Denmark + The Faroe Islands, August 2010.

Many Norwegians go to Denmark to buy cheap food and visit Legoland. Most opt for a ferry instead of flying, and the ferry company Color Line has a ferry that uses 4 hours from Larvik to Hirtshals. It's a nice, clean ferry with modern furniture and lots of shops. Jylland, the peninsula we visited, has two large cities; Aarhus (stop here is you have the chance) and Aalborg (don't bother with this one). On the very tip of the peninsula lies Skagen; a summery seaside village that used to attract bohemian artists and the like. Very cute, and definitely with a stop. But that's not where I went on this trip. I went to:


Do stop by:

Stopped here on our way back to Norway, and was very pleasantly surpised. I had expected a tacky, commercialised place, but found cobbled streets, old buildings, nice restaurants and sweet shops. Definitely worth a stop if you need a rest from driving, want to go swimming, or have a nice meal in one of the many eateries.

Don't bother with:
Stopped here on the way to Hanstholm, but if you don't need to, don't. There is really nothing to see here.

Lacks personality, but is famous for being one of those villages that Norwegians stay in during the summer. Larger than Aabybro, but just as uninteresting.

Smyril Line's ferries to the Faroes and Iceland depart from this miniscule village, so during the summer months every guest at the two hotels are people who are taking the early morning ferry. We were no exception. Stayed at the Hotell Hanstholm, which was very nice, and they had a pool table for the kids, and free Wi-Fi. Hanstholm city centre is very small. Ate at «La Pizza» in the shopping centre, which was decent and cheap.

The Faroe Islands:

M/S Norröna:
Had a nice cabin with a window (or is it port-hole in ship-speak?). Rather large ship, with lots of bars, restaurants, a cinema, swimming pool (icy water!), kids' show and more. When it comes to eating, you have three options for lunch and dinner: Cafeteria-food, buffet in the buffet-restaurant, or the á la carte restaurant. I'm not a huge buffet-fan, because I always find the food poor quality and never eat enough to accommodate the price. But I tried having lunch in the cafeteria. Not recommended, unless you like tasteless, boring food. Dinner in the á la carte-restaurant was very nice, but rather expensive.

Stayed at the «Hotel Hafnia», which was very central and really, really nice. Free Wi-Fi, large, light rooms, friendly staff. The breakfast was fantastic; homemade jam and müesli with chocolate and walnuts, croissants, eggs and bacon etc. On the whole, a really great hotel.

Tórshavn is very small, but very pretty. Take a walk in Vidarlundi; a rather grand park in the city centre. There are lush lawns, sparkling rivers and boulders there.

Above Vidarlundi is the city's only shopping centre; «SMS». This has all the usual shops, a Burger King and a decent coffee shop.

Eating: Etika sushi restaurant opposite Hotel Hafnia has fantastic sushi, Kusmi tea, imported beer, sake, and everything you could ever desire (if you like sushi). This is probably the one «hip» restaurant in Tórshavn, so it's often fully booked i the evenings. Prices are reasonable, and they have a fantastic childrens' menu.

Etika sushi restaurant. Yummy!

Tòrshavn harbour.

Boulders in Vidarlundi.

Vidarlundi main path.
House overlooking Vidarlundi. Such a serene view!

We met up with a couple of Faroese friends we met in Cornwall (of all places), and after a coffee at Baresso in SMS shopping centre, they showed us this little place with great historic importance.

Kyrkjebøur used to be the capital of the Faroe Islands. Tòrshavn was where they held their ting; a parliament of sorts, but was only used once a year or so. Gradually, however, shops popped up, and people started living there. Soon Kyrkjebøur became a deserted little village, much like it is today. But a thousand years ago, the place was thriving. The Bishop had his seat here; in a house that is still inhabited, making it the oldest house in the world that is still lived in. The roof on this house was actually brought from Norway, and is a thousand years old! On the hill behind the Bishop's house is a small cave, which is where one of Norway's greatest viking kings was supposedly born (on the wrong side of the blanket, of course). The ruins of a cathedral still remains, and there is a picturesque little church there that is still in use.

Our friends live in a village called Skarvanes, though I don't know if they can actually call it a village, seeing as they're the only ones who live there:) Talking to locals really upped my impression of the Faroe Islands; you get such a different view of a place, so this is highly reccommended!

The Bishop's house. See the little red circle? I made that:) It shows the entrance to the cave that Sverre (great viking king mentioned above) was born in!

Gjògv (pronounced Jugf):
This small fishing village is very representative for all other villages on the Faroe Islands, we were told. The reason this village is «famous» is because it has a guest house, unlike many of the other villages. Located on the island of Eysturoy, and is relatively easy to find (not many roads on the Faroes). Nevertheless, you should definitely hire a car. The distances aren't huge (spent approx. 2 hours from Tòrshavn to Gjògv, including stops), but the bus service isn't great. Stopped by Kollafjørdur and Eidi on the way, but they were so small that you didn't have time to stop until you were out of the village. Many of these villages are along a street, usually only a couple of block long.

Gjògv is a picturesque little village, and looks very much like small Norwegian villages did 50 odd years ago (I imagine). The Faroes didn't get electricity until the 60's, and television came in the 80's.

Detail from Gjògv.

View of Gjògv on the way down.

A sheep along the highway.

And another one...

... Faroe (Før in Faroese, Får in Norwegian) means sheep, okay? If you were to translate the word, instead of giving it an English name, the country should be called the Sheep Islands. There are twice as many sheep on the island as there are people. Most of them live around the towns, running free on the green fields and all that.

Still interested? Here are some other posts on the Faroe Islands from «Friends & Crocodiles»:

Once Were Vikings

Under the Dog Star Sail

North North-West the Stones of Faroe


  1. Awww Sheep Islands!! And look at those stunning sheep - the long haired black and white sheep is amazing - it looks like a very rare breed!

