Much like the hike on Kalsoy island, any trip to the Faroe Islands isn’t complete without a visit to another popular destination – Mykines, the westernmost island of the country. While the trek to the lighthouse here is just as spectacular as Kallur, the main draw of Mykines are the thousands of seabirds that call this island home – especially the puffin colonies near the islet of Mykineshólmur. Mykines is in fact one of the most important bird habitats in the North Atlantic.
Mykines is one of the most isolated islands of the Faroes. Its only settlement, Mykines village, is connected to the mainland by helicopter and a small ferry service, both of which require advance booking and whose operations are at the mercy of the country’s notoriously fickle weather. A day trip is a popular excursion, but you can also stay longer at one of the guest houses in the village (aka stranded due to inclement conditions).
We pounced at the opportunity of a helicopter ride, and with a government-subsidized price of only $25 US per person, it’s a great deal! You’ll need to plan ahead, though – flights depart from Vágar airport only once a day, four days a week, and have a total of just 10 seats. To return to the mainland, we booked the afternoon ferry from Mykines to Sørvágur on Vágar island.
Unfortunately the weather didn’t cooperate this day, though I can’t really complain as we had seen very good conditions on our trip so far. While the helicopter experience was great, the view from the air was non-existent as low cloud cover obscured most of the island. After a quick look around in Mykines village, we started the hike to the lighthouse on the western end just as a steady rain began falling. Soon we saw the first of many puffins nestled in burrows dotting the hillsides – hundreds upon hundreds of them, on the cliffsides and swarming in circles overhead. It was an unforgettable sight.
Perhaps the puffins have gotten accustomed to humans walking among them, as they didn’t seem bothered by the steady stream of hikers on the trail. I think they may have been as curious about us as we were about them!
The trail leads up to a precipice overlooking Mykineshólmur, before heading back down and crossing a footbrige to the islet. All around we’re surrounded by chatty puffins. It’s hard to capture the frenzy of the bird traffic in a photograph, but here is a video Ken took that gives you a better idea of the organized chaos…
Reaching the lighthouse at the far end, we’ve now hiked to the most western point of the Faroe Islands. And just in time, the ocean welcomes us with driving rain and gusty winds in true Faroe fashion. We enjoy our accomplishment for a few moments before heading back to Mykines village where – surprise! – the sun returns, at least for a moment.
While waiting for our ferry ride back to the mainland (the last of the day), we took the opportunity to warm up at a local coffee shop and also explore the village. Mykines is a beautiful coastal settlement, typical of many Faroese villages with its bright colourful houses and traditional turf roofs. With a permanent population of just 20, the number increases during the summer months as some residents return to their vacation homes. There are no roads on the island (since there are no cars) – only old footpaths that have been used for centuries.