Three Tips for Planning Your Trip to the Faroe Islands
I will break this piece into three components:
Plan Way Ahead
Don’t Leave Anything for the Last Day
The number one resource for planning a trip to the Faroe Islands is http://www.visitfaroeislands.com/. At least 50% of all the information I needed and organized, I gleaned from this one website. It’s fairly up to date and many of the brochures that you will find on landing at Vágar airport, in the local tourist office, or your hotel / B&B, are on this website in PDF format. Once you’re on the Faroe Islands, it’s rather unintelligent if you have to waste hours poring over maps or asking for details at a local tourist office – when most of it is available online and could have been consumed before arriving.
If you spend a while on http://www.visitfaroeislands.com, you should be able to build out a high level itinerary that essentially answers two of the most fundamental questions: (1) approximately how many days do you want to spend on the Faroe Islands? (2) do you want to base yourself in one place and travel to the other islands, or do you want to hop islands (if yes, which ones)?
If you want to visit any of the eight outer islands, then this website is extremely helpful http://www.vit.fo/home_uk/vitf/. You can get to the outer islands only by boat or helicopter and there are logistical considerations if you are planning a day trip or staying overnight at any of the outer islands as you have to play by the schedule of the boats and helicopters. We did a day trip to Kalsoy to see the statue of the Seal Woman and the circular hike up to the lighthouse at the northern tip of the island – and this website was a good starting point to plan that excursion.
For the other islands, there are independent websites; for instance, there’s http://www.visitsuduroy.fo if you want details on where to stay and what to do on the island of Suðuroy. There is one island for which there’s no independent website: Lítla Dímun – this is the only one of the 18 Faroe Islands that’s uninhabited.
Plan Way Ahead
There are two reasons to plan way ahead: (1) the more obvious reason – prices, and (2) the not-so obvious – capacity.
First, price. I will illustrate this with a simple example – flying into the Faroe Islands. Odds are high that you will fly in from Copenhagen as that’s the city with the most number of flights daily to and from Vágar. In the last week of June if you try booking a return flight (Copenhagen-Vágar-Copenhagen) that’s 4 weeks out, the price for the direct flight is about 2,000 DKK each way – this is because the economy seats are all sold out and you only have flex seats. Think of flex as business class. Again, in the last week of June if you try booking seats that are 2 months out, economy seats are available, the average price for the Copenhagen-Vágar leg is around 1150 DKK and for the Vágar-Copenhagen return flight it’s about 1300 DKK. Economy seats are available, but they are still not very reasonable. Now let’s look at booking tickets 10 months out – economy seats are obviously available, the average price for the Copenhagen-Vágar leg is close to 875 DKK and for the Vágar-Copenhagen return flight it’s about 925 DKK. This is less than half of what you would pay if you tried booking the tickets a month in advance.
Second, capacity. I will pick up the flight illustration to elaborate on this point as well. The national carrier of the Faroe Islands is Atlantic Airways. A cute fact – the fleet of the Atlantic Airways is all of 6 aircrafts! Juxtapose this to the fleet size of American Airlines that has almost 1500 aircrafts, or Delta, which has close to 1300. The scale of just about everything in the Faroe Islands is dialed down manifold – from the fleet size of the national carrier, to the pace of city life in the capital city of Tórshavn. And so, when you try and book a flight to the Faroe Islands just a month or two in advance of the trip, you will probably not get the time or day that best suits you. Worse still, if you want to do a guided bird watching trip to an island, the tour operator may tell you that all the spots are already taken. In such a case, do you still go ahead and visit the Faroe Islands knowing that you will not be able to indulge in some of the experiences that you were really looking forward to?
And so, plan way ahead. I booked tickets, accommodation, the rental car from Avis et cetera in December, for a 6-day trip to the Faroe Islands that we did in June.
Don’t Leave Anything for the Last Day
If you love the outdoors, there’s a lot to do on the Faroe Islands. Enough to keep you busy for days on end – fishing, hiking, watching birds and so on. But the Faroe Islands are not called wind-swept without a reason. There’s a saying on the islands “if you don’t like the weather, wait for five minutes” which essentially also means that your best laid plans are at mercy of the speed of wind and tide. Let’s assume for a minute that you have 5 days on the Faroe Islands and the one thing that you are looking forward to the most is a hike to the Kallur lighthouse.
You plan to take the ferry to reach the island of Kalsoy. You drive to the port and you’re informed that the ferry won’t be sailing for at least a few hours as the sea is too rough. If this was your last day on the Faroe Islands, you would in probability leave the islands the next day without having had the opportunity to hike up to the lighthouse. What a shame! And so, prioritize smartly, and leave absolutely nothing that’s weather dependent for the last day.