Top 10 Things To See And Do In Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
It’s likely that you’ve put together a checklist on your itinerary of adrenaline-fuelled adventures that you wish to fulfill. But there’s no better place to begin your incredible Faroe experience, than the quaint capital of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn.
There’s so much to see and do in and around Tórshavn, and it’s home to so many diverse cultural experiences that it’s a difficult job pinpointing a finite list of things to do. However we’ve managed to whittle it down somewhat and put together a list our top 10 things to see and do in the capital of this stunning Atlantic archipelago.
Tórshavn – Thor’s harbour in Danish – is a thriving port situated on the waterfront. It’s the perfect spot to take a seat harbourside, perhaps in a café and watch the maritime comings-and-goings with a hot drink and a cinnamon bun. To the west of the colourful harbour and you’ll see hundreds of yachts and small boats moored on the Atlantic and plenty of happy and friendly locals.
This ancient part of town – the historic Tinganes peninsula – houses the Prime Minister’s office and administrative offices. This has been the home of the Faroese parliament for over a thousand years, making it one of the oldest parliamentary meeting places in the world. Steeped in history, the picturesque ‘toy town’ wooden buildings are built on stones that functioned as a meeting point for the Vikings when they held their regular ‘Thing’ meeting on these rocks. A walk through the old town is pure magic, with its colourful houses right on the water.
Historically Tórshavn Cathedral is the second oldest received church of the Faroe Islands, established in 1788. Painted white, and roofed with slate, the cathedral church lies in the north of the Tinganes peninsula and is one of the main attractions of the town. Like most churches of the country it belongs to the Evangelical-Lutheran national church of the Faroe Islands. Since 1990 it has been the seat of the bishop of the Faroes and so is now known as a cathedral.
There are plenty of sea excursions and day trips on the sea departing from the main harbour. For example, there are bus trips departing from Tórshavn which will bring you along the coast to the village of Vestmanna, and the bus trip alone takes approximately one hour. From Vestmanna, you can join a boat trip headed towards the impressive cliffs and many grottos where you should be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a myriad of nesting seabirds and wildlife. The boat returns to Vestmanna and by coach the tour continues towards Tórshavn via the mountain road with its panoramic view.
Part of the Faroese identity is characterised by food and cuisine. In fact the Faroe Islands is said to be a contender as one of the best places in the world for fine-dining cuisine. Considering that a lot of the food arrives onto your plate straight from the surf and turf, i.e., the cold atlantic waters and fresh meadows, the Faroe Islands is unsurprisingly home to some of the best, and freshest food in the world. Depending on your style of dining, you can find places that range from grass-roofed homey cottages and pubs, to stylish Michelin starred restaurants and sushi bars presenting local ingredients and traditional flavours.
With the weather in the Faroes notoriously changeable, a must-see museum is just the ticket for a rainy afternoon. Listasavn Føroya (Faroe Islands Art Museum) is a first-rate local art museum on the edges of Vioarlundin Park, which is also worth a visit. The museum beautifully houses and showcases paintings from the country’s best-known contemporary and classical artists. There’s also the National Museum of the Faroe Islands which is worth a visit whilst on your own tour of museums. The National Museum displays items which tell the rich history of the Faroe Islands, from the Viking and Middle Ages.
It may not seem like the likeliest place for retail therapy, nor the first thing on your Faroe Islands to-do list, but there are some fantastic well-designed speciality shops selling unique products which have been designed or produced locally. Tórshavn’s main shopping street, Niels Finsens gøta is home to the tourist office as well as a great selection of locally-owned indie stores – perfect for browsing and picking up something that bit more special. There are also plenty more stores located in the shopping centre, within easy walking distance of the main high street.
Spend half a day sea kayaking, after being picked up by your guide in Tórshavn. There are lots of villages and sites to be seen via kayak, such as Leynar, to the west coast of Streymoy. From there you paddle into caves and even into the next bay, before returning back. The views you’ll see of the islands you may not be able to see from land!
9.The Nordic House
Positioned on the outskirts of Tórshavn, this iconic building with its grass roof is the premier cultural institution of the Faroe Islands – and part of a special Nordic community. It promotes Nordic and Faroese art and culture, and on a visit you can experience both the permanent Faroese exhibition, as well as regular exhibitions of inspiring contemporary art. There are often concerts in the evenings featuring opera, jazz, dance, theatre productions and Faroese pop. In terms of architecture and design, everything here is Nordic – from the Norwegian stones and Finnish chairs, to Swedish wooden floors and Danish glass windows.
Skansin Fortress is a Historic fort just a few minutes walk from the harbour on the hill. Built in 1580 and serving as a defence against pirates, Skansin Fortress went on to serve as a British military base in World War II. In fact, evidence of the war is still apparent as several old Danish and British cannons remain. The Skansin Lighthouse (Skansin international lighthouse), atop the fortress, offers tourists picturesque views of Tórshavn port, views out towards Nólsoy island, and therefore has some amazing photo opportunities.