As my life in general simplifies, so too does my desire to travel to picturesque, uncomplicated places. Where raw beauty and nature are the drawcards. Where the people are down to earth and genuine. And where masses of tourists have yet to descend.
There’s a pattern. I really have no idea why I am being constantly pulled toward these isolated, tempestuous locations.
I am perplexed, considering I have lived most of my life living on the east coast of Australia surrounded by so many people, why as I get older, I crave less of everything.
There is something so appealing about remote destinations. Don’t get me wrong, I like people.
Most of the time. I love a good conversation and company as much as the next, but I CRAVE quiet time. Time to think, reflect, write, ponder and dream. And being in nature brings me a lot of peace.
And even after being here for such a short time in the mountains I love the sense of community. To some, it can seem like everyone wants to be in your business. But I don’t mind. I really don’t have a lot of business for people to be in!
And there is something comforting about people being aware of you. That sounded wrong! What I mean is that people look out for each other.
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It seems that my everyday desires keep spilling into my travel dreams.
If you read my previous post – 3 Must-See Bucket List Destinations – you will know that the Faroe Islands has been added to my travel bucket list only recently. And after writing this, they have nudged there way up behind Scotland. Sorry, Iceland and Alaska!
A huge attraction of these isolated islands, apart from the landscape, is the lack of tourists. I freaking hate crowds!
Iceland is somewhere I very much want to visit, but I will have to go in winter if I am to avoid the ever-increasing tourist numbers. The Faroe Islands are still relatively unknown and that is immensely appealing to me.
What am I talking about travel clothes?! I’m going to need them for winter here at home.
My wardrobe is going to need a major overhaul in the winter clothes department because I only just made it through the last one after we moved here mid-winter.
The only foreseeable issue I may have with the Faroe Islands is driving.
Well driving not so much, but driving on the “wrong” side of the road could be a fun experience.
To do the islands justice we will have to get ourselves around, so we will be hiring a car.
The very thought scares the hell out of me! I have avoided driving so far on my travels, I just got someone else to do it! But I think it’s time to conquer that fear too.
Or get Dan to do all the driving.
The Faroe Islands
With a population of only 50,000, the Faroe Islands seem far removed from the rest of the world. It is a small archipelago comprising of 18 islands that is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, although self-governed.
Positioned in the North Atlantic Ocean somewhere between Norway and Iceland it is rugged and raw with colourful villages dotting the landscape. Just under half the population reside in the capital city of Tórshavn.
With flights from Edinburgh and Copenhagen this isolated place is both breathtaking in its scenery and simplistic in its lifestyle.
The Faroe Islands just seem to fit with everything I am working towards in life in general with a “less is more” mindset and a yearning to be surrounded by natural, dramatic scenery – nature at its very best.
Photo by Karsten Koehn
How long should I visit?
To do these islands justice how long should we visit?
A lot of itineraries I read were for a week or much less. One itinerary was for a weekend! But because I am a lover of Slow Travel I am thinking of at least 10 days.
I know some of you are thinking what am I going to do with all those days, but trust me when you fly from Australia and the chances of you coming back anytime soon are remote, you want to make sure to see as much as you possibly can.
You also need to understand that we are not people that will go on two hikes a day. To tell you the truth we will be lucky to do one a day.
I have to get creative when going over the daily itinerary with Dan (exercise is clearly not his thing, cake is). But before he knows it he is off on another “small walk” that just happened to work its way into our day. Thank goodness he is always a good sport.
What is more likely to happen for us is that we will manage to push ourselves on one hike, either eat lunch as a picnic or back at our accommodation, take a nap because we will have exhausted ourselves and then wake in time to go in search of dinner.
And cooking for ourselves will be an option we are happy with, considering how few restaurants there are in the Faroe Islands. Rest assured we will endeavour to try them all!
And we will need to take some time out to do a bit of work. The downfall of owning your own businesses.
All in all, I think 10 days will see us good.
Because I want to travel sometime in September/October there will be limited daylight hours with outdoor activities needing to be wrapped up around 3 – 3.30 pm.
This also needs to be taken into account when planning our days, particularly walks/hikes.
I mean going for a hike is no small feat for us. But getting stuck in the dark on one, no thanks!!! Not sure Dan would ever forgive me for that.
Good reason to keep the backpack loaded with snacks though. If anything, I am prepared!
