The Ultimate Guide to Tórshavn
What is there to do and see in Torshavn? Are there any good restaurants in the capital? Wondering if you should stay at a Torshavn hotel while you are in the Faroe Islands?
- Explore the widest selection of Day Tours in the Faroe Islands
- Discover a wealth of Cultural Activities in the Faroe islands
- Get to know What to Pack for Travel in the Faroe Islands
- Find out Where to Stay in the Faroe Islands
The capital in the Faroe Islands lies in the heart of the island group and is a delight to explore. Tórshavn is named after Tór, the god of weather, strength, and growth in Norse mythology. This far-flung Nordic city is home to just over 20.000 inhabitants. Despite the tiny population, Tórshavn is an appealing spot in the North Atlantic Ocean with plentiful culture, nature, and good food.
Tórshavn translates to Thor’s Harbour. The islanders call the town Havn meaning simply Harbour. The city center is protected by the port and by the long island Nólsoy, which lies outside of the capital.
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Faroe Islands’ capital is known for its adventitiously located houses painted in every color of the rainbow. You will find these inspiring houses from the seaside and all the way up the hillsides of Tórshavn.
This guide to Tórshavn is made for those staying in the archipelago’s capital when on holiday in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. Read on to find the best places to relax and soak in the culture of the capital of the Faroe Islands. When well planned, using Tórshavn as your base to explore the islands will make memories to last a lifetime.
When the first settlers came to the Faroe Islands, they chose Tórshavn for their annual parliament assembly known as Ting. The place is well situated in the middle of the archipelago. This was in the 9th century in the Viking Age. Back then a few chieftain families ruled the islands. The historic headland Tinganes divides the port of Tórshavn into an eastern and a western creek. Here the Ting assembled in the open.
Due to Tórshavn’s central position in the islands, it early became the trading center. The bailiff and senior deputy judge were residing here and the Faroese came to this place from all over the islands to bring their ground rent and various other duties.
Tinganes was also the shopping area with its office and gallery, three blockhouses, brewery, a cooper’s shop, and the banquet hall where the Ting assembled when it was stormy out of doors.
Things to do and see in Torshavn
Tórshavn is nestled on the southeast coast of Streymoy, the largest of the 18 islands that make up the marvelous and windswept Faroe Islands. Tinganes is now home to the Faroese government. The charming constructions date back to the Viking Age. This is the historic center and also the oldest part of town. Here you can go for a stroll between red houses most of them covered with grass on the roof.
Before you reach Tinganes, you will walk through the Reyni district where most houses are painted black and turf-roofed too. The area is quite small but you can easily spend an hour here soaking in the unique atmosphere.
Skansin is a popular vantage point. The place is easy to find as there is a lighthouse perched on top of the old fort from the 16th century. Again, Skansin is only a short walk away from the city center.
Every Faroe Islander has great childhood memories from trips to the local Viðarlund and the pond there. Viðarlund is the Faroese word for plantation. Here you can feed ducks with breadcrumbs. The ducks are a popular draw but you will also get close to pigeons and small birds such as the robin. This is a great option if you travel to the Faroe Islands with kids or if you simply want to chat with locals in peaceful settings.
If you want to partake in some guided activities, Tórshavn is the best place to be. Most day tours to the rural nature interior depart from the capital. Moreover, the public bus network will take you from Tórshavn to places like Vestmanna if you want to experience the Vestmanna Bird Cliffs and to Klaksvík if you are planning to visit the fishing epicenter in the archipelago.
What about an activity based in Tórshavn? Sure, you have some really good options ready to book. Here are some popular and highly authentic experiences based in Tórshavn and its small neighboring villages.
If you are in awe of mountains, then join this hiking tour to Kirkjubøur. A great local tour guide will take you on a beautiful yet easy hike from Tórshavn to the historical hub in the village Kirkjubøur. Another great option is to do some guided horseback riding just outside Tórshavn. Climb onto a horse and soak in the nature scenery on this horse riding tour departing next to Hotel Føroyar.
How about a joyful beer tasting tour in the capital? Join the Føroyar BeerWalk tour for an outdoor beer experience like nowhere else.
Want to visit a local home and be served an authentic dinner in the most remarkable surroundings? Then make sure to book this Heimablídni available during the summer months from May throughout August. Your hosts will be the farmer couple Anna & Óli located in the hillside village Velbastaður. A unique experience not to be missed.
