Driving in the Faroes
Although buses do serve every village in the Faroe Islands, I don't know how regular they are to out of the way places, so the best way of getting around the islands and avoid being stranded somewhere remote is to hire a car. There are several companies that do this and have desks in the terminal building at Vágar Airport. We hired with Avis...and despite the prior booking, and ours being the only flight landing that morning, there was nobody at the desk to greet us! The same thing happened on departure, and we were instructed to leave the car keys in a jam jar behind the desk.
Anyway, assuming you find someone to rent you a car, you'll find that in general the roads around the Faroes are quite good. By that, I mean they are almost always well surfaced, even in the smallest and remotest of villages. Between the main towns and villages, the roads have two lanes, making driving on the main routes relatively straightforward (I like how I sound like a driver in this tip...I don't drive, and haven't since I was 17!).
But it isn't all as simple as that. Every village has now been connected by road, and to achieve this remarkable feat, the Faroese have dug tunnels through mountains, and even under the sea connecting almost all the northern islands. The new tunnels are well lit with two lanes, but the older ones are single lane and some don't have lights. Signs at the entrances explain who has right of way, but these signs aren't always visible or readable in the fog, so it's not always clear who can drive on and who has to find a passing point when you meet an oncoming car. Passing points are fairly frequent, but not always easy to spot in the darker tunnels. The good news is that these single lane unlit tunnels generally connect just one small village, so that lowers the chances of meeting another car in a tunnel.
The undersea tunnels (between Vágar and Streymoy, and between Eysturoy and Borðoy) are both well lit with two lanes, and the Eysturoy-Borðoy one also has a coloured light display at the deepest section, installed by a local artist. There is a toll for these tunnels, but only in one direction, only heading west. Cars are monitored as they go in, and you have two days to pay the charge at any petrol station, otherwise the bill is sent to locals automatically. If you are in a hire car, you don't have to pay the charge in person...the bill is sent to the car hire company, who will charge you later.
Road maps of the Faroes (available free in the tourist offices) show some roads as scenic routes or tourist routes. We soon learnt that these are generally single lane, twisty, mountainous, cliff-hugging routes...great for passengers, less fun for drivers. Make sure you do at least some of these though, otherwise you'll be missing out on some of the more spectacular places.
Fog was an unexpected hazard in July, and from what I've heard, it is fairly common all year round. The weather can change in a matter of minutes, clear blue skies suddenly disappear and visibility is down to a few metres, and the weather here can be very localised with fog in one village, rain in the next, and bright sunshine in between.
The final hazard is the sheep. Suicidal sheep. They lie by the side of the road, step out whenever the hell they feel like it, and we were told that in bad weather they like to congregate at the entrances to tunnels. Sheep don't seem to be scared of cars, so don't expect them to get out of your way. Kill a sheep and you'll be expected to pay for it.
Maybe one last hazard...the scenery. It's amazing, but try not to let it distract you! Luckily there are regular picnic spots where you can stop for photos.
There is only one airport on the Faroe Islands and only one airline that flies here. The airport is on Vágar island, close to the village of Sørvágur (how it appears on Skyscanner!), and connected by undersea tunnel with the main island Streymoy, making the journey to the capital possible in under an hour.
Atlantic Airways is the national airline and the only choice for flying to the Faroes. Fares are considerably cheaper than they were when I looked several years ago, with prices of £92 on offer for one way flights in either direction to/from Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Scotland. Edinburgh is now one of their main destinations (great for me!) and the only destination in the UK, and there are two flights a week (Fridays and Mondays, making weekend trips possible). At the end of our week, we flew on to Reykjavik in Iceland...bizarrely, there are no passport checks of any kind on arrival in Reykjavik, as you come into the domestic airport in the centre of the city rather than at the international airport at Keflavik.
Vágar Airport (Vága Floghavn in Faroese) is small, with just two gates. Friday is one of their busiest days, with half a dozen flights landing and leaving, but don't expect anyone to be manning the car hire desks! We'd booked in advance with Avis, and turned up to find a notice on the desk with a number to call...we couldn't get through, and neither could the lady at the tourist information desk, so our exit from the airpot wasn't quite as speedy as we'd hoped. Eventually someone turned up, but it was all a bit haphazard. On departure, again nobody was at the desk, and we were told to leave the car keys in a jam jar behind the desk! Aside from the car hire and tourist info, there is a cafe in the main area as well as another in the departure lounge next to a duty free shop. When flights land, many locals head straight to the duty free to buy beer and wine, as the Faroese government make it difficult to buy alcohol outside of bars and restaurants, so it is a good tip to stock up when you land.
Vágar Airport also acts as a heliport, with regular departures for all the islands, although of course it depends on weather conditions. During our week on the islands, no helicopter services were able to depart.
Flying in and out of Vágar is spectacular, as you fly past Bøur, Gásadalur and the island of Mykines, the houses like lego strewn on green hillsides, waves crashing on rocks beneath dramatic cliffs. Make sure you have your camera to hand! I didn't...only my mobile, hence the terrible photos.
