The Faroe Islands consists of 18 islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, covering 1399 km2. 17 of the islands are inhabited with Lítla Dímun as the only uninhabited island. With their volcanic origin the islands are rugged and rocky.
Think about the best holidays you’ve had. In many cases, the best parts of trips are the moments spent with locals, hearing their stories and seeing how they live. Those are often the moments that truly allow you to experience a culture and country.
But getting to know the locals is sometimes easier said than done. Because of their quiet and shy demeanour, the people of the Faroe Islands can at times be perceived as cold and standoffish. Rest assured that this is far from reality.
Once you get past that initial first stage of shyness and reserve, Faroe Islanders are a very warm, generous, friendly and hospitable people. Faroe Islanders are family-orientated, down to earth and have a high regard for tradition. They also tend to have a reluctance to express emotion in normal discourse – apart from when they’re talking about the weather! Faroe Islanders are well educated and love nature. They tend not to brag, and are not particularly outspoken either, but love to tell stories. If there was a suitable anonym for “superficial”, that’s what they would be. In other words, when they invite you for dinner, they actually mean it and don’t plan on brushing you off. Faroe Islanders are particularly easy-going when it comes to timekeeping, which might result from their way of approaching most matters in life: “If not today, then tomorrow.” Oh, and let’s not forget their unconditional love of a good sunny holiday!
An important characteristic about Faroe Islanders is their openness towards visiting tourists. Faroe Islanders are proud of their country and culture, and are eager to show visitors the best of what the Faroe Islands have to offer. So don’t hesitate to make contact with Faroe Islanders – you never know, it might end up as the best part of your trip.
The population of the Faroe Islands is: 49,615 (1. Sep'16).
Let’s be straight. If you expect the climate in the Faroe Islands to include 30-degrees sun every day, with sweat constantly dripping from your forehead, and a duvet-less sleep, you have been slightly misinformed. Not to say this this isn’t possible (we once recorded 26 degrees!). It’s just not quite the norm.
What surprises many, however, is the relative mildness of the Faroese seasons. Despite the islands’ northern latitude location, summers are cool with an average temperature of 13°C, and winters are mild, with an average temperature of 3°C. This climate, classed as Maritime Subarctic according to the Köppen climate classification, is influenced by the strong warming influence of the Atlantic Ocean, which produces the North Atlantic Current.
Summer days bring long hours of sunlight (19 hours, 45 minutes on the longest day, June 21). In contrast, days during the winter can be as short as 5 hours.
The islands are generally windy, cloudy and cool throughout the year. Variations in altitude, ocean currents, topography and wind mean the climate differs greatly, even though distances between locations is small. This makes for unpredictable and highly changeable weather. It is not uncommon for one location to experience rain, the next snow, and a third location sun. You can literally experience all four seasons in one day!
The weather in the Faroe Islands is unpredictable and ever-changing. It is, therefore, a good idea to pack a variety of clothing, suited to all sorts of weather (mostly cool-ish).
The absolute essentials to include in your wardrobe for the Faroe Islands are a sweater, a rainproof coat and sturdy walking shoes. Gloves or mittens are also a good idea. And while you’re at it, why not be a little optimistic and bring along sunglasses as well, you never know!
Those who plan on camping or hiking for longer periods should bring warm underwear and socks, rubber boots and a warm sleeping bag.
Time in the Faroe Islands is measured using Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) during the wither months and GMT + 1 hours during the summer. The daylight saving time takes place the late March and the clock is moved backwards late in October.
The time in the Faroe Islands is always:
- five hours ahead of New York
- one hour behind Copenhagen
- six hours behind Bankok
- 10 hours behind Sydney
- the same as in London
There are two currencies of equal value in the Faroe Islands: the Faroese króna and the Danish krone. While the Faroese government prints its own bank notes, only Danish coins are used. Danish notes are equally acceptable as Faroese notes throughout the country.
The series of banknotes comprise five denominations: 50 kroner, 100 kroner, 200 kroner, 500 kroner and 1000 kroner. The coin (only Danish) series comprises six denominations: 50 øre (cents), and 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 kroner. There may be a few places in the major towns that accept foreign currency, but this is more likely the exception than the rule, and, unsurprisingly, the exchange rate is rarely favourable. Exchange rates for the Faroese (Danish) króna as of May 2016 are roughly: DKK 100 = €13.4 / £10.6 / $15.6.
Most shops, restaurants, petrol stations, hotels and taxies accept credit cards, mainly VISA, but other credit cards, such as MasterCard, Eurocard, Maestro and JCB, are also accepted in large stores, shopping centres and restaurants. Most places DO NOT accept American Express.
It is possible to withdraw money with Visa, Visa-Dankort, Eurocard, MasterCard, Maestro and JCB from the many ATMs around the country. The ATMs are often found next to bank branches and can be used outside the banks’ normal opening hours.
Banks are normally open Monday to Friday from 09.30 to 16.00. Banks in smaller villages might have different and shorter opening hours. Banks are closed on all public holidays.
Health and safety
The Faroe Islands have nearly no crime, making it one of the safest places on earth to travel in. You can rest assured that you are safe at all times, both day and night.
The health risks involved in travelling in the Faroe Islands are minimal and there is no need to take special precautions. There should be no risk involved in eating local food or drinking water straight from the tap. In fact, the water from the tap is both fresh and tastes wonderfully.
However, it is very important that you consider the Faroese landscape with great care, especially when you travel in the more rural parts of the country. Bear in mind that the weather can change instantly, and that hiking and sailing conditions can quickly become hazardous because of sudden fog or wind. Nevertheless, if common sense is used, it is unlikely that you will encounter any serious danger.
Should you need assistance, dial 112 for any type of emergency. First aid is provided at the hospitals in Tórshavn, Klaksvík and Tvøroyri.
General Practitioners can also be contacted for non-emergency consultations over the telephone, usually between 08.00 and 09.00. If you need urgent medical treatment outside the GP”s opening hours, that is between 16.00 and 08.00, you should call the emergency medical service tel. 1870.
Emergency dental service is also available in Tórshavn and the clinic is open Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays from 10.00 to 11.00. To make an appointment call tel. (+298) 314544.
Citizens of the Nordic countries and Great Britain are covered under their respective public health plans while in the Faroe Islands. Residents of other countries need to acquire their own traveller’s health insurance before travelling to the Faroe Islands.
The national language of the Faroe Islands is Faroese. Danish is the official second language and is taught in schools at an early age. English is the also taught in schools and is spoken by most people.
Faroese derives from Old Norse and is closely related to Icelandic, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish. Speakers of the abovementioned Nordic languages will notice familiar words and grammatical structures in the Faroese language.
Tipping and VAT
Service and VAT are invariably included in prices in the Faroe Islands.
220-230 volts AC (50 Hz) is the Faroese standard. The electric outlets take plugs common to most European countries but may differ from those in your home country. To be on the safe side, you should bring a two-pin continental adapter with you.