While travelling somewhere by plane is usually the fastest way to reach your destination, in most cases it’s also the least atmospheric, and I find that it almost always pays to travel by land or sea, if you can spare the time.
When we visited the magical Faroe Islands, we decided to do so by boat, if only to get an impression of how truly isolated they lie in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
The trip from Denmark still only takes a little over a day, so you will not lose too much of your time on the Islands, and it certainly feels like the proper way to arrive on this unique archipelago. Read on for everything you need to know about traveling to the Faroe Islands by boat.
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Faroe Islands Ferry Operators
At the moment, there is only one company operating a ferry service to the Faroes. The MS Norröna of the Faroese Company Smyril Lines makes the trip once or twice a week, depending on the season.
What’s the Sailing Schedule for the Ferry?
The ferry leaves from the city of Hirtshals in northern Denmark twice a week at high season (early June to early September) and once a week over the rest of the year, stopping in Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands for a couple of hours before continuing on to Seyðisfjörður in Iceland. From Iceland, there is one ferry per week from mid-March to December. You can check the current timetables here.
The way the ferry operates gives you the opportunity to spend a few days on the Faroe Islands before taking another ferry to continue on to Iceland. Another good option would be to arrive in Tórshavn by boat for the full remote-islands-experience and to take the quicker option of flying out after your trip is finished, which is the way we did it.
Faroe Islands Ferry Prices
Prices pretty much depend on the time of year you’re traveling and what kind of cabin you choose. As a couple going from Hirtshals to Tórshavn in the high season (July), we paid a little over 350€ (380$) for an outside cabin (which was the only option available at the time we booked).
As you’ll only be on the boat for about 30 hours and probably will spend most of your waking hours outside the cabin anyway, I’d say an Inner Cabin should be enough, but that of course depends on your personal preferences.
If you’re on a super tight budget, there’s are some four-bed dormitories available on the boats. If you opt for these, the price of your (one-way) journey should stay below 150€ (165$), even at high season. At the other end of the spectrum, there are also suites and deluxe cabins available.
To check the prices for the different options, you’ll have to enter your route and travel dates in the booking system first. You can do so here.
What About Food?
There are several restaurants and cafés aboard the MS Nörrona. When making the booking, you’ll get offered several options for meals onboard. We booked the buffets for dinner and breakfast, as we expected that we wouldn’t get any warm food onboard otherwise.
The Buffets were certainly good, but as it turned out, booking them wasn’t really necessary, as you can buy food à la carte on board for a lower price (mostly pizza, burgers and other fast food). So keep that in mind when making your booking.
How Long Does the Trip Take?
Most of the year, the journey from Hirtshals in Denmark to Tórshavn on the Faroe Islands takes about 30 hours, while the journey between Tórshavn and Seyðisfjörður in Iceland takes about 15 hours. In the winter, the trip takes a few hours longer, as the seas tend to be quite rough.
What to Expect From the Trip
As we had never traveled a longer distance on a big ferry before, we were quite surprised about the number of amenities on the MS Norröna. There are several cafés and restaurants, a small supermarket, a library, a couple of hot tubs on the deck which you can rent for an hour for the pretty reasonable price of 200 DKK (about 27€/30$) and even a small cinema showing current blockbuster movies.
Mostly, it’s just fun to walk around the deck and enjoy the wind in your face (if the weather is favourable, at least). On the journey from Denmark, the boat will drive closely by the Orkney-Islands, giving you some great views of their northern coast, while you’ll be able to pick out the Shetland Islands in the distance a short while later, weather permitting.
Should you decide to have a drink at one of the bars, you’ll also get a taste of the pretty outrageous prices of alcohol in Northern Europe. We decided pretty early on not to buy any beer onboard, a resolve which lasted until the first evening, when we took part in the Pub Quiz.
As there was a minimum of four people per group, we teamed up with a retired Danish Professor and his daughter and took first place, winning us all a couple of free drinks per person. I guess it pays knowing a lot of useless stuff, after all!