With their raw, untapped beauty, stunning landscapes, and bird watching opportunities, the islands have a wilderness feel about them that is quite unique. While some of the islands are inhabited, at times you still feel as if you’re at the end of the world and there isn’t another soul in sight.
However, taking a quick, unplanned jaunt to visit the islands isn’t recommended, unless you’ve conducted some thorough research first or have been there before. If you’re planning to visit the Faroe Islands for the first time, there are some little things you should be aware of. Understanding a few things about the islands will undoubtedly make your trip more pleasant and not leave you shivering in a sudden wind gust, stranded on an island, or facing criminal charges for the manslaughter of a woolen beast!
To get the most out of your trip to the fabulously natural and awe-inspiring Faroe Islands, check out 10 of the most important things to know before you go:
1. The weather gods cannot make up their minds!
Unpredictable and at times challenging weather on the Faroe Islands can go from sunny and calm to a raging blizzard in less than an hour. While it might be raining in one spot it could be bright skies and sunshine just 10 minutes down the road! Even local weather forecasts are notoriously unreliable.
That being said, you can probably rely on the fact that for the most part, the skies above the Faroe Islands are a moody and perpetual shade of gray. But somehow, this only serves to add to the atmosphere and elevate your experience as a visitor. If you are lucky enough to witness the golden sunlight streaming down between the islands on a bright day or stay to see the crimson and violet sunset, those mean, moody grays will be a distant memory.
All in all, be prepared for anything when it comes to the weather on the Faroe Islands and pack your waterproof gear for sure. If the weather is very foggy or set to turn, avoid hiking as the chances of getting lost or injuring yourself increase.
2. The roads less traveled – public transport on the Faroe Islands has its limitations
While the Faroe Islands’ bus network is extensive, it doesn’t always get you exactly where you want to go. Some popular tourist destinations remain accessible only by foot, bicycle, or car. Do your research thoroughly. Note that some bus and ferry services may be limited or infrequent during non-peak seasons. Consider hiring a car if you can’t get where you want to go using public transport.
3. Tourism has reached the Faroe Islands but isn’t always catered to
You can find cozy cafes to warm yourself up in and enjoy the view without being battered by the wind, rain, or snow, but cafes are currently few and far between. Outside of Torshavn or Klaksvik, you’re better off bringing your own snacks and drinks with you. This is definitely changing as more tourists populate the islands and even accommodation options are growing exponentially.
4. Sheep rule the islands!
Sheep wander freely throughout the Faroe Islands, so always drive carefully to avoid hitting them. Should you be unfortunate enough to do so, contact the police immediately.
5. Everywhere is on your doorstep
The Faroe Islands have so much to offer. They take up such a small amount of space and the main group of islands can be crossed in less than two hours. While this is convenient and means that you can see a lot in a short space of time, try to avoid rushing through them and simply ticking them off your list. Instead, take your time and truly savor each destination before moving on to the next.
6. Connections are aplenty
With ferries that run frequently during peak seasons, surprisingly affordable helicopters (call or email to make a reservation), two sub-sea tunnels, and dozens of bridges and mountain tunnels, island hopping couldn’t be easier. Check for tolls when getting about by car and note that they can be taken on most inter-island ferries and are only charged one way.
7. September signifies the end!
While everything is open and all transport services run from May through August, everything comes crashing to a halt come September! For visitors, this has the most impact on the ferry to the island of Mykines, which stops running altogether outside of peak seasons. During the offseason, you’ll be reliant upon air transport.
8. Give yourself more time than you think you’ll need
Cruise ship-style stopovers of three days will do nothing more than allow you to tick off the major sights. To truly experience all that the Faroe Islands have to offer, you need at least a week. We’d advise a minimum of 10 days, as some days may be write-offs due to poor weather conditions. Some islands, like Mykines, need (and deserve) a full day to really appreciate their many facets and stunning sights. You might even want to return to some particularly beautiful places for extra photos and memories to cherish.
9. It can be done on a careful budget
Prices aren’t exactly rock bottom on the Faroe Islands, but if you’re prepared and do your research in advance, you can have a very enjoyable time there while on a budget. Camping and Airbnb accommodation options are the cheapest. Car rental costs are reasonable depending upon the type of car you choose, but a small one will suffice. You could also bring your own car or campervan to cut costs even more if you’re traveling there from continental Europe.
10. The Faroese residents want the world to see them!
With a hilarious campaign by the Faroe Islands Tourist Board to get Google Street View to visit, they were eventually successful and the Faroe Islands now have Street View! In another recent campaign, residents have been trying to add the Faroese language to the Google Translate platform, and it’s so far proved mighty successful.
Now that you’re equipped with everything you need to know about visiting the Faroe Islands, what are you waiting for?! Throw a few all-weather clothing items in a bag, along with your binoculars, camera, and Thermos flask, make a couple of reservations, and you’re good to go.
Just remember that the Faroe Islands are inhabited, even if some places may appear desolate, remote, and empty. For a continued and valued experience, you should always pick up your litter and be respectful of other people’s property, not to mention the beautiful islands themselves.