Growing up in the islands of Batanes in the Philippines, I am no stranger to natural terrains and formations that can easily take anyone’s breath away. In fact, I’m quite hard to please when it comes to such things; but of course, this does NOT mean that I do not appreciate nor acknowledge the beautiful sights that I see in my travels — because I do! However… in order for me to be in utter awe and wonder, the landscapes must be far incredible. To date, there have only been a few places that has made me felt this way and on top of that list would have to be the far-flung yet stunning Faroe Islands.
Right from the moment that I landed there, I have felt as if I was sucked into a grand fairy tale — every where I looked, there would be something that will draw my breath in awe, as I constantly question myself if I was still on Earth!
Yes, it was that majestic and surreal.
It might still be an understatement to say that the Faroe Islands are a natural masterpiece; but either way, it is my hope that you will see the outstanding beauty of this place in the flesh!
I bet that you have this now on your travel bucket list and surely, it would be my pleasure to help make your travel planning easier… and so, with this post, I give you the ultimate travel guide for the Faroe Islands — complete with infos, tips, resources, and itinerary that you’re free to customize depending on the length of your stay or the style of traveling that you will do! Enjoy!
Faroe Islands : 5-Day Itinerary
» PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE
But before we go on, let me give you some quick and basic facts about the Faroe Islands…
- It’s a self-governing small group of islands under the external sovereignty of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Faroe Islands or Føroyar are quite far from Denmark; truth be told, its 18 rocky and volcanic islands are closer to Iceland, Norway and Scotland. But one important thing to mention is that though Denmark is part of the European Union, the Faroe Islands are not.
TRIVIA: One of the inhabited islands, Koltur, has only one resident! (…Or two, because I keep seeing conflicting info online; but some of the locals said that there’s only one left there. Maybe they were talking about 1 family which are these 2 residents.)
- Locals are called as ‘Faroese‘. They are of mixed Norse and Gaelic origins and number at about 50,000 only in the 17 inhabited islands (but there is an estimated number of 21,000 Faroese living in neighbouring countries). The language is also called as Faroese but Danish still has equal status in all official affairs. If I say so myself, I looove the language here. Every word sounds like it sprang out from books like Lord of the Rings!
TRIVIA: The Faroese language is said to be one of the North Germanic languages and it is closely related to Icelandic and the now extinct Old Norse Language. Anyhow, English is widely spoken especially by the younger ones.
- The sheep are taking over. The nation’s symbol is the ram, and rightly so because the Faroe Islands is packed with 70,000 sheep!!! Remember how there are about 50,000 people living here? Without a doubt… they’re outnumbered! And as a tourist, you’ll certainly find sheep as your typical surrounding companion — much like I have.
TRIVIA: The name of the islands first appeared as Faereyjar (in 1225) which means “Sheep Islands” that was given by the Viking age settlers from Norway in the 9th century.
Now, before I begin with the itinerary guide, if in case you’re more of a visual person, you can already watch my video below to get a ‘ brief peek’ into what the islands can offer.[ COMING SOON ]
» DAY #1 «
After you land and pick up your rental car at the airport, I highly advise that you don’t go straight to Tórshavn yet (which is likely where your accommodation will be) because there are some nearby spots around the airport that are worth looking into!
You might be thinking, “I can visit those later!” — sure you can, but the thing is… they’re quite far and to save time, I think it’s best that you visit them ASAP while you’re in the vicinity. (Otherwise, you can visit them on your last day on your way to the airport, depending on your scheduled flight back.)
Explore parts of Vágar and Streymoy Islands
◘◘ Visit Sørvágsvatn Lake
If you want to see one of nature’s mind-blowing ‘optical illusions‘, make sure that you drop by Lake Sørvágsvatn (also called as Leitisvatn). It is the largest lake in the Faroe Islands and it has been dubbed as the “lake over the ocean” — this is because if you go up a certain angle, it will appear as though the lake is floating directly above the ocean! The lake is just 40 meters above sea level with a magnificent waterfall at the end of it that’s called as Bøsdalafossur.
To get here, set your GPS and near the location or by the church in Miðvágur, you will find signs to “Trælanípa/Bøsdalafossur”. Follow these signs until you find a parking spot. You will then find a gate and you must start walking from here to the south towards the ocean by following the gravel path. The hike takes about an hour (one way) and in order to get to the spot that shows the iconic ‘illusion’, you must go to the southern tip (not on the southwest end of the lake). You will know if you’re in the right place when you see 3 small sticks sticking up or if you see a steep hill. (Doesn’t matter if you end up at the wrong vantage point because every angle is stunning here! But if you really want some more specific instructions, go to this page and scroll to page 36 to 37.)
