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Faroe Islands Travel Guide

Updated on February 4, 2013
Sumba, A Village In The Faroe Islands
Sumba, A Village In The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands represent an autonomous area under the Denmark’s administration, located between Iceland and Norway. There are a total of 18 islands, of which 17 are inhabited. Having a volcanic origin, the islands are craggy and the average altitude is 300m above the sea level. The shore consists of 1100km and, no matter where you are, you’ll always be at less then 5km to the ocean. The western coast is characterized by steep cliffs and rocks inhabited by thousands of birds and chicks during the summer. You’ll be surprised by the lack of trees on the island. This fact is a result of the thousands of sheep that inhabit the islands.

The tourist season begins in May and ends in September, but the most crowded months are of course July and August. The main reason why the tourists are attracted to these islands is the landscape’s beauty, but the peacefulness and the clean air have also an important role. Whether you’re sailing along the coast or walking through the dark caves, you’re hiking in the mountainous regions or you’re in horseback riding, the Faroe Islands offer you a unique holiday.

Other attractions include the medieval churches, fishing villages, old farms and sheep. It is a very pleasant region that doesn’t even seem to be touristic if you keep away from Torshavn, where the tourist shops are located. The people are friendly, the atmosphere is unique and almost modern. The light is extraordinary, and it’s constantly changing. The islands are known for their linguistic diversity – each settlement has its own dialect. Especially attractive are the cities Gjogv, Kirkjubo, Torshavn (the capital city), Tjornevik (with a wide beach) and Saksun (located above a tidal lake). Be prepared for the sudden changes in the weather.

Puffin
Puffin

Faroe Islands Tourist Attractions

  • Slaettaratindur (882m) is the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands. Is well worth climbing this mountain, the only negative aspect is that it’s sometimes surrounded by fog.

  • The ToftavatnLake is located in the southern Eysturoy, on the Skalafjordur fjord coast. On the low hill surrounding the lake you’ll find the largest stretch of heather in the islands. They are considered to be unique in the Faroe Islands.
  • Rinkusteinar represents a strange natural phenomenon from Oyndarfjordur, where two giant rocks are permanently swinging in the ocean, a few meters from the shore.
  • Rising og Kellingin (The Giant and his wife) are two basaltic formations in the waters surrounding the northern end of the island, close to the village of Eidi. The legend says that two giants came to carry the islands with them to Iceland, but they were late and the sunrise transformed them into rocks. They both look towards Iceland, the place where they will never reach.

Faroe Islands Cuisine

Most of the traditional Faroese dishes contain lamb meat or fish. The culinary specific has been adapted to the harsh climate in the archipelago. The traditional dishes include stuffed puffins served with potatoes, skjerpikjot, ram meat that has been dried up for around a year, raestkjot, meat that has been dried up for a few months before cooking, raestan fisk, dried fish and meat and whale fats.

Faroe Islands History

The Faroese are most likely descendants of the colonists that came from the western side of Norway at the beginning of the 9th century. It’s possible that the islands were already populated by Irish monks and a few families, but this fact hasn’t been confirmed yet. Christianity was adopted by law in 999 and the islands became part of the Norwegian kingdom in 1035. In 1380, Norway and other northern countries united, forming the Kalmar Union. Then the Danish ruled over the islands, even after 1814 when Norway was ruled by Sweden.

The Danish trade monopole was abolished in 1856, a fact that lead to an increase in the fishing fleet and to transforming the fishing industry in the primary source of income. In second part of the 19th century the nationalist movement became more powerful and the first political party was founded, in 1906. The British occupied the islands in 1940, separating them from Denmark, occupied by Germans.

The autonomy was granted by the Danish in 1948, the moment when the islands’ parliament and government took over the domestic issues – taxes, customs, mail, and ship registration. As a part of the DanishKingdom, the Faroese are members of several international organizations and treaties, but they are not members of the European Union.

Litla Dimun - The smallest island of the Faroe Islands
Litla Dimun - The smallest island of the Faroe Islands

What You Should Know

If you are in the Faroe Islands don’t say that you are in Denmark, because the islands are autonomous and the locals are proud of their national heritage. The Faroese are renowned for their good manners.

The temperature ranges from 4 degrees Celsius in January to 11 degrees in July and it rains around 280 days per year. The summer is the best season to visit the Faroe Islands. Take a rain coat in your luggage, a thick sweater and waterproof footwear.

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