Travel Diaries

The Majestic Faroe Islands

By Brittany Shoot

The Faroe Islands, not as remote as they seem and relatively easy to reach from London and Copenhagen, could become as popular as Iceland or Norway. They are located in the cold, foggy North Atlantic squarely between the two nations. This charming 18-island archipelago offers spectacular windswept scenery, ample hiking and road-tripping destinations, with remote villages of a dozen or so inhabitants being the norm on the coasts. The (correct) stereotype is that the Faroes have more sheep than humans, and indeed, watch the roadways for colorful varieties of the islands’ most adorable, notorious inhabitants. 

What to see (and how)

Hiking, biking, boating and diving are all popular activities on these rocky green islands, always with nature and its inhabitants in close proximity. Boat tours from Vestmanna take bird lovers to see cliffs of puffin and gannet colonies that are otherwise unreachable by land. And many hiking trails have the delightful trait of being “paved” by sheep that regularly tread the same routes across the hillsides. One pleasant day hike from Torshavn requires renting a car or taking the free public bus to the historic village of Kirkjubøur. The steep path back to town offers spectacular views of several other islands, and is well-marked by stone cairns. 

There’s also plenty to purchase on the islands, which are crammed full of talented craftspeople, including woodworker Joel Cole, a Faroese-American specializing in stylish Scandinavian candlesticks, indoor sculptures and tables. For the finest wool garments, check out the archipelago’s only couture label, Gudrun & Gudrun, or Navia, a fourth-generation family-run wool farming and production company known for beautifully utilitarian wool sweaters. (You’ll see all sorts of Faroese folks wearing Navia pullovers in everyday life, from running errands in town to — yes —herding sheep.)

A bucolic image of sheep on the hillsides near Elduvik.

Where to stay and eat

Luxury tourism hasn’t quite reached the Faroes, but the recently renovated Hotel Havgrim offers spacious rooms with wraparound windows overlooking the sea. Hotel Føroyar is another nice property close to downtown Torshavn, and it’s the birthplace of Koks, the islands’ only Michelin-starred restaurant with a focus on Faroese traditions of wind-dried meats and salted fish. Former Noma chefs helm Koks, which is now located in a remote off-road wooden hut miles from town. Getting there is half the adventure.

The exterior of the Michelin-starred Koks restaurant, located in the village of Leynavatn.
On the menu: razorbill Wellington with sauce of elderberry, beetroot and rose hip.

Know before you go

Part of the Kingdom of Denmark, the Faroe Islands currency is pegged 1-1 to the Danish kroner. The Faroese print their own banknotes, but use the same coins as mainland Denmark. Most merchants accept credit card and other digital payments, though. There’s no need to carry Faroese money unless you want to.

 

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