◘◘ Drive to Gasadalur to see Mulafossur Waterfall
This is yet another iconic landscape in the Faroe Islands which is just an 18-min ride away from Vagar Airport. As you will see from the photo above, the Mulafossur Waterfall is a grand sight! It is nestled within this small village of Gasadalur and there are 2 ways to see it: with minimal effort and with some effort. What do I mean by this? You can see this glorious spot by car as you do some short walking from the main road; or if you’re a dedicated hiker, you can do a hiking trail that the villagers used to take before the car tunnel was built.
TRIVIA: Gasadalur used to be one of the most isolated places in the islands. Residents had to hike through 700-meter mountains just to get in and out of the village! After the car tunnel was built, access to the town got a lot better, but to date, the residents here still number at only 18!
Since I didn’t have much time (and a bit tired from my flight), I opted to just drop by here with my car as I enjoyed the waterfall and do a bit of strolling in the village itself. If you want some more detailed tips for this place, like how to find the trail that leads to this vantage point and how to do the longer hiking trail itself, check out my guide found here: Gasadalur & its Mulafossur Waterfall
◘◘ Check-in to your hotel
The central city of Tórshavn is where you will find most of the islands’ accommodations and it’s a strategic place to base yourself in for all your adventures around the islands. But of course it can get cheaper if you get places outside of Torshavn, but for the best capital picks, they would be the following.
Luxury: Hotel Foroyar / Mid-Range: Hotel Hafnia or AirBnB / Budget: Kristjanshavn or AirBnB
I stayed over at a guesthouse with a local though and unfortunately, it’s not really a place you can book — but I wish it was because the house was in the traditional style and it was so cozy with a great view of the sea and a river!
◘◘ Explore the village of Saksun
Like a natural amphitheatre, Saksun is a splendid remote hillside village that is known for its serene atmosphere. The place where it lies now used to be a deep inlet in the sea (fjord) and during low tide, you can walk along the lagoon’s sandy shore which is found at the foot of the village.
Whilst here, make sure you check out the village’s church and Dúvugarðar, a farm that houses 300 ewes — which also functions as a museum.
◘◘ See Fossá waterfall
This is the largest waterfall in the Faroe Islands at a hight of 140 meters. Located near the village of Haldarsvík, this waterfall has two cascades that falls down to the sea. If I may share a tip, it’s best to come here after some heavy rainfall because that’s when it becomes even more spectacular!
TRIVIA: Fossá in Faroese means “river with waterfalls”
◘◘ Dine at Barbara
As the night falls, you can choose from an array of restaurants that speckle the city of Tórshavn; but if I may suggest, go and dine at Barbara Fish House! It has a great menu that consists of Faroese seafood dishes; plus, the place itself is quite charming given that it is built into the tocks.
» DAY #2 «
Rev up your car, wear good shoes, pack up some food and sail to the nearby island of Kalsoy! You can spend a whole day here to explore its various sights. If you still have time by the end of the day, you can drop by the charming village of Gjógv.
Kalsoy and Gjógv
◘◘ Take the ferry to Kalsoy
Kalsoy is like a flute-shaped island due to its thin shape. You can reach it by ferry along with your car by driving from Tórshavn to the port of Klaksvík (this is a 1-hour drive). It’s best to catch the first or earliest ferry to Kalsoy’s Syðradalur port so that you’ll have enough time to explore the island. To check the timetables, see this page (take note of the departure times as well so you can time when you will have to drive back to port). Take note: it’s not possible to book in advance so you have to pay on the spot (DKK 160 for one vehicle), and if you’re coming with your car, make sure you arrive there 15 minutes before departure.
Once on the island, there’s no need for maps because there is but just one highway with lots of tunnels — make sure that you watch out for sheep because they can come up anywhere and block the road, seemingly seeking for some sort of showdown.
First, I recommend that you go straight to the north to Trøllanes not only to see the surroundings of the village but to also hike up the mountains to see Kallur lighthouse because the view here is superb. I actually had a hard time finding the trail that leads to this place because there are no signs that lead me to it. Thankfully, my companion and I saw a tour group by the road who were headed to the lighthouse and they gladly invited us to join them.
Basically, somewhere on the road before the village, you will find a small red gate along the fence. This is closed but you can open it — most of the gates in the island are closed not for people, but for sheep. Once inside, you just have to climb up the hill toward the north direction until you see the white Kallur lighthouse. With this in mind: make sure to wear good and comfortable hiking shoes! Rest assured, the climb up isn’t that hard but it can get a bit steep.
