Scattered in the North Atlantic Ocean, the 18 breathtaking islands that make up the Faroe Islands are connected by a series of bridges, sea tunnels and by ferry. These gems possess some of the most beautiful landscapes I’ve ever seen.
Part of the Kingdom of Denmark with a rich Nordic history, this far-flung archipelago is home to roughly 54,000 humans and 70,000+ free-roaming sheep. Visiting the Faroe Islands feels somewhat like being transported to another world – a magical sheep-filled world! You’ll find plenty of incredible things to do in the Faroe Islands. Don’t be surprised if the sheep tag along.
The Natural Wonders of Vagar Island
Flying into Vagar airport on Vagar Island, I looked out the plane window and spotted sheep flanking the runway. I had a hunch I had arrived in a place filled with natural wonders. That hunch was further confirmed when my husband and I drove along the edge of the island to the village of Gasadalur.
As we took a short walk through curious sheep along a pathway to the edge of a cliff, the fog hovering above the landscape lifted to reveal a towering waterfall plunging over the cliff directly into the North Atlantic Ocean – we had happened upon the Múlafossur Waterfall, a favorite road trip destination in the Faroe Islands.
Another natural wonder of Vagar Island, Lake Sørvágsvatn spans 1.3 square miles making it the largest lake in the Faroe Islands. When viewed from above, it creates an optical illusion of being suspended far above the surrounding Atlantic Ocean. When viewed from a distance the lake seems to tilt towards the ocean. However, it only spills over into one small waterfall. It seemed the sheep weren’t the only discoveries we would make during our time on the Faroe Islands.
Discover the Island of Streymoy
The largest of the 18 islands, Streymoy sits in the middle of the archipelago. Start your exploration of one of Europe’s most unusual destinations in the capital city of Torshavn. Approximately half of the residents of the Faroe Islands reside in Torshavn, but since that’s only about 25,000 people, traffic jams aren’t an issue. It’s possible to base yourself in Torshavn for your entire stay on the Faroe Islands because nothing is more than about an hour’s drive away making day tours easy.
Torshavn is home to the Faroe Islands’ first Michelin-star restaurant, KOKS. Maintaining a focus on sustainability, KOKS follows the seasons and what they bring, transforming ancient culinary traditions into modern delicacies.Currently, KOKS has temporarily relocated to Greenland while a new restaurant is being built in Torshavn. It is expected to reopen this year.
A Day Trip to Nólsoy
A short 20-minute ferry ride from Tórshavn, the small island of Nólsoy covers less than four square miles but provides plenty of adventures for a day trip or longer. More than 800 sheep live here along with about 200 humans. A 7.5-mile round trip hike to the lighthouse at Nólsoyarviti on Nólsoy’s southeastern point is the most popular on the island. Incredible views surround you on this hiking trail even if you don’t do the entire route.
Nólsoy is home to the world’s largest colony of European Storm Petrels with approximately 50,000 pairs. The sea cliffs also serve as an important breeding place for Atlantic Puffins with approximately 30,000 pairs.
While visiting Nólsoy, be sure to stop by Maggie’s Cafe, the local bar and one of the most popular music venues in the Faroe Islands.
Walk into History in These Tiny Villages
For a walk into history, visit the tiny village of Kirkjubøur. About a twenty-minute drive from the capital city of Tórshavnm, Kirkjubøur is the southernmost village on the island of Streymoy and literally sits at the end of the road. What makes Kirkjubøur so notable is that it is the historical and cultural hub for Faroese history.
Three key sights are the ruins of St. Magnus Cathedral which dates back to the 13th century, St. Olav’s Church which dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest church in the Faroe Islands still in use, and the old farmhouse Kirkjubøargarður which dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest wooden houses still occupied in the world.
At the northernmost end of the Streymoy island (only an hour’s drive from the capital), Tjørnuvík is among the oldest villages in the Faroe Islands. Viking graves have been found in the eastern part of the valley, proving that the area has been inhabited since the first Vikings came to the islands. From the beach, you have a view of two freestanding rocks known as the Giant and the Witch who, according to legend, tried to drag the Faroe Islands to Iceland.
