Scenic Tjørnuvík village surrounded by green hills, Faroe Islands. Scenic Tjørnuvík village surrounded by green hills, Faroe Islands.

What Creates the Optical Illusion of a Lake Floating Above the Ocean in the Faroe Islands?

Who doesn’t love whisking off to the wilderness to explore the untamed beauty of Mother Nature, and forget the hustle bustle of city life?

And knowing that your getaway location is not a crowded tourist hotspot with unreasonably high costs, is just a cherry on the top, isn’t it? So come and explore all about one such place, the Faroe Islands of Denmark!

The Faroe Islands are a lesser popular tourist destination with no opulent resorts or beaches, where summertime temperatures never rise above 15 degrees Celsius.

However, you will undoubtedly want to travel to the Faroe Islands since there is something for every kind of traveler to see.

Perhaps the closest you’ll get to believing that you’re poised on the very brink of the world is by trekking up to the highest point of the hillsides on the islands and gazing out to the untamed North Atlantic tumbling below you.

faroe islands
Mikladalur Village, Faroe Islands (Source: Unlimphotos)

The Faroe Islands in Denmark are an independent archipelago with a distinct history and culture, although they’re administered and associated with the Kingdom of Denmark.

The Faroe Islands have a lot to offer, including majestic waterfalls, a fascinating Viking history, and some of the prettiest villages you’ve ever seen. I would recommend putting them on your bucket list right away, they are so worth it!

While tourists are beginning to discover the archipelago’s rocky peaks, hiking paths, waterfalls, and rugged coasts, music enthusiasts may already be familiar with the area from its five annual live music festivals.

Additionally, there are plenty of sites for social media influencers to keep them taking pictures.

The Faroe Islands in Denmark are small, but they’re simply amazing. When you explore these isolated islands, you can go kayaking through deep, dark fjords, trekking up sleek, sloping mountains or diving sea cliffs, and marvelling at “floating” rivers and stunning waterfalls.

There is gorgeous scenery all around you and you simply have to take a quick drive, stroll, or turn your head towards the windows to find it.

A Marvel Awaiting to be Explored

house in faroes
Kirkjubour, Faroe Islands (Source: Unlimphotos)

The Faroe Islands in Denmark are a group of 18 volcanic islands that are a component of the Kingdom of Denmark, nestled in the North Atlantic Ocean, halfway between Iceland and Norway.

Its settlements and towns are home to whitewashed medieval churches and turf-roofed cabins, while its surroundings are defined by rocky beaches, high mountains, and deep fjords.

The Faroe Islands are a photographer’s paradise with their dramatic landscapes and Middle-earth vibes, but there’s a lot more to this archipelago than just breathtaking mountains thanks to their unique blend of traditional and modern culture.

Nothing compares to breathing in pure sea air after climbing to the summit of a mountain. It makes an unforgettable touch to the soul. A vacation to the Faroes may be an actual intake of fresh air if you’re hoping to get away from the stifling city life.

Magnificent waterfalls are an iconic element of the Faroese landscape, from witnessing the water crash from the black basalt rock at Fossá cascade to witnessing the magnificent Múlafossur fall plunge down a massive sea cliff.

A benefit of the consistently rainy weather is that you’ll find a ton of makeshift waterfalls that pop up during a downpour.

In the Faroes, wonderful things come in tiny packages, and you’ll be amazed at how such a vibrant artistic and musical scene can exist in such a remote location.

Many festivalgoers travel from all over Europe each summer to attend music festivals such as G! the Summer Festival, and Summartónar, where they watch performances by both national and foreign performers. Even more motivation to schedule a summertime getaway!

The Icy Whiz team talked to Giacomo Piva, a travel industry analyst and co-founder of Radical Storage, on the analysis of the tourism industry in the Faroe Islands. Here is what he had to say:

Giacomo Piva
Giacomo Piva

“Based on our recent ecotourism statistics, the majority of global travelers (66%) said they wanted to have authentic travel experiences that represent the local culture, nature and communities, and the Faroe Islands may embody the essence of all this.

