Far in the Faroe Islands: Shaky & Stunning Start in the Land of Maybe

by Satu Vänskä-Westgarth on August 27, 2015 · 18 comments

Hiking in the Faroes I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

The crowd was clapping. First tentatively, with only couple of the passengers initiating their appreciation for the flight crew, with more and more people joining in as the relief washed over us.

Moments before the plane had lost altitude as we approached the international and only airport, Vagar, in the Faroe Islands. I saw a sliver of sea basking in the August sun, and then everything outside disappeared into the thick cover of clouds. Soon after I was gripping Anne Marit’s hand with embarrassed smile on my face. I glanced over to Kate’s direction and saw that she was hanging on to Anne Marit’s right hand from the aisle seat. Our plane rocked and shuddered, up and down, then from side to side. I was counting the rows to the closest exit. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Seeing the world and firm land appear again from under the cloud cover brought momentarily comfort, although the closeness of the deep green and steep hillside, what seemed at most a few meters off the tip of the wing, offered little reassurance.

And it was with that shaky, bumpy and rough approach we hit the runaway somewhat smoothly a few minutes later, and rolled right next to the airport terminal.

“Does that happen often?” I asked from one of the smiling flight attendants, as we exited from the rear door and I could already feel the force of the cool Atlantic wind on my face.

“Yes, this is normal, in the winter it gets worse though” they laughed.

We had arrived to the Faroe Islands. And I bet it was only us, the tourists, clapping on that plane. For the rest, this was normal.

Hiking in the Faroes I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

It is hard to describe the feeling of arriving in a new place with only a hint of an idea of what you will do, come across, and whom to meet in the coming weeks. Us three, we had planned this trip well in advance, and Visit Faroe Islands was kind enough to fly us over, arm us with public transportation travel cards and arrange a few nights’ accommodation along the way in some of the destinations we thought about exploring. Other than that, we had and have a list of places that sound interesting, stack of images linked from Instagram, Twitter and Facebook that look like worth exploring, and an empty schedule looking to be filled out with ferries, buses and maybe few helicopter flights here and there as we start exploring these 18 islands located in the stormiest part of the Atlantic, north from Scotland and right in between Iceland and Norway.

For me, Faroe Islands has long been a destination so close, but so far. As an autonomous country within Denmark, they have some of the same Nordic values and customs as us Finns do, but apart from that, what do these 50,000 people do out here, on these small islands? We were hoping to find out, together with discovering some killer views, hikes and bike rides.

Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

“Most enigmatic of the 18 Faroe Islands”
“Undoubtedly one of the prettiest villages in the Faroes”

(From Bradt guide to Faroe Islands by James Proctor)

It is probably not the best idea to start your journey from the place that is praised as the most enigmatic and pretty. But August was drawing to a close and with the arrival of autumn, the daily ferry to Mykines was about to start its winter break. We did not want to rely on the helicopter rides that might, or might not get us there and back in September, and so we went for it. Even if there was a chance that it was going to be downhill from there on.

Ferry to Mykines, Faroe Islands I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

Cliffs on Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Puffin in Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Mykines lighthouse I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Sunset on Mykines, Faroe Islands I @SatuVW I Destination Unknown

At this stage I can not yet say if Mykines was the best of the best, but it sure was fantastic. Most people come to Mykines from Torshavn, the capital, on a quick day trip and hike up to the Mykineshólmur and Faroes’ most westerly lighthouse, taking in the puffins, gannets, fulmars and the 30 or so other bird species on the way before heading back to the city. We, on the other hand, arrived in the evening with a couple of other passengers on board, and started the journey to the lighthouse with just the sheep and thousands of birds accompanying us as we set to witness the sun setting somewhere beyond the seas.

Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

The village itself, hosting 10-12 inhabitants (don’t ask, didn’t get an explanation to what that exactly means!) and only eight full-time dwellers in the winter, was just as pretty and cozy as described in the guide-book. Me, who doesn’t “do guidebooks”, have read and reread that book from front to back so much so that Anne Marit and Kate are tired of hearing me quoting the book, but yes, Mykines was pretty.

Mykines, Faroe Islands I @ Kate Cornfield I Destination Unknown

Whether we have already seen the best of the best of the Faroes on our first few days on these islands is left to see, but I hope that this adventure hasn’t quite reached its peak yet. After arriving here on Saturday, we have now filled the calendar with some definite stopping points and few maybes. Over here, where the rest of the world seems very distant, travel plans are dictated by the quickly changing weather. Maybe the fog will rise and the helicopters fly. Maybe the sea will calm down and the ferries run.

And maybe we have another two weeks of fantastic views and stories to tell ahead of us!

