The capital city of the Faroe Islands is small, there’s no denying that. Though, don’t be fooled into thinking you won’t know what to do in Torshavn. There are loads to see and do!
I’m guilty of this of course. When the cogs start turning, my imagination goes straight to these well-known destinations, but there’s a whole array of marvellous and quaint capital cities that can often be forgotten or overlooked! Especially when you’re wondering what to do in Torshavn.
What to do in Torshavn: What’s the name?
It’s Tórshavn, so close to continental Europe but it can feel a million miles away. With a population of around 17,000 people, it’s one of the smallest capital cities in Europe behind the likes of San Marino and some other pretty cool micro-states that are great to visit.
What to do in Torshavn: Where is it?
Tórshavn always reminds me of that sneaky friend playing hide and seek. Always so close to you but sometimes out of sight. It’s positioned, on a relatively remote group of islands within the Norwegian Sea and North Atlantic Ocean (between Iceland and the highlands of Scotland).
Perched on the south-east coast of the Faroe Islands, Tórshavn had been on my travel lust list for many, many years. With the islands being a short hop, skip and jump from London Town (well… a couple hours – its only 1 hour from Edinburgh), there really was no excuse for leaving it so long.
What to do in Torshavn: What’s unique?
Tórshavn is a pretty small capital city. In fact, it’s smaller (in population) than my borough in London. With around 17,000 people calling Tórshavn home, the city has a quaint charm, especially in the historic centre. It’s almost bursting with historic buildings to see.
Without sounding like a line from my old history teacher’s textbook, this area known as Tinganes is still home to the Faroese Government. It’s one of the oldest Parliamentary meeting places in the whole world! Literally, there are only two other places that even come close. One is on the Isle of Man, UK and the other in Iceland. Who knew?
With its grassy roofs and roughly cobbled alleyways, the whole area felt as if I’d been taken aback to a time when the Vikings ruled this beautiful group of islands. One thing that immediately struck me was the historic grass roofs that still call these buildings home. Which, although historically built for purpose – look effortlessly cute today. And giving us visitors lots of ideas on what to do in Torshavn.
What to do in Torshavn: Where to stay
Whilst in Tórshavn, we stayed in the Hotel Føroyar which is perched right on top of the hills overlooking the city. It gives some pretty epic views, especially when it doesn’t really get dark in the summer months. We even spotted some of the cuddly locals plodding along right outside the hotel. 😉
What to do in Torshavn: Where to eat
For a surprisingly small city, Tórshavn has some pretty amazing restaurants. Make sure to drop in at Barbara – it’s the oldest restaurant in the country, still serving some of the delicious and traditional Faroese cuisines.
If you’re looking for a meal with more of a contemporary twist, make sure to head to Etika, where they’ve created the world’s first Faroese sushi bar.
What to do in Torshavn: What’s the weather like
Without knocking out a load of scientific data and explanations that I don’t understand, I did, quite quickly learn that the Faroe Islands (and Tórshavn) sits within a sub-polar climate which, if I’m honest, means that it can get quite cold, especially in the long winter months!
Though snow is rarely heavy (due to the salty air from the sea), there can be a bitter wind that lashes the island thanks to its northerly and exposed position.
Temperates can fluctuate from below freezing up to the mid 10C degrees on warm days. We visited in May and temperatures were just about freezing, rising as high as 8C – 10C by 2 pm. Always pack a jacket, lots of layers and a raincoat for its changeable weather that’s been brilliantly described as ‘being more erratic than an irritable toddler’. 😉
What to do in Torshavn: How long do I need
Like I mentioned, Tórshavn itself is a pretty small capital, with its historic centre being less than 1 square mile, which is great for us travellers that are on tight schedules and want to cram in as much as possible and so, the city can be easily explored in just a few hours.
What to do in Torshavn: Are there sights to explore near the city?
One of the amazing things about Tórshavn is that you can drive for less than 10 minutes and be in total, unspoilt wilderness – the whole country has a vast array of places to discover, which is made incredibly easy if you drive. I’d definitely recommend a few amazing places to see, that are within an hour of the city:
1.) Vestmanna to explore the rugged cliffs and wildlife (literally, it reminded me out of scenes from Jurassic Park)
2.) Sørvágsvatn Lake, which literally balances on top of the most incredibly high cliffs!
3.) Gasadalur Waterfall, that showers the ocean from high above the cliffs.