Compared to more mainstream travel destinations, which can sometimes feel overcrowded and commercialized, the Faroe Islands preserve a sense of authenticity and peacefulness that is becoming increasingly rare in today’s society. 

What distinguishes the Faroe Islands is its commitment to sustainable tourist management, which focuses on environmental conservation, community engagement, and a sustainable economy.

A perfect example of the island’s dedication to eco-friendly hospitality is the Brandan Hotel in Tórshavn, which is designed in the most sustainable way possible.

The Close for Mantainece, Open for Voluntourism project launched in 2019, brought together hundreds of volunteers from around the globe to contribute to maintenance projects in exchange for free local lodging and food.

This year’s closures of the most popular sites will take place from May 2 to 4. Volunteers will be involved in restoring the path to facilitate easy access to Tjørnuvík beach, improving scenic hiking routes, such as the one to the Nólsoy lighthouse, and restoring degraded landscapes to improve biodiversity. 

Besides limiting the size and number of cruise ships allowed ashore in the Faroe Islands, the new 2025 sustainable tourism strategy includes a Nature Preservation Fee for all visitors to reinvest in sustainable projects across the islands.”

Top 7 Things You Must Do

So, once you’ve travelled to the Faroes after a great deal of planning, what to do now that you are here? Read on to know!

1. Meander Through the Island

puffins
Rookery of North Atlantic puffins at Faroe Island Mykines (Source: Unlimphotos)

Mykines, the largest and westernmost land in the Faroe Islands, serves as a nesting habitat for a variety of migrating seabirds, including the goofy and adorable Puffin.

Throughout the summer, the westernmost part of the island becomes a swarm of color and sound due to the abundance of seabird nests and puffin burrows.

You will be rewarded with the most breathtaking views of the island on the trek to the beacon at the point of the island, which is an absolute must. The hike is 3–4 hours, though very mountainous.

Along the way, you’ll pass across puffin breeding burrows, so be sure to stay on the route under all circumstances. Take some time to visit the nearby village, which currently has about eight full-time residents after formerly housing 180 people.

The Mykines, also referred to as “puffin paradise,” are a popular tourist destination! One of the greatest locations to watch puffins and activities in the Faroe Archipelago is the tiny island on the western coast!

The little charming puffins found here are a species of seabird that spends the summertime months burrowing and nesting on Mykines Island.

The greatest time to visit the Faroe Islands is from the beginning of May through the end of August, if seeing the puffins is one of your top travel goals.

Catch an island ferry from Størvágur to Mykines, which usually departs twice a day, depending on the weather.

2. Explore Sørvágsvatn Lake

Faroe Islands Sorvagsvatn Cliffside View
Sørvágsvatn Lake (Source: Unlimphotos)

Everyone’s wish list for the Faroe Islands in Denmark includes this, perhaps one of the best things to do here. The biggest lake in these islands Sørvágsvatn, is distinguished by the optical illusion it produces. In actuality, the lake has more depth than the ocean, but from some perspectives, it looks the other way!

There are two ways to travel to Sørvágsvatn: by car, which takes around 40 minutes from Torshavn, the capital city, or by local bus number 150.

To have the greatest view and witness the optical figment, I suggest hiking up to the waterfalls of Bøsdalafossur.

The hike is rated as easy to intermediate and takes about two hours to accomplish. Before arriving at the waterfall, the trek leaves from the town of Sørvágur and passes through some breathtaking scenery.

You can witness the optical illusion and enjoy a stunning view of the lakes once you arrive near the waterfall!

In an interview with the Icy Whiz team, Alex Cornici, Founder and CEO of The Traveler, shared his experience about traveling to the Faroe Islands. Here is what he had to say:

Alex Cornici - Featured
Alex Cornici

“Being a travel enthusiast with a lot of background in exploring and studying unique travel destinations, the Faroe Islands fascinate me greatly.

An archipelago set in the middle of the North Atlantic, it offers an exciting mix of wild landscapes and cultured experiences that mass tourism has yet to spoil.

The Faroe Islands’ unspoiled nature is certainly its main attraction for landscape lovers. High, rocky cliffs and waterfalls falling from great heights onto large expanses of rolling, green land are perfect for climbing and photo opportunities.

