The Faroe Islands is among the most exciting places to hike in the world, and the country has many incredible treks. Many spectacular viewpoints are accessible on hikes that nearly everyone can manage. Possibly the most famous image from the Faroe Islands is doable on this easy half-day Sørvágsvatn hike, and we wanted to create a guide to help you get there.
Sørvágsvatn (or Leitisvatn) is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, and it became Instagram famous for its mind-blowing optical illusion. It earned the nickname “Lake Above the Ocean” and has likely helped spur the increase in tourism to the Faroe Islands. Sørvágsvatn is one of the easier hikes across the country and absolutely a must-see on your trip.
To help you plan your trek, our guide outlines everything you need to know about the hike. We’ve included directions to the trailhead, costs, tips, and other info you need to ensure you’re prepared for the trip. Read below to find out why the Sørvágsvatn hike should be near the top of your list for things to do in the Faroe Islands.
How to get to Vágar Island?
The drive to Vágar takes about 35-40 minutes from the capital Tórshavn on Streymoy Island. Although it’s an easy route with gorgeous scenery, you’ll encounter one of the sub-sea tunnels that charge a toll. There are two sub-sea tunnel tolls on the Faroe Islands, with the Vágatunnilin tunnel connecting Vágar and Streymoy.
Fortunately, the trail to Sørvágsvatn isn’t difficult to find once you exit the tunnel on Vágar. Just 10 minutes past Sandavágur on Route 11, you’ll reach the charming town of Miðvágur. To reach the trailhead, drive past the Miðvágur church and follow the signs to Trælanípa/Bøsdalafossur.
The gravel road is a little bumpy, but the parking lot has plenty of signs and is much easier to find compared to other Faroe Islands hikes. Try to arrive early during high season since the parking lot only has room for around 10 vehicles at max. The trailhead is only a 10-minute drive to Vágar Airport, and the Sørvágsvatn hike is an excellent first or last activity for your trip.
The hike to Sørvágsvatn
- Length: 7.2 km
- Elevation gain: 369 m
- Route type: Out & Back
From the parking lot, there is an iron gate and a map of the area that signals the start of the trail. The path is clearly marked, and we recommend remaining on the trail to protect the landscape. Make sure to shut the gate behind you and start trekking toward the Trælanípa viewpoint.
The trail starts flat and should be a breeze to walk, but maybe covered with mud. As you hike along the lake towards the sea cliffs, watch out for wildlife hanging around the path. Eventually, the trail forks with the left side heading towards Trælanípa and the right side to the Bøsdalafossur waterfall.
Head to the Trælanípa sea cliffs first and climb the rocky face until you reach the viewpoint. This is the section where you’ll have to veer off the path to get a clear angle of the lake. Once you reach the viewpoint and behold the optical illusion, you’ll never want to leave. Although it’s not the case, Sørvágsvatn appears to hang high above the Atlantic waves crashing against the jagged cliffs.
Enjoy every moment at the Trælanípa viewpoint and snap lots of otherworldly pictures of the scenery on Vágar Island. After taking in the spectacular views, trek down the cliff to venture towards Bøsdalafossur. Situated on the edge of Sørvágsvatn, the beautiful waterfall is where the water spills into the ocean.
It’s a slight scramble downhill to the waterfall, but you’ll find astonishing images of rugged cliffs and sea stacks. From Bøsdalafossur, the trail loops along the lake’s shoreline and goes back to the trailhead. Although you could probably hike the loop within two hours, don’t be surprised to spend several hours enjoying the views. Can’t get enough of hiking?
Tips for your Sørvágsvatn Hike
Before starting the Sørvágsvatn hike, save these useful tips that may help on the trail.
- Foreign visitors must pay a fee of DKK 200 (about $31.50, €27, £24.50) when hiking to Trælanípa. The payment is collected in the parking lot before you begin the hike.
- To get the best views of the optical illusion, you have to venture off the path to see the lake above the ocean. You’ll make a short ascent along the closest cliff to reach the viewpoint. If you’re unsure, there will likely be other people on the trail that you can follow.
- Be extremely careful when hiking around the cliffside edge, especially when it’s windy. You won’t survive a fall off the cliffs here, and no picture is worth your life!
- Waterproof hiking shoes with good traction are essential for this trek. You’ll encounter lots of streams and muddy areas on the trail that can be slippery. A normal pair of sneakers won’t provide enough support to prevent a fall.
- Try to avoid this hike on a rainy day due to increased amounts of slippery surfaces on the trail. Plus, crummy weather will ruin the incredible views of this alluring lake.
- Bring a portable charger for your camera (or cell phone) since you’ll likely take tons of pictures. The viewpoint overlooking Sørvágsvatn might be the most stunning image you’ll see in the Faroe Islands.
- If your GPS works, the trail to Trælanípa and Bøsdalafossur is on Google Maps. You’ll also find a map of the area at the trailhead that marks the path.
Are you ready to discover more about the Faroe Islands? Check out our Faroe Islands page to read all our articles.