Torshavn might be the smallest capital in the world. And if not the world it is certainly the smallest capital of Europe. But that doesn’t mean that it is boring. There is a lot of things to do in Torshavn. Most of the people would come to the Faroe Islands for hiking, seeing puffins, or another part of wild nature. Cultural exchange is not necessarily a thing on the bucket list for the Faroe Islands. But I would say – let’s give Torshavn a chance. It is a cute little town and even though it might not be the biggest one and you certainly cannot spend there couple of days just exploring the city, it is still an interesting place to visit.
Best things to do in Torshavn
As I mentioned earlier, Torshavn might be small but it is far from being boring. You can see here all kinds of things from Michellin star restaurants (or just really good restaurants) to vibrant nightlife and great shopping opportunities. Last but not least there is also the possibility of a short hike or exploring the historical part of Torshavn.
Let’s just jump to the historical part of Torshavn. And perhaps the most historic part of it all. Skansin fortress. The fort is very close to the city center right next to the harbor. It was built back in 1580 so the city can defend itself against pirate raids that were very often organized against this city.
The fort expanded significantly in the 18th century when it was rebuild and some extra parts of the fort were added. Since then the fort was well-kept. In fact, it was so well kept that during the Second world war, the British military used this fort as their military base.
The memories from these times still resemble in the fort. You can still see there the historical old cannons that Faroe people use against pirates and at the same time, you can see there two guns used in the second world war.
Even if you are not interested in the war history of this little island, it is still an interesting place to see. You can also see here one of the most interesting lighthouses in the Faroe Islands that is without a doubt one of the dominants of the city. And other than that, you can enjoy the view of the city. Very picturesque!
Entry fee: Free of charge
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Don’t forget to visit one of the masterpieces of nordic architecture. The famous Nordic house. The house itself is a little bit further from the city center. But in the case of Torshavn, it only means that you will have to walk for 15 minutes to get there. Or take a bus and get there in 5 minutes.
Nordic house is one of the most important buildings when it comes to cooperation in the Nordic region. The council of this region decided to have this house as an instrument of culture and art. And that is truly what you can see here.
This place is supposed to promote Nordic and Faroese culture both locally and globally. So you can see here various exhibitions of nordic artists, readings from nordic authors, and last but not least, you can come here and listen to the nordic music too.
Generally, it is a great place if you love culture. But if you like architecture, the Nordic house is there for you as well. Even though it was build in the last century it still has the modern Scandinavian style of architecture. Moreover, the house is built to resemble a hill of elves.
So really is there a better place for cultural exchange?
Entry fee: Depending on the event that you would like to see. You can always ask at the reception. A lot of events cost around 100 dkk.
The government district – Tinganes
The core of the capital. In the Faroese language, the name Tinganes means Parlament point and that is what exactly it is. The Faroe Islands might be a small country and still part of Denmark but they do have their own parliament. From the buildings themselves, you can see that it is not a big parliament.
But the government district is still very nice and cute. You get to go around all the red building with a roof covered by grass. Typical Faroese style.
What is actually not so typical that even though this place is small it is known for having perhaps one of the oldest parliament meetings in the world. And that was back in 900 when the Faroe Islands were just a Norwegian colony. However, the parliament building or perhaps a hut back then was built there back in 825.
The main parliament building itself is the outermost point of the little peninsula on the coast of Torshavn. It divides the coastline of Torshavn into two harbors. One is for sailing the other one for cruises and for ferries.
Except for the main parliament building, you will see here all kinds of governmental institutions. There are all the ministry buildings like the ministry of finance, culture, and so on. It is quite fun to see how small they are.
You won’t be able to go in and visit the local politicians but it is still fun to see this little district.
Hike from Torshavn to Kirkjubour
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Bored in the city and want to see a little bit more of nature? Say no more! There is hiking opportunity even in Torshavn. And it is an exciting one. During this hike, you can see an amazing view to neighboring islands of Nolsoy and Sandoy, but also an old village of Kirkjubour.
All you need to do is follow the main street from the city center that leads to the mountain in the southern part of the city. A lot of this road is actually nice to walk on with the sidewalk. Once you hike the hill, you will see the great view on the neighboring islands.
Close to the viewpoint, you will see a little dirt road that you can take on the foot. It is definitely not for cars. And if you follow it long enough, you can still enjoy the view of the islands around but eventually, you will get to Kirkjubour, one of the oldest villages in the Faroe Islands. There is no museum or anything like that but you can still see there old romantic buildings with grass on the roof. And a little cute church.
When you want to get back, you can either choose to hike back, but it is still 7 km or you can take a free bus that goes back to Torshavn.
