Guide to safe hiking
We highly recommend that you read the hiking guide before going hiking in the Faroe Islands.
Read the hiking guide online.
Download the hiking guide.
The ‘safe travel’ leaflet provides important information about how to travel in the Faroe Islands. On the back page, you can fill out the information about where you plan on hiking and when you expect to return. Leave the leaflet under the windshield of your car or at your place of accommodation. That way someone can notify relevant authorities should you not have returned by the time you have stated. The leaflet can be downloaded or picked up at regional information centres, car hires, on the Smyril Line ferry, at Vágar Airport, among other places.
PATHS AND ROUTES
Most of the paths described in the hiking guide are old village paths. Before the roads came, you would travel between the villages using these paths, e.g. to trade, to visit family, to a Thing (local assembly) or to church. Village paths were also used when the coffins of the dead were carried to the nearest church. The paths are marked with ancient cairns, a heap of stones set up as a landmark showing the way, so you don’t get lost. Some routes are not along the old village paths.
These are along ancient footpaths that have been tread through the ages, such as on the mountains Slættaratindur, Bøsdalafossur and Klakkur. The routes are listed in geographical order from north to south. The cairns are in good condition and are well maintained in most places. In some places, the cairns can be hard to see, while the path is clearly visible. On some routes, the direction of the path is marked with poles sticking out of the ground. There are, however, a few places without cairns, clear path or poles. For these places, we have described other features, such as masts, buildings, inclination of the land and gorges, that will guide you in the right direction.
See overveiw of villagepaths here.
DURATION AND DIFFICULTY
Each route in the hiking guide is marked with a time indication that shows the duration of the walk. Unless otherwise noted, the time indicated covers the whole trip, and not just one way. The duration indicates how long it takes for an adult with normal walking speed to walk the route. Meal breaks or other stops are not included. The difficulty level is also described, along with a recommendation on whether the trip is suitable for children.
The difficulty level is assessed on the basis of how steep the terrain is, if the surface is flat or uneven, and how long the route is. It can be difficult to put a precise age on a route for children, as all children are different. For example, an eightyear-old in good shape can easily cover a seven kilometre journey, while a 12-year-old in bad shape can find the same trip difficult. It is important that an adult takes the child’s physical shape and previous hiking experiences into consideration before making a decision on whether or not to allow them to join.
FAUNA AND CULTURAL HISTORY
There are birds on many of the islands: Curlew, Snipe, Plovers, Oystercatchers, Skuas, Great Skuas, Ravens and Crows. Sheep, geese and hares are also common. In the outfield, you also get an idea of how ancestors of the Faroese people lived and got by. Stone outhouses, boat houses, Teigalendi (old arable strips), peat fields and Kráir (stone stores for peat) tell us how close to nature people have lived. You see old infield walls, drovers, sheep pens, sheep shelters, sheep houses and Fransatoftir (Frenchman’s Ruins, which are ruins of small houses where people took refuge from pirates in the old days).
- Nature is fragile. It should be treated well and protected for future generations.
- Follow the cairns or other marks and do not go off the paths out into the meadow or outfield
- Close the outfield gates behind you
- Treat the cairns, fences and walls well
- Do not disturb the sheep, birds and plants
- It is prohibited to pick plants or to take stones, eggs, or chicks
- It is customary to pick up loose wool that the sheep have shed
- Do not leave rubbish behind
- Beware of not walking into marshland, as it can be deep
- Dogs must not be taken into the outfields
- It is prohibited to travel by bicycle or motor vehicle in the outfields or along the cairn paths
Take nothing but pictures
Kill nothing but time
Leave nothing but footprints
Make nothing but memories
CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT
- Always wear clothes suitable for the weather. However, as the weather in the Faroe Islands can change suddenly, even during the summer, it’s a good idea to bring extra clothes. A cap and gloves are also recommended
- Many places in the outfield are rocky and wet. It is recommended to use walking shoes/boots with rough bottoms. Rubber boots with rough bottoms can also be used. Remember, shoes and boots need to be walked-in. Do not go on a long hike in brand new footwear
- We recommend you wear several thin layers of clothing, preferably with wool as the most inner layer, depending on the weather. Wool and fleece are best because they keep the body warm even if the clothes become wet. The outer layer of clothing could be a windproof and, if possible, a waterproof jacket
- In very steep areas, it is not recommended to wear clothes made of nylon because the clothes can be slippery. If possible, remove the nylon jacket until you have passed the steepest area
- A mobile phone can come in handy. Remember to charge the battery and maybe bring a power bank (extra charge) on long trips. Note that there is no telephone connection on some stretches in the outfield
- Head lamp, compass and whistle can be useful in an emergency or if you are surprised by fog/ darkness
- Always bring food, drink and something sweet – also for short trips
- A map of the route is an important part of your gear
- Remember to fill out our Safe Travel leaflet and leave it your car or place of accommodation before you go hiking. The leaflet can be picked up at hotels, regional information centres, Vágar Airpot and ferry harbour, among other places
OFF WE GO
- Notify your host about where you plan on hiking. Please let them know when you have arrived at the destination
- Always walk with others
- Do not be afraid to ask locals or experienced people for directions, weather or other advice
- Areas with loose stones and rocks are particularly slippery in dry terrain. Be particularly careful when hiking in groups as loose stones can harm hikers walking below you
- Do not go too close to the cliffs; especially in wet areas when the ground can be slippery. Be very careful with children
- Check the weather forecast to see if conditions are favourable for walking
- Do not leave if there is fog or if it is dark outside – Be prepared for the fact that meteorologists can be wrong or that the weather can suddenly change after you have left
- If you are surprised by unexpected fog on a trip, it is very important to keep to the cairns. If the fog is so dense that you cannot see from one cairn to the next, it is best to wait by a cairn and otherwise try to keep warm
- Turn back if there is something wrong. There is no shame in not finishing the hike
- Be well dressed, preferably in several layers of clothing. The weather can suddenly change
A few hiking routes in the Faroe Islands have implemented restrictions regarding access to the area and now require payment for walking in that location. Please check if the route you are planning on hiking requires you too book a local guide or to pay a fee. An overview of these locations can be found here.
Please note that the hare-hunting season runs annually from 2 Nov to 31 December. Most people choose to hunt hares on Saturdays, but it is their right to hunt all days except Sunday. Hunting takes places in the mountains all across the country.
For your own safety, we advise not to hike during this season. In any case, please contact the landowner if you wish to go hiking. These contacts can be found by getting in touch with the regional information centre in the respected area.
Contact local Regional Information Centres for digital maps (GPX) of routes for iPhone and Android.
Dial 112 for any type of emergency assistance anywhere in the country.