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Faroe Islands Cruises

About Faroe Islands

Rising from the North Atlantic waters halfway between Norway and Iceland, the 22 Faroe Islands form a breathtaking archipelago of jagged mountains and dramatic fjords, including the magnificent Kaldbak and Kollafjørður. Viking settlements here reach back to the 9th century, and the Viking Parliament stood upon a rocky peninsula in Torshavn, one of the world’s tiniest capitals, on the main island of Streymoy.

When the Vikings arrived around 800 AD, there was already a small population of Northern Europeans on the islands. The new arrivals brought the Old Norse language, which has evolved into modern Faroese. Most of what is known about the early history of the Faroe Islands has been deduced from the Faereyinga Saga, a tale that describes how early residents were converted to Christianity and brought under the control of the Kingdom of Norway.

According to the saga, Sigmundur Brestisson was sent to the islands to take possession for the Norwegian Crown. He imposed Christianity and Norwegian taxation on the people of the Faroes. Norway would rule the Faroe Islands until 1814, when the Treaty of Kiel dissolved the union of Denmark and Norway, and gave the Faroes to Denmark. Since 1948, the Faroe Islands has been a self-governing country within the Danish realm, and has maintained control over most of its domestic matters.

Faroe Islands Lifestyle and Culture

The culture of the welcoming Faroese people has strong Viking roots and has evolved with little influence from the rest of Europe. Because of this, the Faroese hold their culture and history dear, still speaking their unique language descended from Old Norse and still topping the roofs of their houses with turf.

Modern Faroese have preserved their rich culture and history. Their isolation has required them to be self-reliant. For handmade clothing and crafts, locals rely upon what's readily available. Sheep outnumber people on the islands, and wool is the most common material used to make clothes. Designs incorporate traditional Nordic patterns, with regional variations handed down from mother to daughter.

Before Faroese became a written language, music played a major role in preserving the nation’s past and oral traditions. Many people are proficient on a number of instruments and participate in symphony orchestras and choirs. The nation has a very active music scene that spans diverse genres, and hosts three major music festivals throughout the year.

Faroe Islands Sights and Landmarks

Built to preserve Faroese and Scandinavian culture, the Nordic House is the most important cultural institution in the Faroe Islands. Located in the capital city of Torshavn, the house opened in 1983. As a nod to folklore, the architects built it to resemble an enchanting house of elves, with a glass exterior and a turf roof. Many consider it one of the most beautiful buildings in Scandinavia. The house itself incorporates elements from Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish, Danish and Faroese design, and it is primarily used to host cultural and artistic events.

The nearly 2,900-foot climb to the top of the Faroes’ highest mountain, Slaettaratindur, rewards travelers with spectacular views. Visitors are able to see most of the Faroe archipelago from the mountain’s peak and can observe wildlife in its natural habitat along the way. The summit can be reached via a 5-hour hike or less demanding 1-hour trek. It's become a local tradition to climb Slaettaratindur on the summer solstice to watch both the sunset and sunrise from the peak.

The tiny village of Gásadalur is one of the most remote communities in the Faroe Islands. Its iconic waterfall cascades into the ocean, a spectacular sight set against the steep cliffs. The breathtaking contrast between the waterfall’s natural beauty and the modest Nordic homes makes for a magnificent view.

Faroe Islands Entertainment and Activities

Arts and culture play a large role in the cultural fabric of Torshavn. Strolling museums of history and art and exploring streets lined with preserved architecture offers invaluable insight into the Faroese identity.

At the Føroya Fornminnissavn, a history museum in Torshavn, browse artifacts from the Viking Age to the 1800s, featuring the carved pews of the 15th-century Kirkjubøur church. Another branch of the same museum is on the bucolic island of Kúrdalsvegur, and its preserved farmstead from the 1920s provides a glimpse into early modernity.

The historic center of Torshavn, on the small peninsula of Tinganes, is a delightful cluster of stone and timber structures painted red and topped with turf roofs. Or head to the outskirts of the green park Viðarlundin to visit the airy art museum Listasavn Føroya, an impressive collection of modern and contemporary works.

Faroe Islands Restaurants and Shopping

Traditional Faroese food is largely influenced by Nordic cuisine and consists mostly of meat, seafood and potatoes. One of the most popular treats is skerpikjøt, well-aged, wind-dried mutton. Fresh fish, seabirds and eggs from the latter are part of the daily diet, as is dried fish. Few fresh vegetables are available due to the climate, but Faroese chefs pride themselves on using the freshest local ingredients.

For a truly local experience in Torshavn, head downstairs to the pub at Glitnir. If it’s a more modern take on Faroese dining you’re looking for, stay upstairs, where sophisticated cuisine is complemented by wine served in fishbowl glasses. At the restaurant known as Merlot, dishes such as Riesling-poached salmon and flambéed steaks are on the menu.

Since the time of the Vikings, wool and wool products have been of major importance to the Faroese. Their hand-knit sweaters infuse a bit of tradition into modern fashion. Available in most clothing stores, they make practical, wearable souvenirs.