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Visiting the Faroe Islands - Part 1

Updated: May 1, 2020

Submitted by Robert B.

Shepherds Hut

Introduction: The Faroes are a group of islands in the stormy North Atlantic, located in the triangle formed by Iceland, Norway, and Scotland. These islands were carved out by glaciers during the last ice age, and are separated by long, narrow fjords. These sparsely populated islands are famous for dramatic landscapes and seascapes, as well as abundant bird life. I was fortunate to visit the Faroes on a photo tour in July 2019. Due to their location at 62 deg North, in summer, the sun rises around 3am, and sets about 11pm, there being only about 4 hours of twilight. This can make for beautiful, long lasting sunsets.

History: The Irish monk St Brendan the Navigator visited the “island of sheep” in the 500s, according to legend. The first Norse settlers arrived in the early 800s, and the Faroes have remained a Norse outpost for centuries.

Today the Faroes are part of The Kingdom of Denmark, but with home rule on domestic matters. Population of the Faores is about 50,000. There are about twice as many sheep as people. The capital city Torshavn has population of 25,000, the second city Klaksvik has about 5000 inhabitants.

Faroyar means Sheep

Sunset at Drangarnir

Weather: The Faroes are located at 62 deg North, which is farther north than Anchorage, Alaska. Due to the moderating influence of the North Atlantic, the temperatures are warmer in winter and cooler in summer than one might expect. Daily highs in summer are about 50 deg F, winter daytime highs are usually 30 deg F. Most days have rain and wind all year, with small amounts of snow in winter at higher elevations.

Dress in layers, have warm, waterproof clothing and gear. A serious raincoat and rainpants are essential. There are streams, waterfalls, and mud all over due to the large amounts of rainfall. We used hiking poles and cheap crampons on several hikes due to the mud on the trails.

Economy: The Faroese economy is largely based on fishing, both commercial fishing and fish farming. Tourism has increased in recent years, but not to the extent which tourists have affected Iceland.

Currency: both the Faroese kronur and the Danish kronor are accepted, and are of equal value in the Faroes. However the Faroese kronur cannot be spent in Denmark itself. So you will need to spend your Faroese currency at the airport, or keep it as a souvenir. Major credit cards are widely accepted.

The islands are connected by bridges, tunnels, or ferries. Almost all the foods except fish are imported from Denmark or Britain. Fishing Boats at Klaksvik

Sheep: Faroyar means sheep. These are free ranging and may be in the roads and on the edges of cliffs. They are generally oblivious to tourists and photographers. There are a smaller number of cattle.

Almost all the land in the Faroes is privately owned, different than Britain's open access and America's federal lands. There has been some move to restricting access and charging fees at many popular locations.

There are no wild mammals native to the Faores. The landscape is covered with grasses, trees are only planted around houses as windbreaks. I didn't see any large farms with wheat, corn, or dairy farms.

Transportation: Atlantic Airways has four flights a day from Copenhagen to the airport on Vagar. There are also flights from Reykjavik and Edinburgh 2-3 times a week. I chose to fly from Copenhagen, because if your flight gets canceled due to weather, it is easier to reschedule a flight.

The airport is located on the island Vagar, about 45 min by shuttle bus from the capital city Torshavn. There are rental cars available at the airport.

Double Ended Boat

Hotels and Food: We stayed 3 nights at a hotel by the airport, and visited the sights nearby on Vagar, then moved to Klaksvik for 3 nights for access to those locations. The hotel rooms were clean, warm, large, and quiet, but basic. There were nice basic buffet breakfasts at both hotels. We mostly ate at the hotel in Vagar, and at a steak and seafood restaurant in Klaksvik. There is also a brewery in Klaksvik. You won't find elegant dining here, Seaman's Home, Klaksvik Hotel

like in Copenhagen or Stockholm, but there

is plenty of good food and its less expensive anyway. Some people could live on Scandinavian hot dogs from the convenience stores.

A Photographer's Dream

Next time in The Faroes Part 2 I will review some of the popular spots for tourists and photographers, the must see places you will want to visit.


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