Where to stay in Torshavn
Two new hotels opened in 2020, the 4-star Hotel Brandan with high environmental standards and the 4-star Hilton Garden Inn. Both hotels are less than a 15 minutes walk from downtown. Uncovering the islands in a car is easy from these hotels as you will hit the roads to unbelievable attractions after only a couple of minutes.
There are lots of Airbnb options if you like a more personalized stay. When renting an apartment or house, you want to be near a Torshavn supermarket. Luckily you will find supermarkets in most districts and grocery stores are never more than a 10 minutes walk from your accommodation.
The newly renovated Havgrím Seaside Hotel is also a good choice for those who want something extra. The boutique hotel lies next to the ocean and has an unforgettable atmosphere. You will get a tranquil seaside view from some hotel rooms and from the beautiful space on the ground floor where the kind staff serves breakfast.
Where to eat in Torshavn
There are numerous great restaurants and cafes in Torshavn. In fact, all the good restaurants in the Faroe Islands are located in Tórshavn or nearby like the Michelin-starred Restaurant KOKS next to Lake Leynavatn. KOKS is closed in the Faroe Islands throughout 2022 and 2023.
The number one thing to know if you want to dine out in the Faroe Islands is to reserve tables at restaurants in due time. Book your tables weeks ahead of your travel as all good restaurants are fully booked days ahead. Even on a Wednesday, you will be told that all tables are full if you just drop by one of the restaurants in town.
Make sure to taste the delicious local lamb served at Áarstova. Swing by restaurant Katrina Christiansen where you will taste tapas inspired by the traditional Faroese kitchen in a vibrant atmosphere. Another good choice is Barbara Fish House which serves seasonal fish and seafood. These three restaurants are located in the heart of Tórshavn.
Most shops and cafes open at 10 am on weekdays and typically close somewhere between 5 pm and 6 pm. The opening hours are shorter on Saturdays and most shops and cafes will be closed on Sundays. You will find the best place for local remembrance at Öström at the Tórshavn marina.
Faroe Islanders have always been coffee lovers and a number of good cafés have sprung up in the past years. Travelers say Paname Café is the best one in town.
The harbor in Tórshavn is home to two ferries that connect Nólsoy island and Suðuroy island to the main islands. Besides these two domestic ferries, there is the large white ferry Norröna, which sails between Denmark, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland.
You can take the ferry to Nólsoy from here. The same goes for the ferry to the most southernly island, Suðuroy, which also departs from Tórshavn.
The ferry port lies just beside the Tórshavn bus terminal. Here you will find the public blue busses owned by Strandfaraskip Landsins. These busses connect the different islands and villages to Tórshavn. If you arrive in the Faroe Islands by airplane, which all arrive at Vagar Airport, then you will terminate at the bus terminal in Tórshavn if you decide to take public bus transport from the airport.
The city center is quite compact and lies only a 5-minute walk away from the bus terminal. There are lots of exciting things to see and explore in this quaint Nordic capital city. Everything in Torshavn can be easily reached by foot.
Due to its northern position, Tórshavn is a cold and windy place. Summer temperatures will reach 15 °C and occasionally more than that. During winter, the temperature will usually be between 2-5 °C. The Faroe Islands’ weather is unpredictable and so is the weather in Tórshavn.
You might enjoy some sunny spells and only minutes later there can be rain and wind. The weather is most stable in summer from May to August but this is also the period when Tórshavn can be submerged in the morning fog. The misty weather can also hide the entire capital throughout the day on some days.
The fog is extra thick in July. You will be surprised if you head out of Tórshavn on foggy days in summer, as the weather is often totally different only a 10 minutes drive out of the capital.
A popular choice among the locals is to head to Mount Sornfelli on misty summer evenings. From a plateau 650 meters (2132 ft) above sea level, you will find yourself with the clouds covering everything but the mountain peaks around you. This is an extraordinary summer evening experience known by few travelers. It takes less than 20 minutes to drive from the capital and all the way to the mountain Sornfelli. There is a parking lot on the pleat from where you will have breathtaking views.
A City experienced by very few people.
When you think of the small number of people living in Tórshavn, there is an astonishingly vibrant city center. And you are never far away from the outskirts of town. It takes around 45 minutes to reach the city’s limits in the suburbs of Argir and Hoyvík on foot.
Tórshavn is for those who want to visit a place experienced by very few people. The Faroe Islands capital is recommended when you are looking for relaxation and for memories to last a lifetime.
Are you planning to visit the Faroe Islands and Tórshavn? Make sure to check out flights to the Faroe Islands and take the next step.