Faroe Islands Special: Klaksvík, Kalsoy and Tórshavn

August 2019

Today, my second full day on the Faroe Islands, I had decided to head to the second largest town of the Faroe Islands, Klaksvik. Here I had a couple of possibilities – a couple of walks that started from the town or a trip to the neighbouring island of Kalsoy.

After breakfast at my hotel I headed down to the bus station in Tórshavn in order to take the number 400 bus to Klasvik. Despite being two islands away (on the island of Borðoy), it is possible to reach Klasvik from Tórshavn by bus because the island I was staying on (Streymoy) is connected to the island of Eysturoy by a bridge whilst Eysturoy is connected to Borðoy by a tunnel, which opened in 2006, so it is possible to travel entirely by road.

The bus was not full so I was able to get a window seat and it was operated using a coach. The views on the way were stunning. I’m afraid that once more, I don’t know the names of these places as I was just snapping through the window – but the views speak for themselves I think!

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

View from a bus between Torshavn and Klaksvík

All in all it was a stunning journey. 90 minutes later I had reached the town of Klaksvik. The town is located on a narrow spit of land between two Fjords. Normally the bus goes into the centre of the town but today the driver announced that there was an event on in the town and many roads were closed so when we reached the fjord at the south of the town (Borðoyarvík), this was the end of the route today.

This was not ideal as I’d have to walk the rest of the way but it is not a large town so it didn’t take long. On the plus side there was a supermarket beside where the bus stopped, so I could get lunch. As I headed into town the reason for the road closure soon became clear. There was some sort of music festival going to take place this evening. Music stands were being set up, beer tents, food stalls and so on and there were a lot of people about. Unfortunately crowds and loud music was the sort of thing I had come to the Faroe Islands to avoid!

I stopped at the tourist information centre in the hope they had the island-wide “hiking guide” which I had a download copy of but wanted to get a paper copy of as it’s easier to read that way (they did). I considered going for a walk right away from Klaksvik but soon came across the ferry terminal for the ferry over to Kalsoy and a ferry was about to depart.

The guide book I had been using had warned that the ferry is very popular and that it’s a good idea to get here an hour before the ferry if coming by car. I wasn’t sure whether to look around Klaksvik first or take the ferry now but since the ferry was in, it made sense to travel across to Kalsoy now. I asked the man loading the ferry (who had a ticket machine around his neck) for a ticket but he told me he was having trouble with the machine so it took a while to issue the ticket but I was just glad to find that it wasn’t already full.

Watching the staff load the ferry was fascinating. The ferry was old (it dates from the mid 1970s) and cars have got a lot wider in that time. This made it such a tight squeeze that the passengers in any car were instructed to get out (because the cars were parked so close the doors could not be opened) whilst the driver was directed into a very tight space. (The cars at the end even had to drive up onto the wire mesh at ground level you can see).

Kalsoy ferry

The men loading the ferry would often lean through the window and steer the car themselves if the driver didn’t go exactly where they wanted. In a couple of case they got frustrated with the driver, told them to get out and drove the car where they wanted it themselves. Literally every inch matters, wing mirrors must be folded in, as it’s the only way they can get 3 cars in the width of the ferry.

Here is the scene a few minutes later. It really is a very tight squeeze!

Ferry to Kalsoy

Eventually the cars are loaded and we could set off.

Sadly the delay in issuing the ticket meant by the time I got to the passenger deck it was packed and I couldn’t get to enjoy the best of the views.

The town of Klaksvik was now behind us.

Ferry to Kalsoy

Ferry to Kalsoy

Soon the ferry was in the more open waters of Kalsoyarfjordur, which separates the two islands. It was very beautiful indeed and the weather was, once again, perfect.

The thing that puzzled me, having watched the chaos of loading the ferry and the long line of cars left behind is why so many people take their car over in the first place. The ferry takes 20 minutes but runs infrequently, with typically around a 2 hour wait between ferries. Given the number of cars left behind many would be waiting for 4 hours, since the ferry only takes around 30 cars.

The island of Kalsoy is long and thin and there is basically just a single road that runs the length of the island. The vast majority of people (myself included) are heading to the northern tip of the island (Trøllanes) where there is a lighthouse and a very beautiful view. The island of Kalsoy has a population of just 76. However despite the small population meeting the vast majority of ferries (I think all of them in the day time) is a bus. The bus runs the length of the road that goes the length of the island. This means you can get to anywhere on the island if you travel over as a foot passenger and take the bus. Which made me wonder why more don’t do it and choose to take their car over instead.

