A week in the Faroe Islands
Arriving into Vágar airport, the only airport in the Faroe Islands, on a clear day is really quite spectacular as the plane tilts and turns to give you a view over the islands. The airport only has a few flights in and out each day from Scotland, the Scandinavian countries and Iceland and so the arrival and customs process is quick and easy.
Alcohol is expensive in the Faroe Islands and can only be purchased in bars and restaurants or one of the six licensed stores on the island. As a result, you will see the locals picking up alcohol from duty free and, if you fancy a few drinks in your apartment, I recommend you do the same.
Day 1 - An evening in the Capital
We stayed in the capital city, Tórshavn, for the duration of our trip but some people we met had decided to move around. Either option is possible as it doesn't take long to drive between the islands, however, it may be worth planning your stays carefully as the toll roads are expensive, £12 for a return trip. There are a couple of hotels in the Faroe Islands but the majority of people, us included, stay in Air BnBs as there is more choice. Restaurants get very busy at weekends in Tórshavn and so I suggest you reserve a table before you leave home as otherwise you may be left eating takeaway burger and chips like we did on our first evening! Our personal favourite restaurants were Katrina Christianson and Etika.
Day 2- Vágar Island - Sørvágsvatn lake and horse riding
In my opinion, the island with the most sights and activities was Vágar and so I recommend you spend 1-2 days here.
The first place to visit is Sørvágsvatn Lake, the largest lake in the Faroe Islands, which you probably recognise from photographs as it almost appears to hover over the sea. The hike out to the lake takes about 45 minutes each way and is flat and easy to walk. There is a car park on the outskirts of Miðvágur as you approach the town from the airport which can be easily seen from the road. The route is clearly marked from the car park and follows the shore of the lake all the way so you can't get lost. When you reach the black sand beach at the end, cross it and climb the hill on the other side to get that iconic view over the lake. Unfortunately, despite doing this hike twice, both times the clouds were so dense that I couldn't get a photograph worth sharing, however, either way it is still worth doing.
Before we left the UK, we booked a 2 hour horse riding trip with Davidsen Hestar who is also based in Miðvágur. You are taken out in small groups and spend a couple of hours climbing up the hills behind the Sørvágsvatn Lake to in order to get some amazing views over the town and lake. This was an incredible experience, especially as I was given a cheeky horse named Pegasus who kept trying to speed up and take the lead, and so if you have a spare few hours in this area I highly recommend you give horse riding a go.
Day 3 - Saksun
The village of Saksun sits in a valley leading out to the sea and should definitely be on your itinerary. As you approach the village there are two options, you can turn left before the bridge and proceed into the village or you can cross the bridge and continue up along the mountainside. I suggest you start with the first option and park in the village car park to take a stroll through the valley and out onto the black sands. The path is clearly marked, and depending on tides you should be able to cross the black sand onto the beach. The beach is a popular place with locals and we saw a number of them swimming in the sea (which must have been freezing) on our visit which was on a pretty cloudy and dark day.
You take the same route back to your car and then you can drive to the second car park across the bridge. When you get out of your car take the route straight ahead towards the mountain slope, not the route to the right up to the buildings (although there are toilets here). You will cross a bridge and then start walking up the grassy hillside slope in front of you, it's marked with red and yellow posts so you should be able to see the route. If you look up and to the left you will see a cairn at the top of the hill and that is where you need to aim for. The route is easy to follow and is marked with posts the entire away. Once you reach the top the landscape plateaus and you will find yourself in a river valley. The posts are no longer visible here and so you will have to rely on cairns which begin off to your right and eventually lead you to a narrow path dirt path leading up the mountain side. Take this path and follow it to the top at which point you will be able to see an incredible view down into Tjørnuvík and the two rock pillar formations, Risin and Kellingin. Getting to this point took us about two hours and we couldn't see much past the fog and mist so we decided to turn back and not continue into Tjørnuvík, however, I understand you simply need to follow the cairns for another hour and you will reach the town.
Day 4 - Mykines Puffin Island
The highlight of my trip was Mykines Island, an absolutely beautiful island which in my view demonstrated the best landscape in the Faroe Islands as well as having the added benefit of thousands of nesting puffins. An incredible experience for an avid photographer like myself.
There are two ways to visit Mykines, by ferry or by helicopter, subsidised by the Government as search and rescue training for its pilots. Make sure you visit Mykines early in your trip because the ferry is often cancelled due to bad weather as the seas are extremely rough on the way out to the island even on a clear day - when we were there the ferry had only made it to the island 7 out of 28 days of May. Although the helicopter sounds like a great idea I would suggest booking the ferry both ways as, like we found, the helicopter always travels but you may make it to the terminal in the morning to be told they have cancelled the ferry. As such, if you still decided to go ahead with the helicopter trip you would potentially be stranded on Mykines overnight as you can only return via ferry. All of the 12 people booked on our helicopter decided not to take the risk, losing the money they had paid, and all took the ferry both ways the next day. I would recommend you book the ferry in advance (you do get reimbursed if it is cancelled).
If you take the 30 minute journey to Mykines and return via the same route you will have roughly 5.5 hours on the island which is more than enough time so do not rush on the island hiking route. As you get off the ferry, you climb up the stairs in front of you and approach the small village. The route starts up the obviously marked grassy path to your left which winds its way along the island to the light house at the end. The route is covered with puffins and gannets (as well as sheep of course) and so make sure you take it all in as you proceed to the lighthouse at the end, you will then return via the same route. We had plenty of time at the end before the ferry and so I suggest a visit to one of the cafes in the village, they can be found up the hill to the left near the yellow hostel building.
