Fjords, Puffins and Music Festivals: An Insider’s Guide to the Faroe Islands

Thanks to an enlightened tourism approach, there are myriad opportunities to venture beyond hotels and immerse yourself in authentic Faroese life.

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You likely won't find the Faroe Islands on most travelers' radars, but these craggy North Atlantic rocks stand poised to jolt even the most jaded globetrotter. The Faroe Islands are at once ancient and utterly modern—a wind-whipped 18-island archipelago that's easier to reach than you'd imagine, yet begets the thrilling sense of having arrived at the ends of the earth. Even so, from European gateways like Copenhagen (the Faroe Islands are a territory of Denmark) and Edinburgh, the capital of Tórshavn is just a short flight before you're touching down amid the swirling swells. Brace yourself for what awaits beyond the tiny airstrip: an epic, time-warped wonderland of treeless moors crisscrossed by centuries-old footpaths and gnarled mountains shearing towards the horizon. Even the tiniest, once-inaccessible hamlets are now connected by a network of tunnels bored straight through those towering crags. And the weather? Always a spectacle, from ferocious gales and slashing rain to brilliant stillness revealing every crenellated peak and thundering cascade in high-def clarity.

Thanks to an enlightened tourism approach, there are myriad opportunities to venture beyond hotels and immerse yourself in authentic Faroese life. Join locals in their living rooms for intimate concerts like October's Hoyma Festival, where you'll be treated to Faroese music, food and hospitality while making the rounds from home to home. Or celebrate summer's arrival at the raucous G! Festival, a multi-stage music blowout drawing crowds from across the archipelago. No matter the season, you can find yourself knitting shoulders-to-shoulders with islanders, savoring home-cooked åsturin fish soup or clinking glasses of local beer at impromptu kitchen festas. But the islands' true giants roam the skies and waters. Come spring, guillemot colonies and comically rotund puffins blanket the cliffs by the thousands, porpoising in and out of their grassy burrows. Lower your gaze and shoals of fish rush the currents, ushering in a journey ahead.

Where to Stay

Hotel Føroyar

  • 45 Oyggjarvegur, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

This modernist aerie, perched above the Tórshavn fray, offers a sublime Faroese retreat. The sleek, elongated design by Danish architects Friis & Moltke A/S echoes the rugged contours below, while each austere yet cozy room is a canvas for notable local artists' works. After a 2020 refresh, the cloudlike suites and forthcoming expansion to the property’s Ress Spa elevate the indulgence. But it's those panoramic windows framing the craggy peaks that provide the real luxury.

Hotel Føroyar. Hotel Føroyar

Hotel Brandan

  • Oknarvegur 2, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

The eco-minded Faroese know how to elevate off-the-grid getaways with Nordic flair. Hotel Brandan is a beacon of high-design sustainability—snug yet chic, from its exclusive Edward Fuglø artworks right down to the handcrafted Stua furniture. All 124 rooms are cocoons of green luxury, but the real draw sits downstairs at the inventive Húsagarður restaurant. Chef Leif Sørensen puts a playful spin on New Nordic cuisine, dreaming up clever pairings that tap into the deep wine cellar's global bounty. Order the multi-course tasting menu to savor the full locavore experience, from slivers of air-dried lamb to bounties from the surrounding fjords.

Hotel Brandan. Hotel Brandan

Hotel Havgrím

  • 14 Yviri við Strond, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

If walls could talk, this charming new boutique hotel would surely regale tales of the 21 commodores who called it home starting in the 1950s. The lovingly restored 14-room seaside sanctuary pays homage to its storied past with elegant maritime accents. Picture showpiece river rock fireplaces, antique barometers and plaques listing each former resident. The airy rooms are equally inextricable from their setting, from the ocean-inspired blue-green palette and tumbling-in views to the glassed-in showers overlooking the fjord and wandering sheep outside.

Hotel Havgrím. Hotel Havgrím

What to Do

Go surfing in Tjørnuvík

For intrepid wave-riders, no swells get more epically North Atlantic than Tjørnuvík's. This petite black-sand cove on Vágar is the domain of the local surfing legends of Faroe Islands Surf Guide, who brave the frigid fjord breaks come mittened hell or frozen high water. Game to give it a go? Their surf shack sits mere steps from mythical sea stacks and monumental mountains that make even the most benign whitecaps feel like liquid monsters. If conditions are calmer, opt for guided stand-up paddleboarding or snorkel tours, or go gonzo with some cliff jumping. Wetsuits required.

