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Faroe Islands

Page 3
Continued from page 2

Kvivik LEFT: A church in Kvivik, on the west coast of Streymoy.

Practical information

Climate

You're unlikely to get a sunburn in the Faroes, where rain occurs on an average of 280 days a year and average temperatures range from 40° F ( 4° C) in January to 52° ( 11° C) in July.

When to visit

Summer is the best time to visit the Faroes, since the weather is more likely to be pleasant and the islands' small tourist industry doesn't gear up for visitors until May.

What to bring

A water-resistant jacket or rain parka, sweater, and sturdy shoes are the most vital items in a Faroes travel wardrobe. A tweed hat is more useful than a baseball cap or straw boater, and a folding umbrella is also worth bringing along. Don't worry about maps--you can buy what you need in Tórshavn.

Reaching the Faroes

Smyril Line has weekly sailings to Tórshavn from Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and the Shetland Islands. Air service is available from Copenhagen and Billund (Denmark), Reykjavik (Iceland), and Glasgow-Aberdeen (Scotland). See the "Transportation" links in this article for more information.

Some guidebooks mention ferries from Scrabster or Aberdeen. Unfortunately, these are no longer in service--at least, not at the time of this writing.

Language

Faorese flagThe language of the islands is Faroese, which is similar to Icelandic. Danish is also spoken, and tourist businesses are likely to have employees who speak English.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can buy a locally published phrasebook to help you meet and greet the locals in their own lingo. 700 Phrases in English to Faroese is packed with conversational icebreakers such as:

"Will you light the fire in my room?"

"We go down to the quai? Down there, we see big and small steamers."

"The ships discharge and load, the winches rattle, the booms swing back and forth."

"The workers perspire. Some push wheelbarrows full of coal."

"Look over there! A smack is discharging fish."

"The gulls are very graceful, but the tern is very nice."

And most useful of all:

"Will you direct me to a good beer bar?"

If you'd like to hear WAV files of Faroese phrases, click this Framtak link.

Money

The Faroese króna is identical in value to its Danish counterpart, and Danish coins are used for small change. You can exchange money at banks, in the airport, or at the Tórshavn tourist office when banks are closed.

At downtown Tórshavn banks, you'll find automated tellers that dispense Faroese cash to holders of Visa/Plus, MasterCard/Cirrus, Eurocard, and Dankort ATM cards. These are open until midnight. (See our European ATMs and exchange machines article for helpful tips.)

Telephones

The country code for the Faroes is 298, meaning that the telephone number 345678 would be 298 345678 when dialed from outside the country.

In April, 1998, the Faroes changed from 5-digit to 6-digit phone numbers by adding a 1-digit prefix. Most guidebooks have been updated to reflect the change, but older editions may be obsolete.

Getting around

Regularly scheduled buses connect most villages, often in combination with the many ferries that run between the islands. Car rentals are available, if expensive, and distances are short enough that gasoline is a relatively minor expense.

Bicycling is another possibility, although the roads can be steep and wet. (You can rent bicycles in the larger towns and villages.)

Rural highways may be one lane wide, with frequent pullovers to allow passing. This isn't as tricky as it sounds--after half a dozen encounters with other vehicles, you'll learn to gauge when to pull in. (You'll also learn to watch out for sheep, which frequently cross the roads without regard for traffic.)

Next page: Hotels, dining, shopping



Top photo copyright © Jason Row.
Inset photo copyright © Giovanni Antico.
 

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