We plan to start our stay in the capital of Tórshavn, staying here approximately 4 nights and do day trips to Vágar Island (optional Mykines) and Vestmanna for the bird cliff tour.
Then moving on to Klaksvik, or thereabouts, for another 4 nights or so using this as a base to explore the northern islands.
Enough days to see everything with plenty of free time to relax and work when needed. And if the weather is not favourable we will have plenty of time to revisit or go to the places we missed or were not able to enjoy to the fullest.
Driving will give us the most flexibility. Buses do run but I hate having to keep to a time schedule when I am travelling and be restricted.
With scenic routes called Buttercup Roads, who can resist taking to the roads and exploring?
I believe the biggest thing we will have to worry about when driving are the sheep! And narrow roads and tunnels.
Most of all what I want is time to explore, driving down roads, stopping in villages, picnicking whenever the desire hits. I want to visit not just the popular locations, or the most photographed, iconic locations but see what else we can find.
I want to meet and interact with local people and learn about them, their lives, about their culture and history.
If our days get taken up with unplanned exploring and we miss things listed in the itinerary, oh well. My favourite saying always rings true – “Over plan and then go with the flow”. I like to be prepared, but I never want to miss opportunities. And I have been known to throw the whole itinerary out the window.
Planning actually helps me overcome my anxieties around travel so I don’t find it a waste of time. More like an education.
Here is the itinerary I have mapped out so far.
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Staying in Torshavn
First stop, Tórshavn.
I have my eye on a few Airbnb and we will set up home base here for 4 nights.
Our first day will be spent exploring close to home keeping our day flexible with some grocery shopping, sightseeing, relaxing and planning out the rest of our time.
After a stop at the Tourist Information Centre, we will head out to:
- Walking around the harbour
- Exploring the Old Town
- Tinganes – Tinganes, a series of old red buildings that were once home to parliament. This spot has been the site of meetings since the Vikings and it will be interesting to find out more about its history.
Of course, we will indulge in the restaurants dotted around Torshavn and I look forward to trying some authentic Faroese cuisine.
And let’s not forget that I will need to go shopping for a traditional jumper.
I am told and have read extensively, that I must buy a jumper in the Faroe Islands. Something from Guðrun & Guðrun maybe? Not really sure if my budget would stretch that far, but you never know.
I might just keep that one a little quiet and then spring it on Dan once we are there. He’s scared I will buy up big and we will need to buy an extra suitcase to come home with.
How many jumpers do you think I can wear home on the plane?
A drive to the historical village of Kirkjubøur, 30 min away, will be on the agenda so that we can explore the ancient farmhouse/museum, church and the ruins of the medieval Magnus Cathedral. It also boasts Kirkjubøargarður, the oldest, still inhabited, wooden house in the world.
Torshavn. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Torshavn. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Day trip to Gasadalur and Mulafossur Waterfall
We will jump in the car and drive to the village of Gasadalur and the Mulafossur Waterfall, taking our time to check out the scenery on the way, no doubt making many stops to snap a heap of photos and a quick stop at the village of Bour.
Hopefully, the weather is kind to us as we walk to the viewpoint of Mulafossur Waterfall.
I think a picnic lunch is going to be a standard inclusion in our days and I don’t think it will be hard to find somewhere to plonk ourselves down to enjoy both it and the view.
Mulafossur Waterfall. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
The Possibility of Mykines
If we decide to head out to Mykines (pre-booking our tickets of course for the helicopter and ferry) we will slot it in here. You heard right, helicopter. The government subsidises this service so you can book a one way trip in a helicopter for a price comparable to the ferry.
There are guidelines for visiting Mykines and anyone wanting to explore outside the village will need to pay DK 100. They will also need to be accompanied by a certified guide. You can find out about the guidelines here.
I would love to hike to the lighthouse and see the village, but if I am completely honest with myself I think this one would be a hard sell to Dan. And with the need to book so many things in advance I feel I would lose some of my flexibility, and budget.
At the time of year we would be able to travel we will not see the puffin birds anyway so maybe leave this for another time if we come back in summer.
By allowing a couple of extra days in the itinerary we could easily take this trip before we depart the islands if we really felt we were missing out.
