In the stormy depths of the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands make up an archipelago of 18 islands, found midway between Iceland and Scotland, that are increasingly attracting savvy travellers aware of their off-the-beaten-track status.
Here is your guide to the Faroe Islands, including the top five things global travellers love about them.*
Enjoy sensational views of the mountainous terrain
The beauty of the Faroe Islands doesn’t just lie in the volcanic landscape; it is also in the weather, the wildlife and the solitude. Of course there are towns (pretty ones) but the overwhelming majority of the land is populated only by flocks of shaggy-haired, grazing sheep. Though the scenery is stark in terms of trees, it isn’t barren. The grass is shamrock green from an abundance of rain and moody skies and watching thousands of puffins and other migrating seabirds swoop over the fjords, valleys and waterfalls on their way to nest in the cliffs is a joyful spectacle. Enjoy sensational views of the mountainous terrain from Eysturland Lodge.
Cod drying in the village of Gjógv
Technically part of Denmark, the islands have a strong Nordic culinary tradition featuring farm-to-table, organic meat and veg, alongside native seafood. Having won their first Michelin star this year, the Faroes are ever-more attractive to perceptive foodies, keen to sample of the spoils of this little-known cuisine. The Michelin-worthy restaurant in question is Koks, in the Faroe capital, Torshavn. It’s often booked well in advance but the pine-smoked langoustine and divine ocean views are worth waiting for. Head to the city’s harbour for a digestif local rhubarb beer. Hotel Hafnia is a highly-rated accommodation overlooking the harbour.
Friendly locals at the Føroyar Pride event
Though they do have their own language, almost all Faroese speak English and are incredibly welcoming to tourists (the novelty hasn’t worn off yet). Experience some real ‘heimablídni’ (the Faroese term for hospitality) by paying to have dinner in a local home; being served traditional, homemade Faroese food and chatting about everything from trends taking over the islands to what is grown on the farms. Stay in this eco-friendly guesthouse with stark natural surroundings on the second largest of the Faroe Islands, Eysturoy.
Visit Gjógv to admire the islands’ tallest sea stack
Hiking is the most popular pastime for those that visit the Faroe Islands. Trails crisscross the iridescent green pastures and follow the crest of the cliffs, with many options for varying levels but hikes are also separated based on what you want to see. You can follow the postman’s path up to the Gásadalur waterfall, take a four-hour round-trip from the village of Gjógv to admire the islands’ tallest sea stack, Búgvin, or climb to the top of the mountain of Slættaratindur for spectacular views of the whole archipelago. And during the summer, the Faroes’ northerly latitude means there are only a few hours of darkness per day, so hikes can last long into the night. Hike to Gásadalur from the highly-rated Giljanes Hostel.
The village of Saksun located on the island of Streymoy
Even the capital, Torshavn, is slow-paced and as pretty as a toy town. With a harbour bordered by boxy houses painted a colour palette of pillarbox-red, teal green and powder blue. Further afield, the only man-made constructions you’ll come across are cottages with grass-covered roofs and flocks of sheep. Add to that the fact that you’ll be one of very few tourists on the island, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a truly tranquil escape. A couple of kilometres from Torshavn, Hotel Føroyar is a peaceful design hotel whose artistic appearance is topped with a grass-covered roof.
** The data scientists at Booking.com looked at the top endorsements for the Faroe Islands by Booking.com customers.