Driving around the Faroe Islands, R asked me this question: what are five words to describe the Faroe Islands? It did not take long for us to agree on the following: Sheep. Waterfalls. Tunnels. Green. Clouds. We also attempted to find five words that do not describe the Faroe Islands. We came up with people and sunshine before we got distracted…probably by a sheep or a waterfall.
The Faroe Islands are not the easiest place to get to. We flew from Boise to Copenhagen, stayed for a night, and then caught a two-hour flight to the Faroes. As we circled the islands and came in for the landing, cliffs of green started peaking through the clouds. By the time we landed, it was obvious: we were in the middle of nowhere.
The airport is small. You will be outside, in your rental car and exploring the Faroes in 15 minutes (give or take). We rented a car from Unicar and it was a great experience. Renting, that is. Driving is a bit of an adventure–we encountered our first sheep within minutes of leaving the airport. The roads are nice and traffic is scarce, but the sheep, fog, tunnels and one-way roads demand extra caution. I was relieved when we returned the rental car without any incidents.
The Faroe Islands are made up of 18 islands connected by tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges. We made it to seven and everywhere we went, we saw sheep, waterfalls, tunnels, green goodness and clouds.
It is hard to emphasize the number of sheep you will see. Seriously. They are everywhere. We knew there would be a lot of sheep before we arrived, but I had no idea it would be impossible to look out the car window and NOT see sheep grazing. There are some 50,000 people who live on the Faroe Islands, but the sheep population is around 70,000. This makes driving a challenge. But it also means there is always something to see when hiking.
We visited in the spring and that means babies. Baby sheep everywhere! They were so adorable and curious. They did make driving a little more hazardous since I never knew when one might dart across the road looking for its mother. But to watch them folick and play was an absolute delight. I came home with way too many pictures of baby sheep, it is ridiculous.
I was expecting sheep. I was not expecting so many waterfalls. The Faroe Islands are flush with them. Perhaps there are more during the spring because of all the rain, I have no idea. But I was a little blown away. By the end of the trip, we hardly paid attention to them anymore. They were just everywhere. At one point while we were driving, R pointed out that we could see seven different waterfalls. None of them were named in any guidebooks, but there they were.
We did visit some known waterfalls including Fossá and Mulafossur, but there were plenty of unknown waterfalls to enjoy on our various day trips.
Currently, there are two subsea tunnels on (under?) the Faroe Islands. They are long and a little disconcerting if you think about where you are driving too much. But they are big and easy to navigate. There are also tunnels that go through mountains. Some of these are one way and one-way tunnels are scary. In general, driving is pretty chill in the Faroe Islands. I did not find that to be the case for one-way tunnels.
My first time driving through a one-way tunnel was a breeze, probably because I never saw another car and it was short. My first time driving through a one-way tunnel as the car with the right-of-way was also pretty easy, although I was a little uncomfortable seeing headlights coming directly at me with nowhere to pull over. Thankfully, those cars always pulled over with plenty of time to spare.
My first time driving through a one-way tunnel as the car without the right-of-way was not my finest driving moment. I did not hit another car…or a sheep…so I suppose that overall it was a win. But I drove like the total novice I was. As soon as I saw headlights, I pulled into the first pull out. We then had to wait several minutes for the car to pass us. I had pulled into the pull out way too soon. I also ended up getting passed by a car going in the same direction as me! When I pulled into the pull out, the car just flew right past. Needless to say, that car spent a lot less time in the tunnel than I did. It was a unique driving experience and one I am not anxious to repeat anytime soon.
There is not a lot of variety in the landscape. It is dramatic and green. All over. Rocky and volcanic, trees are few and far in between and turf roofs are the norm. Coming from the high desert, the landscape of the Faroe Islands is about as different from my home as one can get. Which makes it a wonderful place to see and explore.
The weather in the Faroe Islands is tempermental at best. We had a couple of blue-sky mornings, but for the most part, we explored the Faroe Islands under clouds and fog. I did not mind the clouds so much. Sometimes they spit out a little rain, but I do not remember any major downpours. What was disappointing was the fog. More than one view was ruined by the pesky stuff. Weather can be one of the disappointing things about travel. Thankfully, none of our activities were ruined by the weather. Our ferry to Mykines was not canceled due to weather (which happens quite often I hear) and the fog was missing during our helicopter ride. Although I would have preferred to see the sky a bit more, at least the clouds did not stop us from exploring.
The Faroe Islands are unique. I can think of no other place that I would describe with the words: sheep, waterfalls, tunnels, green and clouds. If you do not enjoy those things, you may want to find another place to visit. It will be tough to avoid them in Faroe Islands.