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So you have already visited the government district, the Skansin, and the cultural center – the Nordic house. If you ask me, no visit of any city isn’t done until you visit at least one of the local museums. And great news, Torshavn has two of those.
Let’s start with the local gallery. It is called Listasan Foroya and it is a national gallery of the Faroe Islands. It was founded back in 1989 and it’s current collection consist of nearly 2500 pieces of artwork from different artists. You can find here anything from drawings, paintings, sculptures, installations, and textiles. The oldest masterpiece is from the 19th century.
Most of the gallery is used for a permanent exhibition where you can find a lot of drawings and paintings related to the wild nature of the Faroe Islands.
Besides the artwork inside, there is also a place outside with a nice garden and a couple of sculptures where it is nice to hang out outside.
Entry fee: 65 dkk
Opening times: 1st of May to 30th of September from 11 am to 5 pm, 1st of October to the 30th of April – Tuesday to Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm.
National Museum of Faroe Islands
It is essentially everything that the Faroe Islands are about. Nature, history, local fauna, and flora, and piece of geology as well. Everything you wanted to know about the Faroe Islands all in one building.
The national museum has all kinds of the exhibition. In the history department, you will see local rowing boats or historic benches from Kirkjubour. You can also see here the local folk dresses from the Viking era until today. But if you prefer nature a little bit more than a history, you will see here whole department dedicated to birds that live in the Faroe Islands. But also mammals that are found here. Last but not least, you can see here the whales that are typical for the Faroe Islands as well.
For a cultural experience, there is also a farm within walking distance to the actual museum. There you can experience how old farms in the Faroe Islands used to look like and how people used to live there.
The next part of the museum is a little bit sad because it is all about whaling in the Faroe Islands and how are people whaling in this little part of the world. There is a lot of culture in it and they have their own technique. And in part of the museum, you can read all about it. Which in the end might be a good thing as most of the people know only the pictures from media.
Entry fee: 60 dkk
Opening hours: 1st of June to 30th of August from 10 am to 5 pm
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Of course, you can shop anywhere. But Torshavn is a little bit special. If you went around the Faroe Islands before, you would see that there is a lot of people wearing a special sweater. It looks very nordic and it is very warm. Certainly a great part of any wardrobe both for men and women.
And you can buy it just here in Torshavn. Or you can buy it in a lot of different places but Torshavn is probably one of the best places to do so. The most famous shop is Gudrun Gudrun. Those sweaters are handmade one by one. And perhaps because of that, they are quite expensive. Even by Faroese standards. And so the best thing to do is to either have a look at little shops see if they have some pre-used or just see if they have other ones, perhaps not from this brand.
Best things to do in Torshavn – practical info
How to get to Torshavn
Unlike other capitals, Torshavn actually doesn’t have an airport. The airport in the Faroe Islands is an island called Vagár and it is about an hour from Torshavn. If you are planning to come to the Faroe Islands via airplane, you can always hop on the bus. From the ort to Torshavn it costs 100 dkk and it is possibly the cheapest way of getting there. Here is the bus schedule.
Another way would be to get a taxi to Torshavn. Those are really expensive. They usually cost around 300 dkk and more but you can book them and they are very reliable.
If you choose to come with a cruise, you can take a boat from Denmark that would come to one of the harbors in Torshavn. That way you don’t have to solve how to get there.
Other than that, to get around Torshavn, you can always hop on a bus that goes around Torshavn. There is actually a lot of them and they come very regularly. Another great thing about them is that they are actually for free. So I wouldn’t hesitate to use them, wherever you go within Torshavn.
Where to eat in Torshavn
Let’s solve another issue and that is where to get the nicest food in the smallest capital of Europe. Essentially most of the Faroe Islands food is a fish but really good one! You can get one of the nicest fishes and they come in all kinds of meals. My most favorite ones were fish burgers.
If you are reaching for just something simple and possibly to go, you cannot miss City burger. They have the best fast food burgers in town. You can also go there for fish and chips.
Another great restaurant is Kafe Umami with international cuisine and lots of healthy food.
And my last favorite was Kafe Brell, possibly one of the best coffee houses in the Faroe Islands. You get to drink delicious warm drinks (always good after a hike) and get to choose between a lot of sandwiches.
How long do you need to visit Torshavn
Torshavn isn’t the biggest city. All you need is one day or even just a half a day – depending on if you are planning to visit all the museums and do the little hiking trip. If so, then the full day is really needed. If not, you can spend there half a day and then find some other interesting place to visit.
However, if you are looking for a base from where you can visit all the other places in the Faroe Islands, Torshavn is a great place to be. Even if you are planning on just using public transportation, it is just easier from Torshavn and since the Faroe Islands are quite small, you can arrange day trips everywhere.
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