In terms of fascinating archipelagoes to visit around the world, the Faroe Islands ranks near the top, both for its landscape and wildlife, especially birds. The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 islands composed of rocky, volcanic-like bedrock that are elevated above sea level. It’s for this reason that the Faroe Islands is endowed with beautiful cliffs and howling fjords that attract the attention of voyagers arriving by sea.
The Faroe Islands: a remote group of 18 ruggedly beautiful islands about 600 kilometres north of Scotland, just south of
the Arctic Circle. Photo: AdobeStock
The islands have a rich history that dates back to the Viking era (potentially, even earlier, based on recent archaeological findings). They are nominally part of the Kingdom of Denmark, which inherited the islands from Norway following the Napoleonic wars. In 1949, the Faroe Islands achieved their status as a self-governing nation. To this day, there are impressive displays of Viking architecture that highlight what the experience was like for travelers in those days.
So what are some of the most amazing things to do in the Faroe Islands? How can you make your journey to this intriguing archipelago as fulfilling as possible? In this guide, we’ll give you some tips on what to experience, where to experience it, and how much fun you can have.
Where are the Faroe Islands?
Before we dig into the fun activities to be had on these islands, the most obvious question needs to be answered: Where exactly are the Faroe Islands?
They’re located approximately 600 kilometres north of Scotland and 650 kilometres off the coast of Western Europe. On a map, you’ll spot the Faroe Islands located directly between Iceland to the west and Norway to the east. You may also notice that they lie just south of the Arctic Circle, which influences the climate across the islands. Cool winds from the north blow across the ocean and can cause powerful gusts across the entire archipelago.
Amazing things to do in the Faroe Islands
Now that you know where to find the islands, what can you expect to do for fun when you arrive? These are some recommendations that will help immerse you within this unique island chain and enable you to have a voyage to remember.
Faroe Island Bird-Watching
Thousands of Atlantic puffins inhabit the towering cliffs along the Faroe Islands. Photo: AdobeStock
Let’s start with bird watching. For people who love to view birds, the Faroe Islands is a great destination to get lost in the fine art of bird watching. Thousands of birds migrate to the Faroe Islands every year, many species of which are native to the islands. One of the most sought-after birds is the Atlantic puffin, which creates boroughs in the grounds of the island for shelter from the storms. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot puffins emerging from their boroughs and showcase a day in their life.
Exploring amazing fjords
Fjords are stunning (often lengthy) bodies of water found within incredibly steep valleys of rock. Darting into the islands as narrow rivers surrounded by mesmerizing cliffside views, fjords are amazing attractions for tourists and travelers. The Faroe Islands have an impressive collection of beautiful fjords so make sure you add this to your to-do list in the archipelago.
Visit the capital city
Colorful Tórshavn, the capital city of the Faroe Islands, is located on Streymoy, the largest island in
the archipelago. Photo: AdobeStock
As with any nation, regardless of its size, the capital city is always a popular destination for travelers. In the case of the Faroe Islands, the capital is the city of Tórshavn (population: approximately 13,000), located in the southeast of the largest island in the archipelago, Streymoy. The city dates back to the Viking era when explorers first established their settlements in the Faroe Islands. Today, you can still see examples of Viking architecture that illustrate this much valued heritage. You may also be fortunate enough to catch a game at Tórsvøllur, the football stadium used by the national football team.
Visit the Foroya Fornminnissavn Museum
If you’re a history buff curious about the development of the Faroe Islands as a constituency, you’ll want to visit the Foroya Fornminnissavn Museum. You’ll have a chance to see exhibitions that tell the entire story of how the Faroe Islands developed into the nation they are today.
Have a meal at Barbara Fish House
While visiting the capital city of Tórshavn, you’ll have opportunities to do things you can only do in the city. As always, trying the local food is always an excellent way to experience local culture. Past visitors absolutely rave about the famous Barbara Fish House, one of the oldest buildings in the entire archipelago. They specialize in cooking fresh fish, and their decor takes you back to the 16th century as you enjoy your meal in a rustic dining room.
Hike to the historic Kirkjubøur
A bird's eye view of historic Kirkjubour, which was once the spiritual centre of the Faroe Islands. Photo: AdobeStock
In contrast to the big city, you can also hike across the islands to several small towns. We recommend the town of Kirkjubøur, the southernmost village on the island of Streymoy, located on the opposite side of the island to Tórshavn. It was once known as the spiritual center of the Faroe Islands, renowned as the principal location for the Roman Catholic Diocese of the Faroe Islands.
Discover Tinganes in Tórshavn
Another relic of the island with historic significance, Tinganes was once the historic location of the local Parliament. It was originally built at the time of Viking settlements as a place for citizens and leaders to convene with their fellow settlers to discuss matters of great importance.
Find a cafe along the charming harbourfront
One thing to say about a waterfront stroll in Torshavn is that you will more often than not find a charming cafe. Pull up a seat and get yourself a local cup of coffee or tea to get a taste of a day in the life of a Faroean.
Go horse riding around Tórshavn
There are several horse riding tours that you can take to explore areas around the capital city. In fact, a local horse riding tour company arranges explorations into the mountain of Lambafell, not far from Tórshavn. You can speak with representatives at those companies to learn about interesting trails and book yourself a horse for travel.
Best time to visit the Faroe Islands
The best time to visit the Faroe Islands is during the summer season when the wind gusts are less intense and bring moderate temperatures to the islands. Late summer from August into early September is the optimal time to visit the archipelago as this is the best time to see birds and other animals that inhabit the islands.
That’s why your best option to visit the islands is aboard our Arctic Saga: Exploring Spitsbergen via the Faroes and Jan Mayen adventure. This is a 14-day experience that will take you to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard with a stop at the Faroe Islands for Days 4 and 5 of your journey. Condensing all 10 recommended activities into those two days might be a tall order so you’ll want to review your options within your time available and map out your plans to ensure you get the greatest experience possible while visiting the Faroe Islands.