Day 5 - Slættaratindur
No trip to the Faroe Islands would be complete without climbing Slættaratindur, the highest mountain in the Faroes. To get here, you need to head towards Eiði and then, as you approach the town, take the road off to the right towards Funningur and Gjógv. Continue along this road until you reach the mountain pass at which point you will see a small car park on the left. The route up Slættaratindur starts directly in front of you, up the grassy hillside. The route is well marked and easy to follow to the rock formations at the top, which you will be able to see as you climb, but please be aware the route is steep. When you reach the top of the hill you will have to climb the rocks which is very precarious and so be careful and take your time as the path is slippery due to the gravel. The views from the top, however, are spectacular and so make the climb worth it.
The route down is even more difficult as its very easy to slip and fall so it will take you longer to descend than you think. The whole climb up and down took us about 2.5 hours.
From here, we drove into Gjógv which is a beautiful little town and well worth the visit. The town is very picturesque, full of pretty houses and a stream running through the town. The guest house at the top of the village is worth stopping into for a drink or some lunch.
There are plenty of other hikes in this area but we chose to do one from Oyndarfjørður. As you drive into the town you can park at the local shop and start the route from here. You walk towards the left (if you are facing the shop) and take the path on your left (the road is called Fløtuvegur). When you reach the end of this path at the top of the village you turn right into a field and head towards the stone wall. When you reach the wall, you turn left and follow the path through a gate into another field. From here the path is clearly marked and you follow it to the waters edge where the path winds along the cliff face and down into the village Elduvíksgjógv. As you get near to the village you can see Funnigur across the water and Slættaratindur in the distance. This walk is fairly easy and takes about 3 hours return.
Day 6 - Kalsoy
Kalsoy isn't on everyone's itinerary but it should be on yours as the walk out to Kallur lighthouse is really quite special and the view of the lighthouse with the rolling hills behind it is breathtaking. You need to drive to Klaksvík which is the second largest town in the Faroe Islands. From here you can get a car ferry to Kalsoy but make sure you are early for your desired ferry as there is only room for roughly 12-14 cars and only two ferries go each morning.
Once you reach Kalsoy, a 15 minute ride from Klaksvík, you will drive straight along the one road on the island to Trøllanes, passing through a number of tunnels and past the town of Mikladalur. You can stop in Mikladalur to see the seal woman statue which is famous in the area but it isn't that exciting so don't be upset if you miss it.
Once you reach the town of Trøllanes you can choose to turn left or right near the waters edge and you should turn right to park your car. Then you take the left hand route towards the hill and the red gate. Once you pass through the red gate you are on the right track and can see the path marked ahead of you which curls up the hill to the right. At the top of the hill there is a path slightly off to the left and this is the one you want to take; it follows a slight incline all the way to the lighthouse, circa 45 minutes away. This route is clearly marked but the area is often extremely foggy in the morning and so tourists are known to get lost, we walked off the path at one point as we thought we may be going the wrong way. However, if you follow the path you will soon find yourself walking along the side of a hill, past some cattle shelters and will be able to see the lighthouse upon a hill straight ahead of you.
Once you reach the lighthouse make sure you take the time to follow the stepped pathway down to the land mass which sticks out into the water to get those amazing views of the lighthouse with the mountains behind. Make sure you take your time here, especially if its foggy, as I understand the fog often clears in the early afternoon like it did for us which meant we could actually see our route back!
Day 7 - Mulafossur waterfall and the route from Fuglafjørður
One of my favourite hikes in the Faroe islands is the route from Bøur to Gásadalur and the incredible Mulafossur waterfall. The hike starts just before the tunnel leading to Gásadalur after you pass the town of Bøur where there is a small area to park plus spaces at the side of the road. The trail starts from near the waters edge and winds up the hillside. The route to the top of the hill is steep and not particularly well marked but if you head up and to the left you will soon reach some cairns. At the top of the hill, continue to follow the cairns to the top of Gásadalsbrekkan, which is the highest point. You will be able to see the steep rocky winding path down in to Gásadalur where it turns into a grassy sloping path. When you reach the road at the bottom you need to turn left and follow it into Gásadalur. The Mulafossur waterfall is well signposted and can be seen from the top viewing platform although you can also climb down the steep stairs to the rocky platform at the bottom of the falls. The entire hike takes about 4.5-5 hours return.
The other hike we chose to do this day, albeit not particularly close to the Gásadalur hike, was from Fuglafjørður to Hellurnar. When you arrive in Fuglafjørður head to the football pitch at the top of the village and, with the pitch below you as you face the water, turn left and walk along the main road. Then take the first path on the left (Skarðsrás) and head through the gate at the top of the pathway into the field behind. Continue through this field to the gate at the top, keeping the stream on your right. At this point you will see the cairns and can follow these up the hill until you reach the the peak at Skarðið approximately an hour from your starting point. Here, you will see large two cairns which tradition says you should throw three rocks onto each pile to ensure a safe journey forward. Climb over the ladder in the fence at which point you have two choices. One thing you cannot miss on this hike is the views from Altarið which is the peak you can see on your right hand side. Climb the hill and continue out to the edge, there isn't a path, until you reach a pile of rocks which marks the uppermost point. The views from here are incredible and only takes you 20 minutes return to reach. You can return back from here, giving you a total hike of 2 and a half hours or you can continue straight down the hill from Skarðið and follow the cairns down into the town of Hellurnar which is an additional hours walk (one way).
Day 8 - Home Time
Time to return back to Vágar airport for your journey home.