Streymoy and Nolsoy Holidays
The largest, most populated of the Faroe Islands, Streymoy means ‘island of currents’. The capital, Torshavn, is located on its southeast coast and is an interesting mix of old and new, while the 600m-tall Vestmanna cliffs in the island’s north are all aflutter with seabirds.
Named after Thor, the Nordic God of War, Torshavn is a mini city with a cathedral, parliament, harbour and fort, along with a good range of restaurants, cafes, shops and museums. Foodies should book a table at KOKS, the first Faroese restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star. Walking through the narrow alleys of the Tinganes district – site of the cathedral and parliament – you will see traditional turf-roofed houses alongside modern buildings with colourful facades. The harbourfront, Vastbotnur, is one of the best places to soak up the city’s maritime atmosphere, sipping a coffee at a pavement cafe while watching fishing boats return with their catch.
Easily reached by a 20-minute ferry crossing, the island lying to the east of Torshavn is called Nolsoy. There’s just one tiny village here – a stepping stone for wonderful hikes to the lighthouse or the world’s largest colony of storm petrels.
A small village about 30 minutes’ drive or a two-hour mountain walk from Torshavn, Kirkjubour was the ecclesiastical and cultural centre of the Faroe Islands during the Middle Ages. The ruins of the 13th-century Saint Magnus Cathedral, damaged during an avalanche in 1772, can still be seen, along with the Roykstovan – a traditional turf-roofed farmhouse that has been occupied by the same Faroese family for 17 generations.
Head to the northern part of Streymoy and you enter a broader, mountainous region. The village of Kvivik is worth a stop to inspect the remains of a well-preserved Viking farmstead, while Saksun at the road’s end has an old farm and heritage centre – but most visitors have the Vestmanna Bird Cliffs in their sights. Rising 600m above the ocean, these imposing basalt ramparts provide dizzying views towards the neighbouring islands of Vagar and Mykines. The best perspective, however, is from sea level. Tour boats weave between sea stacks and probe grottoes and inlets beneath a pepper-storm of seabirds flying to and from their nests on the precarious cliff ledges. It’s one of the Faroe Island’s definitive experiences.