  • Cultural Fusion: The distant Faroe Islands are quite ahead in the celebration of traditional yet modern cultural fusion. From local festivals featuring Faroese music and dance to culinary delights made from ancient Faroese methods and dishes with modern flavors, the cultural offerings from the Faroe Islands are as rich as their landscapes.
  • Wildlife Encounters: For those who love animals, these islands are an earthly heaven. All sorts of birds live here, from the famous puffin to other kinds of migratory and primitive birds. Bird-watching and observing nature will leave you breathless.
  • Unique Destination: Much less troubled by touristic phenomena than some other more populated destinations, the Faroe Islands are the spot for someone looking to find solitude, adventure, and a deep bond with nature and culture.”

3. Try to Surf in Tjørnuvík

Tjørnuvík is considered to be one of the oldest villages in the Faroe Islands, according to Viking burials discovered in the valley’s eastern section. A slumbering town on the northernmost point of Streymoy Island, with the sight of the renowned Witch cliffs in the distance, faces the wide expanse of the ocean.

The Witch Rocks, significant figures in local tradition, are said to have attempted to take the Faroe Archipelago to Iceland. Beyond the scenery, Tjørnuvík is renowned as one of the best places in the Faroes to surf.

Only skilled surfers should venture out into the North Atlantic Ocean, as it may be both thrilling and incredibly dangerous.

Here in Tjørnuvík, a local crew of skilled surfers provides organized surf tours. The town of Saksun and the town of Tjørnuvík are connected by a well-liked hiking trail. The entire trek is 6.5 km long and 500 meters above sea level.

4. Have a Picnic by Múlafossur

The little town of Gásadalur is tucked away in a remote valley. It was completely cut off from the outside world until 2004. One of the most magnificent waterfalls on this continent is now easily accessible owing to a well-constructed tunnel.

Tourists to Gásadalur have a profound sense of being out of breath as the waterfall plummets 60 meters (200 feet) straight down from the rock face into the ocean. Múlafossur Waterfall is located on Vagar Island.

Enjoy the secluded valley where the exquisite nature shower is situated on this highly recommended day trip with an expert guide from the area. Taking in the scenery of Gásadalur is a life-changing event for sure!

The village itself has a really Faroese vibe to it, with little houses wrapped up in grass. Hiking or helicopter were the only ways to get to the town until 2004 when a passageway was constructed to connect it to Søvágur.

The magnificent Múlafossur Waterfall cascades into the ocean on calmer days, plunging over a 100-foot ledge. When it’s windy, the water whirls around and part of it shoots skyward rather than downward.

Travel east from Vagur airport via the passageway and the town of Bøur to reach Gásadalur and Múlafossur waterfalls. After that, it’s a quick stroll to the vantage point at Múlafossur Falls.

5. Lose Yourself in the Beauty of Fossa

fossa waterfall with amazing backdrop
Double Waterfalls on the River Fòssa (Source: Unlimphotos)

Among the top attractions in this region is the breathtaking Fòssa waterfall. Situated on the tiny island of Eysturoy, Fòssa Falls is the biggest cascade in the Faroe Islands.

The waterfall, which is roughly 100 meters tall, is most impressive to view right after an episode of intense rain when the flow of water is at its fastest.

To get a better look, there is a hiking track leading to the waterfall but be safe and wear sports shoes!

Although not immediately visible, the trailhead for the hike that leads to the cascades is located at the base of the road, close to the parking area. It’s not hard, but there is a steep slope where you have to trek up rocks, so only people who are at ease with cliffs and have decent hiking skills should attempt this.

6. Tour Kalsoy

One of the most distinctive and stunning locations in the region is Kalsoy, which is absolutely worth exploring! The island of Kalsoy is situated north of Torshavn, the country’s capital.

From the village of Klaksvik, it takes thirty minutes to get there by ferry. Because of its limited capacity and high demand, I would advise travelling at least sixty minutes beforehand to guarantee a spot on the ship.

Kalsoy is renowned for its breathtaking scenery, verdant slopes, and quaint towns. Also, arguably the most beautiful hiking paths in the Faroes can be found there as well!