Tjørnuvík. Polina Kuzovkova/Unsplash

Mykines

Nature puts on quite the ornithological spectacle on little Mykines. Scramble the clifftop trails of this rugged outpost come spring and you're all but guaranteed an intimate encounter with thousands of plump, waddling puffins, those comic pocket penguins of the northern seas. Find a spot amid the grassy burrows and watch the show unfold as they launch to and from the sea, brightly-hued beaks brimming with fish. Or join a guided boat tour venturing beneath the Vestmanna sea cliffs to face off with these striking little Auks up close.

Mykines, Faroe Islands. Jessica Pamp on Unsplash

Múlafossur

  • 4H57+2QG, Gasadalur 387, Faroe Islands

Nature drops the mic with Múlafossur, one of the Faroes' most iconic sights. This spellbinding waterfall seems to cascade straight out of the mossy cliff face into the serene, black-pebbled fjord below in the isolated village of Gásadalur. The classic vantage requires reaching the end of a long (but flat) walking path after emerging from a road tunnel. For an adventurous twist, opt instead for a proper hike into Gásadalur along the historic stone-step trail from the village of Víkar. Whichever way you witness it, Múlafossur's thundering cascade cascading into those glassy waters is nothing short of sublime.

Múlafossur. Paul Jebara
  • 9 Gundadalsvegur, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

Searching for a primer on Faroese art and culture? This bright, modern gallery spanning 10,000 square feet has got you covered. The airy rooms provide a thoughtful overview of renowned painters and sculptors spanning the centuries, from pioneering 19th-century figures like Sámal Joensen-Mikines to contemporary talents like the whimsical illustrator William Heinesen. Don't miss the trippy mirror-and-stained glass installations transporting you inside a Faroese dream state. Keep an eye out for visiting exhibitions and textile shows celebrating the islands' rich knitting traditions.

National Gallery of the Faroe Islands. Paul Jebara

Where to Eat

Roks

  • 5, 100 Gongin, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Don't be fooled by the rustic façade of this turf-roofed gem—the kitchen behind Roks is all about elevated, playful coastal cuisine. Sister to Michelin-starred Koks in Greenland, Roks similarly champions the bounty of the North Atlantic, from snowcrab claws to buttery sea urchin and cod so fresh it was swimming yesterday. Be sure to reserve the "totally on the rocks" tasting menu to indulge in the full terroir-inspired experience. And prepare to dive deep into the quirky "octopus cellar" showcasing wines both cult and conventional.

Roks. Paul Jebara

Breyðvirkið

  • 44, 100 Jónas Broncksgøta, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Leave it to a couple of enterprising young bakers to make waiting in line a pleasure in these uncrowded isles. Friends Fríða and Randi opened Breyðvirkið as an organic sourdough passion project, but their fresh breads and Scandi sweets emerged as a national obsession. Lining up early for loaves like the Islensk Rúgbrauð (studded with rye and caraway) has become a Tórshavn morning ritual.

Fiskastykkið

  • 12 Úti á Bakka, Sandavágur 360, Faroe Islands

There's always been a wait at this tucked-away Faroese fish shack—long before influencer mania put it on the tourist radar. That's because the food, from steaming bowls of savory fishasúpa to tender planks of wind-dried cod, represents the true taste of the isles. For an authentic slice of Faroese life, order up at the creaky old counter and grab a rickety wooden chair overlooking the harbor. Sip an obligatory cup of muddled rhubarb juice while keeping one eye trained on the docks, where the fishermen who landed today's catch are likely steering in their latest haul.

Fiskastykkið. Fiskastykkið

Katrina Christiansen

  • 6 Bringsnagøta, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

In a land where every home seems to have its own origin tale, this salon-style restaurant set inside an 18th-century house offers a rich backstory. The birthplace of revered Faroese artist William Heinesen, it has also served as a barber shop and grocer over the centuries. Today, the kitchen pays homage to the building's layered history with an idiosyncratic fusion menu that blends Spanish tapas traditions with Faroese seafood, lamb and more. Besides small plates like langoustine skewers, expect a leisurely meal sweeping you through the timelines chalked inside the exposed wooden beams.

