When people ask if the Faroe Islands are worth visiting, we say something like, “yes, absolutely” or “we loved our trip to the Faroe Islands!” But what is it that makes the Faroe Islands so special?
We fell in love with the Faroe Islands’ untouched nature, wild landscapes, traditional culture, friendly people, and much, much more. Over ten days in October, we explored as much of the Faroe Islands as we could reach and fully surrendered to mother nature – an experience we’ll never forget!
These are our 15 reasons the Faroe Islands are worth visiting.
1. Road Tripping
The Faroe Islands are remote and forbidding in places, but they are surprisingly easy to navigate by car. The infrastructure of the islands is efficient and well maintained. Tunnels and bridges connect the islands and new roads cut through mountains making the Faroe Islands easy to get around. Rent a car from the airport or the capital and once you have your own four wheels, you can explore the farthest reaches of this magical land.
2. Cheap helicopter flights
Believe it or not, a popular way to get around the Faroe Islands is by helicopter! Atlantic Airways offer a helicopter round trip to all the must-see spots on the island of Vágar. You can spend around 30 minutes flying above sights such as Mykines Island, Lake Fjallavatn, Mykines, and the famous Bøssdalafossur waterfall.
This airline also offers helicopter taxis to some of the more remote islands of the Faroe Islands. This service was intended for locals and it is heavily subsidized by the government so the price is low. These trips can only be booked one-way, no more than seven days before departure.
3. The floating lake
Lake Sørvágsvatn is one of the Faroe Islands’ greatest wonders. The lake appears to sit hundreds of feet above the ocean, tilting towards it but only connected by one small waterfall. It’s an optical illusion, of course. The lake is only around 90 feet above sea level and is contained in a deep depression.
The floating lake is also the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, more than three times larger than the closest competitor, Lake Fjallavatn, and is well worth visiting. It’s quite easy to get to Lake Sørvágsvatn. A sea tunnel connects the island of Vágar to the capital city, Tórshavn on the island of Streymoy. A drive of around 45 minutes. Once you get to Sandavágur village, you’ll need to hike around 1.5 hours from the road to the cliff edge.
The Faroe Islands has a total population of 50,000 and sheep outnumber humans by around 2:1. So, either there are tons of sheep or very few people! 17 out of 18 of the Faroe Islands are inhabited but there are hundreds of more islets inhabited only by wildlife. Even the Faroe Island’s capital city Tórshavn – named after the Norse god of thunder, Thor – is quiet, with around 20,000 inhabitants. And while more travelers are seeing the benefits of visiting this remote archipelago, tourist numbers are still very low compared to nearby Iceland.
If you want to have incredible experiences in nature without another soul in sight, the Faroe Islands is the place to do it.
Another reason the Faroe Islands is high on many travelers’ wish lists is the local food culture. A remote rocky archipelago in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands doesn’t benefit from varied and abundant agriculture. But what it does have is uniqueness. Faroese cuisine developed out of a need to preserve meat and seafood. Local dishes favor seasonal seafood, lamb, and root vegetables. The cuisine’s signature flavor, ræst, is the result of slow outdoor fermentation that creates a distinctive smokey-umami taste.
The Faroe Islands is known in the international restaurant scene. Building on the success of other nordic chefs by turning local delicacies into 5-star plates, the Faroe Islands even has a 2 Michelin-star restaurant, KOK.
At times compared to Iceland, the Scottish Highlands, and Middle Earth, in truth, the Faroe Islands are like nowhere else. The Faroe Islands are one of the best travel destinations for hikers. Shimmering fjords, green peaks and towering cliffs, no matter which hiking trail you choose, the scenery will take your breath away.
Popular hiking trails include a pilgrimage to Kallur Lighthouse on Kalsoy Island, a remote cliff walk on Mykines to see nesting puffins, and the steep peaks of Eysturoy. A hiking guide published on the Faroe Islands’ tourism website lists 23 hiking routes but there are countless trails for avid hikers to try.
7. Music festivals
To the traditional culture of the Faroe Islands, music is as important as fishing, or knitted sweaters! Like its Nordic neighbors, the Faroe Islands has a rich storytelling tradition and its folk music is mostly fiddle and voice. Today, the Faroe Islands music scene attracts artists from all over the world to collaborate and perform. The Faroe Islands also hosts several music festivals each year.
One of these festivals is the three-day G! Festival that takes place in July in the village of Syðrugøta on the island of Eysturoy. Festival-goers can dance their hearts out on Syðrugøta beach with a view of the ocean and grass-topped mountains.