On the way back, make sure that you stop by the village of Mikladalur to visit Kópakonan, or the “Seal Woman”, which embodies one of the popular folktales in the islands. Made of bronze and stainless steel, it stands above a rock near a waterfall with a great backdrop of the mountains and the sea. The legend that surrounds this is quite sad and dark though and you can read all about it here.
TIP: Pack your own lunch and snacks because I personally had a hard time looking for a restaurant in Kalsoy. There was a canteen in Mikladalur but it only served snacks.
◘◘ Visit Gjógv
Just an hour away from Tórshavn, this is the northernmost village in Eysturoy island. Nominated by the Nordic Council for the Nature & Environmental Award in 2014, this well-preserved town is nestled by mountains on all sides and filled with traditional houses that are made of timber and turf roofs. For those who are fond of hiking, there are also several trails for you to do here! What’s one thing that you absolutely must NOT miss? it would be the natural harbour that they have which is a picturesque gorge.
◘◘ Dine at Aarstova
Once you’re back at the capital, have some more classical Faroese dishes — but this time around, try some fine dining at Aarstova!
» DAY #3 «
The way I see it, the Faroe Islands is a hiker’s dream paradise! In fact, almost all of the best landscapes can be seen via hiking.
But for those who don’t have the stamina for such things (like me), don’t fret because there are hiking trails that are at an easy level. …Yet if you could push yourself — by all means, do so! I have personally done a difficult hike up the mountain of Villingardalsfjall, and I was so glad that I pushed myself to do it even if my legs were about to give way because the view that I saw up high was one of the most jaw-dropping landscapes that I’ve ever seen in my life!
» READ: Hiking Trails in the Faroe Islands
Anyhow, if you think you can’t really do any moderate to high level hikes, you can spend this day visiting the villages of Saksun or Gjógv if you haven’t managed to do so in the past days. You can even revisit the past spots I’ve mentioned if the weather became a lot more favorable for this day.
All about mountains
◘◘ Go up Slættaratindur
(Hiking difficulty: medium) Towering at 880 meters, Slættaratindur or “flat summit” is the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands so it’s an absolute must-see! According to Guinnes World Records, this is the world’s longest sight line because due to the light bending effects of the atmosphere, the largest glacier in Inceland called as Vatnajökull can be seen from here on a clear day (aside from the fact that you can have awesome views over the whole Faroese archipelago). For complete hiking instructions, go to this page and scroll to page 22 to 23.
◘◘ Conquer Mt. Villingardalsfjall
This is the hike that I was talking about — as a non-hiker, this has been one of the most difficult hikes of my life but also one of the most rewarding (together with Norway’s Trolltunga)! The whole hike to the top takes 3 to 4 hours with a distance of 6 kilometers yet at a steep height of 841 meters. I can talk on and on about this place, but I think it’s best that you read my blog post below to read more about my experience as well as to see the other views you will witness from its summit:
Hiking Faroe Islands’ Stunning Mountain of Villingardalsfjall
◘◘ Go on top of Sornfelli Mountain
Good news: this does NOT involve hiking. The top of this mountain plateau near Hotel Føroyar can be reached by car and reaching its amazing viewpoint will only take you a 30-meter walk.
» DAY #4 «
Mykines island is a favorite in the Faroe Islands! You need a whole day for this mostly because the transportation to the island usually only happens in the morning, and the ride back in the afternoon. Regrettably, when I visited here, the weather wasn’t good. In fact, once we arrived at the island, we were stranded in a small cafe together with other tourists as we waited for the heavy rain and strong winds to pass.
It still ended up as a great day though because we met a lot of interesting individuals — one of which was a well-known harp player from Ireland who was on tour at that time and who gladly played songs for everyone. Still and the same, before leaving the island, my companion and I braved the rain so that we could at least glimpse at the cute puffins that live on the cliffs!
Anyhow, it’s my wish that you get a good day so that you can see the great sight below.
A Mykines kind of day
◘◘ Explore Mykines
There are 2 ways to reach Mykines: by boat or by helicopter. Remember how I said that helicopters are subsidized by the government of the Faroe Islands? With that in mind, I highly suggest that you take a one-way helicopter trip to this island by booking in advance! I say one way because Atlantic Airways’ helicopters mainly service a round trip route to Mykines in the mornings only from Vagar Airport. To see the complete timetable, see this page. For the boat or ferry, timetable can be found here.
Once on the island, you can hike from the old turf-roofed-filled village to the lighthouse which is at the western end of the islet of Mykineshólmur. If it’s summer time, make sure to visit some clifftops to see an endless sea of cute puffins nestled in the burrows. After all, this is called as the “paradise of birds” so take advantage of this fact and do some birdwatching while you’re there!
