What you need to know about visiting the Faroe Islands 9

What you need to know about visiting the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a glorious place to spend a few days. I visited in 2015 and was absolutely captivated by the sheer beauty of the islands – from the pretty colourful houses in the capital Tórshavn to the breathtaking scenery. These islands are definitely worth the trip, and I’ve pulled together this small guide to the Faroe Islands based on my experiences.

Need to know

The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Scotland and Iceland. An autonomous country within the kingdom of Denmark – the dwellers of the islands are Faroese, not Danes –  the Faroe Islands are known for their stunning, rugged beauty. It’s an enchanting place to visit and the islands have plenty to see and do to occupy visitors. If you love outdoor pursuits, the Faroe Islands are definitely somewhere you need to visit.

Getting there

Atlantic Airways plane at Vagar Airport

There are two ways to get to the Faroe Islands: by sea or by air. Smyril Line provide ferry services between Denmark, Iceland and the Faroe Islands capital Torshavn with fairly regular sailings but if you want to get there in a shorter space of time, travel by air instead.

The Faroese national carrier Atlantic Airways operates services to the country’s only airport, Vagar Airport, from Reykjavik (NB: Reykjavik City Airport, not the international airport at Keflavik), the UK (Edinburgh and London Heathrow), Spain (Barcelona, Majorca and Gran Canaria), Norway (Bergen) and Denmark (Copenhagen, Billund and Aalborg). Some routes only operate in peak season.

As we’re based in Manchester, we combined our trip to the Faroe Islands with a visit to Iceland. We decided to go for one of Atlantic Airways’ packages which included return flights to Reykjavik, car hire and three nights at Hotel Tórshavn. This suited us perfectly as it was convenient and allowed us to pay off the entire trip in one go, so this is a great option if you do want to explore the islands as much as possible.

Getting around

Sheep on the road in the Faroe Islands

Watch out for sheep. Note: I was the passenger not the driver when I took this picture!

The country is made up of 18 islands, with the majority of them connected to each other via bridges and subsea tunnels. The Faroe Islands public transport system is made up of buses and ferries, including bus services from Vagar Airport to Tórshavn, and you can also buy travel cards if you’re expecting to use a lot of public transport.

However, the best way to make the most of your visit is with a car. The road network is good and easy to navigate – with plenty of signs to point you back to Tórshavn if you lose your way! Things to watch out for when driving around include single lane roads (usually in smaller villages), single lane tunnels (they have passing places within them but it can be quite scary the first time you drive in one!) and, most importantly, sheep. The two subsea tunnels are toll roads and cost 100DKK (about £10) for a return trip. You need to pay for the toll at a petrol station within three days. On the Faroe Islands, you always drive with your headlights on.

The weather

Looking at to sea on the Faroe Islands

Dressed for the elements on the Faroe Islands. Picture by Ross.

The weather on the Faroe Islands can be unpredictable and change very quickly so it’s best to always be prepared for the worst! We visited in September and although most of the time it was clear and sunny, we did get caught in some sudden downpours (luckily, the worst of which was when we were in the car!). It can also be quite blustery. Bring a decent coat, good hiking boots and scarves and gloves with you.

The language

Dogs on the beach at Tjornuvik

Luckily, we didn’t need to speak Faroese to make friends with these guys!

Faroese is the main language of the islands and Danish is also an official language. Faroese is an Old Norse language and is closely related to Icelandic and English is widely spoken across the country, so you shouldn’t have too much difficultly being understood. The only word of Faroese I know is ‘takk’ which means ‘thank you’ (it’s the same as Icelandic) but it came in handy at least!

The currency

Faroe Islands currency

The currency used on the Faroe Islands is the Faroese króna. It is of equal value to the Danish krone as it is a version of the same currency. In fact, the coins you use on the Faroe Islands are Danish coins although there are Faroese notes. If you’re visiting, take Danish krone with you and do try and spend any Faroese notes before you leave as I understand it is slightly more awkward to get these changed. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice as I have 100 Faroese kr left over from my trip although I do believe it can be spent in Denmark so I’m taking it on my next trip to Copenhagen!

In terms of currency conversion, 100 Danish krone/Faroese króna is just over £10 so it’s fairly easy to work out how much things cost.

The cost

Menu at Sirkus, Torshavn

An example of prices of food – this was at Sirkus in Torshavn

Most guides will tell you that the Faroe Islands can be pretty pricey – alcohol in particular is on the expensive side. But, we found we didn’t spend too much during our visit. Most of the activities revolve around nature and are therefore free – I don’t think we even paid to park anywhere at any point – so although your evening meal may not be the cheapest one you’ve ever had, your days out shouldn’t cost too much.

The food and drink

Beer from Faroese brewery Okkara

As an island nation, it’s no surprise that fish is on offer at most places so make sure you try some. Tórshavn has a decent selection of restaurants for its size including more upmarket fine dining spots to fish restaurants to sushi. There’s also a chippy (again, not too cheap) and a kebab shop by the harbour open until the early hours if you want some fast food. Our hotel, Hotel Tórshavn, also served takeaway pizza from reception – which they brought up to the room for us – so there’s plenty of options.

In terms of drink, the Faroe Islands has two breweries. Alcohol is only available from the government run alcohol shops – Rúsdrekkasøla Landsins – or from licensed bars and restaurants. These shops have limited opening hours, even in Tórshavn. We didn’t actually manage to visit one as they close at 2pm on Saturdays and aren’t open at all on Sundays – so worth checking the times if you do want to buy beer. See my beer blog for more info on drinking on the Faroe Islands.

 

So, those are my tips and advice for visiting the Faroe Islands. Although they main seem remote, the Faroe Islands are easily accessible from Europe and are definitely worth the trip!

So s!

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