Lighthouse on Mykines. Photo by Philipp Waldhauer
In the afternoon we will head to Sørvágsvatn Lake and weather permitting hike the two hours there and back to take in the extraordinary site of this freshwater lake above the ocean.
We’ve all seen the photos, but I never knew where they were taken.
I think I will have to pack some goodies in our bag for this trip. You know, just to keep us going.
Sørvágsvatn Lake. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
The next day I am interested in booking the Bird Cliff Tour that leaves from Vestmanna. I want to do this tour not only to see the birdlife but to see the island from the water.
You can book the Bird Cliff Tour here, and you can also see what other tours they have available.
The tour is approximately 2 hours so it will make this a fairly relaxed and casual day for us, giving us time to do some shopping in Torshavn and catch up on some work.
Moving on to Klaksvik
After 4 nights in Torshavn, we will head to Klaksvik, the Faroe Islands’ second largest town.
On the way, we will be doing a little road tripping with a few stops on the way.
Saksun is an out of the way village, tiny with only 14 inhabitants, nestled between mountains and perched above a lagoon. A great opportunity to take a walk and explore the museum and church, and of course, snap a million photos of “that” view.
Saskun. Photo by Hollie Harmsworth
Saskun. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
From here we will be heading to the island of Eysturoy and drive from Eiði’ over Slættaratindur to Gjógv. If I decide to chicken out of the drive over (because I am a terrible passenger and hate heights) then we can go around through the village of Funningur.
A stop here to take in the quaint village, originally settled by the Vikings in the 9th century AD, and stunning views before heading to Gjógv via Slættaratindur. Here’s hoping the weather and wind are behaving.
At 880 metres, Slættaratindur is the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands.
I’m fairly certain we won’t hike up here, just drive. But hopefully, we will get some great views out to the other islands.
Gjógv is well renowned for the 200-metre sea filled gorge carved out between the village and the ocean.
An idyllic village that has less than 50 people living there, it is well preserved, quaint and a great place to stop for some afternoon tea before pressing on to our next stop.
From here we will head to Klaksvik.
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Klaksvik on Bordoy Island
Staying in Klaksvik for 4 nights we will look for a comfortable Airbnb to call home.
The plan is to take our time exploring. Take each day as it comes and see where the roads take us. Highlights I want to include will be:
Ferry to the island and driving to
- The Seal Woman in Mikladalur – a beautiful statue signifying the legend of Kópakonan
- The northern village of Trøllanes
- Hike to Kallur Lighthouse – I’m rolling around laughing as I type this (a hard thing to do) because I think I will just have to be content looking at photos of it. Because really!? Thinking we are going to hike it is slightly delusional. But hey! Stranger things have happened.
Keeping our Options Open
The rest of the trip will remain to be seen. I have no idea what to expect except amazing scenery! Very few people seem to visit here and write about their experiences.
And if I can brave driving through the sea tunnels to other islands then we can explore those too.
We have the extra couple of days up our sleeve and we can use those at the end. Go back to somewhere we loved or venture to somewhere new. Who knows!
Slow travel for me is setting up a base for at least 4 days (preferably more if time permits) and exploring from there. To return to the places I love, chat with the people I meet.
If I find a restaurant or café I like, I want to try their entire menu! I want to get to know the staff.
Any given day can see sunlight, rain and mist. With only an average temperature of 13°C in summer and 3°C in winter (not as cold as you might expect) being prepared will be key.
Spare clothes, food and anything else I think we may need will be thrown in the back ready to use if required.
Good thing I like cold weather, a little unusual for an Australian. We should feel rather at home as I love winters here in the Blue Mountains so there won’t be much difference except that I will be spending far more time outdoors than what I am used to.
Layers will be my friend! And of course, the weather will be a good excuse to buy more knitwear. No need to tell Dan that though.
Planning your trip
The Visit Faroe Islands website is amazing. It is packed with so much information I literally lost hours each time browsing through it.
Each time I see a Faroe Islands tourism ad or video I am blown away by their creativity.
I love this video, don’t you?
I have realised, as I finished this post, that I put my heart and soul into it.
The Faroe Islands, at this point in time, only a bucket list destination. But I know when a place has me non-stop reading websites and articles, looking at photos, and planning a trip as if I will jump on the plane tomorrow, I will go.
I honestly thought Iceland would get a look at first, but I would bet a million dollars that the Faroe Islands will win out.