The journey to Mikladalur village, which passes through breathtaking countryside before arriving at the abandoned town, is one of the most well-liked hikes. You should be able to finish this hike in three to four hours.

7. Discover Trælanípa

Travellers from all around the world are drawn to the floating lake. They visit this breathtaking site to take in one of the greatest marvels of nature. This is a rather unusual place to explore untamed, dangerous, but simply mesmerizing sights.

You can visit the top locations on the island, notably the well-known Trælanípa viewpoint, with a supervised tour that you should book beforehand.

On the island of Vagar, Trælanípa, sometimes referred to as the Slave Cliff, is located close to the Faroe Islands’ lone Atlantic airways. It will take you one hour to trek to Trælanípa.

It is a simple hike as the path has very little elevation gain. Shortly before you arrive at your destination, you will come to a slight slope. Hence, I will again emphasize the importance of carrying good hiking shoes.

You must also visit the central library to learn more about Faroese literature and culture!

The Icy Whiz team interviewed Carsten Bidsted, Founder and CEO of CBI E-commerce Inc., about the serene beauty and biodiversity of the Faroe Islands. He shared his experience:

Carsten Bidsted - Featured
Carsten Bidsted

“As an avid overlander and Danish citizen, my heritage deeply influenced my desire to explore the Faroe Islands, a destination that embodies the dramatic beauty and cultural richness of Scandinavia. I visited in August 2023, and the experience was as profound as it was picturesque.

The allure of the Faroe Islands lies in their towering cliffs, expansive green terrains, and misty horizon that collectively create a stunning backdrop for both nature lovers and cultural enthusiasts.

The islands offer a vibrant display of cultural fusion and maritime traditions that are unique to this remote part of the world.

What truly sets the Faroe Islands apart is their untouched environment and the local commitment to sustainability. The community’s effort to balance modernity with tradition and environmental care makes the islands a model of sustainable tourism.

During my stay, the warm hospitality of the locals and their integration with nature made a lasting impression. The highlight for bird-watching was a tour to Mykines, renowned as the best place in the islands to observe a diverse array of birdlife in their natural habitat.

This experience offered a respectful and enriching glimpse into the islands’ biodiversity.

Exploring the Faroe Islands is more than enjoying scenic views; it’s about connecting with a community that thrives in isolation while inviting the world into its rich narrative.

The combination of breathtaking landscapes, cultural depth, and sustainable practices makes the Faroe Islands a compelling destination for travelers seeking authenticity and depth in their journeys.”

Are these Islands Autonomous?

Denmark maintains external jurisdiction over the self-governing state of the Faroe Islands. The Faroe Islands in Denmark are the only ones with the authority to govern themselves, legislate, and administer in a variety of fields.

The preservation and administration of terrestrial and marine resources, environmental preservation, subsurface management of resources, trade, taxes, labour relations, transportation, energy, social security, education, culture, and academic endeavours are a few examples of these.

Faroese sovereignty in international relations is granted by a treaty involving Denmark and the Faroes, that has now been adopted into law. The Faroe Islands in Denmark have opted to stay out of the European Union, despite Denmark being a member state.

The free trading agreement governs trade relations between the Faroe Islands in Denmark and the EU. The first-generation agreement, which focused on the liberalization of goods tariffs went into effect in 1997.

The European Union, which is followed by China, Norway, Russia, and the UK is by far the Faroe Islands’ biggest partner in commerce.

saksun village
Waterfalls in the Village of Saksun, Faroe Islands (Source: Unlimphotos)

The Faroe Islands in Denmark fall under the jurisdiction of the European Union’s Arctic Policies, which intend to improve employment, sustainable growth, and education for Arctic residents in the future.

With several educational and research institutes, as well as free basic and secondary education for everybody, the Faroe Islands boast a highly educated populace.

In their early years, a large number of Faroese pursued education and employment in a variety of fields elsewhere before relocating to their native country.

In today’s globalized world, the Faroese people have also long maintained and nourished a broad global perspective, owing to the adaptability and mobility that characterize many island nations.

As a result, the Faroe Islands actively engage in a variety of global fisheries management treaties and organizations in addition to negotiating their own economic and aquaculture deals with the European Union and other nations.

