Best Time to Visit the Faroe Islands
If ever that old cliché, “expect all four seasons in a single day” might actually ring true, it’s in the Faroe Islands. Way out in the North Atlantic, this craggy, wave-beaten archipelago is a paradise for puffins, sheep – and humans with the right clothing. The tourist office claims, “We do not have bad weather – just a lot of weather!” That’s another way of saying, “Come prepared” for days that start sunny and calm, but send you scuttling for cover by lunchtime with an Atlantic storm nipping at your heels. Cue another cliché that seems particularly apt for the Faroes: “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” By far the best time to visit the Faroe Islands is summer when the days are long and the weather is most stable.
When to visit the Faroes… at a glance
Faroe Islands in summer
June through August is the most popular time to visit the Faroe Islands. Not only is the weather warmer, more settled and less wet than during winter, but the days are long, promising 19 hours 45 minutes of daylight on 21 June (the longest day). That means you can spend longer hiking, touring, birdwatching, photographing or whatever takes your fancy. The flip side, off course, is that flights, accommodation, restaurants, ferries and guided activities are busier at this time of year, so it pays to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. If you’re an avid birdwatcher, summer is prime time for witnessing the spectacular seabird cities of the Faroe Islands. Bear in mind, though, that some species, including puffins, usually arrive to nest on the islands by early May – so consider an earlier trip if you prefer your birdwatching at a less busy time.
Photographers might also prefer the shoulder-season months of April/May and September/October when the days are shorter and the light more varied. For keen walkers, summer brings the prospect of striding out through meadows of freshly-mown hay and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face when you stop for a clifftop picnic – but lace up your boots in September and you can almost have the islands to yourself. From June to August there are many cultural events in the Faroe Islands, ranging from music festivals to ’living room concerts’ held in local homes.
Faroe Islands in autumn
As the nights close in during September, the weather is on the change and the first autumn gales are never far away. Tourism slows down during autumn, but hotels may be lower priced. Early autumn is a wonderful time to hike in breathtaking solitude. The seabird cliffs may be all but deserted, but the views will be just as magical. Photographers love the rich light of autumn and this is also the perfect season to snuggle up in a cosy restaurant to enjoy some Faroese gastronomy.
Faroe Islands in winter
Days can be as short as five hours during mid-winter. Few tourists venture to the Faroe Islands at this time of year, but those that do will find the basalt-ribbed mountains dusted with snow and a feisty sea whipped up by a keen wind.
Faroe Islands in spring
Spring is heralded in the Faroe Islands by daffodils and migrant birds. The weather shrugs off its winter shroud and, although always temperamental, the climate is generally warmer and more settled. Puffins and other seabirds return to nest by early May when the days are becoming longer and the islands are gearing up for the busy summer tourism season.
Despite its northerly latitude (61.89°N) it rarely gets bitterly cold in the Faroe Islands. The average temperature during summer is 13°C, while winters are mild with an average temperature of 3°C. The climate is not only strongly influenced by the warming affects of the Gulf Stream, but the islands’ Mid-Atlantic location can also create highly changeable weather. Combine this with local variations in topography and wind and you can be standing on one island in dazzling sunshine while watching the neighbouring one being pummelled by horizontal sleet. Precipitation, in one form or another, is something that the Faroese are used to. Even if you’re visiting in mid-summer, don’t forget to carry a windproof and rainproof jacket with you. The wettest month is January when you can expect rain or snow on around 22 days. By contrast, July is one of the driest months with an average of 13 days’ precipitation. Some of this will be in the form of showers and sunshine, while other days can be stubborn mist and drizzle – many people argue that the latter actually brings out the best in the brooding, elemental beauty of these enigmatic isles.