Tuesday,  August 20, 2019  8:58 pm

The Faroe Islands: a Nordic paradise


The Faroe Islands: a Nordic paradise
Antoine Stab

Antoine has worked as a journalist for a publication specializing in the great outdoors. His love of travel comes from the time he spent outdoors growing up. Originally from France, relocated to Quebec, he is curious about everything, from what is happening in his own backyard to what's going on at the other end of the world.

While Iceland has captured the attention of tourists far and wide, there’s another island destination that’s stealing hearts, and it comes without the crowds: the Faroe Islands.

A quick look at the map and it’s easy to understand why one might think that this tiny archipelago is in the middle of nowhere. But that’s entirely false. In the centre of a triangle formed by Iceland, Norway and Scotland, the Faroe Islands are a diamond in the rough just waiting to be explored.

The Faroe Islands might seem like just another island lost in the North Atlantic, but its unspoiled beauty puts it in a league of its own.

Where sea and mountains collide

Formed by 18 volcanic rocky islands that seem to run side by side, the Faroe Islands have remained wild and almost intact.

It’s as though the sea intentionally wanted to keep an eye on the mountains; no matter where you are in the Faroe Islands, you're never more than five kilometres from the ocean shores. The cliffs, omnipresent, seemingly serve as protective enclosures to prevent water from entering. Overtime, however, the sea has managed to shred the coastline, creating a jagged stretch that spans more than 1,100 kilometres.

Behind these stone walls, the wind takes over from the sea; sweeping across a barren land, unmarked by trees or agriculture. Hikers and nature lovers will be unable to resist these mountain landscapes, lakes and green valleys.

This Nordic beauty is robust, but seemingly easy to tame, so long as travellers pay attention to the unpredictable, unstable, and interchangeable climate. All connected by sea or land, the Faroe Islands are easy to navigate on foot, thanks to three bridges and two underwater transit tunnels.

The roadways are very well-maintained and public transit is free.

The island of sheep

On the Faroe Islands, there are more sheep than humans. There are roughly 80,000 sheep scattered across the islands (compared to 50,000 actual inhabitants). It’s no wonder the Danish chose the destination’s name, as the country’s literal translation means “the island of sheep.”

Since the ninth century, when the Vikings arrived to these lands, sheep have roamed freely, wandering wherever they please. The local authorities capitalized on their behaviour in 2017, by attaching 360- degree cameras to the sheep. Forget Google Street View; in the Faroe Islands, it’s all about Google Sheep View!

Four-legged friends aside, the Faroe Islands are also home to hundreds of unique bird species. Some flock down every summer to breed, taking advantage of the steep cliffs that are perfect for nest-building. Others stop to rest before continuing their annual migration.

Perhaps the cutest feathered friend is the puffin, a species that accounts for a whopping 500,000 birds on the island. Locals and visitors alike love these small, plump birds and their colourful beaks.  

Getting there

By plane

Several airlines serve the islands. From Iceland (Reykjavik), Denmark (Copenhagen), Scotland (Edinburgh) and Norway (Bergen): Atlantic Airways and SAS.

Vagar airport is located roughly 50 kilometres from the capital, Thorshavn, on Streymoy Island. Busses commute daily and hourly, at the cost of 100 Faroese crowns (about $20).

By boat

Onboard the Norröna ferry from Smyril Line, travellers have two possible starts:

  • From Hirtshals (Dk) to Denmark: In high season (from June 8 to August 20), two departures per week, Sunday morning and Tuesday morning. In low and medium season (Jan. 5 to June 6; Aug. 24 to Dec. 14), only one departure, Saturday. The trip lasts roughly 38 hours.
  • From Seyðisfjörður in Iceland: In high season (from June 13 to Aug. 22), one departure per week on Thursday. In low and middle season (Jan. 9 to June 5; Aug. 28 to Dec. 18), one departure on Wednesday. The trip lasts roughly 19 hours.

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