The Faroe Islands is an archipelago of 18 islands located pretty much in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Specifically at 62º latitude North and 7º longitude West. For us land-lubbers who only navigate roads, that’s about 430 kilometres south-east of Iceland, 600 kilometres west of Norway and 300 kilometres north-west of Scotland. The distance from Copenhagen to the Faroe Islands is approximately 1,300 kilometres.
The total area is 1,399 square kilometres, with an overall length from north to south of 113 kilometres, and 75 kilometres east to west. The largest of the Faroes Islands is Streymoy, at 375.5 square kilometres, and is the island where the the capital city of Tórshavn is situated. The highest point above sea-level of the Faroes Islands is Slættaratindur, at 882 metres. However, the average elevation is just over 300 metres above sea level. The Faroes Island’s coast line totals 1,289 kilometres and no matter where you are in the country, you’re never more than 5 kilometres from the coast.
The Faroe Island’s first settlers are believed to have been Irish monks who arrived in the middle of the seventh century. A hundred years later Viking colonization began and the Faroe Islands became one of the numerous settlements the Vikings established throughout the North Atlantic and the Irish Sea during the Viking Age, 793 AD until 1066 AD.
Settled by Vikings, which as a people were from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, the Faroe Islands ended up as holdings of the Norwegian crown, which in turn fell under the control of the Danish monarchy. With the Reformation, the independent Faroese bishopric was abolished and its properties in the Faroes Islands were taken over by the Danish crown.
The Danish monarchy increased its control of the North Atlantic trade route and by 1709 had established the Royal Trade Monopoly. During this time the Faroe Islands were governed by Copenhagen. Danish officials were assigned to oversee the trade monopoly. They were also tasked with protecting the trade routes from competing merchants and the pirates who’d been plaguing the islands and surrounding waters for centuries. Fort Skansin, the historic fortifications overlooking Tórshavn harbour was built for this purpose.
In 1856, the Royal Danish Monopoly ended, with Faroese and European businessmen stepping in to maintain the trade routes. In 1872, an old English sailing ship called the Fox was acquired and began deep sea fishing off the Faroe Islands coast. The Faroese soon became renowned as being some of the best sailors and fishermen in the world and the local fishing industry grew to become the Faroe Islands main source of income.
Today the Faroes are looking at the potential for off shore oil exploration in the sea within the islands ocean boundaries.
Being an island nation, there are only two options for getting to the Faroe Islands, by sea or air.
The most recommended service to reach the Faroe Islands by sea is aboard the Smyril Line luxury ferry M/S Norröna. Literally following in the footsteps of the vikings, you’ll see, as they did, the Faroes Islands appear upon the horizon as if they were rising from the sea.
Being a smaller and less well know destination, the Faroe Islands are not a major hub, so there very few direct flights. However, one airline that serves the needs of tourists and locals seeking to visit and depart the Faroe Islands is Atlantic Airways. Airports from which Atlantic Airways has flights destine for Vagar, the Faroe Island’s only airport are; Copenhagen Airport (Denmark), Billund Airport (Denmark), Aalborg Airport (Denmark), Reykjavik Airport (Iceland), London Stansted Airport (UK) and Bergen Airport (Norway).
Tourist accommodations in the Faroe Islands are comfortable and the number of rooms adequate to meet the demand. However, anyone looking for an all inclusive resort vacation or to stay at an amenities rich, luxury hotel are going to be disappointed.
In the Faroe Islands there are both hotels and guest houses. The amenities in hotels are more than satisfactory, but on par with a high end hotel catering to business travelers, and nowhere near what would be provided by a luxury resort. This makes sense since anyone visiting the islands would do so to be immersed in the natural beauty of the place, it’s unique culture and friendly people. The Faroes Islands are not a destination for vacationers who intend to spend their entire stay within the confines of a resort. The service provided by Faroe Island hotel staff is exemplary and the food served in hotel restaurants excellent.
Guest houses in the Faroe Islands are smaller operations that are usually family owned and operated. They’re uniquely Faroese, and can best be described as a hybrid motel, shared cottage, bed and breakfast that many not include breakfast. Less expensive than hotels, guest houses still offer activities, shuttle service, dinning and a host of other services. If your travel goals are to be immersed in the culture wherever you go, booking your stay in a quest house will suit your needs nicely.
If you have already visited the Faroe Islands, please share your experience with other travelers by adding a review in the comment section below. Thank you!
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