Norway is a wonderful Scandinavian country which not only is one of the last monarchies but like a distinct world where nature has its real dominion. It is a diverse country that has a lot to offer for its residents but also tourists whose number is growing from year to year. This once-forgotten country now is becoming one of the best travel destinations. It didn’t use to be an obvious one, even among European tourists even though it was so easy to reach. It is, however, definitely worth recommending. Many of you who come to travel around Norway are wondering if it is worth it to organize a trip to the Faroe Islands too? If it is part of Norway, Iceland or Denmark, how to get there and what to see. Most of the people who are wondering about traveling to the Faroe Islands associate them with grass-roofed houses, dried cod and a place where sheep are more numerous than people. In this post, we will shed some light on this volcanic archipelago and you will find out everything you should know about the Faroe Islands.
Let’s start with the name of the islands and where it comes from. The name Føroyar, from the Old Norse language, means „sheep islands”. The Faroe Islands even used the ram as their symbol. The inhabitants from the Faroe Islands use a unique unit of measurement to the sheep, known as the "Mork". It is not a constant physical quantity though. It is determined by the capacity of the stomachs of animals along with the soil fertility level. For example, 1 Mork is the area needed to feed 32 sheep. It was written down in the so-called „ sheep letter” - Seyðabrævið which is the oldest document written in Faroese.
Where are the Faroe Islands?
The Faroe Islands are an archipelago of 18 volcanic islands with a very mountainous surface located in the north Atlantic ocean, halfway between Norway and Iceland.
The biggest islands are Streymoy with its surface of 373 square kilometers and Eysturoy with 286 square kilometers. The coasts are rocky and steep. Some of them only are categorized as fjords. The highest cliffs of Europe can be found here and among the most famous ones is the Enniberg which is located in Viðoy.
You will also be able to find here some rivers which are quite short and narrow though. They only gain strength when the snow is melting after the wintertime. The largest lake in the Faroe Islands is Sorvagsvatn and is located on Vagar island. It is a small island but quite popular with a very dangerous airport that you might have seen already on some YouTube videos. It is said that to land in Vagar airport, the plane needs few attempts at least. This is due to the strong winds.
The climate of the Faroe Islands is not as harsh as one would think. The rainfall is very high indeed but winters are relatively warm while summers are cool. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, the temperatures here are very favorable. The average temperature you can expect here in winter is around 3º Celcius. The average temperature in the warmest month which is August is around 10º Celcius. Apart from the rain you can as well expect it to be very cloudy and windy which is the result of the influence of the ocean. It means that the right warm and waterproof clothes are a must for your trip to the Faroe Islands.
Faroe Islands language
To a certain extent, the Faroe Islands are quite independent but the Farerom (native people from Faroe Island) had no such luck though and remained as a part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In the XIX century, the Faroe Islands gained limited autonomy. The nationalist movement led as well to the beginning of writing the Faroese language. It is now the official language of the islands, along with Danish. A small group of people can speak Danish as well but they are mostly immigrants from Denmark and mainly residents of the capital city. Do not worry if you do not speak any of these two languages. You will be able to communicate here easily because English is commonly known on the islands.
How to reach the Faroe Islands?
The easiest and possibly the best way to get to the Faroe Islands is by plane. There are also many ferries going from Iceland. This is a great option for those who are already traveling around Iceland. They can connect their journey with the Faroe Islands. Once you’ve arrived, we do recommend to rent a car which will ease your travel around the islands. Many places can be reached by car but remember that the best pearls are always hidden, so it is worth leaving your car in the parking lot and walking off the beaten path to see as much as possible.
The Faroe Islands are a country for active people, definitely for those who love outdoor activities. If you have decided to come here, you must be prepared for some long walks of several kilometers in order to see some spectacular cliffs or waterfalls. It is totally worth the effort though – let that be your motivation. The trekking paths are not marked so do not look for signs, just follow the trodden path.
How many days for the Faroe Islands?
It is worth spending at least a week in the Faroe Islands to visit as many interesting places as possible. You will be able to see a large part of the archipelago. Unless you connect your trip with exploring the natural beauty of Norway as well, then you will need a double of time. The most popular island among tourists is Mykines. It is a very specific island, with no roads and with only one village. This is the perfect place for outdoor lovers and those who would like to see the famous puffins. The capital city is Torshavn and you should also visit it. You will be able to enjoy the old town here, visit a parliament and the only shopping mall on the islands.
The best part about the Faroe Islands is that whenever you go, the landscapes are so delightful that you will be amazed and will not regret any movement you made on the islands. Nature lovers will not be disappointed here.
Do I need a visa to visit the Faroe Islands?
Although the Faroe Islands are dependent on Denmark, they belong to neither the European Union nor the Schengen Area. The valid passport is then the document that will allow you to enter the Faroe Islands. A visa is not required nor necessary to apply for. The maximum period you can stay in the Faroe Islands is 3 months. You will be requested in addition to submit proof of having enough financial resources upon entry. So if you are already spending some time in Norway and decide to visit these islands nearby, it will not be that complicated.
As not being a member of the European Union, the EU citizens have also no right to medical care in the Faroe Islands. The European Health Insurance Card does not apply here either. In this case, we do recommend you to purchase personal health insurance which will cover the costs of treatment, hospital stay and transporting the patient to the country of the origin, etc.