Tjørnuvík’s location facing the open sea makes it a popular place for surfing. For energetic hikers, there is a popular 4-mile point-to-point hiking route from Tjørnuvík to Saksun. Somewhat challenging, your efforts will be rewarded with epic views of the captivating Faroe Islands landscape…and of course you’ll pass plenty of sheep.
Whether you hike or drive to Saksun, this tiny village’s location at the edge of a lagoon surrounded by mountains and waterfalls makes an unforgettable day trip on the island of Streymoy.
Drive Around the World’s Only Undersea Roundabout
For those in search of some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, the island of Eysturoy will not disappoint. But part of the adventure begins en route to Eysturoy. The Eysturoyartunnilin (Eysturoy tunnel) is an impressive 6.9-mile sea tunnel under the North Atlantic Ocean that links the islands of Streymoy and Eysturoy.
At its deepest, the tunnel dips to 613.5 feet below the sea. With three tubes, the tunnel also boasts the only underwater roundabout in the world. And the roundabout itself is a work of art with multicolored lights and a sculpture by Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson. The 262-foot sculpture presents a steel ring illustration of people dancing the traditional Faroese dance.
Head North on Eysturoy for Stunning Fjords and Villages
While all of Eysturoy provides ample landscapes to capture your attention, the northernmost village of Gjógv stands out. Sitting at the edge of the sea, Gjógv bears the name of its beautiful 656-foot sea-filled gorge. For those driving in from the northern tip of Eysturoy, the often snow-covered mountain pass Gjaarskaro delivers a white-knuckle road trip experience as you wind your way down to the village, but the entry is remarkable.
Another not to be missed village on the island of Eysturoy, Funningur sits at the edge of the stunning Funningsfjørður Fjord. Highlights of this sheep-filled village include a peaceful stream that runs through its center and a traditional turf-roofed wooden church.
Walk in the Steps of James Bond on Kalsoy Island
Among the Northern Islands, Kalsoy attracts James Bond fans. It was on this secluded Nordic archipelago where scenes from No Time To Die were filmed. You’ll find James Bond’s tombstone near the Kallur Lighthouse at the edge of Kalsoy Island.
But there are more reasons to visit Kalsoy Island than James Bond. First, there’s a monument of Kópakonan, the seal woman who according to myths and legends was trapped on land as a human after shedding her seal skin.
More Things to Do in the Faroe Islands
- Best known for grass-covered bird cliffs, towering sea stacks, and a rich seabird life, boat tours from Vestmanna to the Vestmanna Sea Cliffs are a popular day trip from April to October.
- Another popular day tour, the Mykines island is best known for the puffins who occupy the bird cliffs during the summer months. Mykines is the westernmost of the 18 far-flung Faroe Islands and is home to thousands of puffins. The best way to get to Mykines is by boat from the village of Sørvágur on Vágar Island.
- Join a kayaking day tour to experience beautiful views of the Faroe Islands from the sea.
- Take a guided tour to the island of Sandoy to experience virtually untouched natural beauty. Enjoy a kayaking tour around Lake Sandsvatn. Or visit on your own with a ferry ride from Torshavn to Sandoy and spend the day exploring the charming villages.
- Road trip to the northern islands to experience more of the archipelago’s natural beauty.
- Visit the Faroe Islands between November and February to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Flights on Atlantic Airways depart from Iceland and Edinburgh, Scotland year-round. Recently, Atlantic Airways added a direct flight from Stewart International Airport in the New York Hudson Valley. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) also offers flights connecting through Copenhagen, Denmark and Oslo, Norway.
Schedules vary by season and can be very limited in winter months. It’s also possible to sail to the Faroe Islands on Smyril Lines. However you choose to arrive, you’ll be glad you found your way to the Faroe Islands. I know I am!