Updated: Jun 6, 2019
Faroe Islands ( Føroyar in Faroese) are an archipelago of 18 islands nestled between Iceland and Scotland in the North Atlantic Ocean. They are the perfect epitome of Paradise on earth. It's one of the few places on earth where you will find yourself to be the only one hiking up a mountain to beautiful views of fjords and ocean. The fact that Faroe Islands is still a relatively unknown destination to many adventure seekers and travelers is a boon for people like me who loves the tranquility and solitude.
WHERE IS THIS PARADISE? AND HOW DO IT GET THERE?
Never heard of the Faroe Islands? Don't worry you are not alone, in fact until about an year ago even I had not heard about them.
These islands are unexplored, unspoiled and almost untouched and that is why I feel that you should plan a trip to visit them before tourists start swarming here (much like what happened to Iceland!)Despite being remotely located in the North Atlantic ocean, getting here is much easier than what most people think. There are basically two ways to get to the Faroes - by air or by sea
By Air : Flights to the Faroe Islands operate from select hubs in Europe on particular weekdays (except Copenhagen which has daily flights). Many routes are only operational on a seasonal basis.Atlantic Airways (the national carrier) offers direct flights from Vagar in the Faroe Islands to:
Denmark (Copenhagen, Billund and Aalborg)
Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) also operates a daily flight out of Copenhagen.
By Sea : The Faroe Islands can also be reached by ferry from Iceland and Denmark. If you have ample time then it's definitely worth giving it a shot! This service is operated by Faroese company, Smyril Line.
For more information regarding how to get here , I would suggesting visiting the official tourism website here:
A) Citizens of Nordic countries/ EU Countries listed here can enter the Faroe Islands with just a valid identification card or a Passport.
B) Visitors from countries outside the EU and Schengen area must hold a visa valid for up to three months, or a residence permit. The list of countries requiring visa for entering the Faroe Islands is the same as for Denmark and can be seen here.The conditions for obtaining a visa for the Faroe Islands are similar to the conditions for obtaining a visa for Denmark. however:
The Faroe Islands are NOT part of Schengen. Hence, people cannot enter the Faroe Islands based on their Schengen visas or Danish visa. When a visa is applied for at the Danish Embassy, it must be specifically for the Faroe Islands.
You need to visit a Danish Embassy to apply for a visa to the Faroe Islands, make sure that you mention while applying that you need the visa specifically for the Faroe Islands.A list of Danish Embassies and Consulates around the world can be viewed here.
The General saying in the Faroe Islands is “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes!” , and I couldn't agree more with this statement. Weather in the Faroes is unpredicatable, period. However the weather here is mild rather than extreme. Despite the islands’ northern latitude location, summers are cool with an average temperature of 13°C, and winters are mild, with an average temperature of 3°C.
As is the case with any country in Northern Europe, the best time to visit would be in Summer (May - August), not just because of better weather but almost all services like ferries, buses, cafes etc run on full schedule. The other advantage is that Summer days bring long hours of sunlight (19 hours, 45 minutes on the longest day, June 21).
In contrast, days during the winter can be as short as five hours.Some people do visit in Winter and Spring, (I have seen quite a lot of beautiful pictures on social media from people who have visited them during these months), but no matter when you travel just remember that weather in Faroes is fickle!
The Islands are generally windy and cloudy throughout the year, so considerable yourself lucky if it's not pouring when you are there! It is not uncommon for one location to experience rain, the next snow, and a third location sun. You can literally experience all four seasons in one day!
For a detailed Faroese weather forecast, visit yr.no
Faroe islands offer a wide range of accommodations for every budget - from basic Airbnb's and Camping grounds to cozy guesthouses and luxury hotels. Depending on where you want to stay you will definitely have a few options to choose from.
Torshavn is obviously the first option for any tourist as it is the capital and is centrally located, however do note that there is a sub sea tunnel fee every time you leave the island of Vágar (Airport) and enter the island of Streymoy (capital Tórshavn).
My plan was to stay for three nights in Miðvágur so that I could cover all the places near Vagar (Lake Sørvágsvatn, Gasadalur, Mykines etc) and stay for three nights in Torshavn for the rest of the sights (basically everything in Streymoy and Eysturoy)I booked through Airbnb for both and I could not recommend them enough!
