hop on the airport bus and head straight to Torshavn for a lovely afternoon of exploring.

The bus terminal is in the center of Torshavn, right next to the ferry terminal. It’s a small town (world’s smallest capital if you don’t count Vatican City) and pretty much every hotel is within walking distance.

On your first evening, head out for a traditional Faroese meal at Barbara Fish House. One street back from the harbor, Barbara Fish House is set in a typical Faroese wooden building with a grass roof and serves some of the freshest fish you’ll find anywhere in the world. You’ll want to make sure you order their traditional Faroese fish soup.

Day 2

If your Faroe Islands hotel doesn’t include breakfast, head to Paname Café on Vagilo which sells very satisfying (and freshly baked) croissants and hot chocolates.

Spend the morning exploring Torshavn. With a population of just 14,000, the Faroese capital has a welcoming, small-town feel. Amble around historic Tinganes, the oldest district in Torshavn which was home to the Viking parliament during Norse rule in the 9th century. Although the Danish parliament is in the newer part of town, Faroe’s home-rule government still sits in Tinganes.

Next, head to Torshavn Cathedral. Built in the 1780s, this small, whitewashed church was designed to hold the entire population of the town (then around 600).

In the afternoon, take a ferry across to Nolsoy, 4km east of Torshavn. Mak sure to check the timetable before heading to the terminal, though generally ferries run up to seven times per day. We recommend that you take the 12:30 pm departure from Torshavn (which runs daily). This gives you around four hours to explore Nolsoy before catching the 4:50 pm return ferry (also daily).

Tiny Nolsoy, with a population of 230, makes Torshavn feel like a megalopolis. If peace and quiet are your thing, you’ll instantly fall in love with Nolsoy.

The best way to see the iconic Faroe Island puffins is by joining a short boat ride around Nolsoy island (you’ll want to make sure you reserve in advance).

Maggie’s Café is the only restaurant on Nolsoy and serves some of the best fish & chips in the Faroe Islands. Better still, Maggie’s prices are very modest by Faroese standards.

The best way to explore Nolsoy is to wander aimlessly. If you’ve rented a car, there’s no need to bring it over. The visitor information center by the harbor (when you arrive) provides maps and tips on places to see. Make sure you nip into Handmade in Nolsoy to pick up some locally made knitwear. And before heading back to the ferry, stop off at the island shop, Matvorubudin, which doubles as a café and bar.

Day 3

This morning, head for the extremely picturesque village of Tjornuvik, at the very north of the main island. In your own car, the drive takes around an hour – but you’ll probably want to stop for photos on the way.

If traveling by bus, you’ll need to take line 400 to Oyrarbakki and change to line 202 to reach Tjornuvik, but the journey only takes around an hour and a half.

Tjornuvik’s biggest draw is its sandy beach which has become a hotspot for surfers in recent years. Overlooking the beach, you’ll see two huge rocks, known as Risin and Kellingin. According to Faroese legends, Risin, a giant, and Kellingin, a witch, tried to drag the Faroe Islands to Iceland. Unfortunately for them, the sun came out and they were turned to stone.

If you have your own transport, take a detour on the drive back to Torshavn and visit the village of Saksun. Surrounded by towering mountains, Saksun is as secluded as it gets. Make a quick stop at the Duvugardar Museum which tells the recent history of life for local farmers. There’s a small café on site in case you need something to tide you over.

Local tip: Walk along the inlet from Saksun village to get the best views of Pollurin Waterfall.

Back in Torshavn, we recommend having dinner at Aarstova, another traditional Faroese spot renowned for its delicious local lamb, a Faroese staple.

Day 4

Today’s destination is two islands away, but getting there couldn’t be easier. The town of Klaksvik is just 45 minutes by car or 90 minutes by bus (line 400, up to 11 journeys per day). The largest town on the island of Bordoy, Klaksvik was initially a Viking-era town but grew into a commercial center over the last hundred years.

You’ll want to spend a few hours wandering the streets of Klasvik – or better yet, grab an audio tour to get under the skin of this historic town. Klaksvik is home to Gamla Seglhusid, one of the best art galleries in the Faroe Islands showcasing the work of Faroese artists. The town’s church, Christianskirkjan, is also worth a visit with its grand Faroese architecture.

For lunch, Angus Steakhouse is the best restaurant in town, with fresh local seafood on the menu (despite what the name might suggest) alongside prime cuts.

This afternoon, take a ferry across to Kalsoy, just 20 minutes away. Hike along the west coast to enjoy breath-taking views of the island’s 13 peaks and countless waterfalls. Be aware that there is a hiking fee, and you want to be conscious of your timing – you need to make sure you catch the last boat back or you can find yourself stuck on the island overnight. If you want a longer hike, get to Kalsoy in the morning.

It’s possible take your car, but it’s not really necessary. There’s only one road on Kalsoy and car space is very limited on the ferry; so if you do want to bring your car, make sure to book a car space in advance.

Before leaving Klaksvik, try a local beer or two (if you aren’t driving) from Foroya Bjor. The Faroe Island’s best brewery has been brewing in Klaksvik since 1888 and is open for tastings. Foroya is also a unique spot for souvenir shopping – what better reminder of the Faroe Islands than a few bottles of local beer?

The best way to spend your final night in Torshavn is at Sirkus, a lively bar and restaurant by the harbor. Spread over three floors, Sirkus somehow caters to every taste in a very small space. The ground floor is given over to a craft brew bar, the middle floor has an excellent bar which is a favorite with locals and visitors whilst the top floor hosts an unpretentious restaurant, serving up an international menu.

Day 5

Sadly, it’s time to bid a fond farewell to one of the world’s best kept secrets. Chances are your flight will be a morning one, but if you’ve planned carefully and booked an afternoon flight out, you’ll have time for some final sightseeing.

Either way, head to Vagar early because there is far more to this island than just the airport. The scenic town of Sorvagur is a great place to stop and take in the views. You also won’t want to miss the magnificent and extremely dramatic setting of the Múlafossur Waterfall. If you have time for lunch before getting to the airport, Cafe Pollastova serves fresh seafood and sandwiches.

History buffs will be excited to explore the Faroe Islands War Museum. It’s housed in a Second World War British command center right opposite the airport terminal. Given the islands’ strategic, and hidden away, location, the Faroe Islands played a significant role in World War II and was home to over 8,000 British soldiers.

Practical information about visiting the Faroe Islands

What currency is used on the Faroe Islands?

The Faroese Krona is directly tied to the Danish Krona. You can use both currencies throughout the Faroe Islands and, as a tourist, Danish Krona is the best option as they’re easier to change outside of Faroe.

You’ll be able to find ATMs in all major towns and credit cards are accepted virtually everywhere. American Express cards are less widely accepted, so it’s always worth bringing a back up.

How do they drive in the Faroe Islands?

In the Faroe Islands, they drive on the right. Most nationalities require a 1968 International Driving Permit to drive in the Faroe Islands alongside a valid international license. But we always recommend you double check requirements with your rental car company.

Do you need a Schengen visa to visit the Faroe Islands

Despite being a Danish territory, Faroe is not part of the Schengen zone, so a Schengen visa will not allow entry to the Faroe Islands. Check with your nearest Danish Embassy to find out if you require a visa for the Faroe Islands (British, American, Canadian and EU citizens qualify for visa-free entry).

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