Faroe Islands Overview
These proud, little visited island communities in the North Atlantic – perched halfway between Iceland and Norway - are just a short hop from the mainland UK, but home to their own eclectic cultural influences. Technically the islands are a self-governing part of Denmark, and Vikings once roamed these craggy, wind-swept coasts. Christianity, however, retained a strong foothold, and an awestruck respect for their wave-battered surroundings is an equally stalwart part of the islanders make up.
There are 18 islands in all, and you can explore them by aging fishing boat, or climb the windswept fells through muddy marshland, before evenings round the pub fire taking in an energetic local music scene. Hilltop horse rides wind down towards the cliff edges, taking travelers through crowds of seals and puffins; the luckier visitor may even spot a whale breaching of the coast. For the locals, fishing is a major pastime, and the resulting clean-water seafood is divine. Equally, visitors can pull on their own waders and join the hardy islanders.
Canoeing and kayaking amongst the rugged coastlines is another lively pursuit, while diving in the clear (but bitter) North Atlantic offers a totally different underwater experience to the more commonly-dived tropical reefs.
Most visitors are charmed by the Faroe Islands’ teeny villages, where black tarred walls protect the houses from the elements, and a garden-like layer of grass creeps over the rooftops. Together with the fells and waterfalls that often form the village backdrop, they’re highly photogenic; the houses crowd close together, like the buildings themselves are sheltering from the weather’s onslaught. The sites are almost entirely wild, yet tranquil, like Slættaratindur, the fog-wrapped mountain peak, or Risin og Kellingin, two sturdy rock stacks off the northern coast.
To finish off your stay, a traditional Faroese evening is essential, with a seafood platter (be sure to try the stuffed puffin) and poetry readings followed by dancing and trips to the bar. The Faroes are a part of Europe that most travelers never see, and their unique mix of cultures and newfound accessibility make them a fantastic off-the-beaten-track attraction. Just don’t forget your raincoat.