A day in the Faroe Isles

The view from Gásadalur 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
📷 by Lonely Planet
Lonely planet ©

I have to be honest, before I booked a cruise visiting the Faroe Isles, I did not know a lot about them! I knew they existed, but that was probably the limit to my knowledge. I visited Torshavn by Sea, on a British Isles Cruise. The Faroe Isles are not part of the British Isles, they are located around 200 miles North of Scotland. They are a spectacular minor diversion add on to a British Isles Cruise.The Faroe Isles are a North Atlantic Archipelago located around half way between Norway and Iceland. They are an automatous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark, just like Greenland! The type of fact you should remember for a pub quiz!Do try and get up early to enjoy the little sail in to Torshavn, the Capital of the Faroe Isles where your ship is likely to dock.

Oriana docked in the Port of Torshavn 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
P&O Oriana docked in Tórshavn- Nocruisecontrol ©

Torshavn is on southern part on the east coast of Stremony, the largest and most populated island. When we sailed in, it was so foggy. We sailed aboard the former P&O Oriana, our balcony cabin was right next door to the Bridge. The fog was so thick, from the balcony we could hardly even see the Bridge and had no chance to see land!It was amazing how quickly the weather changed though, as you will see from photographs throughout this blog post.It did initially change for the worse and it spectacularly rained. Then, as island weather moves quickly, the rain blew over and the rest of the day we basked in beautiful sunshine. Do ensure you pack layers of clothes, the glorious sunshine is quite deceiving. The Faroe Isles, average top temperatures of 11-13°C during the summer.You will dock in the Port of Torshavn, it is a small capital city, home to around 17,000 people. It is quaint, charming, small and easy to walk around. I would suggest having a potter around and maybe combining this with an organised tour by your ship to explore out of town and make the most of your visit.

Clockwise from top left. 1.Orian in Torshavn 2. A street in Tinganes 3. Turf roofed buildings in Torshavn 4. An Torshavn alley.📷 by Nocruisecontrol
Clockwise from top left. 1.Oriana in Torshavn 2. A street in Tinganes 3. Turf roofed buildings in Torshavn 4. An Torshavn alley.📷 by Nocruisecontrol

On your potter around, look out for the fabulous turf roofed buildings around town. You will find them hard to miss! You will spot many if you explore beyond Torshavn.These turf topped roofs are a traditional Scandinavian type of roof. Turf covers several layers of bark on gently sloping wooden roof boards. There seem to be so many ideas as to why Scandinavians like a turf roof, the general consensus seems to be that they are heavy, so help to stabilise the house, they provide good insulation and they last a long time! I personally think they look fabulous too! I feel they are missing a sheep or two to graze up there!

Tórshavn Cathedral – Nocruisecontrol ©

During your potter around town, do make sure you visit the stunning Torshavn Cathedral. This white wooden boarded, slate roofed building is the second oldest church in the Faroe Isles. Since 1990 it has been the seat of the Bishop of the Faroes and has been known as a Cathedral since then.You will find the Cathedral in the part of town called Tinganes, though to be honest as Torshavn is lovely and quaint, you should not have any problem finding it! Tinganes, is an interesting part of town to wander around. It is the historic location of the Faroses Landsstyri , the Government of the Faroe Isles. The Parliament has met in this location since Viking times and it is known as one of the oldest Parliamentary meeting places in the World.

Clockwise from top left. 1. Oriana from the Tinganes peninsular 2. The Prime Ministers Office 3. Government buildings in Tinganes. 4. A harbour view in Torshavn 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
Clockwise from top left. 1. Oriana from the Tinganes peninsular 2. The Prime Ministers Office 3. Government buildings in Tinganes. 4. A harbour view in Torshavn 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

Rumour has it, the Faroe Isles actually has the Prime Minister’s phone number in the local phone book, gosh imagine if Boris had that… it would constantly ring off the hook. Take a stroll around the Government buildings and head to the end of the little peninsula to capture a fabulous photograph of your ship, I thoroughly enjoyed taking photographs of the resident ducks too!

Duck models in Tinganes 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
Duck models in Tinganes 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

Torshavn is a beautiful capital city, you really must save some time to explore. Do also try to get out of town and explore the more rural areas of the Faroe Isles. I do suggest you treat yourself to a shore excursion organised by your ship here. As you can see from the photograph below, Torshavn is small,( yet so perfectly formed! ) On a tour out of Torshavn your bus is probably likely to stop to allow for you to take panoramic photographs, for the eagle eyed amongst you, you will notice my Ship right in the centre of the photograph!

