Rugged and remote, Torshavn and the Faroe Islands serve up exceptional nature and a vibrant culture.
The Vikings were among the first to set foot on the Faroes. Imagine, if you will, the excitement of these northerners as they saw the islands appear on the horizon. The sweeping views of these remote and rugged islands may not have mattered as much to the utilitarian Vikings as they do to today’s cruise ship passengers.
In fact, National Geographic Traveler magazine recognized the Faroe Islands for their beauty in a 2007 survey, noting the “superb glaciated landscape with improbably steep slopes.”
The Faroes are situated between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, approximately halfway between Great Britain and Iceland.
Torshavn is the capital of the Faroe Islands, and it is in Torshavn that most cruise ships dock. You can reach most parts of the islands in 90 minutes or less. Outdoor activities in various forms are what many of the visitors who come to the Faroe Islands are looking for. This is an ideal destination for hiking, bird watching, fishing, and even diving. Torshavn also offers a good range of restaurants – particularly focusing on the Nordic kitchen.
Cruise ships dock within walking distance of the town, enabling disembarking passengers the possibility to explore Torshavn on foot. The town itself combines the old and the modern, the Old Town dating from the 17th century. Torshavn is situated on the island of Streymoy. The largest of the Faroe Islands, Streymoy has a total population of some 21,000 people.
If you have the slightest interest in birds and bird watching, you should not miss out on the opportunity to enjoy bird-watching at its best. Nólsoy, an island close to Torshavn, features the world’s largest colony of storm petrel. Part of the reason why bird watching is so good on the Faroe Islands is the unobstructed views: there are few trees on the islands.
Tinganes. These flat cliffs at the cape that divides the port of Torshavn in two parts once were the center of political life in the Faroes. Tinganes was where the settlers from Western Norway met for ther annual gathering – the Thing.
Kirkjubø is the southernmost village on Streymoy. This has historically been an important place, as the bishop used to have his seat here. Visit the remnants of the Múrurin, a cathedral that was built in the early 1300s. The Ólavskirkjan is even older, built in the 12th century and still in use.
Faroese evening. Traditional Faroese evenings are arranged in June and July, featuring Faroese chain dance, food from the islands, and a variety of entertainment. More details can be obtained from the Tourist Information Office.
Local artists, designers and handicraft. The islanders are rightfully proud of the art and design conceived here. Inspired by their heritage and the scenic surroundings, artists and designers from the Faroe Islands have been recognized worldwide. See also below under Museums.
- The Faroe Islands Art Museum is in possession of wide selection of Faroese art, including works by Sámal Joensen-Mikines who is considered the most well-known artist to originate from the islands. The permanent collection also includes works by many other local artists. Street address: Gundadalsvegur 9, Torshavn
- Listagluggin puts focus on contemporary Faroese artists. Street address: Dr. Jacobsensgøta 15
- The Historical Museum highlights the history of the Faroes throughout the centuries. Photographs and artifacts are used to give visitors a picture of how life on the Faroe Islands was lived in the old times. Street address: Kúrdalsvegur 2
- The Faroese Museum of Natural History aims to educate the general public about Faroese natural history. The ecosystem of the islands is in focus, local animals and plants making up the exhibition. Street address: V. U. Hammershaimbs gøta 13
- The Nordic House in the Faroe Islands provides a forum for Faroese and Nordic art, including concerts, theatre, dance performances and art exhibitions. The house is built according to Nordic traditions, combining influences from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. Street address: Norðari Ringvegur
A selection of shore excursions is available on the Faroe Islands, ranging from coach tours to hiking, horse riding and trips with local boats. Torshavn is the natural starting point for a visit to the islands.
- Coach tours of Torshavn and the surrounding areas give you the chance to experience fascinating views of the town and the landscape.
- Coach tours to other parts of the island of Streymoy – and to other islands – will show you different aspects of the Faroes. In the town of Saksun, for example, it is possible to visit an old farmer’s house turned museum: the Dúvugarður. Other tours can include the scenic Kaldbak and Kollafjørdur fjords, or the village of Gjógv on the island of Eysturoy. Gjógv has taken its name from a gorge that for centuries was the villagers’ only acces to the sea.
- Slættaratindur, the highest mountain on the Faroe Islands. 2,894 feet (882 meters) high, the mountain offers sweeping views of the Faroese archipelago.
- RIB-boat safaris will enable you to get a view of Torshavn and the nearby fjords from the sea. A more solemn way of experiencing the islands, perhaps, is to go on a bird-watching excursion by ordinary boat.
Torshavn and the Faroe Islands are not really close to anything else. The distance to Scotland is some 186 miles (300 kilometers). To the north, Iceland lies within the reasonable distance of 267 miles (430 kilometers). Western Norway is farther away: 370 miles (600 kilometers).
Contributed by Andreas Lundgren
Avid Cruiser Posts, Photographs and Videos Featuring Torshavn.
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: The Transatlantic Crossing
- Exploring Greenland, Iceland & the Faroes with Fred. Olsen
- From Spain To Stockholm: Fred. Olsen’s Summer 2011 Lineup
- A Year Of Living Lavishly
- Video: The Stunningly Beautiful Faroe Islands
- Faroe Islands, Far Away, Yet Once Visited, Unforgettable
- Voyage To The North Atlantic: Iceland & Greenland On mv Discovery, Plus The Faroe Islands
- Gone For A Hike: Pam Conover, Sailing On Sojourn, ‘In Motion’ In Torshavn