THE Faroe Islands are the ultimate isolation holiday – more sheep than people, stunning scenery and empty roads for miles.
Tourism has really only taken off in the last three years with the help of an ad campaign which saw cameras attached to sheep roaming the islands: Sheep View 360.
These 18 small volcanic isles between Iceland and Scotland — officially a self-governing part of Denmark — are a magnet for hikers and bird-watchers because of their wild mountains, valleys and cliffs.
The main islands are linked by road tunnels, ferries, causeways and bridges but the roads criss-crossing the islands are more or less empty, even in peak season.
With a population of just 48,000, you’re more likely to meet one of the islands’ 80,000 sheep than a local — especially if you leave behind the main roads to explore the tiny “Buttercup routes”, named after the Faroese national flower and revealing the most stunning views.
Capital Torshavn, on the main island of Streymoy, has a population of only about 20,000, while the Faroes’ tiny airport is on the western isle of Vagar and you can fly directly from Edinburgh twice weekly.
If travelling from London or Manchester, you can fly to Danish capital Copenhagen, or Paris, and change there for a direct flight.
Landing at Vagar airport is an experience in itself as your plane descends over the famous Sorvagsvatn lake, which is on a clifftop — so nervous folk should keep their eyes tightly shut.
You will want to stay in Torshavn — which has AirBnBs from £16 a night or, for a treat, the boutique Havgrim Seaside Hotel 1948, with views towards the neighbouring island of Nolsoy, costs from £248 a night per room based on two sharing.
The capital is so small, it’s walkable — and your first stop should be Tinganes, the oldest area of the “city”.
The government offices are in tiny traditional wooden buildings with grass roofs, and the cobbled streets and brightly coloured warehouses at the harbour are Insta-perfect.
Other must-sees include the Vestmanna bird cliffs.
A two-hour boat trip to see the dramatic 600 metre-high cliffs and the puffins, kittiwakes, and guillemots that live there, leaves twice-daily from the harbour at Vestmanna (visit-vestmanna.com) and tickets are from 295 Faroese Krona (FKK) — about £35.
Car hire is pricey so the best way to see the islands is by tour.
MM Tours (mmtours.fo) is run by a Faroese family and has daily trips guided in English.
Its buses take in sights including “puffin island” Mykines, 140 metres-high Fossá waterfall the Risin og Kellingin (the giant and the witch) rock formations.
Tours start at FKK 995 (£116) including hotel pick-up, food, drinks and guide.
On our tour, brothers Harry and Magnus were our guides and told hilarious tales of growing up in the Faroes and local traditions — and gave us tips for our trip.
For instance: all the local buses are totally free, even to tourists.
Come dinner time in tiny Torshavn, booking is essential — especially if there’s a sporting event on, as tables are limited and locals love to eat out.
Brewery Mikkeller has a tap room — a tiny, low-beamed old fishing house — down by the harbour, while the best cocktails in town are across the road at Essabarr.
Eat seafood and fish soups at Barbara’s Fish House, or if you feel brave, Faroese air-dried and fermented lamb is available next door at Ræst.
A warning: it’s an acquired taste, an aged meat with a cheesy, salty tang.
Nights out tend to end up at Sirkus, a rowdy bar and live music venue by the waterfront.
Football is a national obsession and, despite the tiny population, the islands have 51 teams spread over four divisions.
Every village, no matter how small, has a pitch — and international matches can see crowds of up to 6,000, with fans travelling from remote corners of the islands.
These matches are played at the Tórsvøllur stadium, ten minutes’ walk from Torshavn centre and ticket prices range from 100FKK to 250FKK (£11 to £29).
The Faroes have been relatively unaffected by Covid-19, as they went into lockdown early and have tested nearly ten per cent of the population for the disease.
To visit now, you just have to take a free test on arrival and isolate for a day until the result comes back.
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