You can find the links below:
Miðvágur : https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/7271528
Torshavn : https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20202889
If you don't have a Airbnb account, you can sign up using my referral link here (You'll get $40 in travel credit when you sign up using this link!)
The Faroe Islands may be remotely located in the North Atlantic ocean , but despite that most of the islands are connected by an excellent infrastructure of roads, bridges and subsea tunnels, making it effortless to get around. The best way to explore the unique landscapes of the Faroe Islands is by renting your own car.
I had a very pleasant and wonderful experience with Unicar and would highly recommend checking them out. They are almost always quick to respond to your emails so I would say be a bit patient when interacting with them.
The car rental procedure is actually quite a bit different than most places, you will be asked to pick the car up from the parking lot and then drop it off at the same lot, and probably will not even see anyone from Unicar during the entire process. But my experience like many others was positive!
Faroe Islands also have an extensive bus network though I never used it. You can check the bus timetable here. It's needless to say that the bus won't always get you to where you want to go and the timings might not suit you always! Also, public transport is a bit expensive here so if you decide to take this option it might be best to buy a travel card beforehand.
Not all islands are connected by subsea tunnels and hence to reach those islands you need to take a Ferry. The ones you will be probably end up taking are the 1)Ferry from Klaksvík to Syðradalur (for the Kallur Lighthouse) and 2) Ferry from Sørvágur to Mykines. You can find the complete Ferry Schedules here.
Another mode of transport here in the Faroe Islands is surprisingly the Helicopter. Atlantic Airways offers a wide range of helicopter services to various islands
(you might want to consider this option for Mykines). Helicopter timetable here.
TRAVEL TIPS & IMPORTANT INFORMATION
Listed below are some tips and information which I wish I had before I started my trip to the Faroes. I basically gathered most of these tips while I was over there at the Faroe Islands, so it would be really helpful for you to know these things before you reach the island.
1. VISIT FAROE ISLANDS WEBSITE
The official Visit Faroe Islands website has got to be one of the best tourism websites for any country that I have ever seen! Kudos to whoever designed and put together the contents on this website. Like many others, this website has definitely helped me gather all the required information that I need for my trip and it's really user friendly and well structured. So I would strongly advice that you first read this website thoroughly before you plan your trip
2. GPS NAVIGATION & SIM CARD
If you are going to be driving around the Faroe Islands then you will definitely require some sort of navigation or map to guide you to all your favorite places. Even though some places are marked with signs and directions it still helps having some navigation on hand while driving. Normally the best goto option would be Google Maps , but in this case I was informed about a different app by my Airbnb host called - BE-ON-ROAD, you can download the app and then download the offline map for Faroe Islands. This app really helped me a lot while I was driving in the Faroes so would highly recommend it. Unfortunately this app is currently only available for Android, I could not find it on iOS at least not in the US.
The other option would be to obviously use Google Maps and for that you would require a SIM card. Vodafone/Hey and Foroya Tele are the main mobile operators. You can buy sim card from the airport (at visitor information center) or from the SMS mall in Torshavn.
3. SUBSEA TUNNELS, TOLLS AND GAS
There are two subsea tunnels in the Faroe Islands and each of these tunnels charge a toll of DKK 100 (~$16). One subsea tunnel connects the island of Vagar (airport) to the island of Streymoy (Torshavn) and the other subsea tunnel connects the island of Borðoy (Klaksvík) to the island of Eysturoy (Leirvík). You however only pay when you are leaving the island - so when you leave Vagar or when you leave Borðoy.
There are no pay stations at the tunnel so drive straight through and pay at any one of the Effo or Magn petrol stations.You will possible come across at least five one way tunnels (one while going to Gasadalur and four on Kalsoy) and the rule of thumb here is that if the direction you are driving in is marked RED (you see the signs before you enter the tunnel) then you have to make way and pull over into the designated spot in the tunnel for incoming vehicles. And don't worry there is a spot at every ~100M.For more information about tunnels , visit tunnil.fo
Gas in the Faroe Islands is definitely not cheap. On an average you will probably end up paying around ~$6 per gallon at most places. You can find the gas prices for Effo petrol stations here.
