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Field Notes

Spectacular Isolation: The Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands. A bit ominous. Whether or not you’ve heard of them before, the name of the place is, undoubtedly, a source of intrigue.

Photo by Adobe Stock

Sandwiched between Scotland and Iceland in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, the islands are a self-governing nation within the rule of the Kingdom of Denmark—and they exhibit every bit of the middle-of-nowhere energy you might expect.

I recently took a jaunt to the land of the Faroese myself, and the experience was hauntingly beautiful. My thoughts then and my thoughts now on this magical place revolve around one word: isolation. With a population of a mere 53,000 people, you’re bound to find yourself alone quite a lot on the islands.

In fact, there are (literally) more sheep than people there—17,000 more. This type of isolation—the kind where the soft tide of the ocean is the loudest noise you hear—provides visitors and island-dwellers alike with the unique opportunity to soak in the beauty of nature without distraction.

What the nation lacks in size, it makes up for in opportunities for exploration. There are endless things to see and do in the Faroe Islands, all of which offer an escape from the often busy and overcrowded feeling of the rest of the world.

Lake Sørvágsvatn

Lake Sørvágsvatn is one of the most well-known destinations of the Faroe Islands, famed for its ability to mess with your mind. When seen from the right angle, the lake appears to be floating above the ocean waves crashing below it. However, there is more than one way to experience this lovely lake.

When I first encountered Lake Sørvágsvatn, I had no idea that it was the lake I had seen so many photos of because rather than looking at the lake from its famous angle, I went onto the lake to kayak across. While I’m not sure swimming in the icy waters is encouraged (or permitted), kayaking tours are offered. These tours will take you along the perimeter of the lake until you reach the rocky cliffside that contains it. This experience does not offer you the floating perspective of the lake, but you are able to take in the vast expanse of the ocean and the waterfall that exits the lake.

If kayaking isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps an hour of hiking will sound more appealing. The hiking route to the optical illusion of the lake is relatively moderate until a steep climb at the end, which takes you to both the long-awaited view of a lifetime and what feels like the edge of the world.

Múlafossur Waterfall

The first place I ventured to from my hotel in the Faroe Islands was Múlafossur. A short drive from the airport takes you beneath the mountains on a one-way road.

Once you emerge on the other side of the mountains, you descend into the most awe-inspiring valley below. In addition to the majestic waterfall itself, you can expect to see wandering cattle and sheep and the daintiest white and purple flowers scattered everywhere you look. This place feels like a scene from a movie.

Keep in mind that Múlafossur has drone restrictions. Many people want to capture photos of the waterfall with their drones, but aside from regular restrictions and parameters, drones are not allowed at all during the months of puffin season. Luckily for all, plenty of stunning photos can be captured from the looking point.

Mykines Island

Calling all bird-watchers! Mykines is a puffin paradise. The island can be reached by boat or helicopter and is only open to visitors in the summertime. Once you reach the island, its famous lighthouse is often first on visitors’ itineraries. Hiking on the public paths to the lighthouse, as well as on most other parts of the island, will provide you with a view full of puffins.

Seeing a hillside full of puffins was so magnificent a sight it didn’t feel real. No trip to the Faroe Islands is complete without a visit to see them.


After a few days in the quieter parts of the Faroe Islands, you may crave the noise of the city. This is the perfect opportunity to take a drive to Tórshavn, the capital of the islands (don’t worry, it’s still pretty quiet here too).

Tórshavn gives you insight into what life is like in the Faroe Islands for locals, as this is likely where you will see the most people. I visited the central mall and food court in the city and was intrigued to see what you might see in the United States—teens hanging out and families having dinner together.

While there is much to explore in the capital city, Tinganes is a must-explore. Tinganes is the city’s historic old town, said to be the oldest parliamentary meeting place in the world. Here you can weave through charming, vibrant buildings to your heart’s content.

The Faroe Islands are truly one of the most magical places in the world. If you’re on the lookout for spectacular views, peaceful isolation, and the spot for some proper introspection, the Faroe Islands should probably be the next stamp on your passport.