Ferry between Tórshavn and Suðuroy
The ferry, MS Smyril, is a large modern ship capable of carrying 200 cars and around 1000 passengers. There are daily sailings between Tórshavn to Tvøroyri on Suðuroy taking around 2 hours. One day a week, the ferry does the return journey twice, allowing for a full day on Suðuroy (other days, you would only get a couple of hours). You cannot book a place, just turn up on the day. The outward journey to Suðuroy is free, and you only pay on the return leg, buying tickets in the on board shop which are checked as you disembark in Torshavn. Like other large ferries, it has a couple of cafes, some souvenir shops and plenty of indoor seating, but we spent most of the time up on deck admiring the views.
For more about the scenery en route, see my Things To Do tip for Nólsoy, Sandoy, Stóra Dimun and Litla Dimun.
SubSea tunnel Toll
If you have hired a car while in the Faroe Islands and are traveling between the Islands do not forget about the toll for using the Subsea tunnels.
If you have hired with a major car rental company, you will most liekly not have to pay the toll until you hand the car back, as they pay it for you. However check with the company when you pick the car up.
If they don't you will need to pay at the first petrol station you come across when you exit the tunnel. They are usually sign posted so you cannot miss it. You will need to keep your reciept incase you get stopped you will need to provide proof that you have paid.
You only have to pay one way for both subsea tunnels, and as far as I know there are only two that you have to pay for.
Great flights, good price!!! Atlantic Airways
In June, July and August, twice a week you can have a flight from London Stansted to Vagar Airport. Prices are quite good, we booked early and paid for a return 269 GBP per person. Service on the flight was great, in the two hour flights we received two sandwiches and had five opportunities for a drink. The staff was really nice.
Our Norröna Experience
We took the Norröna from Hanstholm (Denmark) to Seydisfjördur (Iceland) in mid-July 2007, with a 2 night stay in a B&B, arranged by the Smyril Line in the Magical Faroes.
The Norröna is an efficient means of transportation, a no-frills ferry. We booked in April and the only available cabin was the Suite... we had no choice but to take it. The suite itself was... well, a suite (there's nothing sillier than taking a suite on a ferry- but it was either-or.) So it is advisable to book at least 6 months in advance to have a freer choice of cabins.
To our dismay we couldn't smoke in the cabin, so had to stay in the bars and on decks for the whole time. The company officials would not compromise on their regulations, and I accept that, yet the company should make their smoking policies more clear and visible, especially when they charge so much for an expensive cabin.
As I said, the ship is no-frills: food on board is quite expensive. The staff is correct in its attitude, but not exceedingly freindly or helpful. It is too apparent that they hold a monopoly on this line and if you don't like something you can take a flight or swim your way to the Islands.
It is a popular line and the ship is booked out throughout the summer. I am sure tourism will just be on the increase to these fabulous islands in following years, so a healthy bit of competition would do no harm to anyone. I hope more ships will service this route so passengers would benefit from lower prices and better service, and the company would be less smug.
Yet, there is something nice and quaint about the veriety of passengers, from highbrow passengers to young backpackers, camping on deck, which remind one of the old steamships, which were a real means of transportation in pre-flight times. The atmosphere on board is easy-going and pleasant.Related to:
- Family Travel
Getting there by Air
The only Airline is Atlantic Air.
They connect the Faroe Islands withe Copenhagen, London, Iceland and Aberdeen.
If you book ahead you will get a good price:
Be careful: Flights often are cancelled due to bad weather conditions.
I have heard of friends who tried to fly to faroes five times and flew back to Aberdeen ...Related to:
- Budget Travel
Ferry from Iceland and Denmark
NOTE: Smyril Line discontinued ferry service to Norway, the Shetland Islands, and Scotland in 2009.
Your other option besides flying to the Faroes is to take the ferry. The M/F Norröna, an absolutely enormous passenger ferry and cargo ship, departs weekly on a loop from Seyðisfjørður, Iceland, to Tórshavn, then on to Hirtshals, Denmark, then back to Tórshavn and Seyðisfjørður. Prices vary with time of year and accommodation chosen -- check the website for details.Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Smyril M/S The Ferry to Suduroy
The ferry Smyril is not to be confused with Norrøna, which is owned by the company Smyril Line, almost the same name as Smyril the ferry, which is on route daily between Tórshavn and Suduroy. The time schedule may change, please check on the website ssl.fo. In 2010 Smyril has 2-3 daily departures from Tórshavn, 3 departures on Monday and Wednesday and two departures the other days. In 2009 and 2010 you pay only one way, you don't pay to get to Suduroy, only on your way back to Tórshavn you must by a ticket. The price is 90 DKK for one adult and 45 DKK for a child and 225 DKK for a car with the driver, and this is only when you travel from Suduroy, so the actual one way price is the half of these amounts which I mentioned. The trip to Suduroy, the southernmost island, is a beautiful trip which can be called a sightseeing trip at the same time as it is for tranportation.