It’s also a little-known yet fun fact that pilot whale hunting in the Faroe Islands is referred to as “grindadrap” in Faroese culture. Based on old beliefs, the Faroese consider this tradition to be fundamental to their distinctive culture and an ecologically sound way of gathering food.

According to the locals, the killing of whales and dolphins is not really commercialized. Because pilot whales have lengthy, natural lives below the water, shooting and consuming them is seen as more natural and viable than industrial farming because they are like “free-range” meat.

Kind of like eating chicken or turkey, many would say. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Also Known By

How would you feel if the place you live in is dominated by species other than humans? Because that’s what it is like in the Faroe Islands in Denmark.

Since the islands are involved in sheep raising, it is not shocking that the title of the islands, when translated, means “sheep islands.”

The majestic, stormy Faroes, towering 200 miles farther north than Scotland from the North Atlantic, have historically been home to just a handful of farmers who make ends meet by farming an enormous number of sheep and durable crops on the few large patches of grasslands on the islands.

From the time when Irish monks first settled here to now, sheep still outweigh the 55,000 people who live on the islands.

Faroes, which translates to “sheep islands” in the Faroese language of Scandinavia, is the moniker of the archipelago given to them since they have proven so essential to life there.

Is a Trip to the Faroes Worth it?

Despite being midway betwixt Iceland and Scotland, the Faroe Islands in Denmark are still distinctly their own nation, complete with their own Faroese parliament and prime minister.

Though not entirely autonomous, this Danish component nation has experienced an unexpected surge in travel over the last ten years as travelers seek fresh experiences and ways to get away from the more densely populated Iceland.

Selkie Statue Mikladalur Faroe Islands
Statue of Selkie, Mikladalur (Source: Unlimphotos)

This amazing 18-island cluster is known for its towering coastal cliffs, vibrant seabird colonies, and an abundance of sheep. It is a small country with a lot of attractions, from amazing road trips and trekking to unreal exquisite dining experiences.

It’s practical to compare the scenery to a European version of Hawaii, with equally spectacular and breathtaking views, just without the tan 😉

The Faroe Islands in Denmark still use grindadrap, despite annual protests against it. It is believed to have originated when the islands were originally populated. Every year, some 800 pilot whales are tragically killed during this dolphin drive, which is intended to hunt and kill the whales.

This accounts for fewer than 1% of the whales in the nation’s waterways, but every summer it sparks intense controversy due to its especially brutal nature and the claim that the islands no longer require subsistence hunting.

In Torshavn, whale meat can be found on a number of menus, but it is always properly marked.

We also talked about Mykines above in the places to visit section, which are possibly the Faroe Islands’ finest treasures, although not hidden. The stunning island is home to enormous colonies of Atlantic puffins and northern gannets, many of which nest near the pathways that crisscross the cliff faces.

A prominent trek finishes at a historic lighthouse perched on a rock, marking the westernmost point of the nation.

There’s a rigorous limit on summertime numbers of visitors to preserve the beauty of Mykines and give the birds some space, so make sure to book well in advance to ensure a ticket to this heavenly place!

In an interview with the Icy Whiz team, Michael Sawyer, Operations Director at Ultimate Kilimanjaro, talked about the allure of the Faroe Islands with its untouched landscapes and wildlife. Here is an excerpt:

Michael Sawyer
Michael Sawyer

“People who like to explore and care about the environment will love the Faroe Islands. There is wildlife on these islands in the North Atlantic Ocean. The land is steep and rocky. A lot of tourist spots are big city sites, but the Faroe Islands are great for relaxing and doing things outside.

If you’re brave, you can climb Nestindar in the Faroe Islands. Nestindar stands tall over the island’s rough shoreline and lagoons. Climbing Nestindar is a one-of-a-kind experience for people who like thrills and the Faroese outdoors. 

The Faroe Islands are a great place to get away from crowded tourist areas and enjoy nature and wildlife. People who visit the Faroe Islands feel like they are on an adventure when they drive along the rocky shoreline, look for hidden waterfalls, and watch birds. 