For those wondering where exactly we have been and how to get there, keep reading on…

How to get to the Faroe Islands

The Faroes are easy to reach by Atlantic Airways from Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Barcelona, Bergen or Reykjavik. Alternatively you can take the Smyril Line M/S Norrøna from Hirtshals in Denmark to Torshavn, and even continue to Seyðisfjørður in Iceland.

How to get to Mykines

In the summer months between May and August, catch the ferry from Sørvág to Mykines (two daily sailings, weather allowing). You can book online at mykines.fo. Payment on board by cash, 60kr each way, the travel cards are not valid on the Mykines crossing. You can also fly to Mykines by helicopter, see the schedule and rates on on the Atlantic Airways page.

Apparently the weather can be very fickle, and it is best not to travel to Mykines right before you are planning to leave the country, in case you get stranded in the west for a day or two. Or a week!

Where to Stay on Mykines

If you want to avoid most of the crowds, I would recommend staying on the island, although this is where it gets tricky. You have two accommodation options; The Yellow House, of which I know nothing as it was closed when we got there, and Kristianshús. Kristianshús is the place most would know about as they host the village’s only café/restaurant. However, because of a slightly odd welcome, dirty rooms and a not-so-distant memories of stories of bedbugs we had read on Tripadvisor, we did not have the most pleasant stay and changed our plans of staying on the island for a few days to hike, to just one night before fleeing back to the bigger islands.

What to Do on Mykines

Hike hike hike. Observe the birds. Take in the views. Drink a cup of hot tea.

What else would you want to do with views like this!

Images: Kate Cornfield & Satu Vänskä-Westgarth

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jutta August 27, 2015 at 12:05 PM

Yes, weather CAN be SO tricky! Our helicopter flight was cancelled due to fog. To be honest: I loved sailing over to the island by ferry. Looking forward to your next story!
Jutta

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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth August 27, 2015 at 12:07 PM

Thanks Jutta! We’ve been engulfed in the fog for the last two days, after the glorious sunny start. Oh well, off we go hiking nevertheless 😉 And that ferry ride to Mykines WAS gorgeous!
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coffee in a cup August 27, 2015 at 1:30 PM

this as such a pleasant read, satu! what a beautiful place!

looking forward to following you journey – how long are you there for?
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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth August 27, 2015 at 7:29 PM

Thank you so much! We’re here for another two weeks, feels like time is flying past though!
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FREEDOMtravel August 27, 2015 at 4:00 PM

Beautiful pictures! I love to follow your trip on the Faroe Islands!
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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth August 27, 2015 at 7:31 PM

Thank you! And yes, I did find your comment in the spam :)
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Helena FREEDOMtravel August 27, 2015 at 4:01 PM

Did my comment get throuhg? Otherwise please check the spam! (Now I´m commenting without writhing my webpage, then it´s sometimes easier to get through…)

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Ann-Mari August 28, 2015 at 12:10 PM

Looks amazing, and I guess the weather makes It all more unpredictable. Such a good thing that you’ re gonna stay for a longer period.

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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth August 28, 2015 at 2:34 PM

Absolutely, it’s kind of hard to plan anything in advance, especially when you want to go hiking up the mountains. But I kind of like that too :)
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Annika - Live Laugh Explore August 29, 2015 at 5:23 AM

Well, when a place is surrounded by Scotland, Iceland and Norway – how could it not be amazing? Looks stunningly green and lush! And those cliffs..mm.
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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth August 29, 2015 at 5:38 PM

I know! And when the place kind of looks like Ireland and Norway too (haven’t been to Scotland yet!), there’s nothing to complain…. :) Loving it here!
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Lisa & livet från den ljusa sidan January 7, 2016 at 11:53 AM

Hi,
amazing pictures – and texts – from Faroe islands. It is a dream destination to me, I’d love to go there – and it is even on my bucket list top 5. :)
I just wrote about the destination on my Swedish travel blog yesterday. However, I would like to exchange those pictures to better ones and I prefer blog pictures (with link of course!). Would you mind if I borrowed 2-3 pictures from you, with link to your posts etc?
Here is my post: http://livetfrandenljusasidan.se/2016/01/06/reseinspo-att-addera-faroarna-och-svalbard-till-min-bucket-list/

Nice blog! I’ll be a returning visitor!

Kind regards, Lisa
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Satu Vänskä-Westgarth January 11, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Hi Lisa!

Thanks for your lovely comment, really appreciate it!!!

I’d be happy to share the images, as long as you link back and credit. Sorry fort the delayed comment :)
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Megan Eileen November 29, 2016 at 11:18 PM

This has been on my list of must visits as well! Thanks for sharing more about these relatively unknown islands.

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