My trip to the dreamlike, wondrous Faroe Islands

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to visit some of the most remote 18 islands in the world, called the Faroe Islands. They are located off the coast of northern Europe, between the Norwegian Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean.

Ever since I read an article on Faroese life, I had an insatiable desire to visit this archipelago of volcanic islands. The more I started reading about the islands, the sooner I started looking for flights. I just couldn’t resist visiting this place.

With unscathed landscapes and singular architecture, the islands provide wild scenery and unfathomable beauty. It’s almost a feeling of being divorced from reality as I made my way through winding roads that lead to small hamlets all across the islands.

With a population of sheep that outnumbers people significantly, this place remains one of the most untouched destinations.

Lake Sørvágsvatn — Lake sitting above an ocean?

As I began my journey, I came across one of the most amazing sights ever. Situated on the island of Vágar, this serene lake appears to be significantly higher than the ocean just below. I was astounded and wondered how this was possible.

This optical illusion creates the impression that the reservoir is located hundreds of feet above sea level. In reality, the elevation difference between the lake and the ocean is only about 30 metres. However, steep elevation changes in the surrounding hills give the lake its seemingly impossible look.

An optical illusion makes Lake Sørvágsvatn look absolutely incredible above the Atlantic Ocean.
An optical illusion makes Lake Sørvágsvatn look absolutely incredible above the Atlantic Ocean.
The calming beauty of Lake Sørvágsvatn leading to a cliff called Slave's Edge.
The calming beauty of Lake Sørvágsvatn leading to a cliff called Slave’s Edge.
The reflection of a hill near Lake Sørvágsvatn in Sørvágur.
The reflection of a hill near Lake Sørvágsvatn in Sørvágur.

Gásadalur village

Located in the western part of the Faroe Islands is the village of Gásadalur. Its few inhabitants have grown accustomed to the luxury of a slow life and the daily scenes of the magical fog setting in above the cliffs. This is a place that has its own pulse, puffins and mainland view of Mykines Island in the distance. The mountains of Gásadalur can inspire poets and writers, especially those who love solitude.

Waterfall off a cliff that leads into the Atlantic Ocean with the mountains of Vágar in the background.
Waterfall off a cliff that leads into the Atlantic Ocean with the mountains of Vágar in the background.
The road that cuts through the tunnels of Mountain of Vágar.
The road that cuts through the tunnels of Mountain of Vágar.
The quiet road leading to Gásadalur village.
The quiet road leading to Gásadalur village.

The beauty of Saksun

As I continued my journey across the north, I reached a small hamlet situated in the island of Streymoy with a population of 30 people. The beauty of this place left me speechless.

The town is perched on a cliff nearby a tiny church, a museum, and a lagoon surrounded by high cliffs with a passage that opens up to the Norwegian Sea.

The entrance to the village is a stunning lake surrounded by magical cliffs, a summer house, and waterfalls on both ends. I named this place God’s corner. I doubt I’ll ever witness a more beautiful place.

A summer house in the ancient village of Saksun.
A summer house in the ancient village of Saksun.
The scenic view of Saksun Lagoon.
The scenic view of Saksun Lagoon.
The highest museum in the Faroe Islands in Saksun.
The highest museum in the Faroe Islands in Saksun.
A mysterious house I saw on the way to Saksun.
A mysterious house I saw on the way to Saksun.

The mystery of Kalsoy

On the eastern side of the Faroe Islands, the mystery gets deeper as you enter the town of Mikladalur (great valley).

Once I arrived, my mission was to find the Legend of Kópakonan, one of the best known folktales in the Faroe Islands.

I drove across the breathtaking scenery and idiosyncratic architecture on this isolated island, which led me to a bronze statue of the Seal Woman. Seals in Faroese culture were believed to be former human beings who voluntarily sought death in the ocean.

The winding road that leads to Klaksvík.
The winding road that leads to Klaksvík.
Waterfall in Kalsoy.
Waterfall in Kalsoy.
A spectrum of light on top of a mountain in Borðoy that I saw from a ferry ride.
A spectrum of light on top of a mountain in Borðoy that I saw from a ferry ride.

There are some places that move you. The Faroe Islands is one such place.

It’s an alluring and mystical place for those who are looking for something different. There are no large shopping malls or endless souvenir shops selling items you don’t need.

If you are looking for tranquillity, a sense of wonder and escape from the hustle and bustle of life, this is the place to go to.


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Masood Mumtaz is a writer, photographer and a traveler currently living in Toronto, Canada. He grew up in Beijing, Dubai, Hartford and San Francisco and enjoys traveling around the world.