Iceland’s Full: Try the Faroe Island, Right Next Door
Waterfalls, moody landscapes, Michelin stars and more
Iceland is undeniably great.
Moody landscapes, stunning waterfalls, friendly people.
Just one problem: It’s full. “In 2009, Iceland welcomed 464,000 tourists,” according the the Financial Times. “By last year, that had shot up to nearly 1.8m and the growth is accelerating.” The entire population of the country is just over 300,000. That meanas “the 340,000 natives are now outnumbered by the annual tally of US visitors alone.”
All of which begs the question: Perhaps Iceland isn’t the only adventure tourism destination in the world? Or even in the North Atlantic? Or even the only jaw-droppingly beautiful volcanic island in the North Atlantic, with waterfalls, helicopter tours and the odd Michelin-starred restaurant?
People, it’s time to consider the Faroe Islands.
Fly from Scotland’s Shetland Islands to Iceland and you’ll pass over the Faroes, officially part of the Kingdom of Denmark.
Take a look and you’ll see a landscape a visitor could easily confuse for Iceland itself: grey-blue waters beneath tawny hills and slick black cliffs, periodically interrupted by dramatic waterfalls. The main entry point is Tórshavn, its capital; Reykjavik is, in fact, considerably larger, with a population of around 100,000 to Tórshavn’s tiny 13,000. But you didn’t come for the city living — you came to get out into the wild, and the Faroes have plenty of that.
They also have enough fancy dining and hotels to get you by. We mentioned a Michelin star? That would belong to Koks, the island’s first and only Michelin-starred resto. Its 17-course tasting menu — of course deeply concerned with local flavors — is heavy into fermentation and may include such dishes as “Skerpikjøt (wind-dried mutton) … a national favourite, [it’s] hung unsalted in sheds close to the sea until it grows a patina of fine blue fungus.”
However it tastes, skerpikjøt will pair well with a stay at Gásadalsgarður, a new guest house with just four rooms and views of the Múlafossur waterfall, along with rates that can’t be beat: around $160 a night.
We say: Get there before everybody else. With Iceland rolling up the welcome mat, we’re betting they’re on the way.
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