You can see most of the 18 islands, or at least 10 of them during the two hours trip. These islands are: Streymoy, Eysturoy, Nólsoy, Hestur, Koltur, Sandoy, Skúvoy, Stóri Dímun, Lítli Dímun and Suðuroy. The ferry is from 2005 and quite big. It takes more than 900 passengers and 200 cars. You cannot book in advance, but normally it is not a problem to get space for your car if you bring one. But be there in good time, especially if you go from Tórshavn on a Thursday evening, because there is much cargo on that night or from Tórshavn on a Friday evening or from Suduroy on a Sunday evening, these days the ferry can be full. Many people from Suduroy live and work in Tórshavn and visit their island in the weekends, which is why the ferry can be quite full Friday night and Sunday night. The ferry port in Suðuroy is on Krambatangi, which is in the fjord of Trongisvagur, on the opposite side than Tvøroyri, which is one of the largest towns in Suðuroy.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Sailing and Boating
Plan ferries - but flexibly
If you intend to travel between islands by ferry, it's important to realise that the services are not the same every day. Therefore it's a good idea to buy a time-table (covers buses and helicopters as well!) before you go or as soon as you get there and plan what you hope to do. It seems a pity to go to Suðuroy and not have time to travel around a bit on the buses - it's a big island with a lot to see and it takes two hours to get there from Torshavn.
Even on Sandoy, a lot smaller and nearer to Streymoy, there's a lot worth seeing and this may make you reluctant to take the ferry on to Skuvoy - or you may want to go to Sandoy twice.
For Nolsoy, are you going to sleep there and do the trip to thw storm petrels or a long walk - or just go for a short tme?
Why 'but flexibly'? The ferries from Havassund to Svinoy and Fugloy and that from Vagar to Mykines are very dependent on Atlantic conditions and may be deferred or cancelled. Have an alternative in mind.
The contact information is for the Tourist Information Centre (Kunningarstova) in Torshavn.Related to:
You may well find the cost of getting by helicopter to remote islands pretty reasonable but beware! You can probably book from Torshavn but the return trip is primarily for residents and you are unlikely to be able to book. Hence you could be stranded for a while.
The phone number given is that of the Torshavn Tourist Office.
Vágar airport (Code: FAE) is the only international airport in the Faroe Islands. The Faroese flag carrier, Atlantic Airways, is the only commercial airline to fly into this airport (although Air Iceland has a code-share agreement with Atlantic). However, a number of charter flights come into here as well.
Atlantic Airways has direct service to the Faroes from various destinations in Iceland, the UK, Norway, and Denmark. The most frequent service is between Vágar and Copenhagen, with several daily flights.
The airport itself has a small cafeteria, an ATM, and a tourist information center. There is a nearby hotel, the Hotel Vágar, handy for those arriving on a late flight or departing on an early flight.
For ground transportation, there are rental car facilities, as well as a public bus. Bus 300 will take you from the Airport to the capital city of Tórshavn in 50 minutes. Fare is DKK 90 one-way.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
If you don't rent a car, the main way to get around the Faroes is to take the bus. The buses are reasonably inexpensive and reliable between Tórshavn, the Airport, and the main towns such as Klaksvik. To get to the smaller towns, service is less frequent, and sometimes you have to call ahead in order to be dropped off or picked up. For visitors, Leið (route) 300 is one of the more important bus routes, running between Tórshavn, the airport, and Sørvágur (where the Mykines ferry departs). Fare from Tórshavn to the airport or Sørvágur costs Kr 90 one-way, travel time 50 and 55 minutes respectively. Consider also the Tourist Travel Card, valid for all travel by bus and ferry. A 4-day card costs Kr 400, while a 7-day card costs Kr 600.
If you're arriving or departing the Faroes by plane, be sure to check the schedules carefully to make sure a bus coincides with your flight. See the website for exact timetables and other details (website mostly in Faroese, but plentiful pictograms make navigation fairly easy).Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
By ship: The passenger and car ferry, Norröna, operated by Smyril Line sails between Denmark (Hanstholm) and Faroe Islands (Tórshavn) all year around and moreover to and from, Norway (Bergen), the Shetlands (Lerwick), and Iceland (Seyðisfjörður) during the summer season from May 13 to September 9.
By air: Atlantic Airways, the national carrier of the Faroe Islands, Maersk Air, and Air Iceland provide services to the Faroes. A bus connects the airport at Vágar Island with the capital, Tórshavn.
There is a well-developed, national system of roadways and ferries that connects most towns and villages in the Faroes.The inter-town bus system operates daily to most areas. The buses are blue in colour. A comprehensive schedule listing the various timetables for the inter-town busses and ferries may be purchased from the tourist office, as well as the central bus station near the harbour in Tórshavn.
Getting there by ship
The smyril line is the only possibility to get there by ship.
There is route with a stop on the shetland islands.
The best is that you can take your car with the ferry.
For mor information see the homepage.Related to:
- Budget Travel
Faroe Islands Hotels
I have not stayed in this hotel - but have actually been inside seeking directions. It is pleasant...more
Yvirir vio Strond 19, Torshavn, FO 110, Faroe Islands
Good for: Business
I have not stayed at this hotel, but ate in the restaurant. The decor seems fine and the staff very...more
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