Have You Heard of the Faroe Islands?

Have You Heard of the Faroe Islands?
Faroe Islands is located between Iceland and Norway in the North Atlantic Ocean, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

This archipelago of volcanic islands in the middle of the North Atlantic is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets

Uttara Gangopadhyay
March 24 , 2020
04 Min Read

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to dine at a remote destination? Try Faroe Islands. “A collection of wild isles with Nordic flair, where you should only visit if you plan on venturing around with your mouth in a perpetual jaw-drop position” wrote New Yorker Lauren Breedlove in a post.

And one of the main reasons that determined gourmets take the long flight from distant shores is to dine at Koks, a truly remote restaurant – beside Lake Leynar, northwest of capital Tórshavn—where you have to follow a dirt track to reach this fine-dining place that has retained its two Michelin stars and received the new Green Clover award from the Michelin Guide team in recognition of its efforts to promote sustainability.


A lighthouse in Mykines, Faroe Islands

Probably one of Europe’s best kept secrets, this self-governing archipelago of 18 volcanic islands, part of Denmark, lies among the blue waves of the North Atlantic Ocean, roughly in between Iceland and Norway. Interestingly, the closest land is North Rona, part of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, 257km (139 nautical miles) to the south. The islands are known for their mountains, valleys and grassy heathland, steep coastal cliffs that are home to many seabirds, and a distinct cuisine.

There are various theories about when the islands were first inhabited, the most popular being tales of Irish monks settling here in the sixth century. Archaeological excavations on one of the islands indicate people lived in the Faroe Islands in 300 AD but there is no clue yet who these people were. Around the 9th century, emigrants from Norway settled here. After many political upheavals, the Faroe Islands were jointly ruled by Norway and Denmark since the 14th century. When Norway was ceded to Sweden in 1814, Denmark retained control over Faroe Islands.

Capital Tórshavn is the best place to get acquainted with this little known archipelago before venturing to other places. The old part of the town still has some of the old wooden houses with turf roofs. Other places of interest are Tórshavn Cathedral, the harbour, Fort Skansin which served as the headquarters of the British Navy during the Second World War, the Museum of Natural History and the Botanical Garden etc.

You can enjoy the company of puffins in Faroe Islands

The islands are an explorer’s delight, especially if you like to hike or go bird watching. Hike along the ancient footpaths in the high mountains such as Slættaratindur, Bøsdalafossur and Klakkur, learn about local history and culture through the village trails. You may choose to camp in the countryside with adequate preparations. Cycling, camping, angling are some of the other popular activities you may pursue here. During summer, hundreds of birds arrive here for breeding.

The geographical diversity has helped a diverse species of birds to call Faroe Islands home. Over 300 bird species have been recorded here, of which 50 regularly breed on the islands and around 60 are regular visitors. At Mykines, the westernmost of the islands, you will find thousands of puffins nesting as well as colonies of gannets. Puffins, razorbills, guillemots and fulmars can be found in large numbers at the Vestmanna bird cliffs. The long coastline also offers plenty of diving opportunities.

Traditional Faroese food consists majorly of meat, fish and potatoes. Fermented lamb and fish, rye bread, blood sausage and stewed rhubarb are some of the traditional dishes here. Fermentation is a key food processing practiced here. As you travel along the islands you will find air-drying of meat and fish taking place at the hjallur or food-drying sheds. Raest in Tórshavn is the place to go to if you want to sample fermented food. Popular items on the menu include cold fermented lamb soup with turnips, fermented cod and fermented lamb intestines, fermented colon on sauerkraut, and Rhubarb porridge with cream of burned rosemary. Other popular restaurants that serve Faroese produce include Barbara Fish House, Katrina Christiansen, and Áarstova.

Typical Faroese food served at a cafe

Knitting has been a traditional craft in the Faroe Islands. So conclude your trip with a look at the knitted products, from sweaters to socks sold at the local shops. The three main locations for shopping in the Faroe Islands are Tórshavn, Klaksvík and Runavík. And you cannot leave the island without the show stopper ‘star jumper made from Faroese wool say veteran travellers.

Information: The Faroe Islands can be reached by air from major destinations in Europe such as Copenhagen (Denmark), Paris (France), Reykjavik (Iceland), Edinburgh (Scotland), and Bergen (Norway). The islands are interconnected with undersea tunnels, bridges, and ferries. For example, the Vágatunnilin" tunnel connects the Vágar island (where the airport is located) to capital Tórshavn and major cities and villages on other islands. The Faroe Islands may also be reached by ferry from Iceland and Denmark. For more details, check this website.

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