Often territories become more famous once they become independent. But some stunning islands and territories remain part of a larger country and so often become forgotten about in the popular mentality. One such example is the Faroe Islands. During the Viking Age, they were settled by Vikings along with Greenland and Iceland.
But unlike Iceland, they have never become fully independent, instead, like Greenland, they are a constituent country of the Kingdom of Denmark. Today, they are a stunning place to visit and a unique and interesting destination just waiting to be discovered.
About The Faroe Islands
- Where: 200 Miles or 320 KM North Of Scotland
- Population: 53,000
- Status: Constituent Country Of Denmark (Self-Governing)
- Average Summer Temperature: 12 °C or 54 °F
- Average Winter Temperature: 5 °C or 41 °F
Here the climate is subpolar oceanic making it windy, wet, cool, and cloudy. Still, the average temperature stays above freezing year-round due to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. The northerly latitude makes for a perpetual civil twilight in the summer nights and daylight in the depth of winter is very short.
- Fun Fact: "OE" In "Faroe" Islands Means "Islands" So To Say "The Faroe Islands" Is A Little Redundant (Another Is Sahara Desert "Sahara" Already Means "The Desert"
Unlike Iceland, the Vikings were not the first people to step foot on these islands. Instead, there seems to have been two successive periods before the arrival of the famed Norse and their longboats. The first settlement seems to have been between 300 and 600 AD and the second between 600 and 800 AD. The forebears of current inhabitants are the Vikings - specifically the Norsemen who started settling these inhospitable islands around the year 800 AD. They spoke Old West Norse which grew and developed to the variety of language spoken on the islands today - the Faroese language. See here for a list of Viking destinations every Viking fan should explore.
There were three groups of Vikings:
- Norse: Mostly From Norway, Settled Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland
- Danes: Mostly From Denmark, Particularly Went To The British Isles
- Swedish Vikings: From Sweden, Particularly Went To Eastern Europe
Between 1035-1814 the Faroe Islands were a part of the Kingdom of Norway (which was in union with Denmark after 1450), In 1814 Norway become part of Sweden while Denmark received the Faroe Islands.
Traveling To The Faroe Islands
Despite their isolation in the North Atlantic, the Faroe Islands are well connected with regular flights from Copenhagen in Denmark, Paris in France, Reykjavik in Iceland, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Bergen in Norway. The last three of these flights only take around an hour. The two airlines flying to the Faroe Islands are Scandinavian Airlines and Atlantic Airways.
Another option for those with more time and a sense of adventure is by ferry. This slow option of travel is operated by Smyril Line and leaves from Denmark and Iceland.
- Fun Fact: The Faroe Islands Is From "Faereyjar" Meaning "Sheep Islands"
The Faroe Islands are very much off the beaten track and so they provide a great example of dramatic landscapes and the wild North Atlantic Ocean away from the tourist crowds. Here the setting is peaceful and relaxing. The main town and capital is Tórshavn and there's even a sort of nightlife there. The islands are incredibly green and mountainous and are all interconnected with roads and ferries.
Activities on these islands revolve around hiking and exploring the harsh and beautiful grand outdoors. There are a number of tours to choose from but it is easy to create one's own self-guided tour around these dramatic and forgotten islands.
Tórshavn is the main settlement and capital of this northern archipelago. The houses are colorful and named after the hammer-wielding Norse god (and now Marvel superhero) Thor. The town has nearly half of the population of these islands with a population of 20,500 and is on the island of Streymoy - the largest of the Faroe Island's 18 islands.
- Fun Fact: Thor, Thunder, And Thursday Are All Derived From The Same Word. Thor Was The God Of Thunder And Thursday Is Literally "Thor's-Day"
While here, discover the importance of sheep to the islands and buy designer woolen clothing created here in Tórshavn. Many of the houses in the town and around the islands are turfed with grassy roofs. There is a selection of European-style cafes and traditional options.
The old city of the town is well-preserved, while most of the other timber-built old centers have succumbed to the ever-present and inherent fire risks. The oldest houses date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. A trip to the Faroe Islands will be a trip one is not likely to easily forget.