They work hard to make sure people can enjoy the views in a way that doesn’t hurt the environment. Faroese tourists like to go on trips that are both cheap and good for the environment. Future generations should enjoy the natural beauty of the islands.”

Are these Islands Expensive?

Two things are certain to anyone who has visited the Faroe Islands: first, it is an incredible, breathtakingly beautiful country located in the unspoiled North Atlantic Ocean. Having said that, visitors should also be aware of the Faroe Islands’ high cost.

The Faroe Islands’ national currency is the króna. Although if you don’t have it, the Danish krone has been authorized to be accepted as the króna is bound to it.

Hence, situated far out in the North, a trip to the isolated Faroe Islands in Denmark seems everything but inexpensive, so you may need to save a bit to plan a trip here. The islands may not be an economically affordable travel location, but there are methods to minimize expenses.

Reducing a last-minute rendezvous can result in significant financial savings. This holds true for nearly everything, including travel, lodging, guided excursions, and flights. Make your reservation as well in advance as possible.

Even though the idea of vacationing at an Airbnb is now appealing to you, hold on. A fantastic alternative is to go backpacking in the Faroe Islands. Camping allows you to simply stay within a restricted budget.

The natural environment is constantly changing when you travel to the land of uncertainty. If you like the idea of staying outdoors, the climate in the site of camping is more manageable in the summer.

So, the bottom line is, book in advance!

amazing beautiful islands of faroe
Eysturoy Island (Source: Unlimphotos)

EndNote

Anyone who likes untamed nature, a distinct but reminiscent culture, and stunning scenery that will inspire you to have faith in fairies and fantasy tales should definitely visit this 18-island Archipelago.

You can expect stormy, windy, and damp conditions when you’re in an isolated archipelago in the midst of the North Atlantic. The Faroes have 300 days of rain on average a year, so you will need to be ready with raincoats.

The surprising thing is, that most adventurers prefer the atmosphere to be gloomy and dark because it adds to the mystery and mysticism of the scenery.

When the view is this incredible, do we really need to say more? You won’t put down your camera because there is simply so much splendor. Amazingly, there are a ton of incredible activities to do in such a desolate place.

The Faroe Islands will astound you at every step, with experiences ranging from breathtaking treks that seem to end at the edge of the earth to kayaking across the icy North Atlantic waterways and Norwegian sea, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants serving locally grown products, and seeing endangered puffins.

The Faroes Islands in Denmark are still somewhat of a hidden vacation gem, but that won’t last for long. Take this opportunity to discover this remote location’s pristine beauty now!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are 3 days enough in the Faroe Islands?

You can see a lot of amazing places in three days of touring the Faroe Islands, but we recommend at least 4 nights and 5 days to get to know the real Faroe Islands.

2. Is it worth going to the Faroe Islands in Denmark?

The Faroe Islands are a truly exceptional place, with golden mountain slopes in wintertime and vibrantly colored grass-covered plains in the height of summer in July. The archipelago offers breathtaking scenery all year round.

3. What is the best time of year to visit the Faroe Islands in Denmark?

In terms of weather, the Faroese summer months of June through September offer the finest circumstances due to their warm and clear weather, but this is highly probable.

Also, if you are embarking on an adventure to tour the world, add the Cinque Terre, a must-explore Italian marvel to your must-visit list. Don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments!

Guest Author: Saket Kumar

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Bhumika Aggarwal

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gourvigupta
  1. This is truly a fascinating guide to the Faroe Islands! There are so many different layers of history, natural beauty and local culture to enjoy on this tiny island. The article is so interestingly informative and comprehensive that it makes me want to visit the Faroe Islands.

  2. A guide to the Faroe Islands is always helpful, especially if it’s your first visit. This is an amazing article. All the thing which are needed for the first visit are mentioned here. Really helpful.

  3. The Faroe Islands, nestled in the North Atlantic between Iceland and Norway, offer a unique blend of traditional and modern culture. With dramatic landscapes, medieval churches, and turf-roofed cabins, it’s a photographer’s paradise. Explore rocky beaches, high mountains, and deep fjords. Marvel at iconic waterfalls like Fossá and Múlafossur.

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