A panoramic view of Torshavn 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
A panoramic view of Torshavn 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

As you can also see, the weather perked up beautifully during my day visit, so please do not be disheartened if you also arrive in Fog, the weather will hopefully blow over!I went on a tour to explore the island of Vagar. I had done my research prior to visiting and had fallen in love with the Múlafossur waterfall in Gásadalur and really wanted to see it in person. Well to be fair I had fallen in love with many places unfortunately couldn’t visit everywhere! Vagar is one of the 18 Islands which make up the Faroe Isles archipelago, covering 69 square miles. If you arrive by air, the airport Is located on Vagar. It is the third largest Island after Streymoy and Eysturoy. On the drive to Vagar you will pass through a 4.9km long, tolled sub-sea tunnel. The Sea tunnels are impressive, there is one tunnel called Eysturoyartunnilin which even has a roundabout inside it, not just any roundabout, a roundabout fitted with metal artwork by Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson and lighting effects too!I visited the village of Gásadalur. In order to visit you are driven through the Gásadalstunnilin, a tunnel built in 2004 through the Knúkarnir Mountain, previously locals would of had to walk over the mountain to get around, climb down many steep steps to get a boat or use a helicopter. The tunnel is single track, 1.4km long and has dim light and was quite the nail biting drive, my fear would be meeting someone half way!

A selection of photographs taken in Gásadalur 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
A selection of photographs taken in Gásadalur 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

Gásadalur is a beautiful little village, located on the slopes of Mykinesfjørðu surrounded by some of the largest mountains on Vagar. Until the Gásadalur Tunnel was built , the village was very remote, so the population of the village has dropped in recent years, in 2019 around a dozen people lived there, farming is the main occupation.If you take a shore excursion visit here, do make sure you have a wander around, take some photos against the mountain background, and do not forget to admire and no doubt photograph the spectacular Múlafossur waterfall from the Múlafossur viewpoint. The viewpoint is just before the village. It is a breathtaking view!Next time I visit Vagar I want to visit Lake Sørvágsvatn. The largest lake in the Faroe Isles, it is located very close to the Sea, about 40m above sea level, surrounded by a high cliff to prevent the whole lake emptying into the sea! Here exists another famous, gorgeous waterfall, Bøsdalafossur. I’d also love to hike up to Trælanípan for the best view of this area. Do let me know if you have visited, I’d love to hear about your experiences.We then drove back through the Gásadalur tunnel, and stopped to visit Bøur, another village on the Isle of Vagar, also with a very small population of around 80 people. As part of the Shore excursion we were dropped off and given the opportunity to walk through the village and be picked up on the other side.

A selection of photographs of Bøur.📷 by Nocruisecontrol
A selection of photographs of Bøur.📷 by Nocruisecontrol

Bøur is located on the banks of the Sørvágsfjørður. The old wooden houses are all bunched up together along quaint little lanes around the small church which was built back in 1865.Do ensure you bring your camera off the bus with you. There is a fabulous view over the sea and the rocky islet Tindhólmur with its five castle-like peaks you will want to capture.

Sandavágur Church 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
Sandavágur Church 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

A short drive away is the town of Sandavágur. A larger town, with a population of around 800. Here I visited the distinctive red-roofed Church which was built in 1917. The church contains a 13th-century rune stone bearing an inscription stating that a Norwegian Viking, Torkil Onandarson, was the first settler here in Sandavágur.

A selection of photographs taken in and around the Sandavágur Church 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
A selection of photographs taken in and around the Sandavágur Church 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

I’m not a religious person, however I love these little Churches dotted all over the Faroe Isles. This church in Sandavágur. almost has fairytale look about it. It’s so simply beautiful. No extravagance, just incredibly beautiful. The tour group were invited in to admire the interior of the building. The beautiful simplicity continues inside. A lovely little mezzanine level with an organ. A beautiful light blue ceiling and plain white wooden board walls. Fuss free decorations, simple biblical paintings. Simple and beautiful. I loved the addition of a Ship suspended from the ceiling, a Votive Ship. Apparently these Ships would have been gifted to the Church by seamen and ship builders. This ship looked fabulous, even admiring it from the ground you could see the attention to detail put into building it by whoever did build it!

The drive back to Torshavn was the most scenic of scenic drives. The scenery of the Faroe Isles is spectacular, being Welsh and from near Snowdonia, I am no stranger to fantastically beautiful scenery, the only way I could describe the Faroe Isles, was Wales, on steroids!After having a taster of the Faroe Isles, I most definitely want to return as soon as it’s safe, by sea or air, whichever is deemed safe soonest! I’ve had a little look at some of the excursions Cruise Lines offer to decide where I want to visit when I return. I will share these plans with you, so if you visit, you can have an idea of everything the Faroe isles have to offer so you can pick what you fancy for your short stay!

