It’ll be difficult at the time, and still weeks later, to process what you see as you weave along the island coastline, driving through narrow tunnels that cut through entire mountains, and winding down under the ocean in sub-sea passages. It’s not until you stop the car — which you’re compelled to do often — to step out and breath in the brisk air that it all sinks in.
In Tórshavn, the island’s topography falls to the background and the harborfront town brings you back to civilization. Tórshavn houses quaint cafés, Main Street shops and the 2014 Nordic Prize winning restaurant, KOKS. Its pace may be decidedly slow, but this lends itself to hospitable kinfolk and unhurried living.
Small but rich in history, Tinganes (meaning “parliament jetty”) at the edge of the harbor, is one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world. Low buildings painted a deep red with sodded rooftops and cobblestoned streets make you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 16th century.
Norðoyggjar, (meaning “Northern Isles”), is made up of six small masses. Of the six islands, three (Borðoy, Kunoy and Viðoy) are accessible by connecting roads, while the remaining three (Kalsoy, Fugloy and Svínoy) require a boat. On paper it seems like quite the distance, but in fact it’s an easy hour-and-a-half drive from Tórshavn. En route, take a quick detour into the fishing village of Klaksvík before making your way to Viðareiði, the northernmost settlement on the Faroes. On Sundays, perhaps fortuitously, you may arrive to the chimes of church bells, making the jaunt seem like a real pilgrimage.
Shipwrecked just off the coast of Viðareiði in 1817, the Brig Marwood was rescued by the locals. As a thank you gift for saving the British vessel, the British government bestowed a silver commemorative plate to the town, which can now be found in the local church.
Back on the main island, seeing the Vestmanna bird cliffs of Streymoy is a captivating way to spend a couple hours at sea. The sunlit waves roll along grottos, narrow straits and against high stone cliffs jutting up from the water. Visitors can catch a glimpse of some of the 300 different bird species recorded on the islands — including fulmars, guillemots and puffins — flying high above the break.
As the days go by and the waterfalls become too frequent to count, these ethereal scenes become more perplexing. The fact that this still-remote place exists just two hours from Copenhagen — with other direct flights from Edinburgh, Reykjavik and Bergen — is a compelling reason to visit. This incredible little pocket of the world is surely a place anyone would hope to frequent.
Written and photographed by Sheila Lam