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Located in the Northern Atlantic, this mountainous island escape is an ideal destination that caters to varied interests. In addition to being a paradise for bird lovers and adventure seekers, those who relish cultural experiences will not be disappointed and ‘foodies’ too can savor culinary delights.
Comprising 18 volcanic islands, the Faroe Islands are a self-governing part of Denmark and they are famous for their dramatic and majestic views. These wonders of nature are moreover within reach as the islands are readily accessible from mainland Europe; 3 flights operate daily out of Copenhagen to Tórshavn, the capital city.
When to visit…
The best time of year to visit the Faroe Islands is during the summer months between June and August. That is when the famously long days of up to 19 hours of daylight are experienced. The weather is also more stable at this time, but having said that, this part of the world is also renowned for unpredictable and abrupt changes in weather, hence preparedness is recommended so that you are not caught off-guard.
For Bird Watchers
Puffins usually nest early in summer, therefore for a close encounter with this colorful bird, hop onto a ferry and head to the remote island of Mykines. The tourist season for a visit to the island lasts between 01st May and 31st August. Most visitors arrange for a full days’ tour to maximize on the experience of being at one with nature absorbing the magical surroundings.
Your adventure begins on the ferry ride as you catch sight of the dramatic cliffs of Mykines. The local name for the cliffs means ‘the Stone Forest’ as they resemble a forest of Spruce trees.
When you arrive, savor the unforgettable experience of strolling through colonies of Puffins as you take a hike to the lighthouse on the island. This island is the nesting ground for thousands of Puffins who do not mind humans walking nearby.
Vestmanna Bird Cliffs
A ‘must-see’ for bird watchers are the bird-cliffs north of Vestmanna, viewed from the vantage point of a boat. Vestmanna is famous for its towering cliffs and grottoes that offer an awe-inspiring spectacle of fascinating rock formations.
Do not forget to carry your binoculars, because as you sail through the narrow gorges, you have an opportunity to view the scores of seabirds found here, including razorbills, fulmars, and guillemots. If you take a glance up the cliffs, you may be able to spot sheep grazing too.
In Search of Culture
Due to their remote location, the Faroe Islands have been largely untouched by the shifting trends of mainland Europe making it a unique destination to visit.
Traditionally, Scandinavian homes were constructed with a green roof covered with sod for insulation and to provide stability to the structure of the building. These roofs are not only colorful, but they are also durable.
If you have a passion for culture, visit the turf houses found at Á Reyni, in the old section of Tórshavn and there you will see a charming collection of houses that are still inhabited. You will be interested to know that government offices are also housed in a collection of turf houses at Tinganes, not far away from Á Reyni.
For novelty sake, you may choose to stay in a turf-roofed hotel – such as the Hotel Føroyar in Tórshavn. The village of Bøur too has a charming profusion of turf houses, many of which are newly built but in the old tradition.
Faroese cuisine reflects their culture and the environment that surrounds them as it incorporates ingredients that are readily available on their land and sea, and that were traditionally incorporated in the menus of bygone days.
Among these ingredients are the Faroese lamb and seafood such as herring, plaice, and salmon. Traditionally, meat was preserved through a drying process, some of it undergoing fermentation; vegetables did not feature prominently as they were hard to come by.
A visit to Koks is a must for foodies who wish to explore traditional cuisine, as it offers an opportunity to savor genuine Faroese dishes, a gastronomical experience not to be missed.
Lovers of seafood will want to pay a visit to Barbara Fishhouse located in a historical building down by the harbor in the old town of Tórshavn. Operating from a turf-roofed house, this restaurant offers delicious fish and seafood dishes that will tantalize your taste buds.
The natural beauty and terrain of the Faroe Islands render them an idyllic destination for adventure sports. The islands offer activities such as mountain biking, paragliding, hiking, and rock climbing.
Wherever you are on the islands, you are close to the ocean, hence logically the Faroes is an important destination for sport fishing. Countless possibilities are available for the sport enabling you to fish at spectacular locations, on rivers, lakes, or out at sea. The long days of sunshine in the summer are a plus making possible long, satisfying fishing expeditions.
If you prefer to remain on terre ferme, a multitude of hiking routes are open for exploration. A fascinating guided tour is available from Tórshavn to the village of Kirkjubøur which encompasses places of historical interest and striking scenery along the way. This 6-hour hike takes you over grassy and rocky terrain and is inclusive of a packed lunch.
Alternatively, cycling is a great way to discover the treasures of the islands. For the less experienced, a 2-and-a-half-hour tour is available that gets you acquainted with the area around the capital Tórshavn and the nearby valley of Havnardalur where the locals go for walks.
A 3-hour-long tour takes you from Tórshavn to Norðradalsskarð, 225 meters above sea level offering majestic views of the hilly terrain.
The Faroe Islands have attractions to interest and capture the heart. They are relatively undiscovered, hence there is no time like the present to plan a visit. The people are hospitable and friendly; therefore, you can be assured of a warm welcome.