Runavík, Faroe Islands
The Norwegian 19th century writer Henrik Wergeland may have made a premature statement when he claimed that “Nowhere is the grass greener.” Wergeland had probably never seen the Faroe Islands when putting pen to paper to write those words. If he had, he might have been less certain when claiming that Norway’s grass is the greenest.
The many different shades of green is one of the first things that visitors will notice when arriving to the Faroe Islands. That, and the grand landscape of the 18 islands that together constitute the Faroes.
Eysturoy, the second largest of the Faroe Islands, offers visitors many opportunities to marvel at the spectacular landscape. In the northern part of the island the town of Gjógv is one of the true sights.
At the other end of the island, at the southernmost tip of Eysturoy, the port of Runavík is where cruise ships call on the island.
Runavík is really a conurbation, consisting of 14 different settlements along the east bank of the Skálafjordur (a fjord). The total number of inhabitants here is slightly less than 4,000. That’s more than a third of the entire population on Eysturoy, which totals some 11,000 individuals.
A quaint fishing port, Runavík’s greatest asset is perhaps its ideal location as the gateway to everything that Eysturoy has to offer when it comes to wildlife and outdoor experiences. That includes everything from diving in the clear waters around Eysturoy, to tours of the island and its many sights. Among those is the Slættaratindur, which, at 2,890 feet/882 meters in height is the highest peak in the archipelago.
Runavík has been an important fishing port since its foundation in 1916. More recently, the port has also come to play a role in connection with the North Sea oil industry. The supply base for the exploration drillings in the Faroese waters is also situated in Runavík.
Cruise ships dock at Kongshavn, which translates to King’s Harbor. This is the part of the port of Runavík that the King of Denmark made use of in older days, whenever visiting the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands is officially an autonomous constituent country within the Kingdom of Denmark. Even before the Danish King started to visit, the Vikings made use of the harbor. It was considered the safest in the region.
The spectacular landscape is the main draw here, so it might be a good idea to dress with outdoor experiences and trekking in mind. Remember that the weather can change rapidly. So rapidly, in fact, that English soldiers on the Faroe Islands during the Second World War referred to the islands as “The Land Of Maybe.” For more information on what to do, you might want to visit one of the two tourist information centers on Eysturoy. There is one in Runavík and one in Fuglafjørdur
- Slættaratindur. At 2,890 feet/882 meters in height, this is the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands. After a tour that can be quite challenging at times, climbers will literally be standing on the roof of the Faroe Islands. The view is spectacular.
- Not far from Slættaratindur is the town of Eidi, where you will find the historical museum Á Látrinum.
- When visiting Eysturoy, make sure you include a visit to Gjógv. This picturesque village on the northernmost tip of the island was named after the 650 feet/200 meter long gorge that runs northwards toward the sea from the village.
- For the art interested visitor, Gallari Ribarhús might be something to put on the agenda. This gallery mainly features local Faroese artists.
- Uppi á Húsi stands as a reminder of times when the Faroe Islands were more or less regularly raided by pirates. When locals in Fuglafjørdur on the east side of Eysturoy learned that pirates were on their way, they took refuge in this small stone house in the mountains.
- Another reminder of times past is the old mountain path between Leirvík and Gøta, which dates back to Viking times.
- Leirvík features an Art and Boat museum. On display are traditional Faroese wooden boats. The museum also has an extensive collection of the local painters Jóannis Kristiansen and Sámal Toftanes.
- In Glyvrar, not far from Runavík, visit Forni – a museum that consists of a house from the 17th century.
Various shore excursions can be available from Runavík.
- On a coach tour of Eysturoy, take in the island’s characteristic landscape – including the Slættaratindur mountain.
- Tours of the island can be combined with a visit to the village of Gjógv (see above).
Torshavn, the capital of the Faroe Islands, is some 37 miles/60 kilometers away by car or coach.
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