Shifting our accommodations from Klaksvík to Sandavágur, located on the south coast of Vágar island, we would spend the rest of the trip exploring the westerly side of the country. Day 5 of our Faroe Islands trip, and it was time to rest our weary hiking legs. Our day is spent on Streymoy, the largest island of the Faroes. First a visit to the capital Tórshavn, followed by a trip to the southernmost settlement of Kirkjubøur; and finishing with a boat tour of the birdcliffs near Vestmanna town.
Tórshavn, Capital of the Faroe Islands
Calling itself the “Smallest Capital of the World”, Tórshavn has just over 13,000 residents (19,000 in the greater urban area – that’s 95% of the entire population!) and is the largest town of the Faroe Islands. Compared to the country’s small villages, there is almost a cosmopolitan feel here (today also helped by the large influx of tourists that came with the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship that was docked in the harbour). Still, the historic district retains its small town charm with colourful buildings and intimate alleyways. The historic fortress at Skansin, parliament buildings of Tinganes, and the cultural hotspot at Nordic House are also popular attractions.
The village of Kirkjubøur is the southernmost settlement on the island of Streymoy. Only a ten minute drive from Tórshavn, this is the most important historical site of the Faroe Islands. Here you will find the ruins of the Magnus Cathedral, dating from the 1300s; St. Olav’s Church, the oldest church still in use in the Faroes today, from the 12th century; and Kirkjubøargarður, a farmhouse and possibly the oldest still-inhabited wooden building in the world, dating from the 11th century.
During the Middle Ages the village served as the spiritual centre of Faroe society, being the seat of the church.
Vestmannabjørgini – The Cliffs of Vestmanna
One of the most popular attractions on the Faroe Islands is a boat tour of the birdcliffs near Vestmanna town, on the west coast of Streymoy. Here expert guides will get you up close and personal with 2000-feet vertical cliffs and narrow sounds, sailing into giant grottoes while on the lookout for nesting and migrating birdlife. Well, we didn’t see much of birds, but the steadily improving weather meant spectacular views of the raw Vestmannabjørgini cliffs – against this rugged and untamed landscape, it’s a humbling experience indeed.