Bitin

  • 12 Úti á Bakka, Sandavágur 360, Faroe Islands

Craving smørrebrød traditionally crafted from start to finish by two passionate chefs? Make a beeline for the intimate Bitin, Tórshavn's go-to for elevated Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches. Despite the casual vibe, every component arrives with artisanal flair, from the rye-crusted sourdough piled with local seafood and hand-peeled shrimp to the tangy house pickles and dilled creams. While the prices aren't cheap, each carefully composed bite delivers deeply satisfying Nordic flavors. Browse the concise checklist menu while soaking up the unfussy hygge ambiance. Don't skip the fried chicken skin scattered like savory croutons.

Bitin. Paul Jebara

Where to Drink

Blábar

  • 23 Niels Finsens gøta, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

Follow the sounds of jazz spilling onto Tórshavn's rain-slicked streets to find Blábar, the Faroes' quintessential music haunt. This funky cafe and bar prioritizes highlighting the sounds, flavors and arts of the islands, from traditional blues and folk concerts to seriously crafted coffee and cocktails incorporating hyper-local botanicals and brews. Not in a drinking mood? Settle into one of the mid-century modern lounges and order up a round of Faroese specialties like beloved heimabakað kleinur (twisted doughnut-like fritters).

Blabar. Visit Faroe Islands

Sirkus

  • 2 Gríms Kambansgøta, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

When vertigo-inducing cliffs and ferocious winds beget the need for an escape, Tórshavn's most defiantly tropical hideaway calls. As soon as you slip through the door, Sirkus's quirky decor and heady rum cocktails transport you to an imagined tiki paradise far from the North Atlantic's bite. But the real jungle thrives upstairs, where the lively second-floor bar showcases cutting-edge Faroese DJs, bands and artists shaking up the islands' creative scene between beers and dancefloor hilarities.

Sirkus. Visit Faroe Islands

Mikkeler Bar

  • Gongin 2 Tórshavn, 100, Faroe Islands

Among a cluster of centuries-old wooden houses tucked along the capital’s corridors, you'll find Mikkeller's Faroese outpost. This beer lair is situated inside a 500-year-old homestead, yet despite its hyper-local trappings, the 16 taps showcase an audaciously global rotation of cutting-edge craft brews from Mikkeller's far-flung collaborators.

The Tarv Grillhouse

  • Bryggjubakka 3-5 Tóshavn, 100, Faroe Islands

When the islands' relentlessly briny gusts and aquatic environs beget a serious thirst, Tarv Grillhouse stands at the ready with its deeply cultured cocktail program. Belly up to the perpetually bustling bar for measured pours of stiff libations like bracing negronis, briny martinis and chocolatey espresso numbers. The mood is irreverent but the execution is earnest—this is serious drinking territory for those who like their elixirs potent.

Where to Shop

Guðrun & Guðrun

  • 13 Niels Finsens gøta, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

For the ultimate in Faroese knitting culture, seek out the studio of Guðrun & Guðrun, the fearlessly innovative duo marrying age-old tradition with contemporary Nordic cool. Founded by two visionary women—sisters Guðrun Róðvadóttir and Guðrun Ludvig—the line translates the region's hand-crafted history into avant-garde garments and accessories that are at once timeless and utterly modern. Named for the founders' similarly-spelled first names, the brand celebrates the Faroes' revered knitting circles while challenging convention with unexpected colors, silhouettes and twists.

Gudrun and Gudrun. Gudrun and Gudrun

Steinprent

  • 16 Skálatrøð, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

For a full immersion into the Faroes' thriving contemporary art scene, carve out time to explore Steinprent, the capital's graphic arts collective housed inside a former factory. Founded by a ragtag crew of printmakers and painters in 1999, it has emerged as a dynamic hub showcasing new talents while hosting visiting luminaries like Per Kirkeby and Bjørn Nørgaard. Beyond the airy ground-floor galleries, venture upstairs to the bustling workshop itself, where you're likely to encounter artists mid-masterpiece run-off.

Steinprent. Visit Faroe Islands

Østrøm

  • Öström, 18 Skálatrøð, Tórshavn 100, Faroe Islands

Set aside ample time for a meandering stroll through Østrøm's chic Scandinavian design emporium. Housed inside an atmospheric former fish factory, its light, minimalist interior provides the perfect canvas to showcase all manner of Faroese handicraft goodness. In addition to classic woolen sweater-shirts and cozy knitwear, you'll encounter home accessories crafted from sheepskin, ceramics, cutting-edge fashions and some seriously frame-worthy photography books celebrating these mythic isles.

Ostrom. Visit Faroe Islands

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