As you wait for your ferry back to Torshavn, take your time exploring the small village. One important thing to take note of though is that if you take a helicopter to the island from Vagar Airport, the ferry will land somewhere else and it’s at the port of Sørvágur — so if you parked your car at the airport, you have to do a 20-minute walk back, or you can take the 300 bus. (Details here).
TIP: Much like Kalsoy, it’s advisable to pack your own lunch and snacks. There’s a small cafe in the middle of the village but it mostly serves light food.
NOTE: Just recently, a new policy has been set that tourists have to pay DKK 100 to travel to the Mykineshólmur lighthouse for maintenance of the birdlife and nature on the island. This fee includes a certified guide to ensure that everyone sticks to the path and not disturb any of the local fauna. For more information, you can contact the Visit Mykines office.
◘◘ See Kirkjubøur
Assuming that it’s summer, by the time that you come back to the main island, it will still be light outside so if you could, make a stopover at Kirkjubøur. One notable attraction that you must see here is the huge black building at the center of the village that is called Kirkjubøargarður. It’s arguably the oldest inhabited wooden house in the world with over 17 generations of the same family that’s living there (there are sections that are turned into a museum). It even once housed the episcopal residence and seminary of the Diocese of the Faroe Islands.
You could also visit the old churches that they have such as Magnus Cathedral and Saint Olav. And if you go by the shore, you will see two old stone houses.
Before capping the night, while you’re already in the area…
◘◘ Have dinner at KOKS
I highly recommend this restaurant since I have dined here myself! What’s special about KOKS? Well, it has been awarded as the best restaurant in the Nordic countries in 2015 by the Nordic Prize; plus, it is also the first and the only Michelin star restaurant in the islands. The restaurant which only uses local ingredients is housed in a private house that has been turned into a guest room, and it has an open kitchen where you can watch the chef and his assistants cook (but there is a bigger kitchen in the back).
Dining here is obviously not cheap, but if you have the money to spare, I urge you to give it a try. I’ve dined all over the world and this is one of the best places I’ve ate in. Besides, they surely know how to do pairings!
Basically, dinner here is a tasting menu and you can choose to pick your own drinks or choose their wine pairing or juice pairing set — YES! You read that right, juice pairing! This might sound boring to you but their juice pairings were simply phenomenal. I never though that fresh juices can be mixed in such ways that would perfectly complement a dish. Aaaah… simply put: I hope you get to try it to experience a truly gastronomical feast!
» DAY #5 «
We’re now on the last day and I think it’s time to fully explore and enjoy the main capital of Tórshavn. Let yourself get lost in the city’s small streets; if not, you can take your pick from the array of activities below…
Explore the rest of Tórshavn
◘◘ See Tinganes and the center town
Tinganes is an area where you can see a beautiful clutter of red wooden houses. These are one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world that once functioned as a meeting place for Vikings. Today, it houses the office of the prime minister. You will rather find the Faroese parliament — the Løgting (‘Law assembly’) — a few streets down. What’s great about this area too is that there are enough signs and plaques to explain the history of the place.
◘◘ Shop for souvenirs at Öström
Go over to the waterfront and you will this store that’s housed in an old factory building. They sell products made in the islands itself such as traditional clothes, wool sweaters, postcards, posters, and other design products. For sure, it’s worth looking into!
◘◘ Try horseriding
You can experience a magnificent horseriding experience in and around Tórshavn and you can do it with the tour provider, Berg Hestar, who uses Icelandic horses. The experiences vary in difficulty and price range but take note that it’s only allowed for 7 years and older. To protect the horses, there’s also a weight limit of 95 kilos. To book your spot(s), check by their website here.
◘◘ Sail with RIB62 to Hestur
This experience will grant you a unique perspective to the Faroe Islands as you sail by the most remote and breathtaking sights that the islands have to offer — one of which is to circle around the nearby island of Hestur. RIB62 tailors tours upon request every day of the weak so feel free to contact them for inquiries. (Departure for this boat tour is from Gamlarætt which is 15 minute away from Tórshavn).
It’s clear to see that the Faroe Islands has an untouched beauty that’s worthy to be seen and explored! I guarantee you that it is the kind of place that will fit your fancy, NO matter the kind of traveler that you may be.
Besides, it’s a destination that a lot of travelers have NOT heard of yet, so why not be one of the “forerunners” (like me) who will sing its praises? Through that way, the Faroe Islands could soon be known by more people, thereby paving the way for its popularity — which they so rightly deserve!
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