Your Ultimate Guide to Hiking in the Faroes
The Faroe Islands have become well established as one of Europe’s top hiking destinations. The North Atlantic archipelago offers spectacular coastal and mountain scenery, abundant birdlife and a network of ancient paths.
Explore this guide to find the answers to commonly asked questions about where to hike, when to go and what to wear.
Where to go hiking in the Faroe Islands?
The Faroe Islands are full of hiking potential – from mountain and coastal trails to paths linking villages. Many are ancient routes, established long before roads arrived in the islands, and have been used as well-trodden paths for trading, visiting churches or attending a Thing (local assembly). Some hiking trails take you to spectacular viewpoints, such as Sørvágsvatn – the famous ‘lake above the ocean’. Others offer a brush with wildlife, such as the walking trail on Mykines where you can see puffins, gannets and other seabirds during the summer breeding season. Hiking is possible on all 18 of the main islands in the Faroes, with paths often marked by stone cairns or poles.
Wherever you choose to walk, be sure to respect nature by keeping to paths (to reduce erosion and avoid disturbing birds and sheep), dress for highly changeable weather, take special care near cliffs and always check for any access restrictions or fees from landowners.
Offering plenty of opportunities for hiking, the seven-night Classic Faroe Islands self-drive holiday features the islands of Vágar, Streymoy, Eysturoy and Borðoy, with optional visits to Mykines, Sandoy or Nólsoy.
Best hiking trails in the Faroe Islands?
If you fly to the Faroe Islands (rather than taking the ferry) you don’t have to travel far from the international airport on Vágar to get footloose and fancy free. The island has several rewarding hiking trails including the 3.5km route from Bøur to Gásadalur (2.5hrs, moderate) following an old path to what was once one of the most isolated villages in the islands. Ferries from nearby Sørvágur take you west to the island of Mykines where a popular 7km hike from Mykineshólmur (2-3hrs, easy) weaves past a large puffin colony to reach a lighthouse perched on precipitous cliffs. Back on Vágar, other great hikes include the 9km trail from Mi∂vágur to Bøsdalafossur (9km, 3-4hrs, moderate) which offers breathtaking views of Lake Sørvágsvatn (also called Vatni∂) as well as the waterfall of Bøsdalafossur and the ‘Slave Mountain’ of Trælanípa where Vikings supposedly dispatched unwanted slaves into the seething ocean 142m below. You can also join a guided hike on private land to view the iconic, shark-fin sea stacks of Drangarnir (12km, 3-4hrs, moderate).
Crossing over to the main island of Streymoy, don’t forget to stretch your legs by walking through the historic Tinganes district of the capital, Tórshavn. A short distance to the south of the compact city, the trail from Tórshavn to Kirkjubøur (7km, 2hrs, easy) is a wonderful way to reach the charming village of Kirkjubøur with its cathedral ruins and old farmhouses dating from around 1300. Alternatively, take a ferry from Tórshavn across to Nólsoy where the 13km Nólsoy to Bor∂an path (5hrs, easy-moderate) runs the length of the island all the way to the lighthouse. In the north of Streymoy, hike from Saksun to Tjørnuvík (14km, 5-6hrs, moderate-difficult) for mesmerising fjord and mountain scenery. The Hvalvík to Vestmanna route (10km, 4hrs, moderate) is equally rewarding, weaving past lakes deep in the mountains of Streymoy.
Hikers are spoilt for choice on the neighbouring island of Eysturoy. The 6km Fuglafjør∂ur to Hellurnar hike (2hrs, moderate) follows a mountain path straddling one of the island’s northern peninsulas, while the 3.5km Kambsdalur to Skálabotnur route (2hrs, moderate) offers more breathtaking views of the fjords in this region. For some of the most sweeping views in the Faroes, set your sights on an ascent of Slættaratindur (7km, 2-3hrs, moderate-difficult), the islands’ highest mountain at 880m. The village of Gjógv in the far north of Eysturoy has several wonderful hikes, including an easy trail above the nearby 200m-long ‘sea gorge’ and more strenuous mountain trails offering far-reaching views towards Kalsoy and the Northern Islands.
In the Northern Islands, the 6km Villingardalsfjall trail on Vi∂oy (4hrs, moderate) climbs high above the village of Vi∂arei∂I for spectacular mountain and sea cliff views.
What do I wear hiking in the Faroe Islands?
The weather can be extremely changeable in the Faroe Islands. Even hiking during summer, you should be prepared for a dynamic mixture of sunshine, rain, wind and sea fog – sometimes all in a single day. The weather can turn suddenly, so always be prepared with the right clothing. A layered approach is best: start with an insulating base layer with good sweat-wicking properties. Over this, wear a mid-layer fleece or jumper. Then, on top, wear a shell layer – a waterproof and windproof jacket. Forget shorts – you’ll need full-length hiking trousers, or leggings with an additional pair of waterproof over-trousers for when you get caught out in the rain. Sturdy footwear is essential. The paths in the Faroe Islands are either grassy, rocky or muddy. All are potentially slippery, so choose boots with a strong grip, as well as ankle support and good waterproof qualities. Two pairs of socks – a thin inner pair and a thicker outer pair – will reduce your chances of getting blisters. A warm hat that will fit under your jacket’s hood is also strongly advisable, as are gloves.
When is the best time to go hiking?
April to October is the best time to go hiking in the Faroe Islands. Spring sees the arrival of warmer, more settled weather; the days start to get longer and seabirds arrive to nest. By mid-June, you can expect nearly 20 hours of daylight, allowing long days of hiking with plenty of time to stop and enjoy the views. On 21 June, the longest day of the year, many locals set out to scale Slættaratindur – the highest mountain in the Faroe Islands – to witness sunset and then sunrise a few hours later. Summer is a wonderful time of year for hiking – the sea cliffs are thronging with seabirds and everything is open for business – from ferries and restaurants to hiking tours. Autumn can also be a rewarding time of year to hike in the Faroes, with dramatic, ever-changing light. The seabirds have finished nesting, though, and you should be prepared for changeable weather.
Are there many hiking trails in the Faroe Islands?
Yes, there are numerous hiking trails in the Faroe Islands, many of them dating back centuries to when people could only reach neighbouring villages or the local church on foot. Often a hiking trail links two villages, either by weaving inland, through moorland, or skirting the coast. Others lead to lonely lighthouses, delve into fjords or scale mountains. Whatever trails you choose, you will be rewarded with spectacular scenery, including some of the world’s most imposing sea cliffs.
What should I pack to go hiking?
In addition to the essential clothing described above, you should pack the following for hiking in the Faroe Islands: a day pack (with a waterproof cover), a 1-2 litre bottle of water or bladder, a packed lunch and several energy bars, a map and route notes, spare clothes (such as a long-sleeve base layer and easily compressible down jacket) and a first aid kit (containing blister pads etc). The sun can be very intense, especially when it’s reflecting off the sea, so sunglasses are also a good idea, along with sunscreen, a sunhat (with cords to stop it blowing off) and bandana or buff. Trekking poles are useful for balance on clifftop and mountain paths. Don’t forget to fully charge your phone before setting off (emergency services is 112). Keen photographers will want to take a lightweight tripod to steady camera gear when it’s windy.