Rib Safari – A Rib safari is a popular choice in the Scandinavian Cruise ports, I keep meaning to take on in the Norwegian Fjords, they look so much fun! A Rib Safari in the Faroe Isles would be a fabulous place to explore the local nature and a spectacular way to see the Sea cliffs. You’ll join 11 fellow passengers in Torshavn and head to explore at speeds of up to 50 knots. If weather permits, you will be zipped into some of the picturesque grottoes and between freestanding cliffs for the best viewpoint on any wildlife. Sounds like the type of adventure made for a GoPro! Wrap up warm and, it goes without saying listen to all the safety rules from your guide! Do let me know if you take this trip, I would love to see your photographs.

Saksun & Kollafjordur – Visit the remote hillside village of Saksun. This enchanting village has around 15 inhabitants, lots of grazing sheep, traditional grass roof houses, and a picturesque church built back in 1858. Then drive on to explore Kollafjordur, another lovely village located along the northern shore of the Kollafjørður Fjord. I absolutely love the little church in Kollafjordur, it has a little grass roof, just like residential houses. I would love to snap a photograph of the local sheep on the roof hehe maybe something for the future! Do ensure you don’t doze whilst being driven around on your excursion, every driving moment has a fabulous view to admire! It is a good job I wouldn’t be driving myself… I would be stopping every few metres for a photo spot!

Northern Eysturoy – Head off to explore the Faroe Isle’s second largest island.Pay attention when you head over the Streymin Bridge, you will be travelling over one of only a few bridges over the Atlantic Ocean! A trip to Eysturoy will then likely take you to Gjógv. A beautiful village located in the North eat tip of the island. Gjógv is named after the 200m gorge which runs from the village to the Ocean. It will come as no surprise that it’s history lies in Fishing.I would love to visit the Gjógv incline railway! My Husband works as a head Engineer for a fleet of trains, so it is a bit of a running joke that we visit lots of weird and wonderful railways! The Gjógv incline railway sounds like quite a sight. It is a a narrow-gauge line from the low-level harbour inside the gorge to the village. There is no train as such, the freight wagons are moved using a winch system. The Winch house is located high up overlooking the Gorge, it uses an underground rope to winch wagons up. It was installed to transport goods from boats in the harbour to the village, back before there were reliable road links. Most products are transported by road now. Apparently it is still serviceable and occasionally transports goods, boats and even occassionally people! I would love to visit and see it being operated!

Vestmanna Sea Cliffs – On a future visit I would love to take a peaceful boat trip to admire the fantastic scenic Vestmanna Sea Cliffs. Definitely a trip to have your camera with you! Exploring breathtaking narrow sounds and exploring deep grottoes, carved by the powerful Atlantic waves. Personally I think the highlight of a trip like this for me, would be the Sea birds. I am not twitcher, so would not know what I am looking at, but as an avid lover of nature, animals and all creatures I’d be in my element observing these gorgeous birds in their natural habitat.One bird I would be able to recognise and long to spot ( I failed in the Shetland Isles back in 2019 despite constantly being on the look out!) is a Puffin. These beautiful little birds are known as Lundi in the Faroe Isles. The birds visit the Islands every year and can be spotted from mid April to September. Do wrap up warm on these trips, the sunshine can be deceiving, outside of direct sunshine it can still be quite chilly, take a few layers to ensure you keep comfortable.
There is something a little special about visiting an island , which has such a special relationship with the Atlantic Ocean, by ship whilst sailing through the Atlantic Ocean!You can also visit the Faroe Isles by air, via the National Airline, Atlantic Airways. There are regular flights between the Danish mainland and the islands along with other routes from alternative European Cities, including London. and some airports in Scotland.Of note, if you do visit independently, Atlantic Airways also operate domestic helicopter services. Whilst on tour the guide explained to us, Helicopters are often the easiest and quickest way to travel around, so they are treated like Taxi’s on the Faroe Isles. Alongside some of the larger towns, there was lie a helipad, like a empty taxi rank! You could get a helicopter ride from Vagar, the airport, to Torshavn for a £25 one way fare.I do assume that most of you reading this post, are Cruise fans, so you’re likely to want to visit the Specatcular Faroe Isles by Sea!According to Iglu.com the following Cruise Lines visit the Faroe Isles, Silversea, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, P&O Cruises, Cunard, Windstar, Aurora Expeditions, Azamara, Fred Olsen and Tradewind Voyages. If you choose to visit, have a wonderful time!

Posing in Gasadalur 📷 by Nocruisecontrol
Posing in Gasadalur 📷 by Nocruisecontrol

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