|Vágar and Mykines
Vágar and Mykines are the two western islands of the Faroes. Vágar hosts the modern international airport, which is situated on a level plain outside Sørvágur.
Upon arrival, the airline passenger is offered a spectacular introduction to the beauty of the Faroes, especially when landing from the west and the plane slips past the rugged splendour of Mykines, then alongside the towering basalt sea stacks at the entrance to Sørvágsfjørður, then over the picturesque village of Sørvágur and onto the runway.
There are few airports in the world which offer such impressive vistas to the arriving visitor. These panoramas, however, provide only a hint of what visitors will soon discover on their exploration of these western isles.
The tunnel under the Vestmanna Sound (4,900 metres) is of major importance for tourism as well as for everyday life in Vágar. At present it is possible to live in Vágar and benefit from all the possibilities and options on the islands that are now connected: Vágar, Stremoy, Eysturoy and Norðoyggjar. Even if you do not live on Vágar, the options of the islands are that much closer and you are not dependent upon the clock. It is possible to drive to the picturesque village of Gásadalur now that the tunnel is open. The film ‘1700 metres from the future’ about the lack of a road connection made Gásadalur and the post route over the mountain world famous, but now the future looks bright for the survival of the village.
Mykines is the perfect haven for solitary retreat. The home of thousands of migratory seabirds during the summer months, Mykines is considered to be the mysterious “paradise of birds” that the adventurous seafaring Irish monk, St. Brendan, described in the middle of the sixth century.
The foremost resident of Mykines in the summer is the puffin. This intriguing little creature is one of the main attractions for visitors. Its brightly coloured bill and its willingness to remain posed with fish in its beak, makes the puffin the ideal photo opportunity for any budding ornithologist.
Yet it is the splendid hiking that makes Mykines the destination of choice for many visitors. Because of the quick changes in the weather, the visitor is advised to visit Mykines whenever favourable weather is predicted.
Most people opt for spending several days on Mykines for there is too much to see in just one day. Apart from the excursion to the stone forest in the valley Korkadalur, the towering summit of 560 metre Knúkur awaits the hiker. It is only some three kilometres away from the village, but the climb can be difficult. Less strenuous is the delightful trek out to Mykineshólmur, a small islet on the western side of Mykines. Guided tours can be arranged from the guesthouse. A footbridge connects Mykineshólmur with the island of Mykines over a 35-metre deep gorge. The sea stacks surrounding the lighthouse at the far end of the cape are a sight of striking beauty.
The most singular experience on Mykineshólmur, however, is the colony of gannets. These majestic birds have chosen this western outpost of the Faroes for their home, the only one in the islands, and from a long distance you can see the birds sitting on top of the stacks with their young ones.
Vágar, or the bays, has its name from the three bays of Sandavágur, Miðvágur, and Sørvágur with their villages of the same names. Sandavágur, voted the most well-kept village in the Faroes in 1997, 2003 and 2008, has an ancient history. A stone has been found covered with thirteenth century runes indicating that the Viking, Torkil Onundarson, was the first to settle in Sandavágur. The rune stone is on display in the picturesque village church. Á Steig in Sandavágur was the residence of the Lagman, the chief judge and leader of the Faroese parliament. Here V. U. Hammershaimb, the founder of the written Faroese language, was born in 1816.
On the hillside overlooking Miðvágur is the museum of Kálvalíð, one of the oldest buildings in the Faroes and once the home of Beinte Christine Broberg, wife of the priest of Vágur. She was the inspiration for Jørgen-Frantz Jacobsen’s novel, Barbara, which was recently made into a film.
Kálvalíð is built into the hillside with only one window facing the bay below. From afar the house blends into the landscape because the roof is covered in turf and the front of the house and the side to the north are built with large stones taken from the fields around the old farmstead. It has only two rooms and a cowshed, an example of the old Faroese building tradition.
Many people seek out the mysterious Fjallavatn, or mountain lake, in the roadless northern half of the island. The beautiful scenery surrounding the lake provides a pleasant interlude on the long hike to the abandoned village of Slættanes, which many consider to be the ultimate hideaway.
Another hike that is highly recommended is the easy walk along Sørvágsvatn, the largest lake in the Faroes, to the enchanting cascade called Bøssdalsfossur that falls from the lake into the ocean. An easier way to come to this special place is to take a comfortable return trip across the lake with the boat called ‘Lakeside’.
Even though it is now possible to drive to the village of Gásadalur, you can still hike the old post route over the mountain.
The hike that may be strenuous, especially the climb up from Gásadalur. It starts a few hundred metres from the tunnel and rises up the mountain fairly quickly, but the view from the crest is spectacular and worth all the effort. Bøur and Gásadalur offer to the visitor the spectacular view towards the islets and stacks off the coast, Tindhólmur with its five castle-like peaks, the flat Gáshólmur and Drangarnir, the two stacks, one of which has the form of an open arch.
If you want to keep up to date with the Faroese rowing championships, then you’ll need to follow what happens at the Vestanstevna which takes place mid July. The villages on the island take turns in hosting the festival and the programme closely follows that of the other festivals around the country, with the nights still light for the midnight speeches and community singing. The festival is held at the weekend, there are plenty of exhibitions, concerts and sports competitions to see and in the evening there is dancing to while the night away.
Daily Tours: It is possible to take a boat trip to the bird cliffs south of Sørvágur, Vágar‘s west and north coasts and the coast of Mykines. Contact the Tourist Information in Vágar.
Vágar Tourist Information arranges a 6-hour tour to the pearl of the Faroes, Mykines. The passenger boat takes you from the quay in Sørvágur to the island where the scenery and birdlife are unique. Please contact Vágar Tourist Information.
The trip with the boat Lakeside on the Sørvágsvatn/Leitisvatn lake, is the only one of its kind in the Faroes. Here you will sit in comfort as in a conservatory with a fantastic view and glide across the large expanse of water. We sail from a jetty in the village of Vatnsoyrar, which was called ‘Lakeside’ by the English soldiers who were stationed here during the Second World War, over to the lake’s south side where we disembark and walk to the Bøsdalafossur.
Fishing trips are arranged around the island. Memorable trips where you have the chance to come up close to the beautiful mountains and bird life. Arranged in cooperation with local expertise.
Traditional Faroese food from the ’hjallur’ (outhouse), can be sampled at Eddie’s on Mykines.
There are plenty of opportunities to test your levels of courage and excitement by rappelling on one of the many beautiful mountains the island has to offer. Tours are arranged in cooperation with a guide and the level of difficulty, duration and place can vary.
Davidsens Hestar arrange rides according to your wishes, both short and long tours in the fantastic landscape with horses to suit all levels of experience. Duration and difficulty can be arranged to accommodate all.
There are good opportunities for hiking on Vágar, both easy walks and hikes in hilly terrain for the more experienced. Tours are arranged in cooperation with a guide and promise an experience for mind and soul.
On request: Faroese evening with traditional food and culture. Contact the Tourist Information in Vágar.
For more information about all the tours, please contact the tourist information:
Tel. +298 333455
fax +298 333475