Let’s just say we did not get off to a great start on our way to the Faroe Islands. After one nearly missed flight and a $120 taxi ride later to the right airport (double-check all your airport codes in advance!) we also realized upon arriving we had missed the only bus departing from the Faroe Island airport for the next few hours. Great. A short, 15 minute taxi ride would have been $30 per person.
When you’re ballin’ on a budget, that is just not happening.
On foot, it was a stretch to get to our Airbnb before dark. And with heavy backpacks and suitcases, that didn’t seem very realistic in the rain. Starving (the only café was closed) and desperate, I called up our host, Inga to see if there was any way, any sort of way at all, that she may want to drop everything she was doing to swing by.
“I’ll send my husband to come get you, not a problem! Look for the blue car.”
“This is incredible, thank you. What kind of car is it?”
“You know, a blue car. It’s a very pretty blue.”
Luckily, the Faroe Islands has a population of about 50,000, roughly the same amount living in my hometown, so here’s to hoping there wouldn’t be too many “pretty blue” cars coming to the airport. Hans shows up a few minutes later and eagerly helps us into the car, chatting with us in broken English.
Alright, but what’s so special about the Faroe Islands?
So let’s just say there’s a pretty good chance you have yet to hear about the Faroe Islands. It’s only an hour plane ride from Iceland (two from Norway, Denmark, & Scotland) for starters. The plane was half-empty, and the ride relatively quiet. Located between Iceland and Norway, this tiny cluster of islands is not quite an independent country, but a self-governing part of the kingdom of Denmark.
As we approached the jutting greenery, I became giddy as I looked out the window and listened to the kind Icelander-turned-Faroese man tell us all about the islands, the people, and anything we may need to know. I first started my obsession when I saw what must be a photoshopped photo of a river over an ocean, an optical illusion on the island of Vágar. Because I have never been one of the lucky, our short stay didn’t permit a hike up to the spot. The locals heavily cautioned against trekking into the dense fog that settles on the mountaintops on your own. Remembering those steep cliffs jutting up from the dark water on our plane’s descent, I was not eager to take any chances.
You’ll make friends anywhere you go.
Throughout our stay and travels to the various islands, we were constantly greeted with a level of hospitality and kindness far-surpassing any other place I’ve ever been. I even have an entire separate post on the kindness of strangers on Faroe Islands that’s in the works. Any time we seemed the slightest bit lost we’d be approached by a Faroese who immediately proceeded to walk us to wherever we needed to go.
As if we hadn’t just met moments before and in fact we were all good friends on our way to dinner, discussing the weather.
Even when we wandered the streets aimlessly looking for our second Airbnb in Tórshavn, we had a local walk us to the house, knowing exactly where a person lived just by their last name. Every island we explored was the same in that way, generations of Faroese often lived in the same towns.
In Klaksvík, we made the mistake of trying to find anything open on a Sunday. It had started to rain and we found ourselves nearly sprinting into the only open convenience store. Though we entered for shelter and coffee, we somehow left with two coffees and two tour guides. They drove us around for 4 hours, pointing out each place their family members lived in. Somehow we ended up at their boathouse eating various chocolates and talking about the state of the world.
It’s truly something else there.
The remote, yet beautiful views Faroe Islands has to offer.
The capital town Tórshavn had a vibe similar to a mini Copenhagen complete with brightly colored buildings in the main area. Every bus ride offered some of the most stunning views as we weaved along the roads and through mountains. Having to crane my neck up to see the jutting landscape, Faroe Islands tugged at my heart the way Norway’s scenic landscape did the first time I visited. It was breathtaking, and a large contrast to some of Iceland’s hauntingly desolate landscape we had become accustomed to. Even the sheep were different. The textured fur really gave the windblown look a new meaning.
The best way for me to sum up the landscape of the Faroe Islands is probably how I’d describe their sheep: rugged, yet beautiful in their own quiet and unassuming way.
Weird comparison, but let’s just go with it.
Plus, have you seen this??
Government subsidized helicopter rides.
You read that right. The infrastructure and tunnels are fairly new, (as in, the islands just became inter-connected by tunnel in the 1970’s) some constructed between the islands as recently as the 2002. Some of the Faroese opt to take helicopter rides in between the islands, sometimes even on their way to work (as told by my host at least.)
At $30 a ride, there was no way I wasn’t getting the experience of being in a helicopter for the first time. And seeing the islands through the foggy windows wasn’t exactly the worst view in the world.
The raging nightlife.
Oh, the nightlife.
Around 10 pm on a Friday, Marla and I became disappointed to not see too many people out. Even at the popular spot called Sirkus, the three-level bar/club/restaurant complete with an outdoor stand for serving more drinks. Aside from a very inebriated man being carried away by his friends, we had the place to ourselves. Overall, the town seemed relatively sleepy.
Slightly dejected, we headed back into our host Sigga’s home for the evening. As soon as we shut the front door, we heard a faint laugh in the back room. Sigga and her friends invited us for more drinks, and for what I believed a night in.
Similar to Iceland, the Faroese don’t start going out until 1-2 am with 4 am bar closings.
I figured after downing their coffee, cream, and some sort of hard alcohol mixed together, they’d call it a night. But at 2 am when Marla had long fallen asleep on the couch and I was about ready for bed, I watched in amazement as Sigga’s friends began fixing their lipstick in preparation to go out. Despite the age difference of around 20 years, they extended the invitation nevertheless. Not one to pass on an opportunity to “go out” on the Faroe Islands, I headed back down to Sirkus with them to see a completely different scene.
Picture a broken-up New Year’s eve bash at a local bar. Where everyone leaves all at once without a clue of where to go next, but just happy to be there.
That was Tórshavn coming alive at 2 am.
Intoxicated bodies congested the streets with their flailing limbs and seemingly deep conversation starting in the middle of the roads. The nearly empty bar we had left hours ago had turned the middle floor into a packed mini-club. In a true, two left feet fashion, I joined the dancing bodies. And at 4 am when tired bouncers pushed everyone out, I watched stumbling patrons waving their stolen glasses in the air, carrying the party all the way home.
Overall, I would definitely add the Faroe Islands to any traveler’s to-do list.
Perfect for solo travelers and extremely female-friendly, it’s a quick flight over from the surrounding countries. We relied completely on the bus system as the public transportation is plentiful. Minus our tour guides of course. They were more than eager to drive us around in the rain as we waited for our helicopter flight. Bless them. It’s a place I’d love to revisit for more than a mere three days. Or at the very least not on another Sunday. I plan on going back, especially to finally trek to the river above the ocean illusion.
Budget-wise, I’d say prices are pretty comparable to Iceland’s steep price tags. But as any savvy budget traveler knows, grocery stores are your friend. We didn’t really find a lot of on-budget hostels or hotels, opting for various Airbnb’s as couch surfing was also sparse at the time of looking. But, if you’re similar to me in the sense your heart squeezes a little tighter at the sight of mountains, Faroe Islands may need a second look when booking your next vacation.