We love kayaking and have explored many places by kayak, including a recent trip to the dutch windmills at Kinderdijk. Kayaking in the Faroe Islands is a more adventurous experience than paddling the lazy waterways of the Netherlands. In the Faroe Islands you can kayak in lakes and rivers or get out into the open sea.
You can choose to rent a kayak and set out on your own or join a guided tour. We recommend joining a group so you can stay safe and concentrate on enjoying the tour. This website offers a great list of Faroe Island kayak tours to choose from.
9. Northern Lights
You’re most likely to see the northern lights in the Faroe Islands in winter, between November and February. However, we were incredibly lucky to see the northern lights more than once during our trip in October.
Seeing the colorful, dancing lights illuminate the black night sky is an experience you will never forget. Spotting the northern lights can never be guaranteed but if you keep an eye on the weather forecast you can maximize your chances. Look out for nights when the sky is expected to be clear and the temperature is below freezing.
The puffin holds a special place in the hearts of bird-lovers. There’s something endearing about this little clown-faced bird that swoops through the air but stumbles on dry land. The small island of Mykines in the Faroe Islands is one of the best places in the world to see puffins in the wild.
The Faroe Islands are also popular breeding grounds for fulmars, gannets, black-legged kittiwake, guillemot, storm petrel, and countless rare migrating species. A bird-watching tour is a great way for beginners to get straight to the best viewing sites. However, with 550,000 pairs of puffin breeding on these islands and extremely rare species turning up in villager’s gardens, bird spotting on the Faroe Islands isn’t too difficult!
11. Knitted sweaters
As you can tell from our adventure gear reviews, we’re big fans of practical and durable outdoor clothing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate a hand-knit woolly sweater!
Knitting is a huge part of Faroese culture and has been for centuries. As we mentioned earlier, the Faroe Islands have a large population of sheep and Faroese wool is put to good use making hand-knit sweaters that are the height of Nordic chic! Shopping in the Faroe Islands isn’t all wool, though. You can also buy handmade glassware, unusual alcohol, leatherware, and other great souvenirs in Tórshavn.
12. Unique Architecture
Even an amateur phone photographer can take stunning photographs of the Faroe Islands. This is partly because of the Faroe Islands’ unique architecture. From the capital city, Tórshavn to tiny coastal villages, houses on the Faroe Islands are utterly charming. Made from stone and wood, many of the houses are turf-roofed. This symbol of Faroese culture is more than photogenic, it also protects Faroese houses from the frequent rains.
The Faroe Islands are an ideal diving destination. Okay, they don’t have the year-round sun and temperate waters of somewhere like Australia. But the Faroe Islands does have varied and unspoiled seabeds, wonderful visibility, especially in the winter months, and a small but passionate community of expert divers. Kelp forests, seaweed gardens, and a lively population of sea urchins, starfish, and red shrimp await.
We recommend joining a group dive, especially if you’re not experienced. Take a look at this comprehensive list of Faroe Islands diving tours.
14. Horse Riding
One of the main challenges of traveling to new places is figuring out how you’re going to get from A to B. While we stick by our statement that renting a car is the best way to get around the Faroe Islands, traveling on horseback has to be a close second!
Only a few decades ago, the Faroese horse was almost extinct. This special breed is unique in the world and has lived wild on the Faroe Islands for over a thousand years. Today, the Faroese horse is making a comeback although the breed can be too stubborn to ride so horse-riding tours largely use Icelandic horses. Most Faroe Islands horse-riding tours explore the mountains and rivers around Tórshavn.
15. Abandoned villages
If you enjoy exploring desolate ghost towns, the Faroe Islands will not disappoint! When the larger towns of the Faroe Islands embraced modernity and installed electricity and paved roads, some smaller hamlets missed out and were, eventually, abandoned.
The small hamlet of Múli on the island of Bordoy in the Norðoyar Region of the Faroe is one such abandoned village. Here, strong houses built in the Faroese style have mostly survived. In Skarð Village, abandoned in 1919 after a disastrous fishing trip that took every man in the village, only ruins remain.
We love to hear from you
There you have it, our 15 reasons the Faroe Islands are worth visiting. If, like us, you love raw and untouched nature and are prepared to surrender to the whims of mother nature, then the Faroe Islands are definitely for you.
We’re sure there are dozens of more reasons to put the Faroe Islands at the top of your travel wishlist. If you have more of your own, let us know in the comments. For more information about this incredible destination, check out our Faroe Islands page.