The Faroe Islands are made up of 18 islands, 17 of which are inhabited. It’s an independent nation under Denmark, with a unique culture all its own. The capital city is Tórshavn, and with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants, it’s the smallest capital in Europe (but in true European fashion, it has its symphony orchestra). It's likely the most rugged “city” you’ve ever seen: moody clouds, a perpetually churning sea, steep grassy hills, and rocky coastal cliffs.
The forgotten Faroes are just a short flight from the UK, yet they’re way off the standard traveler’s radar. Adrift in the frothing swells of the North Atlantic, this mysterious 18-piece jigsaw puzzle of islands is at once ancient and very modern. Multicolored cottages and grass-roofed wooden churches add focus to the grandly stark, treeless moorlands.
Culture & History
Traditional Faroese chain dancing—originally a medieval ring dance, the animated and theatrical performance blend movement, rhythm, storytelling, and song. Participants hold hands to form a circle and move—two steps to the left; one step back—in time with the singing or chanting of the leader, as the greater group joins in for the chorus. This style of dance symbolizes the coming together of people from all walks of life, while the song itself recalls fascinating local legend and lore.
The Faroese are used to living together with nature and in respect of nature’s powers and supply. The severe isolation has however also resulted in a population that seeks contacts and cooperation with the outside world. Working alongside other cultures and with a strong knowledge of how to cooperate, has ensured that Faroese sailors and fishermen, carpenters, and in recent decades, engineers are held in high esteem across the world.
Today, these islands may be a hotspot for global foodies—thanks to inventive Faroese cuisine—but the original inhabitants ate whatever could be found or foraged right outside their doors. The current renowned food scene stars dishes, flavors, and prep styles that have existed for centuries and now appeal to modern, if adventurous, palettes.
Ræst, which means fermented in Faroese, is a traditional process for preparing meat, particularly mutton. Ready yourself to sample delicacies like wild herbs fresh from the fields, enormous mussels, and meat that’s aged and naturally salted by brisk ocean breezes.
With its high season from June to August, summer in the Faroe Islands is a marked contrast to the rest of the year. There's daylight for up to 22 hours, and locals pour into the streets to enjoy food festivals, outdoor concerts, and an annual regatta.
There are a few nightclubs where you can go dancing in the Faroe Islands. Faroese people tend to go out on Fridays, Saturdays and, sometimes, also on a Thursday. As Torshavn is very small you can easily walk around to all the clubs
Outdoors & Adventure
Of the many scenic hikes throughout the islands, several calls for special attention. On the island of Eysturoy, there's a nearly 3,000-foot peak named Slættaratindur. Supposedly, on a clear day, you can see Iceland.
Meanwhile, Mykines makes for an excellent day trip. Here, you’ll hike past a bustling puffin colony out to a beautiful lighthouse that’s framed against cliffs. You can get from one island to the other easily enough with subsea tunnels, bridges, and ferries, but by far the most exciting commute in the Faroes is by helicopter.
a working farm technically owned by the Faroese government, has been inhabited
by the same family for 17 generations. On this property—which is also open to
the public as a museum—a turf-covered farmhouse known as a roykstova, or
‘smoking room,’ dates back to the 11th century, earning it the title of
Europe’s oldest wooden dwelling that’s still in use. In medieval times, the
Diocese of the Faroe Islands lived here, and today remains a popular tourist
attraction, as well as a treasured piece of Faroese history
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