With only 20,000 inhabitants, Tórshavn is not just one of the world’s smallest capitals, but also one of the most charming ones. This dynamic city, with its creative, innovative and highly educated population, is the political and cultural hub of the Faroes, and, fond as they are of their traditions and cultural legacy, local residents are also keen to embrace emerging global trends. All this means that Tórshavn offers a fascinating mix of Faroese cultural history and all the amenities you would expect to find in a modern 21st century capital. The city is a melting pot of old and new. To take in its contrasts, explore Tórshavn starting from its oldest area down by the harbour, Tinganes, where little grass-thatched houses stretch along narrow meandering alleys then stroll up towards the mountainsides, you will find that the residential neighbourhoods grow younger and trendier as you ascend.
Vestmanna is the starting point for excursions to the awe-inspiring bird cliffs and grottos known as Vestmannabjörgini. In the high season there are several daily departures for the bird cliffs, which is a popular excursion, both among international and local visitors. The boats sail along the mountainside and up to the cliffs themselves, which face the Atlantic sea head on, before heading through narrow straits and into deep grottos formed by the crashing waves over millions of years, to bring you close to the 600-metre-high vertical wall of rock where thousands of seabirds breed. In these majestic surroundings you can feel one with nature, and you will understand why a deeply rooted respect for the forces of nature permeates Faroese culture.
The most photographed village in the Faroes is probably Gjógv, which is located in the northernmost part of Eysturoy. In order to reach Gjógv you will have to cross a high mountain ridge from where you will see a large green valley with striking mountains on both sides. At the very bottom of the valley, the colourful houses are dotted around a beautiful crystal-clear river with a little dam where children play all summer. But the village is best known for its natural harbour. Gjógv means gorge in Faroese and it is precisely in the great gorge cutting into the landscape that the natural harbour is located. Take all the steps down into the gorge, down to the harbour and take in the immense power of nature in surroundsound.
The Northern Islands
Klaksvík is the central hub of the Northern Isles: Kalsoy, Kunoy, Borðoy, Viðoy, Svínoy and Fugloy. The Northern Isles are characterised by towering mountains on the eastern side the islands taper down towards a jagged coastline, which cuts the slopes off into low cliffs, while the northern side is characterised by rugged majestic cliff promontories. The two smallest islands, Svínoy and Fugloy, can only be reached by boat or helicopter, while bridges, dams and tunnels interlink Kunoy, Borðoy and Viðoy, but you will need to catch the ferry to get to Kalsoy.
The village Kirkjubøur is the place in the Faroes where you will find the most remarkable relics of the past. During the Middle Ages the village was the cultural and religious centre of the Faroes and part of the Catholic Church of Norway. The seminary in Kirkjubøur was the first and only one in the Faroes up until the reformation in 1538. King Sverri of Norway grew up here, where he also attended the seminary and was ordained. Today there are around 80 inhabitants in Kirkjubøur, which is a 15-minute drive from Tórshavn.
Sandoy is the fifth largest island in the Faroes and, along with Suðuroy, makes up the large southern island pair in the archipelago. Sandoy is considered the flattest island, with broad valleys and many little lakes, low rounded mountains and sandy beaches. The gently rolling mountains make it appear greener than the other islands with their more rugged craggy mountains.
Mykines island is the westernmost outpost of the Faroes. This island is known for its teeming birdlife as it attracts hundreds of thousands of migratory birds, which nest here in summer. Mykines is also home to the only gannet colony in the Faroes, which in itself makes it quite the attraction, but the charming little puffins with their colourful beaks are probably the island’s main lure, possibly because they are usually happy to pose with their beaks full of fish. Sailing to Mykines takes just under one hour and is one of the best ways to see Tindhólmur up close.