    The cruise liner sounds amazing - huge! It's got a cinema! And I never knew there was a Legoland in Denmark. Thanks for the insight into the small towns and villages in Denmark and on the Faroe Islands - they make me wish I was linguistically gifted! I like your "don't go here, go here" segment of this blog! :-)

    Oh now who is The Bishop?!?! Sounds ever so mysterious! His house is amazing for a 1000 year old house - wow!! And great that it's still being used. It looks so isolated but very homely.

    Awwww thank you for the red circle!

    I think you captured the unique feel of Sheep Islands! Your pics are fab and I felt as if I really could go there knowing enough from reading your snippets of each place. Now all I need to do is learn the lingo!

    Thank you for sharing your Faroe Island trip so fabulously!

    Take care

  2. I just wanted to tell you, that the picture with the caption "View of Gjògv on the way down." is not a picture of Gjógv, but of Funningur, formerly the village to which Gjógv belonged to (until 1948). I know this, because I live in Funningur. ;)

    Hej, jeg ville bare fortælle dig, at billedet med underteksten "View of Gjògv on the way down." er ikke et billede af Gjógv, men af Funningur, som Gjógv hørte til (indtil 1948). Jeg ved dette, fordi jeg bor i Funningur. ;)

  3. My husband went to Denmark once for a job interview. I'm still a little dissappointed he got the other job first. It would have been amazing to live in such a pretty place. The sheep there are much more attractive than US sheep. Haha!

  4. Oh wait, the sheep are on the islands, not Denmark. Doy! Sorry. I'm going to look those islands up on a map right now. :)

  5. Thanks for taking us with by proxy! ; j
    You have some great shots, but I think they might be even better with a smidgeon of post-editing.

  6. I found your pictures really nice! I am interested in the Faroe Islands as a neurologist because of their strategic importance in order to disclose the pathogenesis of MS.
    A few weeks ago I wrote a letter to Acta Neurologica Scandinavica as a comment to a recently published paper writing that, as commonly reported, Faroe Islands means in old Faroese Sheep Island but my assertion “Intriguingly, having not considered that Faroes in the indigenous Faroese language means Sheep Islands, might have contributed to neglect the possible role of sheep in the spread of MS.” was rejected as follows: "Får means sheep in Danish, but there is no variant thereof in our Faroese-English or Faroese-Danish dictionaries. Føroyar (Faroese) or Færørne (Danish) are
    the official names of the islands. We were told the name really means Distant Islands." What do you think about? Do you have further elements to establish the truth?

  7. Jpdfo1982 - I'm sorry! I thought that was Gjógv:) But you must admit that many of these little villages look similar, at least from that height! Do bear with me:)

    Alesa - they would no doubt be a lot better, but I'm afraid I can't edit pictures for love nor money! I wouldn't even know which program to use...

    a carolei - that is interesting, I thought it mean Sheep Islands, but I onle have that from my Lonely Planet travel guide. I'm sure of a Faroese person told you that it means Distant Islands, that's correct. They would know better than a travel guide, I should think!

  8. Photoshop is the obvious answer. But if you want to stick to open source, GIMP is a good choice (GNU Image manipulation Program, can found at www.gimp.org).
    Gimp is almost as thorough as photoshop, but both of those programs can be daunting when you start out.

    Some online picture services have very user friendly photo editing features (like picasa or flicker for example)...

    I suppose for your immediate needs, you could try photofiltre (http://photofiltre.en.softonic.com/download), which is pared down to the bare essentials.

    Merely adjusting the levels will make huge difference to your pictures: luminosity, contrast, saturation... It's a simple as moving a slider to the left or to the right 'til you decide your picture is prettified. ; j

  9. I'm actually in the process of writing a fantasy with an alternate Denmark as its stage, so surfing onto your blog was a real treat. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

  10. Sorry, probably I was not clear enough! I agree with your interpretation and not with the interpretation of the counterpart. In fact, I found also the following:The Faroe Islands or Faroes (Faroese: Føroyar, meanin Hogg Isles, Dens: Færøerne)... and Hogg, according to the Dictionary of the Mac computer means in British a young sheep before the first shearing!

  11. I just showed your pictures to my husband. We're both thinking we must come visit these places, the pictures are breathtakingly beautiful!

  12. I'm Faroese. :)

    Føroyar means Sheep Islands. "Før" is an archaic Faroese word for sheep, that is derived from the Old Norse word "fé / fær", which is a cognate with the English word "fee". "Fé / fær" has become "får" in modern Danish and Norwegian for sheep. The original Norse name for the Faroe Islands was "Færeyjar", where "fær" means sheep and "eyjar" means islands in Old Norse and Icelandic. This changed over time in the Faroese language to become "Føroyar", where "før" used to mean sheep and "oyar" means islands. That's why the Faroe Islands are called "Færøerne" in Danish. It's the archaic word "fær" for sheep and the modern Danish word "øerne" meaning islands mixed together.

    Many Faroese people don't actually know WHY Føroyar means Sheep Islands - they only know it is so. That's why it's so hard to get a straight answer from anyone. "Før" isn't the word used for sheep in Faroese anymore. The modern Faroese word for sheep is "seyður" from the other Old Norse word for sheep "sauðr" ("fær" has many other meanings as well, like cattle, property and money, so there were multiple words used for sheep if you wanted to narrow it down).

    The only instance I can think of where "før" is actually still used about sheep in Faroese today, is in the Southern Island (Suðuroy) dialect where my parents are from. It's the word "førlús", meaning "sheep lice". :)

    Hope this cleared up some of the confusion regarding the name of the islands. :)


Thank you for your thoughts! They are much appreciated.