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The Faroe Islands: A Holiday Away From It All

Beth loves to travel and explore new places. She hopes her vacation experiences encourage you to visit them too.

Faroe Islands, near Thorshavn.

Faroe Islands, near Thorshavn.

Where Are the Faroes?

The Faroe Islands are a scenic archipelago in the middle of the North Sea. It has a population of about 50,000 people, plus double that number of sheep. The chain of islands is located almost equidistant between Iceland, Norway and the UK, but they are part of Denmark. Tourism is a major source of income for the islanders.

The Faroes are made up of 18 volcanic islands which are separated by narrow sounds and fjords. This gives the settlements dramatic Scandinavian rocky backdrops. All but one of the islands are inhabited, but as a tourist you may only have time to visit the four that are connected to each other by undersea tunnels.

The Faroese archipelago is 113km (70 miles) long and 75km (47 miles) wide. There is no part of the Faroe Islands that is further than 5km (3 miles) from the sea. So be prepared to dress warmly to protect yourself from the wind.

The Faroe Islands Are Midway Between Iceland, Norway and UK

What to See on the Faroe Islands

The Faroes are ideal for wildlife and nature holidays. You will be able to see seabirds, whales, and porpoises, as well as the wild free-roaming Faroese sheep. It’s a popular stopover location for many migrating birds, so time it right for an unforgettable birdwatching experience. This means visiting in the Spring or Fall rather than the peak tourist season, so you may be able to get a cheaper deal, but expect more inclement weather.

There are many natural geological wonders to see here too; waterfalls, mountains, fiords, lakes, and breathtaking views just about everywhere. To make the most of your visit I recommend you buy the Faroe Islands: Bradt Travel Guide. It gives details of all 18 islands, and will help you find your way around this wind-blown paradise. The best time to visit is during the summer. In winter the days are very short, and it gets cold and snowy.

A Free-Range Faroe Island Sheep

A Free-Range Faroe Island Sheep

Google Street View and SheepView360

Before travelling to a new place, I often look it up on Google Street View. Until recently, if you wanted to do this for the Faroes, you would have been disappointed. The islands were not mapped by Google until 2016, and that only happened because the islanders took the unusual step of enlisting their sheep as roving photographers.

It is easy to think the whole world is on Google Street View, but the images captured focus on urban areas. Most of the photography is done by a 360-degree rotating camera fixed on top of a vehicle. If an area is inaccessible to bikes or cars it is a low priority for the project.

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In 2016, an enterprising islander, Durita Dahl Andreassen, decided she would try to attract Google’s attention, and get them to map the islands. The key to Durita’s plan was the free-roaming Faroese sheep. There is virtually no part of the islands they cannot access (unlike a car or bike). With an automatic camera strapped to their backs, these sheep were sent to photograph parts of the islands inaccessible to Google vehicles.

Sheepview360

Viral Marketing Campaign #wewantgooglestreetview

Google Street View lends out some of its 360-degree cameras, but the application process is competitive. With the help of the local tourism board, Durita took action to build worldwide interest in mapping the Faroes. Two solar-powered 360-degree cameras were purchased by the islanders and some local sheep were “volunteered” to be sheep-view photographers. The resulting Twitter campaign with the hashtag “We want Google Street View” went viral. Hundreds of thousands of people visited the website Sheepview360 which showcased images from the cameras strapped to the backs of the volunteer sheep.

The jerky pictures taken by sheep-cam and then uploaded to SheepView360 by Andreasson captured the public’s imagination. Journalists from BBC World News to The Washington Post, from CNN to The Irish Times, talked about, wrote about and shared the story of the plucky islanders taking on the might of Google. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all contributed to the buzz surrounding this story. All the chatter and sharing made this a successful viral marketing campaign that quickly achieved its objectives.

It took less than a year for Google to be moved and impressed by the public’s support for the project. The result was they agreed to provide equipment and training to enable the mapping of the Faroe Isles for Street View. The video above shows how everyone in the community contributed and continues to contribute to this enterprise. Sheep, horses, bikes, boats, wheelbarrows and skateboards are all being used as vehicles to transport the special camera equipment and complete the filming of these islands.

Winter Sunlight Illuminates the Mountainside in Vagur

Winter Sunlight Illuminates the Mountainside in Vagur

Useful Travel, Currency, and Weather Information

How to Get There

  • By ferry from Denmark. Hirtshals, Denmark to Torshavn, Faroe Isles takes 38 hours.
  • By ferry from Iceland. Seydisfjordur, Iceland to Torshavn takes 19 hours.
  • By ferry from the Shetland Isles, Scotland to the Faroe Islands
  • By air the only carrier is the islands‘ national airline, Atlantic Airways.
  • By cruise ship. Some companies are now adding these islands to their itinerary.

Currency

  • The Faroe Islands are in Europe, but they are not part of the European Union so they do not use the Euro.
  • The local currencies are the Danish Krone and the Faroese Krone. Credit cards are also widely accepted.
  • The main languages spoken are Faroese and Danish, but most people (especially the younger ones) speak English too.

Weather

  • The average daytime Summer temperature is 51o F (10o C).
  • The average daytime Winter temperature is 40o F (6o C).
  • The weather varies hour to hour, so whatever time of year you visit take waterproofs, warm clothing, and sturdy walking shoes.

Further Information

The Faroe Islands are very beautiful and well worth a visit. Check out the Visit Faroe Islands website.

Google Earth and Street View enable you to travel round the globe without ever leaving home.

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