Anyway talking of the bus it was ready and waiting at the ferry arrived.

Bus on Kalsoy

The bus was small but had enough space for everyone to sit down and so we soon set off for the far north of the island. The only down side was that the bus had tinted windows, which made it much darker inside (and harder for taking photos) and gave all my photos an odd colour cast.

The ferry is at Syðradalur and the bus heads north through the settlements of Húsar, Mikladalur and finally to Trøllanes. The geology of the island is spectacular. The settlements are small and all on the east coast because behind the land heads up incredibly steeply, with sheer vertical cliffs on the west side. Even then the terrain is so steep that the road has to go through many tunnels to reach Trøllanes. The photos below are taken from the bus.

Kalsoy

View from a bus on the island of Kalsoy

View from a bus on the island of Kalsoy

I got off the bus when it reached the centre of the village and it’s terminus point. Having done so it quickly headed back and all was now quiet.

Kalsoy

Kalsoy

Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The main attraction of the village is the walk to the lighthouse. The scenery of this island is spectacular and the northern part perhaps the most. Indeed I’m told that the scenery is used as location in the forthcoming James Bond film No Time to Die (and was filmed a month after my visit).

Having taken in the harbour I soon set off on that walk. I suspect this might be another to soon be subject to a “hiking fee” as there were hints of many signs warning the path was over private land etc.

The route was obvious and busy, initially over grassy hills and soon heading out onto spectacular cliffs.

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

Here you can see the neighbouring island of Kunoy and Vidoy the latter of which has the highest cliffs on the Faroe Islands.

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

There are two ridges as you approach the lighthouse.

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

At the lighthouse the ridge goes further out. However the path was extremely narrow and the land fell away very rapidly, straight to the sea on both sides. It was windy and exposed and you had to try and move aside when people came the other way. I’m afraid, despite a couple of attempts I couldn’t pluck up courage to walk out to the final part of the narrow strip of land. One slip and it is unlikely you would be able to prevent yourself falling to the rocks or sea below.

Here is the path out to the very tip (note the people on the top to give an indication of how narrow it is).

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

Still I took in the view from where I had got to was simply amazing.

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

Also looking to the left you can see how the land rises incredibly steeply, and the sheer drop of the cliffs on the north coast of the island.

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

I think the view from here must be one of the most spectacular stretches of coastline in the world.

View from Trøllanes, Kalsoy

View from Trøllanes, Kalsoy

View from Trøllanes, Kalsoy

View from Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

It really is astonishingly beautiful, though I did have to zoom in a long way to take some of these photos (hence the slightly washed-out colours due to the haze).

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

Heading away from the crowds at the lighthouse I found a lovely spot with a wonderful view for lunch. Having enjoyed the view at the lighthouse (and decided against doing the last part over the narrow ridge), it was time to head back to Trøllanes so I retraced my steps the same way I had come.

The return journey was no less spectacular!

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The coast at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

The village is very small. Probably 15 or so buildings and other than an information sign and toilets there is not much in the village to detain you. However what I did find was some steps down to the shoreline, an old harbour I believe but I don’t think it is used any more. Here the full force of the Atlantic crashes into the island, causing impressive spray.

I love watching the sea like this.

The coast of Kalsoy

The coast of Kalsoy

The coast of Kalsoy

The coast of Kalsoy

The north east coast of Kalsoy

I was not the only one enjoying the view, since there were also quite a number of puffins sitting on the various rocky ledges!

Puffins on the north east coast of Kalsoy

Puffins at Trøllanes, Kalsoy

Having enjoyed it down by the water, watching the crashing sea and the puffins, it was soon time to head back up to the cliffs. There was the start of a path heading the other way up the cliffs, but it soon seemed to fizzle out. I didn’t need to go any further because I’d got as far as I wanted – the cliffs ahead were covered in more puffins (who I didn’t want to disturb) by getting close and was enthralled to watch them coming and going, they are such beautiful and characterful birds.

Puffins on Kalsoy

Puffins on Kalsoy

View of the coast from Kalsoy

I don’t think any of the other visitors here had even noticed the puffins, so I could watch them undisturbed. Sadly I soon had to drag myself way for the bus back to Syðradalur and the ferry.

Once again, it was a spectacular ride.

View from a bus on the island of Kalsoy

View from Kalsoy

Back at the ferry I could be quite smug that the line of cars (mostly visitors) lining up waiting for the ferry meant many would have a wait of over 2 hours. I was glad I had opted to use the bus since as a foot passenger I could get on the first ferry, due shortly. Here it comes!