4. EYES ON THE ROAD, ALWAYS!
Faroe Islands are breathtaking, no doubt about that! Everywhere you go there is almost something or the other that will catch your eye, even while you are on the road. Thus, it is of utmost importance that you pay attention to the roads while driving as it can be real easy to get distracted by the scenery, believe me! As the Faroe Islands are relatively mountainous, you’ll find yourself going on winding roads a lot, so be prepared and don't lose focus while driving.
5. MONEY & CREDIT CARDS
Faroe Islands have two equal currencies - the Faroese króna and the Danish krone. If you are going to completely rely on cash for your trip , I would highly suggest carrying some good amount of cash everywhere you go. If not, it is still a good option to have some cash with you for any emergencies or places where Credit Card is not accepted.As far as Credit Cards go, most of the shops, restaurants, hotels, cafes and taxies accept VISA and Mastercard, and I read that American Express is NOT generally accepted at most places so would advice carrying the former two.There are many ATM's available through out the country in case you want to withdraw any Cash.
6. TRAVELING TO MYKINES
If you are planning to travel to Mykines then it is really important that you read ahead. Mykines can only be reached by either Ferry or Helicopter.
FERRY:To book a Ferry to Mykines visit this website and select the Mykines/Sorvagur option from the page and proceed to book the Ferry. Please note that the Ferry service is very much dependent on weather so always be prepared for cancellations and contingency plans.
Also, the most important thing to note here is that sometimes you can get to the Island but the return ferry can get canceled due to rough weather, in that case you will be forced to stay on the island!
It is for this reason that many people (including me!) suggest that you plan to visit Mykines in the beginning of your trip and not keep it till the last day as a) you might miss out on visiting if the trips get canceled for consecutive days and b) if you do manage to get on the ferry , but the return ferry gets canceled you are then stuck on the island and will most likely miss your flight home!Ferry Terminal Location: Port Sørvágur
HELICOPTER: Atlantic Airways manages the helicopter service to Mykines and you can view the timetable here and make bookings here. Please note that the helicopter tends to get booked very early in advance especially in summer because of not only more tourists but cause it is the mode of transportation for many locals as well owing to the fact that the fares are dead cheap!(ex: Vagar -> Mykines is about 145 DKK p.p)Another thing to note here is that the helicopter ride is relatively short (~10 min) so if you really want to experience the island from the air, I would suggest considering some longer route.
HIKING FEE: Between 1st May and 31st August, everyone traveling to Mykines must pay a fee of 100 DKK if they want to travel beyond the small village area (this includes the hike out to the lighthouse, Mykineshólmur).You can visit hiking.fo for paying the fee.(note: The fee is for a particular date, so I would suggest finalizing the date before you pay the fee)
Unfortunately this is one aspect where I can't be that helpful as I follow a restricted diet when it comes to meat (basically just Chicken) and the Faroese cuisine is most famous for it's Lamb and Seafood. Despite that , listed below are some of the restaurants/cafes and supermarkets that I visited during my trip and some of them might be useful to you as well:
2. Brell Cafe
3. Paname Café
1. Fríða Kaffihús(loved their Chicken burger! - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!)
2. Hjá Jórun
Please note that food is definitely on the expensive side here in the Faroe Islands.
8. THE COUNTRY IS STILL DEVELOPING
The infrastructure in the Faroe Islands is still developing , so don't be surprised if you find yourself at locations where the nearest cafe is at least 50 KM from you! Most of the villages will have at least one small cafe, but then again their timings might be a bit odd and so most of the time they will be closed when you are there.
9. 4-5 DAYS IS NEVER ENOUGH
Even though the Faroe Islands might be a relatively small country , never assume that 4-5 days would be enough to see everything! In fact I have read many instances where people have said that even two weeks were not sufficient to see everything! So my advice would be that if you are planning for a 4/5 day trip, then don't expect to cover everything, don't rush to locations thinking I want to see everything, instead make a plan, and ensure that you enjoy your vacation rather than just running from one place to another!