Ferry to Kalsoy

I did wonder if it had sailed all the way over with the front open like that (perhaps because the motor home was otherwise too large), but I didn’t find that out (perhaps that’s just as well).

This time there were fewer foot passengers so there was much more space on the upper deck, which was welcome. It made a good view point to watch the chaotic loading again!

Ferry to Kalsoy

This time I was in a prime spot to enjoy the views from the ferry on the way back and the views really are breathtaking.

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

Soon we were nearing Klaksvik (the crossing is only 20 minutes).

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

View from the ferry to Kalsoy

Klaksvik

Klaksvik

Klaksvik

Klaksvik was noisier and more crowded than when I left but these things are relative, there was still plenty of space and some stunning views to take in.

Klaksvik

Klaksvik

Having explored the town I headed for the next bus back to Torshavn. I then explored the capital of the Faroe Islands a little more. It too is a very pretty place.

Tórshavn

Tórshavn Faroe Islands Parliament buildings

Tórshavn

Tórshavn Harbour

Tórshavn Harbour

Tórshavn Harbour

Tórshavn Cathedral

Tórshavn Harbour

Tórshavn

After dinner I explored a fort (called Skansin) at the mouth of the harbour which also had a lighthouse (presumably a later addition).

Skansin, Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

Tórshavn

Tórshavn

Tórshavn

Tórshavn

It had been a truly wonderful day. I had visited 3 different islands and had views of many more and all the time I had enjoyed stunning scenery. These islands really are breathtaking and unspoilt with outstanding scenery and beautiful wildlife throughout though the coastal scenery really was the highlight for me. The towns too are very pretty and I especially like the numerous grass-roofed buildings too. I had very much enjoyed the day and had been really spoilt with another day of gorgeous clear blue skies and sunshine.

Details of all public transport (ferries and buses) can be found at the website of Strandfaraskip. The relevant services I used for this day are bus 400 (Tórshavn to Klaksvik), ferry route 56 (Klaksvik to Syðradalur on the island of Kalsoy) and bus 506 (Syðradalur to Trøllanes again on the island of Kalsoy).

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8 Responses to Faroe Islands Special: Klaksvík, Kalsoy and Tórshavn

  1. What a stunning place. Agree, possibly the best coastal scenery in the world! And puffins too 😄 Sounds like a perfect day, wonderful photographs, and you were lucky with the weather. I would certainly have chickened out of walking that final ridge too.

    Seeing the ferry with its bows open reminded me of the last time I saw that – on a huge RORO ferry coming out of the harbour in Calais just as our ferry was going in. I remember looking down and seeing the waves inches away from the car deck. A few weeks later, the Herald of Free Enterprise rolled over at Zeebrugge, killing nearly 200 people, and I knew immediately how it must have happened. The bow doors were left open, and this was later confirmed by the enquiry.

    Anyway, I’m now adding the Faroe Islands to my list of places I would love to visit. 😀

    • jcombe says:

      Thanks Ruth I’m glad you enjoyed it too and I do recommend a visit very much.

      Yes I did recall that ferry incident at Zeebrugge when I saw the ferry arriving like that and it did worry me as I suspect it had travelled the entire way like that (though from where I was standing you can only see it when it’s almost arrived, due to the harbour wall so I can’t be sure). However it’s the only ferry so I had to use it or otherwise not go. I only hope they don’t do that when the sea is rough but at least I made the crossing there and back OK.

  2. Definitely jealous! Things I would not be doing: driving onto that ferry or walking that final ridge. I’d be rubbish at both.

  3. owdjockey says:

    Hi Jon, always wanted to visit the Faroes. Why people take cars over I’m not sure. A fascinating place with some stunning scenary. Cheers Alan

  4. Mark Rushton says:

    I’ve come late to this, but a good piece of work. I’ve visited the Faroes three times – twice on the weekly Smyril Line lifeline ferry cruise from Hirtshals in Denmanrk via Torshavn to Iceland – you basically get a day on the Faroes on the way out and the way back as well as two days in eastern Iceland. The other time I spent 4 days there with the missus and we did rent a car which gave us more freedom. A word of warning, though, if you do drive, about the road tunnels that link the smaller islands to the main island – they’re poorly lit and single lane with passing points inside – very very scary if you’ve never done it before. The one across to Vidoy was terrifying. But the reward was to ascend the most northerly peak on the islands, with a view out to sea to the north pole. Oh, and as for the rust bucket ferry to Nolsoy, it’s just been replaced with a new vessel. If you google Pegpilot and Faroes you’ll find my photo collection on Flickr

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